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March 20, 2010

Draymond Green

Tom Izzo

Kalin Lucas

Raymar Morgan


THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started with questions for the Michigan State student-athletes.

Q. Kalin, how's the ankle feeling today?
KALIN LUCAS: Feels great. Feels great. It's a hundred percent.

Q. Kalin, as well as you shot the ball last night, what do you think was working, it seemed like obviously the three ball was falling for you. What are you going to have to do to continue that tomorrow against Maryland?
KALIN LUCAS: I'm just going to do the same thing I did yesterday. I'm just going to play with a lot of confidence and just shoot straight up, straight down on my jump shot and just make sure I'm square to the basket at all times and just make sure I play with a lot of confidence like I did yesterday.

Q. Draymond, Maryland's a team that likes to press a lot and I noticed when New Mexico State did that last night you were the one getting the ball in the inbounds some of the time. Can you talk about I guess what, if anything, you have seen of Maryland's press and I guess how you guys will try to go about breaking that tomorrow?
DRAYMOND GREEN: We have watched the presses that they run, they run a few different ones. And we have already set up what we're going to do to break their presses and it's just going to be a matter of execution and staying composed. It's not really a press that's just going to dog you the whole way. They pretty much trap the first pass and then they're getting back. So it's just a matter of getting out of the first trap.

Q. Raymar, how frustrating was it to be in foul trouble in the Old Spice Classic against them and how can you keep Jordan Williams off the boards too?
RAYMAR MORGAN: We just going to try to occupy him a little bit. Keep a body on him at all times.
He's great at using his weight around the side, so I think if we keep a body on him at all times, that we can occupy him.

Q. Going back to the Old Spice Classic, what were they able to do to get you in foul trouble in that game?
RAYMAR MORGAN: I don't know. They just attacked me. Which I mean a lot of teams do that, but hopefully I can stay out of foul trouble and play pretty much the whole game.

Q. For all three of you, Coach Izzo looks like he's been more frustrated than other past years. What do you feel like you have not been able to do to live up to his standards and what do you need to do to get back in his good graces and make him feel like you're a regular Michigan State team?
DRAYMOND GREEN: I think we're pretty much past that point where he's frustrated. It's one and done time. We have pretty much wiped our slate clean of everything that went on in the regular season. We're all working together as a team now. Coaches, players, managers, everyone, because we all know that one loss and you're done for the year. So it's pretty much wiped clean and no more frustration for anyone.
KALIN LUCAS: Pretty much agree with that answer.
RAYMAR MORGAN: I think that they pretty much touched on it all. The tournament's a new season. We're combining as unit and we're very happy with the way we're playing right now.

Q. I would like to ask Draymond, Michigan State is the last team from last year's Final Four that's still alive. Are you guys aware of that and what does that say about the Michigan State program?
DRAYMOND GREEN: I'm not aware of it. I mean I wasn't aware of it. Now I am. But that really doesn't mean anything. A year can change a lot. Teams have gotten better, and so some have gotten worse. But you lose players and you get different players every year. Some have lost players for the worst. I think we pretty much rebounded decently from the players that we lost, but it's just a matter of being focused and always knowing that things can change within the blink of an eye, and never really relaxing. We have had times this year where we haven't looked as good, but our -- but we still had a main common goal and have been working towards that common goal.

Q. Kalin you spent time guarding some of the best point guards in the Big-10. Talk about the challenge you and Chris will have face guarding Vasquez tomorrow.
KALIN LUCAS: Vasquez is a great player. He's one of the best players in the country. I mean one thing he does is he sees the court real well. And so we just got to try to contain him the whole game. And we just got to just play great defense on him and try to have six eyes on him because he is a great player.

Q. For Kalin and Raymar, Maryland's a team you guys have played in early season tournaments over the course of your careers, not that those games necessarily mean a lot but do you feel a little more familiar with them than maybe a typical non-conference team that you might encounter in the NCAA tournament just because you have kind of seen them along the way throughout your career?
KALIN LUCAS: We are familiar with them. And we played them last year at Louisville and then as far as this year we watched a lot of film on them. So we are real familiar with some of the things they do, sets that they run.
RAYMAR MORGAN: Yeah, we're familiar with them. I played -- this will be my third time playing them out of my four years, so coach -- we know Coach Williams is going to have them ready to play, we just got to bring our A game.

Q. Kalin, do you think they're going to try to push the pace? We talked about pace the other day, when you guys were playing New Mexico State, do you think this will be a lot more transition in this game or is it going to be mostly played at half court?
KALIN LUCAS: As far as us?

Q. Both teams.
KALIN LUCAS: As far as us I think we are going to push the pace a little bit. That's something we do well. We're going to make sure we push the ball, make sure I push the ball at all times and we're going to make sure we run. And as far as them they're probably going to do the same thing.

Q. For any of you, Coach Izzo's success in NCAA tournaments is well documented. What makes him and the program so good on a short turn around like this playing in the second game of a weekend?
DRAYMOND GREEN: He hasn't been to sleep. He's watching film all night preparing and putting something together for to us work off of on how we was going to defend different things. And that's really what he does. He has us well prepared. And I'm pretty sure that there's no other coach that works like him. Somewhere down the line someone's getting an hour of sleep, but he's been up since probably yesterday morning and it shows in our game.
We pretty much know every set a team runs with the day of preparation. But that's how him and our assistants work. You have to give the assistants credit as well because they're up with him as well. And that's something that they take pride in. They always tell us, give us a chance to work 24 hours. And we give them a chance and they try to -- he always tells us, you get me through the first day I'll get you through the second day.
THE MODERATOR: All right, thank you, gentlemen. We'll take questions for Coach Izzo.

Q. Kalin Lucas told us he was 100 percent, but he kind of limped up on the stage. Is he really 100 percent?
COACH IZZO: Well, I wouldn't say he's a hundred percent. Because I think he's a hundred percent in his mind because he knows what is on the line and that's all that matters to me. But there's no doubt he tweaked that ankle again and he did practice today, wanted to practice. I was going to give him the day off just because of the situation, and he wanted to practice which I think speak as little bit about him.

Q. Along that same vein, how is Chris looking?
COACH IZZO: Not as good. He didn't workout today. Not that that's the end of the world. But he's really hour to hour. And I say that because it's a -- I guess what they're classifying as a sprained arch. And that's where your jump is affected but you just don't know what will happen in the next 24 hours. And so he's -- we're hoping.
That's about the way it is. There's nothing we're hiding, it's just that we really don't know. I guess you could look at it like a sprained ankle except it's in a spot where we can't tape it or do the things that you could do with an ankle to get by. And it's -- it has a lot to do with your speed and running and jumping, which make it's a little more difficult if you're a basketball player.

Q. It seems like your frustration level has kind of peaked and when the team has fallen into lapses this year. And any explanation on that and how do they snap out of that?
COACH IZZO: Well, I think that we haven't been maybe as consistent as we would like or the team would like. But I really think in the last six, eight games we have played much better. Last night I don't know if this is good or bad to say, but I still thought we played pretty good, even the second half they made some shots and plays and we missed some layups and dunks and you know, and when that happens all you really care about is that you execute it right and you got to make plays at the end.
But as far as our execution, and for the most part our defense, it was pretty good. I didn't think our rebounding was as good, but part of that was my fault. I was playing Korie and Kalin a lot together. I had Ray and Draymond in foul trouble a lot, so you play a little bit more cautious. And they did a good job. They went after it on the boards and they did a good job.
So I'm feeling good about my team right now. I think we grew up a little bit last night even more and I think we took some steps but I think we took some steps in the last couple weeks.

Q. The Operation Hardwood was a real great event a couple years ago. What do you remember about it and how did you become closer to Gary from spending time with him there?
COACH IZZO: Well because his nickname is just what he is. He's wacko.
He's just a bit wacko. I did go, I went twice in fact and in the second place in a row and the second year I went with Gary and we just had an awesome group. Rick Barnes and Tubby, I mean it was a -- I told my players that it was a life changing experience and it really was. What I didn't tell them it was mostly because of the troops and partly because of Gary. Just being around him. He's a funny guy. We have been good friends for a while now. We played against each other a lot. I love his passion for the game and his intensity.

Q. Regarding Gary, Tom, seems like you and him are uninterested in recruiting the one and done kid. Both of you seem to be very content in your current jobs. You're not pushing for that next thing. Do you have a real kinship with him through that just the fact that you guys are almost like old school guys?
COACH IZZO: I don't want to be considered as old as him, I'll tell you that.
We talk a lot. And whenever one of us is struggling, we talk. It's not like we talk every week, but first of all, I don't know about him, because I haven't really talked to him about it, but if you got a seven-footer that's one and done, call me, I'll take him. I'm not against that at all. I just, but I think that I think he does it the right way. I think as we all know there's a lot that goes on in college basketball and I don't think it's what we do here and I know it's not what they do there. So consequently if that's called old school, new school or the right school, it is what it is. And that's why I've always respected the man. And his teams, I mean, I watched so many of those Duke games those couple years when he lost tough games, you know, and he found a way to bring his team back. And I always admired him for that.
I think he's done a heck of a job there over his years there. And even when he was at Ohio State I was just an assistant then, but I got to know him and respect him then a little bit more through Rick Barnes and all that. So Gary's what's right about college basketball if you ask me.

Q. What did you see from Durrell this past week at practice that earned him the start last night?
COACH IZZO: Durrell is an interesting kid. He's really a nice guy. I think he struggles to stay focused on the tasks that need to be taken to be the kind of player that I think he can be. And I think you need to be a champion at this level. And so I've had many players before that have been in this same boat and yet I've had some real interesting times with Durrell too on the positive side. So I'm just trying to get him to understand that if he wants to get where I know he wants to get, I have seen other guys that have come through and gotten there and the example would be the first half. I thought he's been as focused as I've seen him at practices, the walk-throughs. He knows exactly what he's doing, and he had a great first half last night and yet ironically I told him today, you know, once you started focusing a little bit the start of the second half he missed a dunk. I mean normally he can dunk it with his feet, much less his hands. And not that it was his fault, but that happened and a couple defensive lapses I said you got to stay focused every minute when you're maybe used to being a little more casual. And I think he's starting to see that.
And I don't know, it's kind of interesting to see where anybody thinks of a player coach, coach player, but I'll tell you this about Durrell Summers, he's one of the best players I have and he's a very talented kid. And I think that this tournament's going to be good for him in the long run.

Q. Sorry if you've already been asked this a little bit but does your team kind of look forward to or relish the challenge of taking on somebody like Vasquez and how much does your health hamper things?
COACH IZZO: Well, it hampers it. I'm going to have Kalin on him some and Raymar on him some but I probably would have put Chris Allen on him a lot, because he's got a little more size and yet he's been very good defensively.
If he doesn't play, that's going to definitely hamper it some. Maybe a lot. But at the same time I think what we look forward to is we know we're going to play a good, tough, classy team that I think my players respect and vice versa. And maybe we're a little bit of an underdog and that doesn't happen to us too often and maybe that's good. So I think that our players are looking forward to it because all these guys have been to a Sweet 16 and that's what's at stake. And it's the time of year where I think they're excited about that.

Q. Michigan State is the last surviving team from last year's Final Four. Villanova lost today. Can you talk about what that says about the consistency of your program and what you guys overcame this year to stay alive?
COACH IZZO: Well, we have over -- what we have overcome is we had a good team all year. I'm not sure we were number two ranked team like we were earlier, or three. I thought we were a top 15 team then and I thought we moved our way up some during the year to a Top-10 team and we fell off a little bit and we had a few injuries, but I think consistency is what anybody wants. It's what I want from my players, it's what I want from Durrell or Kalin or Ray or Draymond. It's probably what fans and media want from me, consistency is really the key. Anybody can do something once or twice. If you can do it over years and years, then that's why. I look at what Gary's done there, look at what Mike's done at Duke. When you start talking 20 and 30 years or something, that's pretty awesome.
We're getting to year 13 here and making some progress, but we have got a long way to go and yet I like the fact that we have been consistent, we haven't had any major drop offs and we have lost some guys to the NBA, but I think we have kind of hung in there and I'm proud of my team, my program, my assistant coaches.

Q. Chris in the locker room says he's playing for sure, but it sounds like you're a little less optimistic about that. What are his chances?
COACH IZZO: Well what I like today, you know, whether it be Raymar or Draymond, they wanted to practice, I told Kalin I was going to probably give him the day off and he wanted to practice. And I thought that my trainer doctor says last night Chris wanted to go back in the game. And he was hurting, if saw him on that sideline when he went down. And I think that's part of the growing up process too, guys realize what's on the line and don't need to be pampered, but there's a realty to his injury. It's on the arch and it's what makes you run and jump kind of thing. And it's a real difficult injury to tape. Unlike a badly sprained ankle.
And so I did see this. He put on a pair of shoes and he walked, you know, around in practice a little bit and they worked on him morning, noon and night and that was encouraging because we still got 20 some hours to go. But it will be a day-to-day minute to minute thing and I just don't have any idea where he'll be in and I'm glad he's thinking that way though. I think that's -- that too is a step in the right direction compared to maybe where he was a year ago.
So that's why I said we're growing, we're maturing as a team, hopefully we'll get him, because we need him. There's no question about that.

Q. Kalin practiced?
COACH IZZO: He did practice, yeah.

Q. And he's fine?
COACH IZZO: He's got, I mean it's tweaked, the ankle is tweaked, but he practiced and when I told him he could take some time off he just said I'm practicing. I said I'm liking that. I really am.

Q. With Kalin yesterday a lot of people were saying that probably the extra motivation maybe helped his game but what do you think helped his game and knowing he's kind of been through a lot and you have even said like with the ankle injury, that might have helped him be a better player.
COACH IZZO: Well, I think what's helped his game is number one he is healthy. He had the ankle, but then even to my knowledge the infection in his foot, he missed more practices, I bet you in that month he probably practiced a quarter of the time. And that would affect any player. But I do think he's focusing in a little bit more on his shot as I heard him say last night we thought he was turning his body a little bit, he's done a better job of that and he shot better and I don't think the motivation was the comments in the paper, to be honest with you, I think the motivation is he knows he's healthier now and it's March, you know. And he had a taste of what it was like last year. I think he enjoyed the flavor.
Because I thought last night I wanted him to be more aggressive he was more aggressive and took almost the least amount of shots. He took 11 shots. So I thought he did a little bit of both. But he was looking for it, he didn't force things, and he did a pretty good job defensively. So I was really pleased with how he played.

Q. Last night New Mexico State did a pretty good job getting the ball out of Lucas's hands in the second half and Chris did a lot of bringing the ball in the front court. With both those guys tweaked now and Chris so uncertain does it affect how you prepare because Maryland is going to try to do the same thing? Does it affect how you do some of your back court ball handling?
COACH IZZO: It will, how we handle the press and what we do there. But one thing we did last night is we did cut through their press for the most part when they went man and really pressured us with all those athletes we have. I think that wore us down a little bit. And then Kalin had tweaked it and then Chris was out and we were just kind of -- and then we had foul trouble.
We had some bizarre lineups in there too, but I was surprised that pressure bothered us because we were kind of hoping they would go man. We thought that in watching film that we would even be more effective against the man. To our credit, we were more effective against the zone to their credit they played pretty good man and pressured. But part of it was we wore down and we just didn't have the ability to sub like I think we wanted to between the foul trouble and the injuries.

Q. We talk about your success. How much do the managers and those guys help you guys during the time? How much do you think that deserves credit for what you've been able to do when you're preparing for a team like Maryland that you kind of know a little bit, is it more about finding maybe something that you can do rather than learning the opponent if that makes sense?
COACH IZZO: Well first of all, the managers and my video guys and my assistants, they're like elves at this time of year. It's like preparing for Christmas Day. Everybody's working, it's you just -- I would love to have you all come in our video room back there during this time period. It's pretty awesome or even back in the hotel. So I enjoy that.
They do deserve 90 percent of the credit. I just deal with the finished products. They're dealing with everything else.
But at the same time I think there are some little things you, we're trying to do to tweak, to make up for two things, number one, it's a unique style that Maryland plays. There's not a lot of teams that run that flex like they do. It's a little bit more unique. I've seen it a lot because Tom Davis ran it in our league for a long time. So growing up I've seen it a lot. But players haven't. And as we always say, players play the game, not the coaches.
So we're going to do our best. We have had about three, four sessions already and tonight we'll have film session and walk throughs in the hotel. And I found that, boy, like Raymar, Kalin picks it up easy. Because they have been through it. And some of my young guys are guys that haven't been through it as much, we're still -- I said to my staff walking over to the court, we better get them in a few more film sessions, good thing there's no 20 hour a week rule this week because we just have to get them more familiar with how things are being covered and we'll try to act accordingly and then we have to try to look at if so and so can't play and if so and so is not a hundred percent how do we do a few things so we actually looked at some different press breakers and that too that we have to throw in and just try to do all that in a day and a half is probably difficult. So we're trying to keep it simple, but trying to have some options in case we run into some things that I never thought we would run into three days ago.

Q. I heard what you said about reading the Allen Iverson article earlier, and this week feeling good about the moves you made during the season, but during the course of the year, how much did you waiver over those decisions and over which buttons to push with this group?
COACH IZZO: Well it's always difficult to -- it's just more difficult this day and age to make tough decisions that you think are going to help somebody, but Steven A. Smith enlightened me and just brought everything that matters, do you really care about your kids? Do you really care about people? And if you do, you're going to do anything you can do to help them become successful. And the guy upstairs knows a lot more than I do, but I think I have a pretty good idea of what's right and wrong, what can make you successful, what doesn't, how hard you have to work to get where I think these guys want to get, how hard you got to work to be a champion, how hard you got to work to be a NBA player, and I've always -- I told my guys the day I recruited them my job is hold you accountable to your dreams. And when you get a national writer that writes that about a superstar, and took blame for not jumping in himself, I got no regrets.
I feel good about everything we have done I'm not saying it was, that I'm always right, but it matters to me. It matters a lot to me. It matters how they feel, it matters how they act, I mean, and it matters what their goals and dreams are. I always say I got to live mine, I want everybody to live theirs.

Q. It would appear the big difference between Maryland and last time you saw many them would be Jordan Williams. Obviously he had a great game last night and also with Vasquez is it sort of like Evan Turner in that you would rather him beat you shooting rather than getting the lane and creating for others.
COACH IZZO: Yeah, I think Williams is going to be a great player. He's really impressed me. Great hands, big body, he impresses me. That's a heck of a catch for them. But Vasquez is better than he was last year. If you ask me.
He just seems to be even more under control, he sees the court as well as anybody, the difference with him and Turner maybe he shoots it better, he can shoot it off the dribble, you got to pick your poison. I would agree and you don't want him getting in the lane, he's got that nerve going right, that is dynamite, but I've seen him get hot in a couple games from the three too. I think it was Virginia, he hits two or three in a row. That's what he can do a little better. He really can get going offensively from distance too. And I think his defense has improved. I'll have to talk to Gary about that after the game. But I did not think he was a great defender over his career and I think he's a lot better defender now than maybe I'm looking at his freshman and sophomore year and didn't know as much or play against him his junior year, but I think he's really an improved player. I love his demeanor, I love his enthusiasm, his passion. Either way I'm going to be a Vasquez fan when I'm done. I'm hoping we're moving on, but if we weren't, I could cheer for him.

Q. What's your biggest concern about the game tomorrow and with Maryland?
COACH IZZO: I would have to say right now I have a big concern about my injuries. That's concerning because there's an unknown to it and I think it's going to be unknown until almost game time and yet that's number one. Number two, I think it's turnovers and believe it or not rebounding. We have not rebounded as well, I mean we're known as a rebounding team and we haven't rebounded as well and yet I think I know some of the reasons. I played the smallest lineup at times, smallest lineup I've ever played in the history of me at Michigan State. So I mean that's understandable, but I think in this game the missed shot can't be their best offense I mean last night they shoot 48 percent, which is pretty good and still get 17 offensive boards.
I think that will be the difference in the game is I think both teams will defend pretty well, so I would list transition defense as one of the keys, rebounding as one of the keys, and turnovers as one of the keys, since they live off turnovers. And those are three pretty good things and usually why you win or lose at NCAA time.
THE MODERATOR: All right, thank you coach.

End of FastScripts

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