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March 26, 2010
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI
Michigan State Ã‚â€“ 59
Northern Iowa - 52
MODERATOR: Victorious Spartans of Michigan State are with us. We'll have Coach Izzo make a statement on the game and then go to the student-athletes.
COACH IZZO: First of all, Northern Iowa is just as good as a lot of teams we played this year, meaning the top of the upper echelon, whether it be our league or some of the national teams we've played. They've got toughness, they've got guard play, and they play good defense.
But I thought the big keys to the game in the second half -- we were getting outrebounded at halftime. We did a better job rebounding the ball. We were not getting the ball inside. We did a better job getting the ball inside.
I thought Rell carried us the first half and Day-Day bounced back after kind of a subpar first half, had a great second half. And this guy did a heck of a job, Korie did. It's not easy to run the point. It's not easy to run the point at Michigan State. And, yes, down the stretch had enough confidence to go to them in a couple of those keys, including one of the incredible shots.
We had a lot basketball, a lot of people. And Raymar Morgan was playing dead and Chris Allen came in and played and probably one of the heroes besides these three guys had to be Delvon Roe. He gave us every ounce he had. He was getting worked on on the bench, worked on at halftime. I can't say enough about the character of these guys, and I'm proud of them.
Q. Korie, could you just kind of talk about the experience for you tonight to step in, the spotlight being pretty bright and putting up good numbers and a win?
KORIE LUCIOUS: I want to give credit to my teammates for having the confidence in me to go out there and play the best basketball I can. It's a good experience for me stepping in, playing 39 minutes and running a team as a point guard. And it was just a great experience.
But I have to give credit to my teammates for helping me out and making things easy for me.
Q. Durrell, talk about your shot after Northern Iowa took its last lead 46-47. That was a pretty big shot you took. And just talk about your performance today.
DURRELL SUMMERS: I think my teammates had confidence in me, pretty much, if I feel it's a good look to take the shot. And I just felt it was a good look. I thought he was behind me a little. So I just let it go, and it went in.
And just on the play of the day, I think my teammates found me in the right spots and I was just able to make the shots and make aggressive plays.
Q. Draymond, how does it feel to be playing in the championship game on Sunday?
DRAYMOND GREEN: The regional championship. It feels great to be back. We still got bigger dreams, but you gotta take it one game at a time. And it's kind of hard when you lose your floor general. But we got two floor generals and the other one stepped up.
And I knew that he can do it. And he's stepping up for us, and that's exactly what we need. And it feels great to be going back to the Elite Eight.
Q. Korie, you get that ball back. It's about a minute and a half left and five seconds on the shot clock and you put that move on, make that jumper. Where exactly does that move come from?
KORIE LUCIOUS: I just think it's from years of staying in the gym, just working out a lot with my dad and my friends and whoever else was in the gym with me, my teammates, just having the confidence in me to take that shot. I mean just staying in the gym throughout all my years and just trying to perfect shots that may seem difficult or something like that.
But I don't know, I just try to take it with confidence and try to get an open shot. I saw the shot clock was going down and thank God it went in.
Q. Korie, does it feel like you played 39 minutes? And what were your expectations of the kind of game you wanted to play today?
KORIE LUCIOUS: At times it felt like 39 minutes. But at the same time I was just trying to pace myself and not try to get too tired out there. I mean, my teammates tried to help me a lot with taking the ball out of my hands sometimes and making plays for themselves so I wouldn't get tired.
And it was just fun to be out there and play with them. And I'm just happy we won, and I'm happy to move on. But like Day-Day said, we have bigger dreams to chase, and we have to get ready for the next game.
Q. Draymond, at so many points this season you guys undoubtedly had the talent but haven't been able to put it together. Right now with Kalin hurt and Chris hobbling and Delvon as well, do you feel like it's the opposite, you're missing some of the talent but the chemistry is better than it ever has been?
DRAYMOND GREEN: Yes, you know, but no disrespect to you, but it kind of comes off as you lose one player and it makes it sound as if Kalin is messing that chemistry up.
We were building that chemistry with Kalin. And it started building, and Kalin, he went down, and we had to get tighter. When you lose a player of that stature, you have to get tighter as a team.
I mean, that's 15 points. Five assists. 35 minutes a game that you're missing your floor general. And you have to get closer. And Korie, he's been in big situations, but he hasn't really had to run a team by himself.
And that's a huge, huge responsibility. And, you know, Kalin's helping him out, but he has just the heart and the will to do it. He's taking everything, listening to everything everybody's got to say, and our chemistry is building. I mean, it's great. It has to build at this moment. I mean, you can't win anything as an individual. And with our chemistry building, that's why we're where we are at now.
Q. You guys are down 29 to 22 at halftime. What are some thoughts going through your mind at that point?
DRAYMOND GREEN: I mean, we just wanted to come out and get a jump-start off at the half. We were right in Northern Iowa's backyard in the Missouri Valley Conference and we're in Missouri, and we didn't want them to come out with the momentum. We knew we had to come out, get a great start to the half.
Delvon came out and gave us that boost we needed. And it was perfect for us. He gave the boost and Durrell knocked down a big 3 and it was rolling from there. And that's what we needed to do.
DURRELL SUMMERS: I think the second half, you know, it was just a team effort. Delvon, he came out with a big dunk, and that kind of got us going. And we realized we had to get the ball inside, just because we were taking a couple of ill-advised outside shots. And when you want to start off the second half with a good run, you want to go for the high-percentage shots.
Q. Draymond, first of all, when Korie had the ball in his hands with a minute and a half to go, and the shot clock was running down 1-4 low, how much confidence did you have in him especially after last week, and had you seen that move before, the crossover spin dribble, him going to work, firstly? And, secondly, Delvon Roe and 27 minutes out of him, a lot of rugged minutes. What were you saying to Delvon? What were other people saying to Delvon? It was pacing behind the bench, trying to keep loose. Tell me about Delvon Roe's heart tonight.
DRAYMOND GREEN: First off, Korie, we see that every day at practice. He works on it every day. And I had a lot of confidence in him. Not only did I have confidence in him but it shows the confidence that Coach has in him to go 1-4 low.
He made a great play. And I had no doubt it was going to be a made shot, otherwise I would have fought for the rebound and probably got a foul.
But I knew he would make a big play and knock a shot down. And Delvon, it wasn't a lot said to him. We just told him at the beginning of the game. Give us what you can give us. And Coach told him, you may play five minutes, you may play 25 minutes, depending on how you're feeling.
And obviously he probably wasn't feeling great. But he was a warrior, and I will tell anybody any day I'll take Delvon to war with me any day because he's a warrior. That's what he is and it shows out there on the court.
I don't know if I could play with a torn meniscus, knock on wood, but that's a tough thing to do. And for him to produce like that and give us that lift today, you have to give him a lot of credit.
Q. Durrell, of the three guys up there, you're the oldest player. You've been around this program for three years now. What is it about the guy to your left that has this team seemingly prepared each and every year in this tournament?
DURRELL SUMMERS: That's a good question. I think it's just days Coach goes without sleeping. He wants to perfect everything. And as far as the tournament time, nothing goes undone. We might be watching film while we're eating, but it's just something going on while we're doing something else, just multitasking.
And I think just the focus he constantly preaches to us during the whole game and during the walkthroughs and just the whole weekend before the game, I think when you win the games before you even get to the arena, making sure everybody is focusing on everything you do. And I think Coach just stays on us with that. And him along with the other staff, they just make sure we prepare to the T.
Q. Draymond, I know you touched on this a little bit or Durrell might have, but just what was going on inside the first half that Northern Iowa was doing that was making it difficult for you all and how did you adjust in the second?
DRAYMOND GREEN: They were playing a great half. They had a great half of basketball. And there was couple times where -- I'm not going to lie about it -- Coach said a few things to me and I got mad about it and I was getting frustrated. And it happens like that sometimes.
Coach told me at halftime, me and Raymar, you know, he looked at the stat sheet and said, The two guys that we need to play good in this game in order to win, and one of them is 0-for-1 and one of them is 0-for-3, the other one have one rebound, another one have one rebound. If this continues, we're not going to win.
He had enough confidence in us to come to us in the second half and pound it into us. And I still -- as I look, I still was 1-for-6. But I got to the free-throw line and knocked some free throws down and got a couple passes out of the post for Durrell knocking shots down.
It's not so much of getting it inside and scoring, it's about having a balance. That's what we thought we could do, a little damage inside. And Coach had enough confidence in us to come in to us in a game like this, and it worked out for us.
Q. Durrell and Draymond, they went without a basket the last 10:22. You limited them to free throws. What did you do on them defensively and how much were you thinking that we're not letting them get an uncontested shot?
DRAYMOND GREEN: I mean, one thing we said at that point was we had to get stops. We know that we can score the basketball. We know we can get easy shots. We can get a shot we want. But it's going to come down to getting stops.
And that's one thing that we keyed in on and Korie, started off with Korie, smacking the floor on 3 and we smacked the floor from there on, and from there on out there was no field goal scored. And it says a lot about our team. You have to give some of that credit to Coach in the huddle telling us we have to get stops. But not only to coach, to Trav as well. He's over there yelling we have to get a stop. That's all he's yelling.
And sometimes it's like Trav, okay, we hear you. But that's his passion that he has for this program and the love that he have for us to move on. And he's just constantly yelling we have to get stops, we have to get stops.
And after a while it registers into us and then we get relenting, we score a bucket and we tell each other we have to get a stop here.
And that's just basically how it works. We teamed up and everyone's helping everybody. If one man gets beat, someone else is there to help. We may get a foul but they're not going to get an easy shot off, and that's what we had to do to win this basketball game.
DURRELL SUMMERS: And I think certain times in the game, you know, we just kind of huddled up and said it's winning time. And pretty much what winning time means for us we're going to get down and bite the floor on defense and everything's going to go through our defense. Because we got good enough players, we're going to make things happen on offense.
But everything is going to start with our defense and we're going to make sure we are locked in on our assignments and pretty much when it's around that time you can't have no mistakes, no "my bads" or anything like that, everybody going hard and chasing the rebounds down as a team.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much. We'll stay with Coach Izzo.
Q. Coach, getting into halftime there was a big discrepancy in field goal percentage, but the score wasn't that lopsided. Was that kind of part of what you said to your team, Hey, the shots are going to eventually fall, they're going to eventually miss? Was that part of your speech?
COACH IZZO: I didn't know if they'd eventually miss; I thought we'd make a few more. I thought we had a couple good shots that we didn't. I thought the two big things were getting killed on the boards and we just weren't getting the ball inside. When you don't get the ball inside, there's no inside/out shots, we're jacking some shots off the dribble. And, you know, we looked a little discombobulated, I thought. Maybe a couple guys nervous.
Nix early, the one thing we didn't want to do was foul, and took him six or seven seconds to get one. And then we -- I thought we -- we just settled down a little bit after halftime. We were down 7 but we felt like, you know, we didn't play that bad. We didn't play that good. We could get a lot better if we start rebounding and getting the ball inside and maybe checking a little bit better.
The ball screens, they did a pretty good job. We were supposed to be hedging a little harder than we did. And that was what we made the adjustments on at halftime.
Q. Back to Delvon Roe, looked like he hurt himself when he got fouled late in the first half, then made a couple above-the-rim plays early in the second half, then the stop on Koch. Any of the plays he made surprise you and how much do you think he still has to give?
COACH IZZO: Even Chris, those two guys, they gave me what they could give me. And Delvon's case, it usually takes a couple of days. And I have no idea, to be honest with you. But our whole team, our whole staff after the game, everybody wanted to hug and kiss Delvon, because I think we all know how much he's giving. And if he isn't a guy that everybody can learn from, he's such a talented kid and nobody's even seen half his talent yet.
And yet he could have got operated on. He could have done this or could have done that. But I think, like they said, you look at Kalin, you look at him, guys are starting to become better teammates and sacrificing for one another, and that's what we've been pushing and prodding for all year.
And it's coming up now, and that kid gave us -- when you tell a kid, you know, you hear it in any book, you hear it, it's cliche: Lay it all on the line. He laid it all on the line, I can promise you that.
Q. You talked about the importance of having guys grow up. You see Durrell talking about the importance of defense, Korie playing poised at 39 minutes and Delvon fighting through pain. What impresses you the most about this group, given what's transpired in the last couple of weeks?
COACH IZZO: I was impressed with Delvon -- I mean Durrell. I thought that was a heck of a speech. I'm going to make sure that you guys send me a copy of that, because I'm sure there will be a couple times, hopefully still this year and for sure next year, when I'll have to replay that.
But it has been fun to see him focus in, and I think everybody would agree, you know, he's made very few mistakes defensively. Gone up and got some good rebounds and made some big shots. Coming off screens harder. He has really grown.
And Korie, he had a couple of moments, you know. And I said I didn't want to take the street, the playground out of him.
Now, there's a couple times today I wanted to take it out of him. But I did -- I don't know, it was a hunch. Usually I can go 1-4 low for Kalin, and we wanted to take the ball out of Korie's hands a little bit on those decision-making. Just a hunch. He said he felt good, and I could tell he was confident. And that was a big, big play.
Q. Tom, what was the tone of this meeting after the Big Ten tournament with -- I think it was Durrell, Chris and Kalin? What came out of that? What was talked about?
COACH IZZO: You know, just that I need those guys. That's what's been so enjoyable for me. This team was changing, Draymond was right. Toward the end of the year it was. And then we had the mishap against Minnesota. We just didn't play very good.
But I just keep preaching that we gotta become better teammates. When Kalin Lucas went down at halftime of the Maryland game, I think it's one of those moments that I'll remember, that will be my memory for this year's team. Because our whole team just kind of -- I saw guys with different emotion than I haven't seen.
I saw Kalin with different emotion that I haven't seen. And it's kind of refreshing. Sometimes it seems like we don't wear emotions on our sleeve enough, we're always too cool and casual. And it felt good to watch guys cry again or watch guys feel bad or watch guys hug a guy or all the things that I believe in championship teams have. And so that's what that meeting was about.
I think I have three potential NBA players in those guys. And I really do believe that. And yet you gotta play like it, and you gotta play like it in all ways, and that's what the meeting was about.
Q. Tom, compare this run that you guys are on now to the last time your team played in this building here?
COACH IZZO: Well, it was different. I mean, we played in here twice. Of course, if you mean in the regional back -- you mean the regional or Final Four?
Q. Final Four.
COACH IZZO: Final Four. That year we had Alan Anderson with a bad knee. Hurt it at the end of the Kentucky game in the regional final. It was the only game he didn't score in in his college career. And we were up at North Carolina. We just didn't have enough left the second half.
This time I knew it would be just a gutted-out game. I think everybody predicted it. And I think some analysts said it the right way: Michigan State has to find a way to win. I'm not sure how we did, but we found a way.
And that's kind of enjoyable to find a way. So it's in some way more rewarding than the last two, because it's kind of -- it came a little bit out of nowhere, but then with the injuries it's really been compounded.
Q. Coach, UNI just signed Ben Jacobson to a ten-year contract extension basically. From what you've seen out of his coaching acumen, is the future pretty bright in Cedar Falls?
COACH IZZO: It's really bright. Those kids can play, they run good stuff. They play such good defense, they really do. It's hard to score on them. And they extended when they had to extend. They didn't when they didn't. They space you out so well. He's got some good players, though. And they're fourth- and fifth-year guys, and they're guys that believe in the program. But I think Ben's going to have an incredible career, because his players seem to play hard for him.
If you get your players to play hard, that's half the battle. And there's no question his guys play hard. They're tough. I've said all along they're like a Big Ten team, and that's meant in a total complimentary fashion.
Q. Tennessee beats Ohio State. You obviously have a lot more familiarity with Ohio State. Does this two-day turnaround things that you guys do come more into play playing Tennessee?
COACH IZZO: It does. I've just got to figure out how to do it. Now it's almost strictly by film, and maybe walkthrough in our hotel. Because I think we're going to be a little bit shy on guys practicing tomorrow, for a couple, anyway. It's the fun of it. There's fun. But there's a lot at stake. Final Four is -- now you can finally talk about it. This is what you play for, at least this is what I play for.
And there's no question that Tennessee's a good team. They beat a very good Ohio State team. I didn't get to see too much of the game because I was too nervous about ours. But we got in the next 40 hours or however length of time we've got. It's great when you're working at this time of year. And I'm going to be working. My whole staff will be working for the next 40 hours, and we'll see what we can do.
Q. Tom, if my math is right, I think it's seven Elite Eights in the last 12 years. That's going to the Elite Eight more often than not in the last 12. Could you talk about that? A little different this time with duct taping up the defense and making up stuff last week with Draymond guarding Greivis (Vasquez) and bringing up a point guard? Could you talk about how emotional it's been? I don't want to know how it rates, because you always get that question. But this one was different, wasn't there?
COACH IZZO: There was more anxiety, wondering will Delvon get to play, will Chris be able to play. What do you do with Korie, come up two guard sets? Last night we put in about five plays for Day-Day at the point. And because we just didn't know how much Korie would get worn down.
I guess in some ways that's been fun. You get to do other things than just coach. You really have to think it. I guess that's coaching. But, I mean, I don't know where it rates. I don't know what it is. I just consider myself awfully fortunate, I have an incredible staff that's done a great, great job, and the players bought in.
And sometimes it takes longer. Day-Day was right. The first half I thought he let the officiating get to him a little bit, the physicalness get to him a little bit. A missed shot, a blocked shot. And I told him, Hey, you told me you gotta grow up. Because that's what he tells me every once in a while. And I told him he was right, right on the money, as we walked off that floor, and he better do it in about the next 20 minutes.
And, boy, to his credit, he not only did, but he talks to the team, apologizes. Just starting to feel comfortable with each other. And has it taken a little longer than I would like, sure, but man, we won the Big Ten. We're playing in the Elite Eight with a chance to play in a Final Four. And if it gets any better than that, then I don't know where it would be.
MODERATOR: Thank you.
End of FastScripts