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March 28, 2010
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI
Michigan State Ã‚â€“ 70
Tennessee - 69
MODERATOR: Champion Michigan State Spartans are with us now. We'll start with an opening statement from Coach Izzo and then go to questions with the student-athletes only.
COACH IZZO: I'm just going to say I'm proud to represent Michigan State, and I'm proud to represent the Big Ten, that conference that sometimes gets maligned but always seems to have teams in the Final Four.
And I'm proud of these guys. I mean, I just can't tell you what we've been through with the injuries, and, again, Delvon and Chris and Korie, I thought they did a great job doggin' them all day. And Durrell came through, but it was Ray and Day-Day. I said at halftime, They're our rocks.
I didn't think they played well the first half. The second half they sucked it up, played a lot of minutes. And there's nothing greater than going to a Final Four that I know of, except maybe winning it.
And now we get a chance to try to do that.
Q. Durrell, this team was actually ranked second in the nation in the preseason polls then a little losing streak and injuries. Do you think the country kind of forgot about you guys for a little while out there?
DURRELL SUMMERS: Maybe so. But we didn't forget who we were. We didn't forget how we play our style of basketball. I just think we had to just get together and get closer as a team and realize we can come up from this. Things happen throughout the season. Once we got to tournament time, we said we'll have a fresh start. We were going to try to refocus and get everybody on the same page.
Q. Draymond, when you got the ball in your hands there and you made the quick pass in to Morgan, if you could just walk us through that play and that pass?
DRAYMOND GREEN: I ran over to the bench, because when we took that timeout on the second free throw. And I told Coach, iso on me up top, give me the ball; I'm going to break it down. I don't think he felt quite comfortable with that. So he drew up another play. But in my mind --
COACH IZZO: I said --
DRAYMOND GREEN: He told me if I get the ball, just be solid and make something happen. And so the play he drew up, I knew I wasn't going to run it. I knew when Korie -- once Korie got the ball, he was going to push it up. I just trailed behind him and kept yelling his name. And Korie, he swung the ball to me and I was ready to either make a drive to the basket or take the shot.
And I saw Raymar wide open. And he was wide open so I swung him the ball down low. And when he got fouled, Korie ran up to me like you swung it to me last game or two games ago, I'm going to get it back to you. And I'm like, yeah, you're right.
So I told Raymar, I'm going to find you. I'm going to find you. Just knock these free throws down. He knocked the first one down. And our plan was for him to miss the second one intentionally and we were just sitting out there talking. And Raymar, pretty mad at Coach right now because he said he could have been 6-for-6 from the free-throw line.
But it was just a heads-up play by Raymar to wave his hands, because probably I saw him, but if he wouldn't have waved his hands, I probably would have shot the ball.
Q. Korie, when Scotty Hopson stepped to the free-throw line at the end, as he's stepping forward to the free-throw line, you were backing up right up with him. What did you say to him?
KORIE LUCIOUS: Basically percentage-wise we didn't think he was one of the greatest free-throw shooters. When he stepped to the line -- when he stepped up and was moving towards, I kind of told him, I need one of these to come off. If you can just give me both of them because I need both of them to miss. He made the first one and then after the timeout, I told him again, I need this one. And he missed, thank God, and we just tried to make a play when we got the ball.
Q. Raymar, you were in the situation every kid dreams about. What was your mindset stepping to the line there?
RAYMAR MORGAN: Just up and in. Coach always talks about up and in. That's what I was thinking the whole time I was shooting the free throw. Take my time, take a deep breath, knock it down. And that's what I did it.
Q. Draymond, I have a question for you about one of your teammates again. When Raymar got it down low, from that point on, how confident were you in him that he was going to make a good move and make something happen? And when he went to the line, how confident were you with Raymar Morgan?
DRAYMOND GREEN: I was very confident. I knew once he got the ball he was either going to score the layup. Raymar is not known for missing layups, even when we're doing layup lines. I just never saw him miss a layup. I knew he was either going to make a play, and he's smart enough to know that they're going to come flying at him.
He was smart enough to know the pump fake and go up, and they darn near killed him, but it was just a heads-up play by Raymar. He's a very smart player with a high IQ.
Once he got to the free-throw line, we always tell each other to go on up. And that's what we say. And Raymar is a warrior and he's always battling. I knew he would knock it down. And I told him before he went to the free throw, There's no pressure. He looked at me and said, I know. Once he said that, I knew he was going to knock the shot down.
Q. Korie, can you just reflect on the last two and a half games for you and what it's been like and to hear the crowd chant your name after today's game?
KORIE LUCIOUS: Well, it's a dream come true to be in this kind of position, to try to run a team and lead them to a Final Four.
But, like I said in the previous interviews and everything like that, I just gotta give credit to my teammates and my coaching staff and everybody else for just having the confidence in me to go out there, to be able to play my game and perform to my best ability, because without them I wouldn't be able to do what I do.
I know they was out there pressuring me a lot. They wore me down. Thank God for Raymar and Durrell and Draymond to come get the ball and take some of that pressure off me. I mean, it's just been helping me and keeping me able -- keeping me in the game and being able to get some rest whenever I need it.
But I just gotta give credit to them for sticking with me and helping me throughout these two games to be as sharp as possible and just keep my focus and play my game and just try to help us win.
Q. Draymond and Raymar, I know you haven't had much time to reflect on this, but as the Indianapolis representative, I need to ask you: It's going to be different for you guys this year. You guys were the home team last year. This year you'll probably have a pretty sizable disadvantage. Any thoughts what it's going to be like in Indianapolis playing against a hometown team and kind of a Cinderella story?
DRAYMOND GREEN: I know. It's going to be tough. We're in Butler home city. I watch SportsCenter and ESPN, that's all I watch. And I think they said they're seven miles away or something like that, six miles. So I know it's going to be tough. They're going to have a lot of fans.
But last year we went down and played against the No. 1 overall seed in Louisville and they probably had 35,000 fans there. And they were a great team. But we went in there and battled, and our focus was to win the game no matter what it was.
And we have loyal fans. So I know our fans will be in there. And we're going to stick together. You know, we still -- we still have a goal. And we still are playing for ourselves, the program, but we're still playing for Kalin Lucas as well.
He carried us through a game and a half, and he carried us when we he was in there, when he went down. So we know we have to keep carrying him. And we know he'll be there for us.
And going into Indianapolis, like I said before, it's going to be tough playing against a Butler team, hometown favorite. But we come in there focused and we're going to prepare hard this week and come in there focused, and anything can happen.
RAYMAR MORGAN: I think Day-Day covered all the points.
But on a serious note, they're hot right now. They're playing some of their best basketball. Butler is a great team. They get it done in a variety of ways. But we're also hot right now. We're playing some of our best basketball.
So it's going to be definitely a great game. And we're looking forward to it.
Q. Korie and Draymond, late in the game Durrell hit a 3-pointer there. Did you guys feel that at that point the game was going to turn around in your guys's direction?
KORIE LUCIOUS: Well, it was a big shot by Durrell, and we always are looking for him on the perimeter to make those shots because we know what he can do. And he's a great shooter.
So when he made that shot, I think it did kind of turn around for us, and we knew that after he made it we was going to have to get a stop.
So I think that's when we came down and told each other to just make a stop. We gotta get this stop, because it was a big shot. If they make that shot, if they come down and score, then that shot really doesn't mean anything.
So with Durrell making that shot and us going down and getting the stop, I think that was one of the key plays of the game.
DRAYMOND GREEN: When Durrell knocked that shot down, I pretty much thought the game was in our hands once he knocked that down. Because I know we're good enough free-throw shooters and we're poised enough, if they do get back in the game, we're poised enough to make a play down the stretch.
And, you know, when he knocked it down, to be honest with you, I didn't think that it was over, because the game is never over, but I did think that we got this game in our hands if we want it.
So from that point, you know, and Korie missed a big free throw down the stretch, but we always said we have each other's backs. And I will put Korie back in that situation any day, because he's a warrior. He's not going to miss it many times.
We knew when he missed the free throw we had to come down and get a stop. We didn't quite get that stop, but Hopson missed one of his free throws and from there on it was just us.
Q. Draymond, can you talk about the relationship between you and Coach Izzo? There's obviously a lot of good give and take back and forth between you guys. I saw you guys on the bench. There was one moment where you were at each other's throats, then another moment where you're just hugging each other. Could you talk about that?
DRAYMOND GREEN: You know, towards the beginning of the game, Coach -- everything I did wrong he yelled at me. And I looked at him like, am I allowed to make a mistake?
COACH IZZO: And I said, Not at this time of year.
DRAYMOND GREEN: That's exactly what he said, Not at this time of year; there's no time for mistakes.
And when he said that, I went back at 'em. And he stopped looking at me. Stopped talking to me. He just sat there in front of me and paid attention to the game, and I kept yelling. He didn't pay me no more attention.
And I had Coach Stephens and Travis, Coach Walton, sitting there on the side of me just telling me to calm down, calm down. And they're sitting there telling me to calm down and I'm still there trying to yell at him and he's paying no attention to me anymore. I just kept yelling at him.
Once we got in the huddle, I told him that's my fault and you know how our relationship is: you go at me; I can go at you. But once it's all said and done, we know we're all on the same page going for the same goal.
Once we did that, everything started clicking. I went back in and played harder, and I think that's his way of getting me going, if I'm not going.
So I think it always works out for the better.
MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen. Questions for Coach.
Q. Tom, what was Draymond like in high school? Because I heard talk he was a point forward, the same skills. How rare is it to find skills in a guy like that?
COACH IZZO: Draymond was very well coached up in high school, Saginaw High. But the problem was he was a little more roly-poly in high school, about 275. So he brought it up the court a little differently. Nobody could get close enough to steal it. So it was a little easier for him.
But he's done a great job. And we did work on some plays for him. We did work on some things. We did talk about the last play, because Korie was getting dogged. They did such a great job on him, just pressuring, pressuring. We just didn't have enough other guys.
Chris just wasn't feeling good laterally. So we were running out of options. And we did talk about it. I mean, I said, you know, We will get you the ball, because we thought they were playing our ball screens a certain way and they were turning them down. We said, We're just going to throw it right it to you.
They started to do that. We threw it to him. He made a great play. Sometimes early he was broad jumping and things like that, and those are turnovers.
I said, Just keep your feet under you. And that's what he did. So he didn't argue as much as he says, either. His ego is getting in the way a little bit, in all honesty. I said, Every year I've got to have one guy to argue with. And he's my new guy. And I love him for it.
Q. I think you just mentioned it. He had specific plays drawn up for him today to bail you guys out.
COACH IZZO: Yeah, we did. We had a five -- kind of a five-play package that we just -- you know, we said we'll go to our Day-Day plays if we have to. A couple times we ran a couple of them during the game, and we should have relieved Korie a little bit more.
They did a good job. I think I didn't do a good job getting it out of his hands there for a while. But they brought some pressure. They had some athletes. And we just were running out of gas.
I mean, poor Korie had some good looks. That 3. I think shots that he makes every day, but he just -- he had no legs left there, and that's partially my fault.
Q. Tom, what did Magic say to you after it was over and you guys embraced when you were coming off the riser?
COACH IZZO: Earvin has been so good to our program. He's come back every year I've been there. He doesn't miss many NCAA games. He's really great. He's still like a kid in a way. But he's still like a coach in away. He's such a student of the game. He loves coming into our film session, into our film room.
You know, we have a court tape down in there. And just reminds him of his Pat Riley days. And he still interacts with the players, and yet he doesn't have to say much and they respond.
But he just said, Man, I'm proud of you. I thought the things you worked on, you did. We got a little sloppy there at times, and I told him that. I said, God, we had things I thought would work. Their timing was off because of their physical play and our tiredness. I thought we could have opened it up there when we had that seven- or eight-point lead. He said, Don't worry about it. Worry about next week. And I said thanks.
Q. I understand Draymond originally committed to Kentucky out of school. I'm not saying this to be smart with you, but do you ever thank Tubby Smith for taking the job in Minnesota and helping that out? And second thing I wanted to ask you as the Indianapolis representative, what are your thoughts on playing Butler on what obviously should be a home court for them? Even though I know you'll have a lot of people there, I'm sure a lot of people will be rooting for Butler.
COACH IZZO: I thank Tubby every day. I'm just happy he's in our league now. But Tubby says it to me, Every time we play seems like Day-Day plays pretty well against him.
But even when Tubby got him -- see, Day-Day's coach played for Tubby at Tulsa, and that was the connection there. And yet, you know, I bet you Tubby would tell you the same thing. It wasn't like Draymond was a McDonald's All-American. He was this little bit funky-chunky guy that had a lot of skills.
But it's just worked out for me. It's worked out for him. I think it's been good for him, because his family -- his mother, dad -- they all love to watch him play. They drive down an hour and see him. It's been a good deal for all of us. And I think Tubby is fine with it, you know, in a million ways.
As far as Indianapolis, I think Day-Day did answer it right. The one thing we've done, and I think this benefits our program year in, year out, is we go places to play. This year it was Texas, it was Carolina. And we've been in the Carrier Dome. You name the place. I want to play in every great place in the country. And I think I've played at 95 percent of them. At Kentucky, Arizona, UCLA, Stanford, Maryland, UConn. We've done that.
And so I think that hardens your guys. It gives them a chance to see what it's like to play against some of the best on the road.
And I remember when we got beat at Texas, that was their first sellout of the year. I said, Guys, it's going to help us in the end. So I don't know. I thought the Louisville game last year was true. There was at least 30,000 there for Louisville, maybe more. And it's a big deal.
I mean, trust me. When we had 50-, 60,000 there for us last year, but guess what, didn't even faze Carolina, didn't even faze them. I don't know if it did UConn, but it didn't Carolina.
So now we've got a page to take out of that book. That's what experience does for you. And we'll look at how they approached our game, and one of the ways was let's get off to a good start. I don't know if we can do that quite like they did. But that's what we're going to try to do.
Q. Tom, three teams in the Final Four, no No. 1s, a couple 5s, a 2. Do seeds seem kind of meaningless this year?
COACH IZZO: I don't know if it's just this year. This is a bizarre year, I gotta admit. Speaking of that, the two teams we've played have been great. But I liked Georgetown during the year. I loved Kansas during the year. Ohio State was a very good team.
You know, I don't know how many of those teams lose, if it's the best out of three or best out of five, but that's the excitement of this tournament.
When we played USC last year as a 10 seed, I said, This is it. It's over. Seeding doesn't matter. I thought they were one of the best teams we played up until Carolina, and that was in the second game, a 10 seed.
So, you know, I think usually the 1s and maybe some 2s are a notch above the rest. But from 2.5 to 7 or 8 sometimes, I think there's a lot of parity and I think a lot of teams even. And, yet, there has been some -- this is not the normal year. And I'm not sure it will be like this every year. All I care about is where they are right now.
Q. The way Tennessee made -- started out today making its first six shots, how were you able to hang with them?
COACH IZZO: As you scout and you do things, we didn't do a great job. I mean, we gave them some shots. I mean, uncontested.
But our theory was to play them a little inside/out. Stop the penetration, close the gaps up. But we were supposed to have pressure on the ball. And I thought if they made five in a row or whatever they made, four of them were uncontested. But they still gotta make them.
It's not like that is a great 3-point shooting team. I thought the big key for us was that we weathered that storm and we could say in the huddles, okay, they're going to cool off. It's going to happen.
At halftime it was really interesting because we made a couple of adjustments on the ball screens. And we talked to them about getting Durrell Summers getting back in. It was a hard decision for me to put him in with three fouls. He had two fouls, to get his third one, but we were bogging down offensively a little bit.
That was a tough decision. And I just felt as long as we could keep it close, if it would have gone more than five like it almost did two times, I would have probably put Durrell back in.
So a combination of things.
Q. What did you tell the guys before the game, the importance of this game today?
COACH IZZO: Well, you know, I talked to them this morning about separating themselves and maybe, you know, we've gone through a lot of things this year, not as bad as sometimes portrayed, and yet not as smooth as some years that we've had.
I just said these are life lessons. You've got 60 years, and probably what you do today will help in some way for you to grow up and be stronger and learn what you gotta do. And I said, Let's make our mistakes, but let's not make them effort-related or mentally-related.
And believe it or not, we made a lot of mental mistakes today. We came out of huddles, ran things that were wide open and we didn't run them right. The old adage, fatigue makes cowards of us all. I talked about it in the pregame; that we have to stay mentally into it because we knew we didn't have as many subs and we knew we couldn't go as deep. We knew we had Kalin out. We knew they were going to pressure us.
So that's all. I didn't talk about getting to our sixth Final Four and things like that. I guess when I left, the last thing I said to them is, The night that we got beat, Draymond Green asked if he could speak to the team as a freshman. And said, Remember, North Carolina was here a year ago, down 40 to Kansas, and they're national champs now. And that was our kind of call for the next year.
And so I said, you know, You put yourself in a position where you have a chance to do something you talked about. Not many people get a chance to do that.
Q. Obviously getting to your sixth Final Four is special. All of them are special. What is special about this achievement, and what is unique about this particular team?
COACH IZZO: Well, I think somebody asked the question earlier, we were picked second in the country. It wasn't by me, by the way. I knew what we had lost. And I thought we lost a lot. I really did. I thought we were -- as I've said many times, a top 15 team. We could work our way into a top 10. But that added more pressure.
What's unique is it's been a little bumpier road, and then the injuries at the end, the key three guys, the three starters. I mean, Delvon didn't even see the floor yesterday. And Chris saw it to shoot free throws.
And, you know, that's kind of -- we took 33, 34 minutes out. When you look at Kalin Lucas, he really started playing well down the stretch. And you gotta remember he had 25 against New Mexico state. Maybe played one of his best games. Then he came back and he was playing well against Maryland. We had a 10- or 12-point lead when he went out.
And so I reminded our guys that, you know, You're not playing for Kalin, really. You're still playing partly because of Kalin and what he did for us then put us in a position to keep playing. Because, as you know, in one-and-done time, you're done.
And, by the way, Day-Day did say that. And which proves that he's still a sophomore, because at this time of year, you really don't get a chance to make many mistakes, especially ones that cost you plays, fouls or things like that. And that doesn't mean you play scared; that just separates the great teams from the good teams.
A lot of teams can make mistakes throughout the year and still win 20 games, but throughout this tournament, you don't get to make a lot of them.
Q. Very often almost all the time you can look at a box score and something jumps out. The only thing that jumps out of this one how incredibly even it is. To coach this game and watch it, was it as dead even a game as this box score reflects and as you can recall having all year?
COACH IZZO: Yeah, I thought it was. In fact, a couple times I said, God, this a hell of a game. And then I realized I'm giving them credit; I didn't want to do that.
When I look at the turnovers, that's a key point for us. The biggest stat was how well they shot it. They shot 51 or 52 percent from the field. You don't win a lot of games like that. And the rebounds, they were pretty even.
But when a team's shooting that well like they did in the first half, 58 percent, we were up seven rebounding, you don't get that many chances to get a rebound.
So I really did feel like throughout the game I kept saying, Wow. It was like two points one way, two points the other. I think their biggest lead was, what, four or five, and maybe ours was six or seven. But those were for very short periods of time. And not many turnovers.
It had to be a pretty good game to watch, I would think. And I'll let you know after I watch it on the way home.
Q. Tom, when Korie missed that free throw, after he missed the free throw, Chris walked over, put his arm around him, leaned down and said something. Did you see that?
COACH IZZO: I did. Because when Korie got to the huddle, his eyes were welled up. He was beside him. He was fatigued and down, and every player and every coach, even me, said, Don't worry about it, we'll get it back. And he's a good free-throw shooter. We knew he was dead on his legs.
But Chris, I mean, that's the chemistry thing. All my cliches all year, you be a better teammate, that's what it's all about. When you get that, that's special. And you know what? Korie made some big plays in this game, and I appreciate Chris doing that. But if you would have been in our huddle, every guy did it.
MODERATOR: Thank you.
End of FastScripts