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April 2, 2010
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Korie, you've been playing so well as a starter now is, in some ways, starting easier than coming off the bench?
KORIE LUCIOUS: I really can't differ between the two. I think it's what coach and your teammates asks for you. If you're a starter, it's more comfortable for that. If you're a role player, you're accustomed to doing that. I think whatever your role is to your team, that's how you adjust to it. Being comfortable comes with it.
Q. Korie, now that you're starting, are you doing more as far as like directing guys around and being more of a leader on the court? Has there been any changes in that way?
KORIE LUCIOUS: Yeah, I think I have to talk a lot more than I used to coming off the bench, playing only 20-some minutes. Most of the time I was playing with Kalin, so Kalin was that floor general. Now with me being a point guard, I think I need to talk a lot more, tell guys like relay plays, tell guys where they need to be on plays.
I need to pick my role up in that way.
Q. Last year you were playing in Detroit, which was a short drive from East Lansing. How big were the distractions, and at the time, did they seem like distractions, or was it after the game that you looked back and thought that was a lot to deal with?
RAYMAR MORGAN: We felt like we didn't really have too many distractions. Our hotel was by Somerset Mall. There wasn't too many distractions. We were really focused in. We just got beat in the championship by a better team.
DRAYMOND GREEN: Well, like Raymar said, I don't think we had many distractions. Of course you're going to have some being how close we were to home. But we were about 30 to 40 minutes away from downtown, so I think that really eliminated some of the distractions, some of the things that the Final Four brings, as opposed to now, where we're staying right downtown.
If we were to do that in Detroit, I don't think we would have been able to even make it to the championship game. There would have been so much more added pressure and added distractions to it.
Q. Durrell and Draymond, can you address how the team in general has had to step up the scoring slack without Kalin, and also how you have adjusted to Korie's presence out there.
DURRELL SUMMERS: I just think guys have had to step their game up and just be aggressive and do whatever coach asks of us, you know, just play together. At the same time, you got to have fun, too. You got to play hard, know your assignments, but you got to have fun.
You know, I think with Korie being out there, just as he's stepping into his role, guys got used to Korie being the floor general. Everybody on the floor listening to him when he's calling the plays, or if we see guys dogging him, we try to come up and help him. Pretty much a new role for him, so he needs help with it. Everybody been supporting him.
DRAYMOND GREEN: Like Durrell said. But on Korie's behalf, we already knew what Korie could do by seeing him in practice every day, playing with him every day. The world didn't know what he could do. We were already comfortable with Korie. It was a matter of him stepping up and taking on a bigger role. When you take on a role like that, you're going to need a little help. We had to help him out with that, but he hasn't needed a lot of help.
Q. Durrell, could you talk a little bit about how you've been able to pick up your defense the last couple weeks, what you expect to see from Butler tomorrow.
DURRELL SUMMERS: Just on picking up my defense, you know, just the more I just grit my teeth, wanting to do it. I think anybody can pretty much be a decent or good defender. It's something you have to want to do. I just look within myself and decide that's going to help us win games. Everybody on the same page, everybody playing defense.
So, you know, I just try to focus on not being the weakest link on defense and doing everything I can. I think I've been able to be successful doing that.
As far as Butler, I think they a team, a hard-nosed team like one of the teams in the Big Ten. They played pretty hard regardless of size. I don't think they going to give up regardless of what happens in the game.
Q. Korie, your spin moving has been one of the highlights of the NCAA tournaments. How many times have you seen that and where did you develop that?
KORIE LUCIOUS: I actually only seen it probably two or three times after I did it. Just growing up, throughout my life, working out with my dad, he's been teaching me a lot of moves. That was just one of them that I felt it was the right time to do.
But I've been working on those type of moves all my life really. I just feel real comfortable doing it. I think it was the right time. I just tried it. The shot went in.
Q. Draymond, coach has talked about the speech that you made last year after the title game, reminding those guys that North Carolina had struggled against Kansas the year before. What did you think or what was going through your mind when you were saying that and how much has that been motivation for you this year?
DRAYMOND GREEN: I was just thinking of something to say to pick my teammates up, you know, and not completely just throw the seniors out of the equation like they didn't matter any more, but to say something to get us back focused and out the dumps. When you lose a national championship game, of course you want to win, but we still had accomplished some great things. You forget about those when you lose.
I just wanted to remind all my teammates and coach and staff and everybody, just, you know, a year ago North Carolina was in the same position we're in now. I feel we have a good enough team coming back to where we can do the same thing they just did a year later, they're celebrating the championship. Why can't we make that our same goal?
That's just what it was. In some parts of the season, you know, it looked kind of lost like we wouldn't be here, we weren't capable enough of doing it. We always knew we had good enough players and enough firepower to make a run to the Final Four and possibly win a national championship. However, we didn't show that all year long. There were times when it didn't look like we was an NCAA tournament team at all.
We always knew. It was always in the back of our minds that we wanted to win a national championship all year long.
Q. Coach Izzo, six Final Fours in the last 12 years. You can almost guarantee if you come to Michigan State and you're there for an extended period of time, you will be going to a Final Four. How does Coach Izzo stress that during recruiting for that? How did he sell this program by sticking around and really committing to what Michigan State does?
DRAYMOND GREEN: I mean, you know, when he was recruiting me, coach said every player that played under him for four years, that he recruited, has went to a Final Four. When someone tell you something like that, of course it's going to catch your attention.
But I don't think that was what he really sold us on. I mean, you can look at his track record and just figure it out for yourself. He's going to win. He's going to get you to places where you want to go.
I mean, I think that is a great milestone for our program. Guys like us is just looking to keep it alive. You know, the guys that's going to play after us, and, of course you wish that they play for the guys that played before us, as well.
RAYMAR MORGAN: I mean, I really don't think coach says it too much. He's a real humble guy in a lot of different ways. But that just shows you what the legacy he's built at Michigan State, what we pride ourselves on.
Q. Have any players from the previous Final Four teams reached out to you for encouragement or have you reached out to them?
DRAYMOND GREEN: Of course, they have. I've talked to Jason Richardson, Mateen Cleaves, Antonio, all those guys. But it's not just like we've talked to them when we've made it to the Final Four. It's an ongoing thing. You talk to those guys all year, all summer long. That's just a part of how things work at Michigan State, being a family.
Of course, you know, when we make it to the Final Four, they call you, especially the guys that won a national championship. They call and remind you, winning a national championship is a life-changer. So let's go out there, y'all try to do that and change y'all's lives forever. They always call us and talk to us about that. We're just trying to do that now.
Q. Draymond, back to your answer a moment ago when you said at times this year you didn't look like a championship team. There were a lot of people that doubted you. What has happened since this tournament began that you started playing your best basketball?
DRAYMOND GREEN: We just had to gel together more. After we lost to Minnesota in the Big Ten tournament, we had a players-only meeting and everybody said what they felt needed to be said. It wasn't one person talking in there, it was everyone. We all came to the conclusion that we knew we were good enough to make a run in the tournament, there were some things we needed to do in order to make that run. We needed to make some sacrifices. Sacrifice for three weeks, who knows what can happen.
We all made sacrifices. We came together as a team. Look where we at now. A lot of people didn't think we could make it. We always knew we could. Everyone doubted us. They're still doubting us. They're always going to doubt us. That's fine with us. We're just going to play basketball in pursuit of a national championship.
Q. Korie, when Lucas went down, there was a lot of criticism about your ability to step in before you had a chance to really start. How did that make you feel? What was going through your mind?
KORIE LUCIOUS: I mean, well, a lot of people are going to have different thoughts on my abilities and other players' abilities. My teammates knew what I could do, what kind of confidence they had in me. They enabled me to have a lot more confidence in myself to go out there and play to my best ability. As long as my teammates had that confidence in me and I had confidence in myself, I think anything can happen.
When that opportunity came for me, Kalin went down, I just tried to take it down, take on the challenge to try to lead the team and do my best while I was doing it. With the help of my teammates, I was able to do that.
Q. Durrell, after practice back in East Lansing on Tuesday, you were working on three-pointers, taking some extra shots. Have you been doing anything different to get so hot as a shooter during the tournament? What has been the could he to heating up?
DURRELL SUMMERS: No, I think pretty much all year, you know, I've been getting enough exercise and working out with our managers. I think it was just more when I had me and my teammates and coaches, it was just more internal than the physical work. I think all year I was pretty much, you know, working extra and things like that. I just needed to get some things off my chest and just completely focus on basketball.
Q. Korie and Draymond, you're Michigan State, you been here before, every reason to be confident. Is there any danger of being overconfident against Butler? What is your reaction to seeing the overwhelming presence of Butler supporters in this city now?
KORIE LUCIOUS: Well, we all know that Butler is a great team. For the past couple years, they've been ranked top 10, top 20. I don't think we can underestimate them. Nobody in this country should because they've been playing great basketball, and they've been beating some great teams.
We don't look at them as an underdog or a Cinderella team or anything like that. We just look at them as another great team we have to play and get ready for.
We just going to get prepared for them, get ready, make sure we ready for the game.
DRAYMOND GREEN: Like Korie say, Butler has been top 10, 20, for the last three or four years. There's no overlooking them. I can't see us being overconfidence. I see confidence. You need confidence in order to win. If you have no confidence in yourself, no one will. You have to have confidence in yourself.
I seeing being overconfident as basically being disrespect for overlooking them. That would be completely dumb. We're just going to come out and play the game like we've been playing the previous four games and take everyone the same way.
Everyone we play is in the way of our goal. That's how we have to look at it. We have to go through them to get to our main goal.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen.
We'll continue with questions for Coach Izzo.
Q. Does this huge crowd and presumably overwhelmingly pro-Butler crowd rattling your team?
COACH IZZO: Geez, I hope not. I mean, last year, you know, we had a huge home crowd. We also played down here with probably 30,000 Louisville fans. They were dressed in red. That stuck out like a sore thumb. At least the guys are battle tested.
You know, I think Butler deserves to have a big crowd here and a big following.
But, you know, the advantage of playing the tough schedule we have on the road over the years, especially this year at Texas, Carolina, the fact that we've been in these situations before in big domes with big crowds, you know, I think is good.
But at the end of the day, I don't think it will affect us that much. I don't think it will help them that much. Once the ball is tossed, I think you'll see that the players take over, not the fans and the coaches.
Q. You mentioned last week about being proud to represent the Big Ten. I think you used the word 'sometimes maligned.' Why do you think that is? Seems no matter what happens in the regular season, the Big Ten always seems to have somebody here.
COACH IZZO: Or two. Or two.
You know, I mean, I just think, hey, there's the ACC, about Big East, Big 12, SEC, the ones around here, the PAC-10, they're all great conferences. They got great teams, great players. I just think sometimes possessions seem to matter a little bit more in the Big Ten. And yet, you know, if you look at the NBA, it just seems like you get into the playoffs and possessions matter more, they all talk about it. I think that's one of our advantages.
We don't have to change who we are, what we are. And yet I said a million times, you know, in this tournament, we played Maryland 85-83, and we played 59-52. I mean, prettiness isn't what it's all about. It's about winning. I do stick up for our league. I do get, I guess, disappointed sometimes that it seems to get picked on. But I also know the Purdues and Illinoises and Wisconsins and Ohio States, this year, all those teams have been real good. I know the coaches at Michigan and Minnesota, Tubby has done such a good job there. I think I'll put our coaches and conference up against anybody in the country.
Q. Tom, what did you say to Korie Lucious after Kalin went down about what you wanted from him and how has he done?
COACH IZZO: I said, You don't have to feel the pressure coming out (laughter).
You know what, I just told Korie that he's played against Kalin every day, he's played against one of the best point guards in the country every day, and he's been in big arenas and big shoes. He made big shots against Louisville. He made big, big shots against UConn last year. He's been on that stage before.
One thing about Korie, like Kalin, he's got toughness and he's got a little cockiness. So he's not intimidated. Whether he plays good or bad, it won't be because he's afraid, nervous, or scared; it will just be that's just the way he plays.
I'm proud of the way he's handled it. I'm proud of the way he's handled it with his teammates and even the media. I think he understands that he's in a fortunate position, that he's worked for it. Like a good assistant coach, he's ready to step in and make a difference.
Q. In what ways do you see Bob Knight's influence in Mike Krzyzewski and in the way Krzyzewski's teams play?
COACH IZZO: I'm a huge Bob Knight fan, first of all. When I was an assistant, one of my goals and dreams was just to shake his hand.
Bob really took me under his wing when I got the head job. I look at how Mike talks about Bob, and you realize that the defense, the toughness, Mike has tweaked some things with his offense, but he still runs some of the motion, the spacing, all the things that were important to Bob.
I think more, you look at the way his program is run, the accountability factor, how he holds his kids accountable, the graduation rate. I mean, I think Bob's had a great influence on Mike, but personally I think he's had a lot of influence on a lot of us, me for one.
You know, it's great to have him around, and yet I wish he was back in the profession and still think -- I'd like to see him do that one more time before he hangs that whistle up one more time.
Q. Who does Butler remind you of offensively and defensively in the Big Ten?
COACH IZZO: Well, defensively they're kind of like a Purdue at one moment and a Wisconsin at the other. Purdue because they have toughness, they knock balls loose, they're strong in there. Wisconsin because they don't take a lot of chances. They kind of play from the three-point line in, very solid. Wisconsin is probably the most solid team in our league.
Offensively, you know, they've run a little bit of everything. But I think what's most important, they run plays, they run some motion, they pound the ball inside. I think the most important thing they do is they're interchangeable parts. The hardest thing is figuring out which player is playing which position and who you're going to guard him with.
I think they're a little more complicated on offense. Defense, those guards can check you. They do a pretty good job in the post. Solid would be the key word there.
Q. Do you know Brad Stevens personally at all? Your thoughts on the way that he, at a young age handles himself and the program? He seems to have the confidence of a veteran coach.
COACH IZZO: Yeah, that will change (laughter). No, I say that with admiration. I mean, when it becomes expected what you do instead of the thrill of the first time, you know, that changes you sometimes.
But I didn't know Brad real well. I met him here and there. But I have watched his team a lot this year from maybe the newspaper, you know, something on TV, just because I have great respect for people that move up. Barry Collier, his AD, was really good friends with Jud Heathcote. I've known Barry for a long time. It took probably a lot of thought in moving Brad up at 30, 31 years old.
I think Barry Collier has been the forgotten man. He deserves a lot of credit for the foresight, what he saw. I think that's an advantage of having a coach in that position. He probably knew what he saw, had faith in him. Boy, was he right.
We all talk about coaches moving on. Maybe that AD deserve as lot of credit for what he's done.
I do agree that Brad handles things. It seems like his team has a very good demeanor to them. He doesn't get rattled easy. I saw some games when he was down three, up three, seams to stay pretty even keel. I wish I could do that. But everyone has their own style. I think his is good for him and it's good for Butler's team.
Q. All four teams in the Final Four this year are battle tested, veteran teams. The one-and-done player teams aren't here. Can you explain why you think this is? Secondly, when you go about recruiting players for Michigan State, do you emphasize that by sticking around, becoming a part of the program, that's going to be part of the reason they'll succeed?
COACH IZZO: I hate to see us beat up on the one-and-done or two-and-done. The rules are in place. The players didn't make the rules. It's the adults that are involved in those rules. I think sometimes the players get maligned for doing things. I've had some great one- or two-and-done guys that I have a lot of respect for that have done it the right way.
I think the biggest problem with that is people that are giving them bad advice. Does it hurt your program if you lose a guy? I don't know. Zach Randolph was a one-and-done guy for me, helped get me to another Final Four, is going to be here if we find a way to win because he plays tomorrow night. He's still a part of things.
I think it's kind of what we do for them, too. So that was the first part.
Q. When you go about recruiting players, you talk about how some have been instrumental for you, the message you sent to the guys here, the mental behind what it takes to stay here and become a part of this program.
COACH IZZO: I want all my players to stay here as long as they need to stay. That's the way I look at it. You know, I like them to graduate, of course. But if I got a Jason Richardson, he was kind of my prototype, he came in at the end, what do you think, let me do some checking, let your mother and uncle do some checking, it was handled so well, it was good for both parties. It was the right thing to do. I have absolutely no problem with that whatsoever.
It is harder. But I think the thing that's the hardest that never gets talked about, how much pressure's on these poor guys. You know, that's why I've always been a fan of the baseball. I think the players would enjoy themselves more. I think they feel so much pressure that if I'm not this good as a sophomore, my stock goes down, this and that.
You know, I always tell my guys, The objective is to graduate, win a championship, get to the NBA. If getting to the NBA takes three years, four years, or five years, think about the big picture. All that matters, when you get there, can you stay in there? Usually, you know, if you're a little more mature, you handle it a little better.
I'm a fan of both. I kind of tiptoed around that. But I definitely think players shouldn't be kind of ridiculed because they're doing the things that the rules permit them to do.
Q. As a coach of a major program, how have you seen the role as a head coach change, even in the past 10 years?
COACH IZZO: You know, we have to spend I think more time -- I think one of my strengths, I spend more time with my players on off-the-court things. That's not necessarily bad. It's just that I don't think enough of us in society, much less in sports, teachers, anybody, principals, superintendants, hold kids accountable, then we blame the kids on why they aren't successful. That seems ridiculous to me.
I think you have to spend more time maybe reworking some things that have been lost throughout their 18 years of, you know, credibility. That was a Bob Knight thing, if you ask me. That's a Mike Krzyzewski thing. That's why he's been able to do it for 30 years. That's what I'm working on, I'm sure, like a lot of coaches.
So I don't think there's a million things that have really changed. I think things that have changed is whether we hold guys accountable. It would have been no different way back when, it would have just been the norm, now it seems like it's more the exception.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.
COACH IZZO: Thank you.
End of FastScripts