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March 17, 2011

Draymond Green

Tom Izzo

Kalin Lucas


UCLA – 78
Michigan State - 76

COACH IZZO: Yeah, you know, I'm crushed and disappointed because we just got off to such a poor start, and yet I'm so proud of these guys for -- they've been knocked down so many times this year that -- I don't think I've ever had a team that's gone through as much, and yet to battle back and almost put themselves at a chance to win was incredibly -- I'm incredibly grateful to them.
I give UCLA a lot of credit. They just seemed to have more energy than us early. And we found a way to bounce back, and these two guys had a big part of it in the second half. And Durrell played a lot better, and we just fell a little short.
I'll let you ask questions to them and I'll answer yours at the end.

Q. Kalin, after the tear you've gone on the last 14 games what was going through your head the first 30 something minutes when you couldn't get anything to fall and you were struggling offensively?
DRAYMOND GREEN: I know it had to be rough for him. I mean, I'm just going to answer from my perspective. I feel like he had a great career, and he hasn't had many games where he just couldn't get anything to fall. You know, they did a great job defensively on him. They pretty much keyed on him the whole entire defense, and he did a great job of still getting everybody else involved. He still had five assists and he did some great things for us and got me some open shots.
It hurts me. You know, I'm a big fan of my guys reaching milestones, and the loss hurts me, but I think I'm kind of hurting because he came up four points short of 2,000. And for everything he did for this program, you know, I get to come back for another year so I can be sad about the loss later. I think I'm hurting more about him not getting them four points.

Q. Draymond, can you talk about in the second half when you guys finally kicked it into gear and were able to come back and cut the lead down and the whole run at the end, just what sparked that, and just what changed over the course of that time?
DRAYMOND GREEN: I think we started pushing the ball more. I think Kalin started getting more involved in the game and we started getting some things in transition, which is one of the biggest strengths of his game. We got some easy baskets out, and I think we started checking better. And once we picked up full court, I don't think they handled it as well as I thought they would and we got some key turnovers.
I think the most important thing was our energy level picked up a lot. The first half we pretty much came out and dug ourselves too deep of a hole, did a great job of fighting back, but we were two points too many down and just couldn't come back from it, but I think the energy level pushing up and it started with Kalin pushing the ball up the floor and getting some easy buckets in transition.

Q. Kalin, I know this must be very tough for you, but can you reflect on your career at Michigan State and what you've meant to the program and Coach Izzo?
KALIN LUCAS: I think I had a great four years here. I had a great coach that pushed me every day at practice, and I had great teammates that pushed me every day at practice, as well. The loss hurts, but you know, at the same time these four years have been great.
DRAYMOND GREEN: Can I add something? I just want to add something to it. In the locker room, I think playing with Kalin has made me a much better player, just his heart, everything about him. I think when I came in as a freshman, nobody expected me to be nothing. He was one of the guys telling me, just keep on going hard, and one day he's like, just keep going hard and you're going to start feeling it. It's going to start to feel like high school all over again. You're going to do what you want to do out there on the court, and it's just going to feel like high school all over again. I think that was one of the reasons -- my freshman year things didn't go right for me. I didn't play as much as I wanted to at the beginning and things was just rocky. But he was one of the guys that just stayed there with him being one of the leaders of our team at that point. It's been great to play with him. Like I say, he's made me a better player, and I've been -- the last couple years a lot of people has labeled me as a winner, but along with that winning, he's done a lot of it for me just helping me out and pulling this team along. And like I said to him in the locker room, I want to thank him for all the great times he gave me here as a player.

Q. On that last possession, Kalin had the ball and was called for traveling. Did you feel that there was contact at that point?
COACH IZZO: You know, I didn't have a good view, and it was going to be a prayer anyway. I don't think it had anything to do with the final outcome. I think those guys said it best; you've got to give UCLA a lot of credit. They just kind of -- I think that's one thing Ben Howland has done, he's taken smash-mouth basketball to the west coast. I think they out rebounded us bad in the first half, they got every loose ball. That was the only thing I was disappointed about all night. And so we had our chances at the end, but I didn't see it good enough, and I don't think it had anything to do with it. It would have been a 60-footer or 50-footer, I'm not sure either one would have gone in.

Q. You often talk about when guys come back and you look back at how you've helped build men. When Kalin started crying a moment ago, your face said it all. Obviously you don't want him to hurt, but that meant something to you. Could you please talk about that?
COACH IZZO: Well, guys, it's been a year that I'll never forget for a lot of reasons, and it's kind of a fitting way to end, because I've been telling these guys all year, we've just got to keep battling back. Where some people have just fallen off the face of the earth with one of these seasons, we didn't. I kept telling them we've got to be like a boxer and just keep getting up. You know, we did not deserve to win the game, but we did, I think, handle ourselves like I hoped my program would and fought back every inch of the way. We got beat by a good team who played better than us tonight, and I'll miss Kalin. Durrell made some shots tonight and did some things, I guess Day-Day (Draymond) had a triple-double, I didn't even realize. We had a lot of guys that did some good things, and they did do a heck of a job on Lucas the first half.
But now that it's over, if you know what that kid went through since that injury in that Maryland game, it's been an unbelievable year, un-believable. Never plan on having another one like it, never want to have another one like it, and I don't mean that in a total negative way, but that's been a hard year on a senior to go through what he went through, and maybe Draymond said it better than I did. Durrell him, too. He'd been through it all, but he hung in there this year, too. I'm proud of all those seniors. I hope people look at what they've accomplished in their four-year career because it is unbelievable how many games they won and crowds they played in front of and what they've done.

Q. You just mentioned in passing that Draymond Green's triple-double and a lot of those rebounds and assists came down the stretch. How critical a role did he play in that comeback to go from 23 down to 1?
COACH IZZO: Well, he hit a couple of threes and he made a couple of great assists and he got a couple of great rebounds. You know, we went through him a lot. We were doing such a good job on Kalin. We didn't run the ball like I wanted to. That was one of our big game plans, to run, and again, we looked mentally sluggish. Trust me, I'm one guy that knows some of the reasons why, but it was a team that we needed to be in all gears. We just didn't have enough firepower left, and to dig a hole like that and bounce back is almost incredible, considering the lack of maybe numbers of scorers we have with the two guys gone.
And so his effort was great, and after a little bit sluggish start, I thought even the first half got five or six rebounds, but he was in there by himself for a while, so I'm proud of him.

Q. There was a big differential in the points in the paint. UCLA scored 52, you guys had 34. Talk about the impact that Joshua Smith had, their big guy inside, and what adjustments you guys tried to make at the end of the first half.
COACH IZZO: Well, I made two major adjustments, number one, on the ball screens at halftime, we tried to trap them a little bit more because they were hurting us on that. We were so worried about him inside.
I thought it was a great move on Ben's part to start him. They haven't been starting him, the first three plays right into him. He didn't always score, but a couple times we had help so much. He's a load in there, and we haven't faced anybody like that so it was something new. I thought he did a good job, yet those guards played pretty well. They had a lot of guys -- Honeycutt played pretty well. Their break hurt us. We got some turnovers in the first half, too, that really hurt us. We had 16 for the game, but points off turnovers were incredible in the first half, and then the second half we flipped it a lot.
But you can't give a team 47 free throws, you can't give them a 20-some point lead with a team that doesn't have a million three-point shooters or even 100,000 or even two. So I guess the right team won tonight. They earned it. I mean, Ben did a great job. I like what they did, and they were active and tough.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about the job they did defensively on Lucas? There were some questions about Lee's knee. His knee looked good today and he's a long guy. And he was really after it. Team defense against Lucas by UCLA?
COACH IZZO: I thought team defense early was really good. I thought they were sagging on the weak side. They were denying him. They were really bumping him off screens that they were trying to -- they did a great job. And yet we looked so sluggish early. We ran our stuff a lot sharper the last ten minutes than we did really the first 20.
And then second half we bounced back, and as soon as we'd do something good we'd make a dumb mistake. I mean, we made some dumb mistakes, too. Not to take anything away from them, but we deserve our share of the blame and some of the credit for bouncing back.
So they just got into him, they had size on him, they were switching a little bit, which they normally don't do, and I thought they did a hell of a job on him.

Q. You keep using the word sluggish to talk about the first 30 minutes or so, but from about the eight and a half minute mark you got down 23, and then you did look like a different team, a lot more bounce in your step. What do you attribute to almost like a snap and all of a sudden there's a completely different energy level?
COACH IZZO: You know, as all of our writers know, it's been one of those years where there's been so much mental strain on this team. We've never gotten in sync sometimes because of injuries, sometimes because of guys being lost. We just never got any kind of rotation, and we just couldn't find the right combinations early.
And I think Kalin has been a lot of why we've played better lately, and unfortunately they took him away, but we didn't do a very good job in helping him, either, if you want the truth.
The second half we went to some more things that kept him with the ball. I thought he was more aggressive and did it both ways, made a couple of shots and made a couple of great assists and put the pressure on them. And sometimes because they did such a good job on him, shacking those ball screens and coming off of them and almost doubling him sometimes. Other guys had some open looks, but they played it right. And we were lucky to come back, we really were. But there was a little more energy in our step, and I don't know why it didn't start out that way. We practiced well. I just think we're about as mentally spent as any team in America or any team I've ever had.

Q. As a veteran of the tournament, I'd be interested in your perspective about the intensity of these games and the unforgiving nature of this thing. You had six games today. Yours was the last of six games today around the country in this tournament that were decided by one possession. I don't think a lot of coaches are going to be getting a lot of sleep tonight, win or lose. Can you talk about the extraordinary event that this tournament is?
COACH IZZO: God, you said it a hell of a lot better than I could. I think with emotion and passion, and I think you're right on the money. I think you really have hit the nail on the head. That's what this is. That's what makes it the greatest sports spectacle in the world, I think. I mean, nothing to take away from the super bowls, but one and done is such a -- you just don't get any mistakes. The NBA you get a lot of mistakes in a seven-game series and this and that. I watched the Louisville game, I watched the Kentucky game, and one thing goes wrong, you just go wrong for a five-minute stretch, and that's what makes it so good.
But from our standpoint that's what makes it so tough. And that's one thing I did say to my team. You know, when you get in one and done time, you'd better understand it's a 40-minute deal, and if you just let up for a couple, it's probably going to get you sooner or later. Tonight it got us, and it's gotten some other teams. Thank God I've done more getting over the last -- we've gotten a lot of teams, and some of them maybe we didn't deserve to win. So no sour grapes here. We got beat by a very, very aggressive team. You know, I don't know where that ranks in Ben's teams from the past, but I do know this: His kids played hard, and his kids played with some passion. I thought they were really ready early, and I blame myself. I didn't think we were as ready. We all learned lessons this year, but you said it a lot better than I; this is the greatest sporting event, I think, in the world because there's so much on each and every second of each and every game. I enjoyed the way you said it a lot more than me, how's that? Thank you very much.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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