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March 11, 2012

Draymond Green

Tom Izzo

Brandon Wood


Michigan State テや 68
Ohio State テや 64

THE MODERATOR:テつ We'll have Coach Izzo make an opening statement, and then we'll go to questions for the student‑athletes.
COACH IZZO:テつ Well, it's nice to know we're playing on Sunday.テつ It's like in the Big Ten Tournament, it's been so long I forgot.テつ But I thought it was one of the tougher, better games that I've seen watching this thing over the last years, and I guess I'm prejudice, but it was big time plays, couple mistakes here and there by both teams, big time shots.
I thought it was just a hard‑fought game.テつ Ohio State played awfully well.テつ There was times they made their run and then we came back and made our run, and that was the difference in the game.テつ And then down the stretch, Day‑Day self‑admitted it wasn't his best day, and yet we said we had set up a couple plays to go through 'em with the pass or shot, and then a couple plays at the end that we knew we were going to run through 'em.
And I think Keith was the guy who made a good pass to 'em on the one play.テつ He didn't force it in and hit that big 3.テつ Deserving.テつ It's deserving.テつ You can say he didn't have a great game, and like I said, my admission is he didn't offensively.
But you always go to the people that brought you here, and that's what we did.テつ And I had no other thought in my head and who we were going to go through.テつ And thank God, we answered the bell.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Questions for the student‑athletes.

Q.テつ Brandon, you knew you grow up about 60 miles away from here, so how good does it feel to rep Kokomo in an environment like this where basketball is so important?
BRANDON WOOD:テつ It felt great.テつ I know quite a few of my people from back in Kokomo came to the game, and it just felt great.テつ Coach has put me in a good situation, and Draymond believed in me and my team believed in me, and they just wanted me to stay aggressive on offense and play as good defense as I can.テつ And that's what I've been trying to take pride on is actually wanting to play defense because it's really a mindset to play defense, and I started to enjoy it.テつ So I think that's what made me successful.

Q.テつ When the game was over, you literally just kind of heaved.テつ Was it just glad it was over?テつ Was a hilarious moment because it wasn't what we're used to from you because it was almost like:テつ Let me lay down and take a nap.
DRAYMOND GREEN:テつ It was a rough one.テつ Definitely a rough one for me personally.テつ And last minute and 30 seconds, we went 05, I swear I felt like it was five minutes left in that game and felt like it was taking so long.
But just to survive a game like that, you know, with us‑‑ the lead was back and forth and they went up seven and then we went up five.テつ It was a great game, a great championship game.テつ You don't see it often.テつ But you gotta give these give these guys a lot of credit.テつ I was 4 for 15, played just as bad as I could play.テつ Brandon Wood stepped up big.テつ I went out on the bench and I guess he had 8‑0 run or something, I heard about.テつ So those guys stepped up huge.
Yesterday we talked about we had to give our guards a lot of credit for this win.テつ I think this one, you can give our guards a lot of credit, but you can give our bigs a lot of credit as well.
Sullinger had 18 points and nine rebounds.テつ He worked for every single rebound and every point he had.テつ So give these guys a lot of credit.テつ Of course you're going to see something about Draymond in the paper or something, but me personally, I know what happened for us to win this game.
This guy was a huge part of and it the rest of our guys on our roster was a huge part of it as well, including our guys on the bench bringing energy.テつ Anthony Ianni constantly staying in my ear, Austin constantly staying in my ear, which is what gave me the confidence to take that shot with a minute or whatever it was left and gave me the confidence to knock it down.

Q.テつ Draymond, can you quantify a little bit how emotional this game was on the court and how much that was because of a week ago?テつ Like how much last week fed into this game.テつ And then also talk about that last shot and what you saw in your confidence at that point.
DRAYMOND GREEN:テつ One thing we always talk about is we never play for revenge at Michigan State.テつ It's never about getting someone back.テつ They took the last game.テつ They did screw up some things for us, but it's more so looking ahead.テつ And we were playing for a No. 1 seed, which we knew that was a possibility.テつ And we were playing to do something that hasn't been done here since '99, 2000.テつ That's all the motivation we needed.
We talked about leaving a legacy, leaving our footprint in the sand.テつ Another one of those teams that you keep stepping your footprint in there and keep stepping in your foot.テつ Eventually that footprint can grow very huge.
So I think that was the main thing going into it is we had the opportunity that something that hasn't been done since Mateen Cleaves' group.テつ And when you got opportunities like that, you have to really seize the moment.テつ For a minute, it started slipping away.テつ These guys started stepping up huge and they got us back in the game and we were able to hold on to it.

Q.テつ Draymond, what impressed you the most about Brandon's game tonight?
DRAYMOND GREEN:テつ His defense.テつ I'm not impressed by the shots because I know a he's a shot‑taker and a shot‑maker.テつ We're not impressed by him driving, getting on the fast break because I know he's athletic enough to finish on a break.
I was mostly impressed with his defense, and that's an area Brandon has been growing in since he got here.テつ We all know Brandon wasn't the best defender at Valparaiso, but once he got to Michigan State and became one of our lock‑down defenders.
You know, you lose a Brandon Dawson, and everybody's worried that William Buford gonna go off.テつ If I look at the stat sheet, Buford finished with 11 points.テつ He had 10 at half.
So you gotta give this guy a lot of credit on the way he defended.テつ Not more so with his offense.テつ We already know what Brandon can do on the offensive end.テつ Maybe some people are just really seeing what he can, do but we've been doing that.テつ We see it every day.
But the way he defended is what kept us in the game.テつ And one thing we always talk about is Jared is going to score.テつ They go to him every time.テつ He's gonna score.テつ And if we can contain Thomas and Buford and the rest of those guys, we can win the game.
Buford's a great player, so for him to contain Buford like that, I think that's what won us the game.

Q.テつ Brandon, back in October, you told me you came to Michigan State for big games, for tournaments, and all of that.テつ It hasn't been an easy road, but now you're a No. 1 seed.テつ You won your first tournament at Michigan State.テつ Will you walk us through what you're feeling right now at this moment.
BRANDON WOOD:テつ Man, it's crazy.テつ I was actually talking to my dad last night about this, just the whole decision of me choosing to transfer.テつ And we were talking about how we'd never been a hundred percent sure on a decision.テつ But it's kind of hard to say this decision wasn't a hundred percent, a positive decision for me and for my team.
So it just feels great just to be a part of this group and just to see personally my hard work pay off and for me to make it to this point.テつ And I gotta give all the thanks to Coach and Draymond just for believing in me and accepting me into the program.

Q.テつ Draymond, what does this tournament win do for you guys heading into the tournament conferencewise?
DRAYMOND GREEN:テつ You know, it just keeps helping your confidence grow more, keep growing.テつ But one thing it does, it give us a momentum going into the tournament.テつ It's not like we're just ecstatic because we beat a good team because we put ourselves right up there with the Ohio States, with the Dukes, the North Carolinas, the great teams in the nation.
So it's not like, ho, hey, we beat a top team.テつ We're ecstatic about that, but it does give you momentum, and it just shows you different things that you can do.テつ It also gives guys individually confidence.
Brandon stepped up in the big game already, so when you need him to step up in another big game, you can say, hey, you already did it.テつ Not like we're asking you to do something that you haven't done.
It's a confidence builder and a momentum builder.テつ And that's really the biggest thing it was.テつ Of course it helped to get a No. 1 seed.

Q.テつ Draymond and Brandon both, what was going through your minds when you saw that "1" come up on the screen that you were in fact the one in the last?
THE MODERATOR:テつ Brandon, please.
BRANDON WOOD:テつ I kind of knew that we were probably going to get the No. 1 seed because I watched some shows earlier and they said the winner of the game would probably get the No. 1 seed.テつ So we were all excited.
And just to be a part of the tournament for myself, it's something I've always dreamed of.テつ And to now be a part of that with these guys, it's just a once‑in‑a‑lifetime opportunity for me.テつ And I'm just proud that we did it on my one time.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Draymond.
DRAYMOND GREEN:テつ I can't say I was sure that we were going to get a No. 1 seed.テつ I thought we'd probably get a 2.テつ But it's a great feeling.テつ It's just another one of those things that I haven't done in my career.テつ The highest I've been is a 2 seed, so I think that's just a great thing.
Oh, Cleaves had a 1 seed before, I think.テつ So I just try to do a lot of stuff like Mateen Cleaves do, but like I said before, I couldn't have gotten a No. 1 seed in my career if it wasn't for these guys who I've been surrounded by.
It was just a great feeling to see that No. 1 seed pop up.テつ We always see the No.1 seeds pop up and the people celebrating, and every year we saw celebrating, and the camera has never been there to where saw ourselves celebrating on TV.テつ So it's a great feeling to see yourselves pop up as the No. 1 seed and being able to celebrate it and watch it on TV after the delay.

Q.テつ Draymond, you told me in the hall that on that last 3, you saw the ocean.テつ What was it that sort of clicked at that moment?
DRAYMOND GREEN:テつ Well, first off, I shot a 14‑foot‑shot on a 18, from a 18‑footer, I shot it 14 feet.テつ So I know I had to do something to make up for as bad as I've been playing.テつ But one thing I was just talking with Coach about back there, everybody's gonna talk about that shot.テつ But nobody's talking about the pass that Keith gave me.テつ It was right in my pocket.テつ I didn't have to move the ball an inch.テつ I just caught it and fired it.
And I know my team is going to come to me when we need a play down the stretch.テつ And for me to be having the game that I was having, Keith could have forced it in, he didn't force it in.テつ And then he could've tried to draw, and he had enough confidence to come to me.テつ And I knew when I caught it I had to let the shot go.テつ The shot clock was running down.
But most importantly, I would be less of a leader to not take that shot in the moment like that.テつ And I knew I had to let it go, and I just tried to shoot it, keep the textbook form and instead of trying rush it.テつ I knew I had enough size to get it over Thomas when he came to contest.テつ So I just tried not to change my shot and just let it go.

Q.テつ Draymond, I want ask you a question that Jim Nantz asked you after the game on the air.テつ Is this one of the best teams that you've played on or the best team that you've played on here at Michigan?
DRAYMOND GREEN:テつ I think it is.テつ One thing I talked about is my sophomore year team was pretty good.テつ We lost Kaylin.テつ We fought through some adversity, but nobody's crazy.テつ The tournament bracket did play out a strange way for us to reach a Final Four.
My freshman year team, I think that team was great.テつ We had every single part that we needed.テつ We had guys coming off the bench.テつ We had everything.テつ And I think this year's teams stack up just as well, if not better, with that team, especially with the adversity that we've fought through.テつ You know, playing through the top teams the first two games in the nation with five freshmen who had never played, a transfer who had never played at this level.テつ Me, the only guy who had averaged over 20 minutes.テつ I thought Keith was right there, over 20, but for the most part, no one had any experience.テつ And the way we just kept fighting, kept fighting.テつ We lost two in a row.テつ We could've lost a lot of confidence but we fought through adversity.
So with the way we fought, I would have to say this is the best team that I've played on for the simple fact this team constantly fights through everything.テつ You don't often get a team that fights through every single thing they go up against.テつ And losing Brandon Dawson, you would think that would have killed us.テつ He's been the great for this team, but other guys are stepping up, and that's what we've talked about.テつ So I think this is possibly the best team that I've played on.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Last one for these guys.

Q.テつ Fans and media will say, hey, great season, but for you, having been in that locker room and endured last year‑‑ and it really wasn't enduring ‑‑ does it make this more special considering what you've fought through?
DRAYMOND GREEN:テつ Well, one thing we were past this last year.テつ You know, as a year down in the books, we made it to the NCAA Tournament, kept the streak alive.
But this year's been phenomenal.テつ It has nothing to do with last year.テつ Because I think this year stacks up with the first two years that I was here.テつ Final Four runs we made.
This year has just been ecstatic.テつ We love being around each other.テつ We love being on the court together.テつ This is a team that has showed on the court we love playing together, so we're able to fight through those things.
I don't think it's more so about it makes it feel better than last year.テつ This year feels better than any year I've been at Michigan State, just the way we love playing together.
When you can just sit in the locker room for hours after practice, everybody wanna go home.テつ Been there forever.テつ Been at the gym for probably five hours with the preparation for practice, getting early shots up, shooting after practice, you know.テつ And you've been there for so long, and you could sit in there for hours after practice and just joke around.テつ That shows how much that we love to be together, and it just makes this year that much more special.
And we're not done yet.テつ We're not satisfied with a co‑championship and we're not satisfied with the Big Ten Championship.テつ This year has been ‑‑ this program has been based around hanging banners.テつ And there's no banner better than the National Championship banner, and we haven't got that feeling yet, so that's what we're pushing for.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Thank you very much.テつ You may return to the locker room.テつ Good luck.
Questions for Coach Izzo.

Q.テつ Tom, you talked last week about an opportunity that you guys weren't able to come through with, and today was another opportunity that you guys obviously came up big.テつ What does that say to you about this team, your team, kind of moving forward, what could be two, three more weeks of play?
COACH IZZO:テつ Well, I could reiterate what he said, but I'd have to agree with him without trying to reiterate.
I keep talking about different opportunities.テつ This is another ten‑year span we've gone without a championship, not even playing in the game.テつ That's not really acceptable either.テつ And yet coming off that loss‑‑ and then let's face it, he did not have one of his better games.
And I think everybody felt like the only way we can win is withDay‑Day.テつ You know, the other night he was out for a while with the foul trouble, and today he was just not characteristic of himself and for no reason.テつ Just not a lack of prep or lack of effort.テつ He's probably had, you know, in the last 20 games, a couple of games that way.
But we still are learning to really guard people.テつ And I think Brandon Wood, we hold them‑‑ they're showing 50 percent every day.テつ We hold them to 39 and 23 from the 3.
The only discouraging stat has been our rebounding, and it's hurts with Wood and it's hurting a little bit with Austin.テつ He just doesn't mix it up like he could because I think he's come through it a little rough at times.
But it's really been a good team effort, and this was a big win for us because it kind of validates maybe that we belong.
And I even questioned it.テつ I'm not gonna lie to you.テつ I even questioned:テつ Are we good enough?テつ And if we would have been a 2 seed, I would have completely understood that, too.

Q.テつ Tom, I'll ask you the same question I asked them.テつ What was going through your mind when you saw the one come up in the last?
COACH IZZO:テつ Well, again, I gave up a few years ago thinking that that really matters.テつ But there is a prestigious point to it for our league and for our team and for our program.
And I think players get to leave and say, I was a 1 seed, there's only four of them each year.テつ That's a little different than, I got in the NCAA Tournament.テつ And it's kind of a measuring stick, like Final Fours are measuring sticks.
So I was proud of them.テつ I really was.テつ I was proud of this team.テつ They didn't have to fight through a lot of adversity as far as any problems.テつ In fact, I'm not sure I had any yet.テつ I think I missed curfew tonight just so I'll have one myself.
But we did have to battle that stuff schedule, and I think one of the reasons we got a 1 seed is we played everybody.テつ And I looked at that list, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, you know.テつ I remember telling people, Lehigh is pretty good.テつ And everybody kind of laughed and they're in the tournament.
So that's what makes me feel good about it.テつ The system that we developed, Day‑Day just said, you know, you been here before.テつ Glad we played all those tough teams.
And every once in a while, as you know, I slap my own face on that.テつ But I felt good about it.

Q.テつ If I would have told you two weeks ago or even three weeks ago that Brandon Wood would be talking about most important thing in the world to him is defense, you probably would have said I was on drugs.テつ But we both would agree he demonstrated that today.テつ Would you talk about his maturation, please.
COACH IZZO:テつ I think my assistant video coordinator, Doug Herner, said to me after, you know, this might be one of your great success stories because it happened in such a short period of time.テつ He'd only been on campus, what, seven months. I mean, Day‑Day said it.テつ So as long the players said it, I can really say it.
I don't think Brandon was noted for his defense, and when Brandon Dawson went down, we really spent some time talking to him and telling him and pushing him and pulling him.テつ And he has improved.テつ He's improved.テつ He had stretches where he played better, but he's now becoming a consistent defender.
And the other thing that he's been more consistent on, he wasn't running his lanes.テつ Our fast break just was not a good fast break.テつ So it shouldn't be a surprise to me.テつ Just like I say about some of those other guys like a Byrd.テつ It's going to take some time for guys.
Brandon Wood, when you look at it, has probably done an incredible job of gaining the system, playing in these big games.テつ You can tell that he's from a little smarter level, yeah, I thought we'd be a one seed, like you pick it off a tree or something, you know.テつ So he has come a long way, and his defense has been real good in his last couple games.

Q.テつ Tom, back in January, I guess, in Ann Arbor, Wood maybe didnテや冲 handle the moment and the pressure offensively, kind of getting away from his defense.テつ You come to this day of all that pressure out there all that intensity and a physical game and he shows maybe what you saw back in the summer.
COACH IZZO:テつ Yeah.テつ You know, and I'm looking at Draymond.テつ I was trying to figure out a way to give him credit because he deserves it.テつ But I told him we gotta speed this process up when we got him.テつ That's when Day‑Day said you can live with me, kind of takes him in, finds a three‑bedroom instead of a two‑bedroom.テつ Not many guys that will do that.
And getting the break going in helped Brandon Wood, and yet Brandon Wood was part of reason the break wasn't good because I'm not guarding well enough.テつ We were all taking the ball out of the basket enough and then not running that lane.テつ And now he's starting to put it all together, and App has been pushing it harder, outlets have been better.
If we getting our rebounding back on track here‑‑ and I'm not sure we will with some of the people we've got, but if we can get that going a little bit, I think we can get our running game going even more, and that will help this team.

Q.テつ I wanted to ask Draymond about how last week impacted the feeling out there.テつ It had kind of an epic feel to it from the get‑go.テつ Did it feel that way to you, and do you think that carried over?
COACH IZZO:テつ Well, I think they were two teams that were pretty evenly matched.テつ I made no bones about it.テつ I think Ohio State has got a very talented group.テつ I think there's two, three rows on that team, and that doesn't take nothing away from them, meaning they should win because of that.
But I just felt like we did a lot of things that you needed to do to take away some of their strengths.テつ They did some things to take away ours.テつ We could not penetrate on Craft.テつ He's really good at it.テつ Knocked a lot of balls loose.
But that was an epic battle.テつ I mean, that was two heavyweights going at it.テつ I think what makes me feel good is we're standing toe to toe with most people we're playing right now.テつ And I don't know how far that can take us.テつ I mean, I wouldn't look at us as the most talented one or two seed, but I'd look at us one of the better team one or two seeds there is out there.

Q.テつ Coach, when Draymond was talking, you kind of sat there and nodded your head to some of the stuff that he says.テつ Talk about your relationship with him, and where does he rank in terms of the players that you've coached in terms of players smarts?
COACH IZZO:テつ Draymond has done a lot for me.テつ And a lot of times coaches do a lot for players.テつ And a good deal, as my old coach used to say, is good deal for you and a good deal for me.テつ It's not usually one way.テつ And if it's a real good deal, it's a special relationship.テつ I look at some of the guys I've had that with.テつ I helped them and they helped me.
And Draymond can say what he wants because when we talked this summer, I don't think we were talking about one seeds or not even winning the Big Ten Championship.テつ I don't think we were talking about him being player of the year.テつ We were talking about getting better, getting better, getting better.テつ And I think we both pushed each other.テつ And that's what's cool when you have that.
Because he said it, and he's right.テつ I want the things for him that I've been able to go through myself.テつ I think we all do that with our kids.テつ You always want your kids to have it better than you had it.テつ I want him to have more than I've had.テつ And I've had a lot here, so he's got his work cut out for him, and we'll see how good he is in the next three weeks.

Q.テつ Coach, I'm from Columbus.テつ Any particular thought on playing in Big Ten country, and what kind of following will you have in Central Ohio?
COACH IZZO:テつ I think it will be good.テつ We've had a lot of Ohio players.テつ I think Ohio State, the people there will pull for us.テつ I think we have a good relationship with them.
It reminds me when we went to St.Louis in Illinois was there, and I think for the most part all Big Ten teams pull for one another except you've got those one or two rivalries that are off the charts, as you would know even better.
But I think our fans‑‑ it's a three and a half, three and 40‑minute drive, and a lot of people from Detroit, it's even less.テつ I think we'll get a lot of fans down there.テつ If it's anything like here, it's about the same distance, I think, even a little shorter.テつ So I'm looking forward to it I've been in that arena a couple times for a hockey event when our former‑‑ well, he passed away now, McConnell, the former owner of them.テつ And great place.テつ I'm looking forward to it.

Q.テつ John, when you came out to watch the warmups, if someone had told you today they would be 4 for 15 and you'd get
out‑rebounded 43 to 30 and you'd win, what would you have said?
COACH IZZO:テつ I'd say we would lose.テつ Because those two things have been pretty much staples for us now.テつ If we did a better job of them, maybe we'd get credit for it.テつ With all those offensive rebounds they had, the second‑chance points for 15 and 11, so we didn't get killed on that.テつ And, still, the ones they did make, I mean, that would even have made our defense better.
I thought our defense was really good, and our 3‑point defense was really, really good.テつ And that's what you gotta live and die with.テつ How many times do you hear coaches tell players your offense isn't always going to be there, and players say, oh, you're full of it and, shazaam, it happened.
They did play pretty good defense.テつ Thomas has been play awfully well, and to hold him to 11 points and 6 rebounds was a great effort.
But I'll close by saying Ohio State is still every bit as good.テつ I think they can make a run in this tournament, a big run.テつ I think there's a lot of Big Ten teams that can.テつ I don't think there's anybody or very many teams that are that much better than rest, unfortunately.テつ A lot of us aren't that much better than the others either.テつ So it should be a heck of a tournament just like it was a heck of a league race, and I'm hoping our defense and our togetherness and our camaraderie and our staff as far as knowing what do in the NCAA Tournament can make a difference.テつ We'll see if we can make a run.テつ Thanks a lot.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Thank you, Coach.テつ Good luck.

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