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March 16, 2012

Keith Appling

Draymond Green

Tom Izzo

Derrick Nix


Michigan State テや 89
LIU Brooklyn テや 67

THE MODERATOR:テつ We'll start with an opening statement from Coach Tom Izzo.
COACH IZZO:テつ Well, I didn't feel we started out under the game plan that we wanted, and the game plan was we wanted to go inside.テつ We knew our strength was our size.テつ We knew their strength was their athleticism with their bigs, and we wanted to start our opponent with the ball inside.テつ We didn't do a very good job at that.テつ We wanted to start out guarding somebody.テつ We didn't do a very good job at that.
To their credit, we did a heck of a job in the second half and even in stretches in the first half.テつ I thought Keith ran our team well.テつ We got our break going.テつ I can't say enough about Derrick and Adreian, between the two of them, unbelievable performance, 16 of 24.テつ I think they had 15 rebounds and played pretty good defense against a tough guy to guard in Boyd.
And, of course, Draymond with a triple‑double kept us in there.テつ I thought our inside/outside game was great the second half.テつ And that's a tribute to all three of them.
So it was a big win for us on a team that I think is a very solid, good team, and I was concerned going in, as these guys will tell you, but I thought we took control in the second half.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Questions for the student‑athletes.

Q.テつ Draymond, were you aware that Duke and Missouri had lost; that those No.2 seeds had been upset?
DRAYMOND GREEN:テつ Of course Missouri, we were still at the hotel when that happened.テつ I'm up watching basketball all day.テつ It's that time of year where you want to watch basketball.テつ I was aware of that.
And then we were in a timeout when they announced the Duke game.テつ I did hear that.テつ We played at Lehigh earlier this year, so I knew that wouldn't be an easy game for Duke.テつ They were very tough.テつ They played us to a nine‑point game at home, which you look at the season and we probably beat the majority of the Big Ten opponents at home over 15 points.
We knew they were very tough.テつ But when you think of guys like that, that doesn't give you any added motivation.テつ One thing Coach always talks about is us being different from everybody else.テつ So we didn't need any added motivation from anybody losing or learning lesson; we were coming out to take care of our business anyway.

Q.テつ Derrick, were you guys, with your size hedge, licking your chops a little bit as this game unfolded?
DERRICK NIX:テつ No, we have guarded versatile forwards all year.テつ So those comments were irrelevant and we just went out there and tried to just get in the gaps like Coach told us and get back out to the shooters.

Q.テつ Draymond, I believe you now have‑‑ well, of course two straight triple‑doubles and I think 2 of 8 on record.テつ Just talk about that achievement, talk about maybe the discussion going into that last play, when you found Wood for the tenth assist?
DRAYMOND GREEN:テつ The last one don't matter because it was a loss, and I could really care less about stats.テつ I would rather have a win last year than a triple‑double.テつ It was just a play that was drawn up.テつ We knew we could get beat with an open shot.テつ And he knocked a shot down.テつ He knew it was for me to get a triple‑double.テつ So the pressure on him to knock that shot down was huge.テつ And he came through for me.
But at the end of the day I'd much rather have a win than a triple‑double, because when you look at those record books it's going to say Draymond Green stats triple‑double and then it's going to say the score of the game.テつ And the last one was a loss and this one was a win.
So it don't really matter.テつ At the end of the day it's just about getting wins this time of year, and I'm just happy we're able to do that.

Q.テつ Derrick, you talked about defending the smaller players.テつ Can you talk about offensively what it was like to have those guys on you and the times you felt like just give me the ball, we can score when we need to?
DERRICK NIX:テつ Going into this game Coach told us that it was going to be to be our advantage.テつ So what we did, we tried to pound them down low and get them in foul trouble because they didn't have a lot of depth.テつ We got it down there, they dig, and they dug in the post, so we tried to kick it out for open 3s, when they played us one‑on‑one, we just tried to score on them.

Q.テつ Draymond, can you talk about their two 4 men and how legit they were and how difficult they were to defend?
DRAYMOND GREEN:テつ Very good, Olasewere, he's very quick off the dribble.テつ And one thing about our scouting report was that he's an okay shooter, but I think he was taking less than one a game.テつ And, of course, he was making less than one a game.
So coming in shooting 30percent from the field, he's 3 for 4 from 3, which kind of screwed things up.テつ And Julian Boyd‑‑ they're both great players.テつ Against size, they were able to still do some things that they normally do against smaller guys inside.テつ And they're very quick off the dribble.
And one thing that kind of surprised me was how strong Olasewere was.テつ So that's one of the things that you don't really see on film, is how strong he is, because he's taking a lot of people off the dribble on film.
But when I got the experience playing against them during the game, they were very good, and the thing, like I said, that you didn't see was how strong they were.

Q.テつ Draymond, you were critical of yourself after the Ohio State game.テつ You came back with a complete game this time in all aspects.テつ What does it mean to you to bounce back like that?
DRAYMOND GREEN:テつ It was great.テつ But at the same time if Nix doesn't hit the shots that he hit or Adreian doesn't hit the shots he hit and Keith and Brandon Wood and Austin, all those guys, I don't get a triple‑double and the game doesn't look as good.
So a lot of the time‑‑ on TV you're going to see a triple‑double pop up in my stats, but you will never see the other guys' stats on what they did to contribute to me getting that triple‑double.
And I think the comeback off a game like I had against Ohio State, even though we were able to pull out a win and have an individual performance like I did, I think that helps me out, getting me closer to playing at the level that I'm capable of playing at.
And just it's the right time of year to be playing good.テつ So to be able to have a game like that at this point, I think it's pretty good for me.

Q.テつ How concerned were you early on the way they shot the 3 in the first half, and then what were some of the adjustments you made in the second half to limit some of those looks?
KEITH APPLING:テつ They're a pretty good team.テつ They came out pretty hot.テつ But in the second half we just wanted to close out a little harder and try to make them put it on the floor.
As you can see, it worked for us and we were able to come out with the win.

Q.テつ Draymond, want to ask you about Nix and the rebounding he did.テつ Five or six offensive rebounds and what that meant for your team going forward?
DRAYMOND GREEN:テつ That's great.テつ One thing we know Nix can do is offensive rebound for a long period of time.テつ During the season he was leading the Big Ten in offensive rebounds.
I think that's one of his strengths, and for him to get back doing that, especially when that's something that we really put an emphasis on, we'll be able to get rebounds over those guys, I think that was good.
Now we just gotta keep on getting him a few more defensive looks.テつ So don't pump his head up too much, because we still need some more rebounds out of him.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Thank you.テつ Questions for Coach.

Q.テつ Coach Ferry was pretty adamant before the tournament that LIU should have been a 15 or something higher than a 16.テつ And then he just said now there's a big difference between the 1s and the 2s.テつ Given what happened today with two 2s losing, do you agree there's a big difference between the 1s and the 2s and do you think this team that you just played was not a 16?
COACH IZZO:テつ I honestly didn't think they were a 16 either when I watched them on film.テつ I really liked this team.
I think I told our media‑‑ it's always‑‑ it's a tough time when you're talking in these tournaments, for them they want to feel like they can beat a 1 seed, and for us we don't want to be that team that loses to a 16.
But when I looked at them on film and I tried to compare them to some other teams we played‑‑ we played Vermont a couple of years ago, we played Lehigh this year; we played some good mid‑majors‑‑ I thought they were really, really good.
And I think one thing that went unknown here was the job Keith Appling did on Brickman.テつ I thought he did a heck of a job on Brickman.テつ Keith gets 10, 11points, this and that, but it's his defense on Brickman, because that guy has really chewed up some people and got other people involved.
We did not let him penetrate much.テつ And we did not let him do much on the break.テつ But that team, you know, I do think, is better than a 16 or 15, personally.テつ Now, you wouldn't say that after the second half, because we played.テつ But we played really well the second half.
And it wasn't like we played awful the first half.テつ So I think that‑‑ and I told my guys at halftime, we're in trouble, because Boyd plays nine minutes and we're five up.
And so, yes, I think they're a better team.テつ The only thing I would disagree with, I don't think there's that much difference in 1s and 2s. テつI mean, if we would have been a 2 or even a 3, there's a couple of 1s that maybe separate, but I think the rest of them, there's about six or seven of us that are all in that next group.

Q.テつ Draymond might not care about triple‑doubles and things like that, but to have a player that's going to be mentioned in the same breath as Magic and Oscar Robertson, what does that mean perspective‑wise looking at the big picture?
COACH IZZO:テつ Well, it's funny.テつ I talked to Earvin this week.テつ In fact, he talked to Day‑Day.テつ Day‑Day was in my office and I talked to Earvin about his show that was on.テつ We were talking.テつ I said Draymond's here, why don't you talk to him.テつ I don't know what he said to him, but it might have been something good.テつ I might have to call him back.
Normally you don't care about stats.テつ Dwayne Stephens told me with three minutes, four minutes left, whatever, he's one shy.テつ And I said, just like with Cleaves, I think guys that have a chance to do something that leaves a mark deserves the opportunity.テつ And so I told him he's got one shot.テつ And that was the shot.
I was just pleased with Draymond.テつ I didn't think he started out good.テつ We wanted to go inside, and I think he realized he took a couple of shots.テつ They weren't bad shots.テつ They just weren't what we wanted to do.
Boy, when he settled down, he must have hit 10 out of his next 14shots because I think he was 0 for 3 or 0 for 4 early and the rebounding he does, you know, it was phenomenal.
So I'm proud of Day‑Day.テつ I'm pleased for him.テつ Happy for him.テつ And yet he's got a lot of basketball to go.テつ So if he's worried about getting Nix a big head, I'm going to worry about giving him one, so I'm done sugarcoating anything for him anymore.

Q.テつ Travis said that he thought you guys got caught up in what LIU's forwards were saying before the game, that they were too quick and speedy to handle, and you started the game focused on proving that point instead of just going with what the game plan was.テつ Is that something you agree with?
COACH IZZO:テつ A little bit.テつ I don't know why we started shooting shots.テつ And we really wanted to‑‑ we called it gapping it.テつ We really wanted to get in the gaps because they're a good penetrating team.テつ The team shoots 441 free throws more than their opponents in a year.
That is a mindboggling number.テつ I've never heard of anything like that.テつ And they still get 23 free throws against us, which bothered me, but at the same time I thought we did a decent job.テつ And what we did an incredible job of with their speed was stopping their fastbreak.テつ I don't know how many they got, but it sure wasn't many.
And that's what I was really pleased with our team.

Q.テつ You've talked a lot about getting Derrick and Adreian to rebound more.テつ I think they probably had 15 total between them today.テつ How important was that for you guys, and not just tonight but moving forward?
COACH IZZO:テつ Well, it's very important.テつ Especially when both of them got four and five offensive rebounds, it's something we haven't been doing either.
And we went at it, was it Tuesday?テつ I did something I don't normally do this time of year.テつ We had a 2‑hour‑and‑10‑minute war practice, and I was very disappointed with our rebounding against Ohio State.テつ And didn't quite bring the shoulder pads out, but I did everything else but that.
It sure is nice to see a team respond.テつ And that's what this team has done all year long.テつ They've responded to a tough loss.テつ They've responded to not playing well.
They have not very often done something back to back in a negative way.テつ And the 43‑20 rebound edge was very important to us tonight, too.テつ And it helped us win the game.テつ I'm telling you, that was a good basketball team we played.

Q.テつ Obviously you wanted to go inside and work the post.テつ It also looked like you'd get to the post and have more interior passing, dump‑downs to guards.テつ Can you talk about that?テつ Looked like that was something new.テつ Secondly, can you expand on what else you wanted to do at halftime, the areas of emphasis?
COACH IZZO:テつ Towards the end of the first half we started getting in there and scoring some.テつ We got the 10‑point lead and made a couple of poor defensive errors.テつ But I started to see we could get the ball in there and do some things.
Towards the end of the half they started doing like we do against‑‑ Ohio State started digging down on us, and that's where those passes came from, big to big or big to guard, and we talked about they're going to start digging now, so one dribble, find yourself, keep the dribble low, do all the things you got to do.
Then when they would zone, Draymond in the middle of that zone is really good.テつ But A.P. made a couple of good plays and Nix made a couple good plays.
So we had a lot of guys our bigs can pass.テつ A.P. is probably the worst passer of the group.テつ He's improving every day.テつ And Nix and Day‑Day are very good passers, we knew they were going to do it and that's what we did.

Q.テつ And halftime?
COACH IZZO:テつ Halftime we talked about we're going to get it in there or I'm going to pull some guys.テつ I'm going to find guys to throw it in.テつ But when we throw it in, throw it out, throw it back in.テつ Which we did a couple times.テつ When we throw it in, look to the weak side if they double; look to the other side if they dig.
I thought where we didn't execute the game plan in the first ten minutes very well, I thought we did an incredible job the second half.

Q.テつ Have you had a chance to see Saint Louis this year?テつ If you haven't, what do you expect from a Rick Majerus‑coached team, which you probably have an idea of?
COACH IZZO:テつ Yes, I do.テつ First of all, I did get to see them a little bit during the year, but you never watch the same when you're watching the game.テつ And of course this week I got to break down a little bit of film of each team on Monday and Tuesday once we found out who we play, and then I put it to bed for that and my assistants then each took a team.
But I did watch Saint Louis a little bit, and I watched them a little bit tonight.テつ Tough.テつ Hard‑nosed.テつ My first time as an assistant coach I was a student assistant at Northern Michigan.テつ My coach knew Hank Raymonds real well.テつ I went down to Marquette's practice when Al McGuire rode in on his motorcycle and Hank Raymonds and the guy that of course working with the big men was Rick Majerus, and he said go down there and learn from Rick.テつ Rick probably won't remember back that far, but I was 22years old.テつ So I've been impressed with him the whole time.
Great guy.テつ Good coach.テつ And his teams are going to play hard and solid and disciplined, and this is going to be a war, I think, because both teams are going to play physical.

Q.テつ The Ohio State fans who were in attendance tonight seemed to go pretty easy on your team.テつ Do you think maybe your team is just warming up to them?
COACH IZZO:テつ Yeah, I think‑‑

Q.テつ Warming up to you guys?
COACH IZZO:テつ I think so.テつ I think in general I just reminded them we don't come from Ann Arbor.テつ That's the guys you hate; you don't hate us.テつ And I think for the most part in this tournament a lot of Big Ten teams pull for Big Ten teams.
I went for a little jog, walk around town today, people were great.テつ The games we had were tough games.テつ But I think, as demonstrated by both teams, there was great respect, and I think that's what their fans do.テつ Right now the more Big Ten teams that can keep moving on, the better for the Big Ten.
And us and Ohio State are definitely left.テつ And I'm not sure who else is left.テつ Did Purdue play?テつ Did that finish yet?テつ Purdue won.テつ Awesome.テつ Wisconsin did well the other day.テつ Ohio State has done well.
So the more that we can get moving forward, the better, unless we have to play each other.テつ So I appreciate the Ohio State fans.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Thank you, Coach.

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