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NCAA MEN'S 2ND & 3RD ROUNDS: COLUMBUS


March 17, 2012


Keith Appling

Draymond Green

Tom Izzo

Austin Thornton


COLUMBUS, OHIO

THE MODERATOR:¬† Michigan State is going to be represented by student‑athletes Austin Thornton, Draymond Green, and Keith Appling.¬† Questions.

Q.  Draymond and all the guys, the Saint Louis players talked about mucking it up and making it a dirty game.  How do you deal with that when a team tries to slow you down or play that kind of style?
DRAYMOND GREEN:  I think just gotta come out and play.  One thing about this program is it's been built on toughness.  Players play tough, players win.
So I don't think it will be that big of a challenge for us if they want to play dirty or come out and try to make it a physical game.  That's how we play all summer.  That's what we built our program around.
So that will be fine with us, whichever‑‑ the one thing I think which helps us out a lot is the schedule that we play all year.¬† We've played teams who like to play tough, some teams who play dirtyish and some who classify us.¬† It's not something that we haven't seen or can't adjust to it, because that's why coaches play the schedule we play every year.
I think it will be something that if we're not used to we can adjust to it real quick.

Q.  Austin, does Coach talk about playing through those things, playing through foul situations, what have you?
AUSTIN THORNTON:  He does talk about it quite a bit.  Like Draymond said, we played some games this year where it's been more physical and the refs have allowed us to play.  That's where as leaders you've got to tell the guys:  Hey, don't worry about the refs, don't worry about what they call or don't call, just play strong and play physical, and our schedule has certainly helped us out with that this year.

Q.  Draymond, as you were coming up throughout your basketball career and you were bigger than the other kids, did coaches try to force you to play in the post, and if so was that something you embraced or something you resisted?
DRAYMOND GREEN:¬† I think coming up, all through elementary, my uncle was my coach and I guess he looked ahead.¬† So he always taught me‑‑ like I was bigger than everybody and I started at center.¬† But I played the point guard.
So it was just‑‑ he taught me those skills at a very young age.¬† And then through middle school, it was kind of the same way and through high school, my freshman year, it was the same way.¬† And my sophomore year, I was more of a role player.
So I kind of played on the block, did those things on the block, and then just from 11th grade on, it's just been pretty much doing it all.
So I think for the most part regardless of if I'm playing on the wing or up top, I'll always embrace the post.
One thing I always used to talk to my assistant coach from high school about is he used to tell me, you know, when you're out on the wing and you shoot a 3, you take somebody off the dribble or do all those things, that's the butter.  But when it's time to get a bucket, you know where to go, because the post is your money.
So I just used to always hear that.  So I've always really embraced the post because I feel like regardless if a guy is taller than me I can have an advantage with speed, and if a guy is smaller than me, I can have an advantage with the physicalness.

Q.¬† So would you consider yourself‑‑ if people call you a big man, do you embrace that, are you cool with that?¬† What position would you say that you play in the system?
DRAYMOND GREEN:  If that's what they want to call me, that's fine with me.  I'm just a player.  Just put me on the court.  I'll figure out a way to get something done.  Guys are going to try to classify you as are you a 3 or are you a 4, are you a 5, whatever you are.  Just put me on the court, I'm a player.

Q.¬† Is it fairly easy to look past a team like Saint Louis that doesn't have somebody‑‑ they don't have the big recruits, they don't have the big names that you might be used to seeing with Ohio State or Michigan or some of those other teams?
KEITH APPLING:  Around this time of year, you can't look past anyone, just because for the simple fact it's March Madness.  Anyone can be beat on any given night.  We don't look past anyone and take it one game at a time.

Q.  Keith, I don't remember if it was you last night or not, but Draymond was getting on to the guys a little bit about they weren't in the right spots and what have you.  I'm wondering how important is it to have that vocal leader out there that when things maybe aren't going well can kind of push you guys through some tough times?
KEITH APPLING:  It's very important, because if you don't have that, guys aren't going to stay in order, do what they're supposed to out there on the floor.  So it's very important for us to have Draymond and for him to do the things he do, because he keeps us together when adversity hits.

Q.  Does anyone take it the wrong way maybe a little bit when he's barking like that?
KEITH APPLING:  Sometimes at the end of the day we all know his purpose for saying the things he says or doing the things he does, it's all for the team.  That's just the way we take it.

Q.  Obviously Saint Louis is a team that likes to dictate the tempo.  They did a great job of doing that against Memphis.  That being the case, Keith, are you most important player on the floor tomorrow, and what do you see your role being in that matchup?
KEITH APPLING:  Could you repeat that question?

Q.  Saint Louis controls the tempo.  They did a great job against Memphis.  So with that being said, do you feel like you have an important role tomorrow being the point guard and what do you feel like you have to do to help this team get that victory?
KEITH APPLING:  Being the point guard, you always have a very important role.  Because the team goes, the point guard goes.
I'm going to have to play a very solid game, control my team.  When we need a basket, go to the inside to Draymond or any other one of our big guys like Adreian Payne or Derrick Nix so we get something easy and get our team going.

Q.  Keith, can you talk about Kwamain Mitchell and defending him?  Is that your matchup?  And he obviously had a pretty impressive game and hit some big shots for them last night.
KEITH APPLING:  Most likely I'll be the one to defend him.  We watched some film on him earlier today.  He's a pretty good player.  He makes a lot of things happen for his team.
So it's going to be a pretty tough matchup for myself, and we just have to go into tomorrow very focused and prepared to play hard for 40minutes.

Q.¬† Draymond, can you talk about the triple‑double that you had last night and talk a little bit about‑‑ it sounds like you're in pretty exclusive company.¬† How does that make you feel?
DRAYMOND GREEN:  I mean, it's always great to be mentioned with guys like that, guys of that caliber.  You're talking arguably two of the greatest players that ever played the game.  To be mentioned in a light with those guys, it means a lot.
But at the end of the day the things that don't show up was the guys who were on my team.¬† You're going to see that, and you may see it in the record books, you won't see an Austin Thornton or the list of guys on my team that made that triple‑double possible.¬† Because the hardest part of getting a triple‑double is getting ten assists.¬† So in order to do that, guys have to make shots.¬† And I think that's always looked at as an individual achievement.¬† But I think that's more of a team achievement, because, like I said, if guys don't make shots, you don't get assists.
You could make a million good passes.  If a guy misses every shot, nobody cares, nobody's going to look back and say, well, he made good passes, guys just didn't make the shots.  All they care about is if guys make shots and if you win or lost.
So I think at the end of the day it's a great achievement.  But it's one of those achievements that I look at as a team accomplishment, because I couldn't have done that without those guys.  And I think that's great.  It really hasn't dawned on me yet to be mentioned in the category with those guys.  But it won't dawn on me until we're finished taking care of our business as a team.

Q.¬† Just a quick follow to the triple‑double.¬† You, Magic Johnson, two Michigan State players in that.¬† What's that say about the state program?
DRAYMOND GREEN:¬† First off, Magic is one of the guys who started to build this program up to where it is today.¬† So to be mentioned in the light, like I said, with Magic, just a guy who we all look at as a big brother who started this great tradition at Michigan State, to get in the company with him outside of just something that's Michigan State‑based, like somebody may say he's a good leader like Magic Johnson or something, that's outside of Michigan State‑based, it means a lot to me, because that's our guy.
And to be mentioned with him it just means a lot because of everything that we know he's done for our program.

Q.  Draymond, did you hear from Magic since last night?  And also Coach said you had spoken to Magic earlier in the week.  What did you guys talk about?
DRAYMOND GREEN:¬† No, I haven't heard from him.¬† I probably won't hear from him.¬† Magic could care less about the triple‑double; he want us to get to the Final Four and try to get a championship.¬† So I don't plan on hearing from him about the triple‑double.
That's one thing, just like myself, I could care less about individual stats.¬† And I know for a fact just by watching all his interviews and the way he played, he didn't care about them either.¬† The only thing he cared about is wins.¬† And he's the same way today.¬† He wants to see Michigan State get wins.¬† He could care less about a guy getting a triple‑double.
So to answer that, no, I didn't hear from him, I don't expect to hear from him about a triple‑double.¬† Maybe if I'm doing something wrong, I'll expect to hear from him.¬† But other than that, no.
When I talked to him earlier this week he was talking about it's one‑and‑done time and rallying the troops and told me some things to better myself individually but also to better the team, what to say, some things to say to the guards, also talking to Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne on how they have to hold the fort down in order for us to make a run.
So just those type of things, the things that a guy who's been through it all, who has won championships, knows what it takes to get there, and just sharing his experience with us.  That's what the family is all about, helping each other out.

Q.¬† Just a couple of follow‑up on that, Draymond, about you said there's things to tell your guards.¬† What were those words of advice on that specifically?
DRAYMOND GREEN:  One of the most important things was just controlling the tempo.  And Keith has been doing a great job with that.  When we want to push the ball, he push it.  When we want to slow it down, he knows when to slow it down.
That's one thing that Keith does a great job of.  And at times Travis Trice does a great job at that as well.  Sometimes he still speed up a little more than we would like, but that's just the things that you take, that comes with being a freshman.  And he's doing a great job of learning it as well.  It was mainly just about controlling the tempo and not turning the ball over.

Q.¬† And Rick Majerus was talking about with his players guarding against the happy‑to‑be‑here syndrome he called it.¬† Obviously you guys know what it's like to be in Final Fours. ¬†So how much of an advantage is that?¬† How much different does it feel just maybe having a little more ease as you're‑‑ they haven't been to the tournament in a while; you guys, this is kind of old hat for you?
DRAYMOND GREEN:¬† I mean, I'm sure they feel like they're a much better team than just being in the round of 32.¬† So we're not coming out with the mindset that they're happy to be here and we know what it's been, because at the end of the day we still have three guys who have been to a Final Four with plenty of experience.¬† And a bunch of other guys, a couple who lost in the first round, a bunch of other guys who this is their first‑time experience in the NCAA Tournament.
So it's not like we just got a bunch of advantage over them because of experience.¬† We're still a young team.¬† And that won't go away at no point in this season.¬† We still‑‑ we've grown together, but we're still young.
So with the tournament experience, they almost have just as much as we have with the exception of myself, Austin and Derrick.  They're up there with us because a lot of our guys are young; they'll play and have no experience as well.

Q.¬† Draymond, your coach is 16‑3 in one‑day preps in the NCAA Tournament.¬† I was wondering, you've been through some of those, why do you think that this program has been good in those kind of situations?
DRAYMOND GREEN:  Just the way he prepares.  He don't sleep.  And if he's not sleeping, his assistants aren't sleeping.  I think just they have us well prepared, have the teams well scouted out and put us in the best position to win.
And he'll annoy us so much through the day that when you get to playing the next team, you want to beat them anyway because you he made you watch so much films he made you go through so many walkthroughs.
I think it's just some people may take the time out, they got this day off to rest, to get out with your families, do things with your families, go to the mall, do all those different things, as opposed to focusing on what you came here for and the goal.  And I think Coach does a great job of really enforcing in us what's important while we're here.

Q.¬† Austin, I think it says here that you took only 3‑point attempts in the Big 12 Tournament.¬† Can you talk about‑‑
AUSTIN THORNTON:  Big Ten.

Q.¬† Big Ten.¬† Sorry.¬† Can you talk about Saint Louis, that's one of their‑‑ one of the strongest points in their defense is limiting the 3‑point shot?¬† Can you talk about a little bit of that perimeter shooting and what you're going to look for?
AUSTIN THORNTON:  Saint Louis is a very, very good defensive team.  They've done a great job all year dictating how they want to play both on the offense and defensive side.  But if they're going to take away our perimeter shooting, it opens it up for our bigs on the inside, and that's really our strength is getting the ball inside and relying on them to make decisions whether to go up or kick the ball out.
So we're just going to continue to be solid and, like I said, go to our strength, which is really getting the ball inside.

Q.¬† Seems like you guys are‑‑ a lot of times people ask you about the start of the season losing the two games, but there was a stretch in January where you guys lost three straight road games, I think.¬† So how critical was it that part of the season getting past that, and what kept you together?¬† Because you see some teams hit a bad patch and it just keeps going.
AUSTIN THORNTON:  Well, we did have that tough stretch, those tough two games playing Duke and North Carolina in a couple of the days at the beginning of the year.  But when we did lose those three road games, it's tough to play on the road in the Big Ten.  And people don't quite understand we do have a lot of new guys.  We have five freshmen and one new guy in Brandon Wood.  The Big Ten conference is a tough conference.  We had a couple of losses there in a row where we felt we could have won, but we didn't make enough plays in crunch time to do that.
We were able to rebound from that and pull off some pretty big road wins after that.  It just shows the true character of this team that we were able to kind of see the mistakes that we made and move on and move forward.

Q.  Austin and Draymond, I have heard that Tom enjoys coaching this team more than any he has in many years.  I don't know if that's true.  That's just what I've heard.  But if it is, why do you think that is?
AUSTIN THORNTON:¬† Well, that's a tremendous compliment, because he's had some extremely talented and very successful teams.¬† So the fact that he kind of gave that to us is really cool.¬† And it's‑‑ just like I said, it's the group of guys.¬† We've got a special team, a special group of guys.¬† Some young guys have come in and really embraced their roles and understood what it takes to help the team win and help the program be successful, and that's why‑‑ that's probably why he's getting the most enjoyment out of it.
DRAYMOND GREEN:  Like Austin said, it's more about the group of guys.  Like Coach is always telling us:  I've had teams with more talent.  Nobody's crazy.  He's had a lot of teams with more talent.  But it's the camaraderie of our team.  We love being together, the group of guys.
Coach at first‑‑ the beginning part of the year, Coach didn't really know how to handle us, because we used to joke so much with each other.¬† You have Branden Dawson joking all the time.¬† And just really didn't know how to handle it.¬† It was something new.

Q.  What did he do?
DRAYMOND GREEN:  He just realized that that's the way we act with each other.  That's how we embrace each other.  He started embracing it.

Q.  What did he do at first?
DRAYMOND GREEN:  He used to always tell us stop joking; it's time to be serious.  At the time we were joking, we were joking around, and we may be joking during practice, but we're having a great practice.  And it was more about also teaching the guys that it's okay to joke, but there's also a time to be serious.
And I think that's one thing that we've done a great job, and Coach really put it on us, was learning that there is a time to joke and a time to have fun.
And I think when Coach really saw how this team was together was when we went to Gonzaga.¬† And we had a team dinner at a restaurant, and the way we‑‑ Coach didn't even sit with us, he sat away from us and just watched. ¬†And nobody knew what he was doing, but he was watching how we interacted with each other, and it was smiles everywhere, everybody having fun together.
And I think that's really what makes us so enjoyable to coach because everybody listened.  There's nobody on this team who feel like they're bigger than another person or bigger than the program.
When you have a team like that with a bunch of guys who love being together, I think it makes it enjoyable for us to be around each other, but it also makes it enjoyable for Coach to be around us as well.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.
Up next we have Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo.  Opening statement.
COACH IZZO:¬† We're thrilled to still be playing.¬† You look at the upsets or the games‑‑ I don't know if there's a lot of upsets anymore the way college basketball is.¬† And after spending the night looking at Saint Louis, you know, we felt going in that, looking at Brooklyn and looking at Memphis, they were similar‑type teams, and we said Saint Louis is a different‑type team.¬† I compare them more to a‑‑ not a Wisconsin from the standpoint of they grind you, they get after you defensively.¬† They're solid.¬† They don't make a lot of mistakes.¬† Offensively they run a ton of ball screens and create some problems.
So we're concerned about some of our matchups, but on the other side of it we think a big key is going to be Mitchell and containing him.  And that's what we're going to try to do.
So questions?

Q.  Obviously we've heard a lot over the last couple of days about how coaches don't win games, players win games.  But it would be lost if we didn't look at the Tom Izzo versus Rick Majerus matchup.  Could you talk about what you have learned from him over your coaching career and what you see and obviously what he's going to present as a problem for you in terms of the game and adjustments?
COACH IZZO:  I can beat Rick.  I can get him up and down the court for sure (laughter).  That was it.  That's the only one I know I can win.
But Rick Majerus is a guy I've watched and known since the day I came out of college.  I think I said yesterday that I went down and watched Marquette work out when they were working with the big men.  And we played them the first/second round the year we won the national championship when he was at Utah.  I have tremendous respect for Rick.
The job he does with his team, his teams are always tough, well disciplined.  They don't make a lot of mistakes.  They don't beat themselves.  They're very solid and fundamental.  And the post players are as fundamental as anybody in the country.
I think that has been something he hangs his hat on, if you watch him post up.¬† If you watch their moves, they're very, very good and very, very solid.¬† So it was an 8‑9 game.¬† It wasn't like it was a 5‑12 game.¬† But it surprised me none, especially with the toughness of their team.¬† I think they're a physical, tough team, and Evans, Conklin, those guys are not real, real big, but very, very physical.¬† And I think Rick's done a hell of a job with this team.

Q.  Tom, there seems to be a pretty obvious thread from Magic to Mateen to Draymond here.  Is that fair?  Are those the three phases of this program?
COACH IZZO:¬† You know, we feel like we've got some others in there.¬† When Skiles and Steve Smith ‑‑ are two that come to mind, and there's always great players that‑‑ but as far as leaders, as far as the leadership, I think that's what it is.¬† And in 2000 when we won it, my old boss, Jud Heathcote, called me and said enjoy it because they come around once every 20years.
And Magic of course, 20years later it was Mateen.¬† And I kept saying if I gotta wait another 20years, I might be dead.¬† But, thank God, at least I have a guy‑‑ each one of them has their own characteristics.¬† And let's make sure we understand Magic is on his own separate level.¬† He's way up there.¬† But Draymond can do a lot of different things.¬† And he can help you win games in a lot of different ways.
But where the thread is identical is winning is the most important thing.  Care about their teammates.  Care about the coaches.  Care about the program.  Care about the school.
He's my best recruiter.  He goes and watches kids play that are juniors in high school.  Where are you going?  I'm going to watch this guy.  I said, Hell, you won't be here, what are you worried about him for?
That's the way he is.  Same way Mateen is, the same way Earvin still is.  I think that's why you have a special appreciation for guys like that.

Q.  Last night he was kind of barking at guys at times about being out of position and what have you.  And as a coach, what does it mean to have that kind of a vocal leader on the floor for you?
COACH IZZO:  Well, that's what I told him at the beginning of the game.  At the first timeout, we decided we wanted to go inside.  And the game plan, if you remember, Draymond took about three shots kind of on the perimeter, and I said, Listen, if you're going to coach this team like you normally do, would you please listen to your own game plan, you know?
And maybe he was barking at me, but we were doing that.¬† And then they have great respect for him.¬† And so barking is his way like it is mine sometimes.¬† But it's the message he's sending.¬† And I said I'm never‑‑ never had a player that can pick up a scouting report faster than this kid can.
We watched some film at 1:00last night, just to go to bed thinking about Saint Louis.  And this morning he's rattling off some things.  And a couple of walkthroughs and he's already got it down.  Probably that's the intangible that you don't get to see that might be his greatest intangible, is he just picks up things so well.
And he can tell other people what to do.  And he's got a voice.  Some guys can tell but don't.  He does.  And he does it in good ways, bad ways, but they respect him and take it.

Q.¬† Draymond has the triple‑double last night, puts him in really rare company when you look at those names with Robinson and Magic.¬† Can you quantify how difficult that is to do, to get a triple‑double and what sort of player you have to be to do that?
COACH IZZO:  Had a lot of guys that did it.  And I would have had one in college, but I kept passing to Garland and the guy kept missing shots so I never got one.  So I can't justify or I can't imagine what it's like, because I haven't done it.  And I haven't been there much.
But I know this:  If you're in that kind of rare air, that means that a lot of people haven't done it.  And I think it's just a great tribute to him.  And that's why I was happy for him.  I mean, you like to see guys get some personal things that happen to them, if they're able to handle it and if they handle it within the team concept.
And Draymond would be the first to tell you, man, Brandon Wood was his hero.¬† Last year Delvon Roe, when he got a triple‑double, was his hero for making the last shot on the last pass.
That's what I love about him.  That's what makes it easy to pull for him to get some individual goals and things like that, because I know he's team, team, team all the way.

Q.  Can you talk about the matchup with Kwamain Mitchell and is it going to be Keith Appling on him and how important is that?
COACH IZZO:  I think it's always important that you've got somebody dealing with the quarterback of the other team.  But Mitchell is the guy who stirs the drink and creates things.  He does it in different ways.  He does it with his shot.  He does it by penetrating.  He does it defensively.  But we think Appling is getting better each and every game.
But the one thing he's been pretty solid and steady at, he can defend just about anybody.  And I think it's going to be a heck of a matchup and a big part of this game.

Q.  Tom, since the end of last night's game to the start of tomorrow's, how many mini walkthroughs will you go through?  How long do they take?  Do you kind of focus on one particular subject at a time?  How does it go?
COACH IZZO:  We started last night at 12:30, quarter to 1:00, whenever we got home.  I always try to put them to bed with that next team on their mind.
And usually that one is just a film session.  Last night we did a little bit of personnel and a little bit of maybe their top 10 plays that they run.  And then this morning we let them sleep in until 9:30 or 10:00, and then we had a film session again, then a walkthrough of the plays we saw in the film session.  And on a team like Saint Louis, who runs so many different sets, you know, we tried to not put them all in at once because it's beating a dead horse.
Then we ate breakfast.¬† And then we had another 20‑minute one after.¬† I let them go spend some time with their family, then we had one at 3:00 before we came here, about a 15‑minute film session, 15‑minute walkthrough.
And now we'll have our thing here.  And tonight we'll have a little film session, a snack.  Another walkthrough probably tomorrow morning before breakfast.
So they're just 15‑, 20‑minute deals.¬† As we pick it up better, they know and we add a few things and add the out of bounds plays and just the way we've done it.¬† It's worked pretty well for us.¬† So I don't know, five or six.

Q.  Coach, it seems like last 10, 15years we're seeing fewer guys identify themselves as true centers.  Can you talk about that change at the collegiate level and sort of the reasons behind that?
COACH IZZO:¬† Well, I think everybody‑‑ the NBA, this is one place I think they caused our problems.¬† No matter who you talk to, every 2 man wants to be a point.¬† Every 3 man wants to be a 2.¬† Every 4 man wants to be a 3 and it's illegal to want to be a 5 man.¬† That means you're some big guy that can't do anything but sit in the post.¬† There's some pretty good guys making pretty good money that just sit in the post.
But I think we're always‑‑ AAU ball, everything's forced that we want kids to be able to do a lot of things average instead of a couple of things great.
And that's one of the things I love about Nix.  He is what he is.  He is what he wants to be.  He's not trying to be Magic Johnson.  He's trying to be Derrick Nix and a post player that gets it down low.
And there are very few of those because somebody is telling them that this isn't the way you're going to get to where you want to go.¬† And I think that's part of the problem.¬† Instead of being great at something and have a real‑‑ I look at Conklin for Saint Louis.
I mean, he's 6'6", 6'7", and he's a post guy and spends a lot of time down there and does a pretty good job of it, and there's nothing wrong with that.  But I think that's the main reason.  We're always looking to be something else, and I can't tell you how many times I see NBA guys try to make 2 guards point guards, and I just don't know if that ever works.  I think you are what you are, and you can get better at other things, but I think that's what it is.

Q.  Is that the attitude that you want Adreian Payne to embrace?  I was talking to him in the locker room.  If Coach let me, I could play a little 3.
COACH IZZO:  Did he say 3?  He was a point guard last week.  I guess we've downgraded a little bit.  But he is in that thing where he likes to shoot 3s.  He likes to do this.  He's phenomenal in the post.  He's got a right hand.  He's got a left hand.  He's got everything.  And he can stretch.  I think next year he'll be our stretch 4.  He can shoot a 3 legitimately.  He's got a very good looking shot.  If he spends some time on it.
But you've got to have bread‑and‑butter moves and you have to have things you can do.¬† If you can do a bunch of them, then that's what gets you to another level.¬† But if you do a bunch of them average, that's not good enough.
And so we're trying to get him‑‑ like last night I thought he posted pretty well.¬† He hit a little 12‑footer.¬† Did some good things.¬† Rebounding the ball better.¬† Starting to block shots better.
He can step out, and I think if he‑‑ if he wants to be that, I'm going to see how hard he works on that shot and his ball handling this summer.¬† And if he does, hey, I'd be happy if he could play the 4.¬† The 3 and the 2 and the 1, I don't know.¬† He puts those glasses on, he thinks he's Superman.¬† So I have to be careful with him.

Q.¬† Rick Majerus was talking about with his team guarding against the happy‑to‑be‑here syndrome.¬† This is the first time for his guys.¬† You have guys who have been to Final Fours and it's kind of norm to be in the tournament.¬† Is that as big an advantage as people might think, having been‑‑
COACH IZZO:  It works both ways.  First of all, I think we've had three guys that were in the Final Four.  But we got like five or six guys that yesterday was their first tournament game.  And I think four of them played a decent amount.
So we felt like LIU had more experience in the tournament than we had.¬† Now, we had‑‑ Draymond has been to two Final Fours and Nix has been to one and Austin has been to two, didn't play a lot in them, but I think when you get to this time of year and see all the upsets and see everything, everybody's happy to be here, but this is not a program.¬† You're an 8 seed.¬† You're not a 16 seed.
So I do remember playing Vermont once, and Tom, before the game, I think he washappy as ten men they had beat Syracuse.  It doesn't happen that often anymore where you're satisfied with that because I think everybody legitimately thinks they have a shot to beat some people.  And yesterday it all proved true.
I heard somebody say today, I'll tell you what I'm the happiest about is we got away being a 1 seed not getting beat by 16.  Because somebody said it on TV today, it's going to happen, and I think it's going to happen in the near future, and it's not because one's overlooking the other, it's just parity of everything and maybe sometimes the pressure of being at 1 or 2 seed having to play those.
So there's definitely a little more pressure on us being a 1 seed, but I think I have so much respect for Rick.  And one thing our players have done, they have listened to what I have said, and I think our whole staff knows that this is a very good basketball team.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, Coach.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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