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March 20, 2013

Keith Appling

Gary Harris

Tom Izzo

Adreian Payne


MODERATOR:テつ We'll start with the student-athletes first.

Q.テつ Keith, I don't know if you've played on this court before, but I imagine growing up that you were someone that followed the Pistons pretty closely.テつ Does it mean anything more to you to be able to play on this court?
KEITH APPLING:テつ I mean, my freshman year we did play here, so I have a little experience playing here at the Plaza.テつ But by me being a hometown kid, of course I followed the Pistons, especially when they won the championship that year.
It's a special feeling to be able to play here in the NCAA tournament and have all my family and close friends be able to come watch us play.
I'm just happy I have the opportunity to be a part of this.

Q.テつ AP, can you talk about Broekhoff and watching him and his style of play, maybe who you've played like him and what your thoughts are after watching him on film?
ADREIAN PAYNE:テつ He's a great shooter.テつ He goes both ways.
He's got a quick trigger like Thomas, and he picked the floor on the ball going both ways like Watford.テつ So he's going to be a tough cover.
And I'm just going to have to buckle down and get ready to trail these pindowns.

Q.テつ I was wondering, Adrien, if you could talk about coach has played you guys as bigs together at times this season.テつ Do you anticipate much of that in this game?
ADREIAN PAYNE:テつ Yeah, you know, Coach playing Nix and I together, we feel more comfortable.テつ And me going a perimeter guy now, I'm able to shoot the ball consistent and I'm getting the ball into the post to Nix and Nix is able to make moves down low and get buckets.

Q.テつ Have you guys reached out to Brandon Wood at all and had any conversations with him?
KEITH APPLING:テつ As a matter of fact, I spoke with Brandon as soon as we found out that that we were playing Valpo.テつ Didn't seem that he was on either side.テつ He just wanted to go out there and play well.
He asked me to tell the other guys that he say hello.

Q.テつ Gary, earlier in the week, Tom said the only really big concern he had for health-wise was you.テつ Would you tell us the condition of your shoulders, please?
GARY HARRIS:テつ I mean, I feel pretty good right now.テつ I don't really think about it much.テつ I go out there and play and it's really not much else I can do about it.テつ I mean, it feels pretty good right now.

Q.テつ You guys will have fans out here today watching practice.テつ Can you talk about using that to your advantage and having the home court advantage?
ADREIAN PAYNE:テつ You know, I think we're all looking forward to playing here and having home court advantage, because our fans is great and, you know, we're just very supportive and thankful that we're going to be able to play here at the Palace and have their support.

Q.テつ Gary, I imagine this is the type of atmosphere, that you came to Michigan State for, have success in the postseason.テつ Can you talk about where your head is at?
GARY HARRIS:テつ I mean, I'm definitely looking for it, my first NCAA tournament, and I'm just -- everybody says that's the most exciting part of the season, and I'm definitely just looking forward to it.
MODERATOR:テつ Coach will open up with an opening statement and then take questions from the audience.
COACH IZZO:テつ Well, first of all, we're excited to be here.テつ I think the NCAA tournament never gets old, No. 1, and to have the ability to play in your home state in a great facility like the Palace is, I think, special for me for fans, for our university, and for our team.
So I'm excited to be here.テつ I know enough about Valparaiso to know that, you know, somewhere in his repertoire, Bryce has that shot from way back in there.テつ And I hope that that's not in the game plan.
But very, very good team.テつ Very solid team.テつ Broekhoff is a player that could play at a lot of places.
And his program from when his dad was there on up has always been a threat and we're concerned about that, but I think we're most concerned about our own team.テつ We're getting healthier and healthier.テつ I think Harris is still the only guy that is -- he's really healthy, but, I mean, it's the up and down of if anything happens to that shoulder.
Other than that, I think we're probably the best we've been all year.テつ Definitely Trice is playing some of his best basketball and I think the other guys are all great.テつ BJ's as good as he's been.テつ So should be a great weekend.
And I'll answer any questions you have.

Q.テつ Broekhoff, Payne says he reminds him a little bit of Watford, a little bit of Thomas.テつ How do you describe him?
COACH IZZO:テつ It's the day before the game, you're going to ruin me with those kinds of stats or what?
I think it is true.テつ I think Payne said it best.テつ You know, he's got the ability to put it on the floor a little bit more like Watford.テつ He can shoot the three and he can shoot it from places off balance like Thomas.
So that's a very good evaluation of him, and yet he's his own man.テつ What he does a little different than both those guys is he'll take the ball off the back board and bring it down in the break like a guard.テつ He's really a six seven guard.テつ Doesn't post up much, where those other two guys will.

Q.テつ I saw you on the news talk a little bit about a home court disadvantage.
COACH IZZO:テつ Just a little bit.テつ I just said -- let me tell you, I'm tickled to death to be here, but the only worry you have -- it's kind of funny, I was talking to John Thompson the other day on a radio show, and I was teasing him about sequestering his guys, like he used to have them stay a couple days away from where they played and fly in with some of NASA's equipment.テつ That seemed like back in the day, and I said I'm not sure you could do that as well this day and age with, you know, so much more media.テつ You have to be at so many more events, at which time and all that.テつ And his comment is you want to bet?
And so I think that's the only worry, you know, is that there's family, there's more people around.テつ There's more people they know, but that is miniscule compared to the advantage of not having to travel far, having our families be able to get here.テつ Just be in your home state.
Now, it's 99 to 1, and that was the one I was explaining that I just got to make sure we keep a focus on what we're supposed to be doing and nothing else.

Q.テつ Can you talk about matching up with Nix?テつ You've watched how the Crusaders match up on different teams.テつ Do you expect to see some of Bobby Capobianco, the Italian guy?
COACH IZZO:テつ Yeah, I expect to see him.テつ I expect to see some double teams.テつ You know, they trap the post pretty well.テつ I expect to see some of that.
We might see more zone, who knows.テつ I think we're prepared for everything.テつ Whether we can execute is another story, but I think we're prepared for everything we think they could do.
And I think they'll throw some different people in there and keep running people at them, yeah.

Q.テつ Coach, Coach Drew is coaching in his first NCAA game.テつ Can you go back and recall what it was like for you coaching the first time in the tournament?
COACH IZZO:テつ Sure, I can.
In the NIT, I remember going against Tark and looked behind his bench out there and I knew I was in trouble.テつ You know, he had all his boys there.テつ It was great.
But in the NCAA, I think my first time was against Eastern Michigan of all teams and then Princeton.
So he's been around it.テつ The difference is he's played the game.テつ He's played in it.テつ He's played at other levels.テつ He lived it with his dad.テつ You know, I was from the UP.テつ You know, it was a little different up there.
So I think once you grew up in it that way, I think it'll be a little easier for him to handle and he's done such a great job there with his team.テつ They've won a lot of games and, you know, am I going to feel sorry for him?テつ No.テつ And do I have great respect for him?テつ Yes.テつ I think he'll handle it well.

Q.テつ The players kind of joked about Brandon Wood and the media a little bit.テつ Does that give them any kind of way to tie into this game?テつ Does that help at all?
COACH IZZO:テつ Well, you know, that's a good question.テつ I didn't really think about it that way, but, you know, Homer Drew and I are fairly good friends.テつ And when Brandon wanted to transfer, it was Homer that -- you know, I said I wasn't going to take him and then Homer called me back and said, listen, he wants to go.テつ He's going to go somewhere and I'd love to have him go to your place.テつ So there was a very amicable deal there.
I think they also, you know, had an appreciation that he played good basketball there.テつ Everybody knew how good, you know, Brandon was a good player, and to think that he was a good player on that team and yet that team won a lot of games that year.
So we understand the level.テつ The advantage of playing somebody so close to home for us is -- we know how good Valpo is and our guys have heard of Valpo, and some of them played against players that are playing on Valpo.
As you said the Brandon situation even maybe brings it a little closer.

Q.テつ Tom, you've coached a lot of teams that have gone on Final Four runs.テつ Heading into those runs before the tournament start, can you sense commonalities or trends that those groups had going in?テつ If there are trends, do you see any with this squad?
COACH IZZO:テつ You know, like you said, I've been able to coach a one seed that's made it and I've been able to coach, I think, a five seed that's made it.テつ So there's been different teams, different situations.
This one doesn't have the same -- you know, it was, I think, Travis Walton's year that, you know, he didn't want to be the first group of guys in a four-year period that didn't go to the Final Four.テつ That was incentive.テつ There was Chris Hill and all those guys had some of the similar incentives, and they had just come off, they were the first recruiting class off that great three Final Four runs in a row.テつ So that was incentive.
This one I think is more -- you know, we're a younger team.テつ We're not as well led, and that's not a negative; it's just a fact of life.
But I think us playing everybody has helped this team be able to sit there before a practice or in a meeting.
The first meeting we had as we entered this NCAA tournament on Sunday, it was, you know, we have played everybody.テつ We haven't played at Duke and we haven't played at Valparaiso, but we've played everybody at all different levels, you know, from Boises, you know, to the Kansases and Miamis, and then of course our conference games.テつ I think there's an understanding that they can compete with everybody, but I also think there's an understanding that, you know, we haven't won some of those games, and some of them have been through self-inflicted wounds.テつ Some of the teams outplayed us and some of them we aided to that.
And that's what we tried to talk about and correct.テつ So crapshoot, I would say no, but commonalties, I would say no also.テつ This is just a different team, a different year.テつ In some ways it's been more fun.テつ In some ways it's been harder because I don't have the same pulse, but they've proven their stock over 33 games that they can play with anybody, and now we got to make sure we're beating the teams that we need to beat.

Q.テつ Obviously you have NCAA tournament experience.テつ What is the most important thing about this first game getting out of the gates that you've learned over the years?
COACH IZZO:テつ Well, that my experience can help a little but I don't get to play.テつ If I got to play, I'd feel a lot better about my experience, you know.
But I do think I can be a calming factor or a motivating factor because I can look guys in the eye and tell them I know how to get here, I know what we need to do to win.テつ Now, whether you want to listen, whether we want to execute it, whether, you know, you believe that, or whether the other team will cooperate, those are the coin flip areas.
But I do think we have a system that is in place to advance through this tournament, but I make sure I let them know that isn't getting us there.テつ What's getting us there is how they play, and what they do each and every minute of the day from, you know, taking their cell phones and girlfriends and put them on the back burner for three weeks or, you know, making sure they're focused in on the walk-through.
The beauty of this tournament is you really get a feel whether people, a group of maybe 30, 40 people, everybody that's on our group, everybody that traveled with us, whether we can all stay focused on one task.テつ And that's not easy to do, and yet the team that moves on each week is probably the team that accomplished that best.テつ And that goes from administratively to our managers, and that's the way I've always believed it, done it, and I think it will be the same this year.

Q.テつ 2000, did it give you an appreciation of how difficult it is to go through all 318 teams and then win it once and then try to do it again?
COACH IZZO:テつ Well, it sure does, Pat.テつ You know, there's no question that at one minute I've been here where, you know, you got to get to a Final Four.テつ Then we got there.テつ Then we won one, and then we've been to four others since then.
You know, then you kind of hear your own rumors that you can get there but can you win another one, you know.テつ And then I look at a Gene Keadys of the world and I just think how many great, great, great, great coaches have never gotten there.
So I find myself a balancing act once in awhile of appreciating that I've gotten a chance to do and be selfish enough to think it's not enough.
And to do that, you just got to have bigger goals each year.テつ I do think it's -- as I look back, it is harder to maintain a program.テつ It is harder to probably win a second one because the first one everybody's cheering for you.テつ The second one if you're more of a favorite, everybody's cheering against you.テつ The first one everybody's excited for you.テつ And the second one, more people are jealous of you.
And I think that's -- you know, I heard Mike Krzyzewski talk about the rushing the floor thing and I remember my first time that we had the floor rushed on us was at Indiana, you know, in 2001, and a cop grabbed me and said, come on, Coach, I'll get you off the floor.テつ Told him to get his damn hands off me.テつ I wanted to sit there.テつ I said do they know who they're playing.テつ You know, and that's how it's changed over the years.
Now we're one of the hunted instead of the hunter.テつ And the more you're that way, I think it's tougher to win.テつ You got to be tougher mentally.テつ You got to be tougher physically, and you got to understand everybody's throwing grenades at you and you got to handle it.
So as much as I complain about it once in awhile, that's what I live for.テつ I live to be one of those that they're rushing the floor on them.テつ Live to be one of those that they want to get me and they want to get and you say they want to get Michigan State.テつ That's as big a compliment as you can have.

Q.テつ You see a team like Valpo with all the seniors they have.テつ Does it make you even more appreciative of being able to have a guy like Derrick Nix on the team and what he's been through to get to this point?
COACH IZZO:テつ Well, I don't appreciate they're seniors.テつ It scares me a little bit when you got that many numbers, you got a couple fifth year seniors, some other regular seniors and it's a very senior laden team.テつ Experience, there's nothing like it, and it's going to help all the time.テつ As I said, it helps me in preparation.テつ The problem is I don't get to play.
And the players that have experience, meaning those seniors, and have hunger of not wanting to play their last game, that's sometimes a great combination for success, and they've got that.テつ You know, that is one thing they've really got.テつ And those guys have been through the wars.テつ They understood it and I'm sure they don't want to go home and end their careers.
It makes me appreciate them.テつ It makes me appreciate any seniors I have, because I think when guys go through the system, and I've had some great, great seniors over the years, you do appreciate them even more, yes.

Q.テつ Tom, two part.テつ First, Coach Drew talked about the first four minutes of this game being the most critical for them to keeping it close staying with you guys the first four minutes.テつ Your thoughts on the first four minutes.
Second of all, going back to a couple last questions asked, do you look at some of these first-time coaches, teams that just got in, with all your success Spartan fans, they do put the Final Four on the schedule every year and maybe miss those moments of appreciation for times like this?
COACH IZZO:テつ Yes, I do.テつ I do.テつ First of all, in the first four minutes, you know, I used to think that, and, no plus or minus to him, and I remember Jud, sometimes you say, well, we got to play the first four minutes, first four minutes, you're down ten to nothing.テつ What do you do?テつ Quit the game?テつ Go home?テつ You know.
So I kind of curb that and watch what I think of it.
I think the first four of both halves is very important.
But the one thing I've changed my opinion on is a missed layup in the first two minutes is no different than a missed layup in the last ten seconds.テつ And, unfortunately, we all feel different about it, you know.テつ We remember things that happen at the end.テつ I'm trying to get my guys to remember things that happen through the 40 minutes, because I think it is 40 minutes of hell and you got to play all 40 of them if you're going to be good teams in advance in this tournament.
Second part was?

Q.テつ The excitement.
COACH IZZO:テつ Yeah, I am envious of that.テつ I sit down in our locker room now and I watch the NCAA tournament and I remember those first couple years.
You know, people were jumping.テつ We were the team on TV.テつ What do you think of being here and this and that?テつ And now, you know, it's just -- it is part of the schedule.
But I appreciate that, and I realize that that's what building a program is, that you can sustain something.テつ Sixteen straight years, you know, and, I mean, it hasn't been done by many.テつ So I keep telling our guys to appreciate it.テつ Unfortunately, everybody else takes it for granted.
It's finding a way to do both, because I expect at the end of the Big Ten season we're within reason of trying to win a championship.テつ I expect we're somewhere where we still have a chance to mathematically win in the last week.テつ And that's happened, I want to say, like ten or twelve of the last 14 or 15 years.テつ That's a good thing.
But you got to keep reminding yourself, you know, once a while I go to the mirror and I slap myself a couple times and I say, you know, you better realize where you are and what you're doing.テつ And it gets harder, but it's one of the reasons I do, without sounding corny, I do look up to the people in front of me.テつ That's why I study football and pro football and, you know, listen to Earvin when he comes back talk about guys.テつ I'm in a locker room with Chuck Daly.テつ I've read his books.テつ You know, do learn how to handle success too, because it's hard to, and you've got to appreciate it and realize that's what you're striving for and not take it for granted.

Q.テつ As much success as you've had in the tournament and everything, when your team has ups and downs during a season, do you still have to convince them at this time that they can win it?
COACH IZZO:テつ You know, it's funny.テつ That's a good question, and I'm listening to your question and I'm thinking about our ups and downs this year.テつ You know with three minutes left to go, we haven't been out of one game, and that's like having a chance to win the Big Ten at the end.
We haven't always played great but, you know, there's a lot of teams that haven't always played great.テつ In fact, every one of the one seeds have had their moments.テつ You know, when you look at every one of the two seeds, you know, Ohio state has gotten beat by 25 at Wisconsin, Duke has gone through their thing at Miami.テつ Kansas has gone through the TCU.テつ When you really think about it, we haven't had one of those.
I think I've got to do more convincing because I'm just not sure this team -- you know, when you lack a true aggressive leader, they've got to hear that.テつ They can't hear it two hours in practice.テつ They got to hear it every day in the locker room.
And I remember Day-Day against St. Louis in tears in the locker room at half time and -- just because, and we were winning.テつ But, you know, it meant that much to him.
And so, yeah, I think you got to do some convincing.テつ You got to make them believe, but, yet again, the longer you're in it and the longer you're in that position, you got everybody else in town telling them, yeah, we'll see you in Atlanta.テつ You know, and are you kidding me or what?テつ That's the hard part.テつ That's the balancing act.
And as I get in every press conference that I'll ever do for the rest of my life, that's what makes Twitter so hard.テつ Everybody's tweeting them telling them how great they are and then there's some Italian guy telling them how bad they are and we got to find a happy medium.

Q.テつ You talk about how much Derrick Nix has reshaped his body and his game and his life.テつ Have you ever had somebody whose done those things quite like he had?
COACH IZZO:テつ I never had anybody that big.テつ You know, Zach Randolph was close and yet we only had him for a year.テつ But I'd say the closest thing was a Morris Peterson, you know, who came in a pudgy little guy or pudgy big guy and he grew academically, he grew socially, and he grew in basketball.テつ And he turned out to be my wife's -- one of her favorite players of all times because he grew so much and he was such a good kid.
And, you know, Nix is -- I mean, he is making a lot of progress.テつ He's got a ways to go, but we're not always fortunate as some and we don't always start out the way maybe I started out.テつ And I think I've learned to appreciate that, and I have a great appreciation for the fact that he's trying.テつ He's trying.テつ You know, he's trying to get better in all areas.
In some ways I wish I had him one more year, you know, because I think like Morris red shirted a year, and I'm not sure he would have been ready for the real world after his junior, senior year -- you know, junior year.テつ And yet, boy, was he when he got out.テつ And he ran with it and he's doing so well now.
And that's what I hope for Derrick.テつ You know, it's probably the most fun to take a guy that you're not sure would have made it academically, athletically, or socially, and you see it turn around and you see a guy making it probably means more in the long run than the Final Fours because you really truly did help a guy get better and that's what we all should be doing.テつ Especially us as coaches or teachers.

Q.テつ You were talking about how the people you looked up to you studied.テつ Could you talk about how that benefit you this of time of year?
COACH IZZO:テつ Yeah, I had a lot of pinch-me moments.テつ Anybody I met from up there was a pinch-me moment.テつ Some of you guys were pinch-me moments just because I saw your mugs on a piece of paper, you know, when I read the paper up there.
You know, I mean, it started out when I was really, really young and it was Vince Lombardi and the Green Bay Packers 90 miles from my house, you know, and go down there and watch practice and ride my bike and let somebody drive me over and, you know, all those things.テつ That was cool.
And then, of course, reading his books and -- you know, and I looked at -- you know, Jud was -- I remember coming down to the first practice.テつ In fact, my first practice I ever went to as an assistant coach at Northern Michigan, I was a GA up there for awhile and was to Al McGuire, and got down there with Hank Raymonds and, of, course Rick Mejarus were running practice and just like the stories, Al pulled in on his motorcycle, and I said, What the what is that.テつ You know, and it was cool.テつ It was great.テつ I learned.テつ In fact, I got to tell him that story when he did our last game before he kind of quit the announcing part.
You know, so I looked at guys like that because they were close.テつ Came down here for Jud's practice when he was with Magic when I first became an assistant coach.テつ That was good.
Y'all know I do study pro football.テつ You know, with Mariucci, I'd access the people like -- you know, get to spend time with Gruden at his practices or spend time with Mariucci, and that's why I go down to the Lions practices now.テつ Jim invites me down.テつ I think I learn a lot of things from those guys, and when Earvin comes back, you know, you get a lot of Pat Riley stories.テつ I got a chance to be with Flip Saunders and Doc Rivers on the Goodwill Games.テつ When I do those things, or when I'm with Mike Krzyzewski on a board, hey, I think the best thing I've done is figure I know nothing, and I do try to learn from everybody.テつ I really do.テつ I don't think that's a fault or a weakness.テつ I think it is a strength.
I think, you know, I'd be the first to admit, you know, I do look at the weak ends now.テつ That was Mike.テつ That's where he taught me.テつ I do believe toughness is the key.テつ That was Vince Lombardi's books, you know.テつ And I just I think, like every good coach, every good parent, every good teacher, you steal from whoever you can legally steal from, and I've stolen from everybody, and that's why I think it's helped me.
Because these different venues -- I mean, I love going speaking corporately.テつ I always get there early and stay late just so I can meet the president or meet somebody like that who gives me the business side of things.テつ I just think it's -- you know, I watch Pauley, and his son was a GA at our place.テつ You know, when Saban was there.テつ I just try to pick guys that have been successful over time, not flashing-the-pan guys, been successful over time, and I try to see how they did it.
You know what I found out for the most part?テつ Everybody does it a a very similar way, business, sports, parenthood, doesn't matter.テつ There's a right way and a wrong way, and that's what I figured out in this crazy world I live in.

Q.テつ Coach, I just got here a few moments ago.テつ Readdress, if you would, the home venue, the positives of that, if they far outweigh the negatives?
COACH IZZO:テつ Yeah, I don't feel any pressure with it.テつ None what so ever.テつ Zero.テつ Pressure to me is self-inflicted.テつ You know, I'm not worried about those people.テつ I want to play.テつ I want to win for those people, but I'm not worried about the pressure of those people at all.
That's the one thing.テつ The only time I felt pressure was probably going into my third year, we lost a couple games and I knew my job was on the line.テつ That was pressure.テつ But this stuff is a privilege.テつ It's an honer.テつ It's we're playing for everybody who's a Michigan State fan, and when you play in your home state, you get a lot of fans that aren't Michigan State fans that join in, and I appreciate that.テつ I applaud that.テつ I admire that.
The more people that come here, the more people that get in, I think the better for us, because I really -- when we win a big game, I can't tell you how much -- I told Magic Johnson when we won our game in Detroit against UConn I said, man, you think I'd get killed if I took you and my team and we just walked the streets for a half hour before the next game? テつAnd he said, no, let's go do it.テつ I said, no, I'll get killed, you know, if I lose.
And that's the only thing.テつ I mean, I love sharing things with people.テつ I love seeing people happy because we do well.テつ Especially if it's Michigan State people.テつ So it's 99.テつ The only one was to keep our guys focused and that's my job and their job.テつ So it's all good.テつ It's all good being here.テつ We just got to perform now.
MODERATOR:テつ Thanks very much, Coach.

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