March 10, 2011
COACH IZZO: Well, it wasn't a pretty game, there's no question about that. But as I told my guys, the last year we played New Mexico State in the first game (of the NCAA Championship), and as Draymond said when he walked in, it's about advance, surviving advance, and that's kind of the way it is. I thought at times we did some really good things, and at times we did some really not so good things. But the bottom line is I thought I had some guys that didn't play as well early, Austin (Thornton), Delvon (Roe) struggled, Durrell didn't really get as many shots. But late, he really hit the big three and hit the two free throws but maybe as important got two big rebounds late.
Draymond will probably tell you that he was not as good, you know, part of the first half, but I thought he too sucked it up, and we went to him. And Kalin is hurt a little bit, and that created some problems there.
But really Austin Thornton bounced back, made some plays, and yet the two big guns for us in money time down the stretch with Durrell and Draymond, and hopefully that will give us a shot in the arm.
Q. Draymond, you guys were down the second half, your backs were against the wall so to speak, so much to play for at this point. Talk about what you guys were kind of thinking, and it didn't seem like you guys really thought you were out of it.
DRAYMOND GREEN: Not at one point did we think we were out of it. We just said we thought we had to get it back on the defensive end. We got like a seven point lead there in the first half, and what we said in the huddle was we got that lead off of defensive rebounding the basketball, and we got away from it.
And then the second half was kind of just back and forth. They kind of took a lead, and we just said we had to get stops on the defensive end in order to cut the lead and get back in the game, but never at one point did we think we were out of the game.
Q. Durrell, could you talk about the end of the game? I know you've had struggles this year, but can you talk about hitting those free throws and coming up with the big rebounds late and what that means for you moving forward?
DURRELL SUMMERS: As far as rebounds, I was just being aggressive, just finding the ball really, just happened to notice where the ball was. And as far as the free throws, I just kind of talked to myself at the line and said -- basically I just told myself to go on up. That's something I tell myself as a confidence builder, and that's pretty much what I did, and just let them go.
Q. Durrell, I wanted to ask you about another point. You got free in the corner, got the ball, and it sort of looked like you waited for a second, then hit that big three pointer that put you guys up four. Talk about that play.
DURRELL SUMMERS: Yeah, I kind of hesitated because the reason was to go inside, and I was so wide open, I just let it go. The guys are yelling from the bench, "shoot it," so I just shot it and it went in.
Q. Draymond, could you just talk a little bit about what makes Michigan State so good and why you guys are able to have success, and does that play into this year when obviously you've got to kind of play your way into the tournament?
DRAYMOND GREEN: Um, I'm not sure if it's just that we're so great in March, but I think just with us, as any other team in the nation, our focus level just goes up. Everybody picks their intensity up, all the focus is turned up and everything is turned up, and we -- I wouldn't necessarily say we're that great in March. It comes with having a great coach and a great staff and a little bit of luck. You know, all those things add into it. But the main thing is just the focus and intensity level that goes up, and we do a great job of picking ours up.
Q. This is for Draymond. You don't get much of an opportunity to relax and enjoy this one because you've got to bounce back into the fire tomorrow night. You've had two interesting games against Purdue this year. Can you take a peek ahead and anticipate round three with the Boilermakers?
DRAYMOND GREEN: We'll enjoy this one until we get back to the film room in the hotel and get our minds focused on Purdue. You have to enjoy it a little bit, but once it's time to hit the film room, it's time.
You know, the first game with Purdue, it was a good game up until they made one run, and that run really lost us the game because we never really got back from that run in the first half. We kind of got back in the second half, but when you're on a roll like that, it's hard to let a team make a run like that. And we played them even the second half, it was just that one run, which was I think an 11 point run. You know, at the Breslin Center that was real uncharacteristic of us and not only us but the Michigan State basketball program, you know, all the guys that came before us, pretty much an embarrassment to lose at home by 20. You can lose anywhere by 20, but when you don't defend your home court and you lose by 20 in a game, that is very critical to a season, that's an embarrassment, and we haven't forgot about that. We need to come out and redeem ourselves from that, as well.
But I think one of the key things tomorrow will be containing their role players. JaJuan Johnson is a great player, he's going to do what he do, and E'Twaun Moore is going to do what he do but it's not letting Lewis Jackson get 17 points and not letting D.J. Byrd come out and get 11, 13 points or Ryne Smith come out and get 15. You've got to control those things, and just try to contain the other two guys.
Q. With Kalin barely seemingly able to walk, did you feel you needed to step up at the end to make up for your friend?
DURRELL SUMMERS: You could say that, yeah. I mean, I was just trying to bounce back myself from a bad first half and just be aggressive, and the game was on the line, so I just -- that's pretty much winning time. I just tried to do whatever I could to win. When I saw the balls bouncing my way, I just tried to chase them down. I'm constantly hearing that from my coaches, so I just went for the ball and made sure I knocked down the free throws.
Q. Draymond, just after what you were saying after the game Saturday, how important of a game was this for you and what did you think of coming in after?
DRAYMOND GREEN: It was a very important game for me to come out after having a performance like that against -- I'm from the state of Michigan, so the rivalry is going to mean a little bit more to me than it means to an Adreian Payne, Delvon Roe.
When we play Ohio State, that's when it's time for those guys to step up and get up for the game. It's a big game for us, but when you're from that state it's a little more added to the game. So when I came out and had a performance like that, it wasn't anything -- not being able to get the shot I wanted. I had lay ups and I missed them, and I just wanted to come out and have a better showing because I know my coaching staff, my teammates know that's not me, and I felt I let the whole program down and the guys that came before me.
Mateen Cleaves never did that against Michigan and Magic Johnson never did that against Michigan, and I try to put myself in a category with those guys because I want to be one of the best leaders to play at Michigan State. They never did that against Michigan, so I refuse to let myself do it.
Q. Coach, could you speak on Draymond's performance, good all around the board, shooting was a little off, but talk about what he was able to do and the leadership he did provide?
COACH IZZO: I thought one of the main things we went into the game with was to try to get off to a better start. As you know we've been off to some bad starts. We thought our shot selection was poor in a couple of games in Ann Arbor and at home against Purdue. So we went inside more, we went to him. We got something out of it. We got to the rim a little bit more, we got some three point plays. I thought we did a great job to start out. And I think he said it right. He got tired, I thought, asked twice to come out, and that's why you never know how much time off helps you and it hurts you. Usually when you have time off at this time of year, we actually try to do what we could do, but we definitely didn't do a lot of running because we figured guys are worn out. Even though we have all day off with no school, we just tried to do more mental work than physical work.
I thought Draymond, he did a lot of good things. We were able to go to him. I thought he broke down a couple times and threw some passes I've never seen him throw, but when he's inside like that he's a better rebounder and getting six offensive rebounds and put backs, 14 rebounds for the game, that's what we need if we're going to be successful.
Q. I was wondering if the Kalin injury is basically reinjuring what he did against Purdue. How concerned are you about that for tomorrow, and also with Delvon having to go up against JaJuan Johnson 24 hours later. How concerned are you about the health of your team right now?
COACH IZZO: Well, I don't think it would be very good if we were healthy. We were a little too healthy today maybe, so if we're back to digging and scratching maybe that's the way the whole year has been. I don't know that much. I talked to Kalin right before I left, but he was doing an interview with the Big Ten Network, so I didn't really get a chance to talk to him about it. I mean, I think he sprained it when he drove that time and kind of foot slipped out as he went to pass it. So it's a little bit of a sprain. It's not his Achilles, it's his ankle. If it's a bad sprain, then it's going to swell up and it's going to be a real problem. If it's a slight sprain he's a tough enough kid to get through it and handle it, and whatever it is, we still get to play, so we're going to play.
Delvon, you know, didn't complain about it, so I kind of asked gingerly with those guys, 'Are you OK? What? I didn't hear you,' and I just walk away. So that's about the way I handle that right now.
Q. Just if you could, just your thoughts seeing Summers make that big shot at the end that fell for you.
COACH IZZO: Well, there are no secrets that it's been a disappointing year for him and it's been a disappointing year for us. And I thought he struggled during the game, just fumbling the ball and doing some things. It all means he's pressing. Sometimes if you just do a couple things to feel good about yourself, you can get over that. There's no question he had some looks and he had some shots, and that last shot was big. But I'm not kidding you, the rebounds were just about as big. One thing he could do a better job is his rebounding, and I think it would help him. But making a shot, making the free throws, getting a big rebound, hopefully it motivates him because if his buddy is able to go, it probably won't be at full speed, and we're going to need some more bodies.
Q. How much does it help just to have (Keith) Appling with his 10 points to kind of create some more balance on offense especially in the second half to help out Green there?
COACH IZZO: Appling did a great job and we asked him to really press up on people and guard the best players, and he wore down, too. He had that one breakaway that normally he breaks away and probably should have thrown to Durrell, but I thought I've never seen him get caught from behind before. So hitting a couple shots, he's worked awfully hard at his shooting the last three weeks. It's been great, and I think he's shooting it better even when he's missing now, and that's encouraging. Again, he's another guy we'll need to step up. But hitting two threes, he hit as many as anybody, definitely helps us become a better team.
Q. You talked about it being surviving and advance at this point. Do you even think about whether your team mentally has turned the corner, found its confidence, or hey, we won, get on to the next one?
COACH IZZO: I think that will be determined when you get back to the hotel and get in the film room. I think they were a little relieved. They looked like they did at New Mexico State. There's been pressure on this team and then there's been pressure, but this one was about as good as it's been in the last couple years. So I don't think -- I think they're going to be excited when we get back because I think we had some key guys step up, especially Durrell. That's going to be big, and Delvon played better the second half. We just need more guys to play as good as they can play, and those two guys would be two of them.
Q. You mentioned working on the mental game over the break. Do you think Durrell was better mentally and he stayed in the game throughout the whole thing and that's how he was able to finish strong?
COACH IZZO: You know, it was really strange. He had a great week of practice, and early in the game I just thought was -- struggled some, you know, whether it be defensively or catching or had a couple good looks. But we've got to get him more shots, too. It's that Catch 22, do you get him more shots if you're questioning whether he's going to make them, what do you do on that. So there's a Catch 22 on that. But I think for everybody, there's going to be a little bit of a lift to say, 'Hey, you know what, we won a game in the tournament.' You know, we're back to taking baby steps. I mean, I've admitted that. We're back to figuring out how to do some things. Any time you win, they shot 39 percent, that was good, we turned it over a little too much but out rebounded them. The things I think we need to be successful. With the two guys gone, we're not going to be a team that's going to score 85 points, we know that. We're going to have to win the old fashioned way. At least we did some of those things right, and I think we can survive and advance again. But Purdue is an awful good team, playing very well up until the last game, brings a lot of bodies at you, brings a lot of pressure at you. It'll be a great test for us. Thanks a lot.
COACH McCAFFERY: The first thing I would like to say is I want to congratulate Tom and his team. They needed all of the composure that they could muster with the run that we put on them and they played better than we did down the stretch. It's a credit to him and his players, and I wish them luck as they move forward in this tournament and the next one. I just want to say this about my team.
I said this a while ago, how much I love these guys. And it's interesting because you look at our record and you wonder what it's like every day. Every day these guys came with it. They respected each other, they played with tremendous heart and determination. We have one of the greatest leaders and examples of character that I've ever been associated with in 28 years sitting to my right (Jarryd Cole) and a great captain alongside of him (Matt Gatens). And it was a pleasure for me to come to work every day to work with these guys. We continued to get better. We believed in each other, and we will continue to get better.
Q. Matt, coming off that win against Purdue, talk about the confidence of this team, and it seemed like you guys really felt like you could win this game.
MATT GATENS: Yeah, definitely. It was a big win for us and our program and our fans, and we were feeling good and confident. It was a big confidence booster for us coming into this game, and then also playing a team we had just played about a week ago and had beaten about a month ago, so coming into this game we felt really good about ourselves and our chances in this game, and it just wasn't enough. We had them about 10 minutes to go and then they put a good run on us, and that's what a team like that does. We didn't respond to it, and that's why they won and we lost.
Q. Matt, from your perspective what happened in that 14-2 run? Was it your defense? They scored on like six of seven possessions, or was it your offense?
MATT GATENS: Both. We couldn't get stops, we couldn't get out and run. As coach said, we were playing against a stacked defense every time because they'd score and they'd be back on D, which hurt us because we wanted to get out and run and score on them that way. It's both ends of the floor. But I think it starts on defense, and we broke down in a couple areas, and hats off to them, they continued to play hard and screened well and knocked down some big shots.
Q. Jarryd, as the only scholarship senior on this team, what advice would you give these guys to get them ready for next year?
JARRYD COLE: I would just say practice and work hard. I mean, they're ready. I've definitely seen spurts where these guys can play great basketball. Once we get it to where we can do it or once they get it to where they can do it night after night, then this team is definitely going to be a force to reckon with. There's no doubt in my mind they can get it accomplished. McCaffery has a great style of basketball, and these guys want to do that, and I think that's key for us. Definitely with the coach and player relationship is even right there, you know, so I think as long as they stay on the right page and stay on the page together, then this team can do anything they want to do.
Q. Jarryd, how did this year feel different, if at all, compared to the last three times you've been here?
JARRYD COLE: I'd say we grew, you know, the last three years. We started off, and that's pretty much how we stayed. We stayed real stagnant. But this year the fellows grew. You saw a lot of guys blossom, you saw a lot of guys develop. Like Devon Archie, he came in a few games and he did some great things this year. Andrew Brommer, you guys didn't see that in the past, and you guys that are here witnessed that. Just seeing that is a definite upside for Iowa. I think these guys are going to be huge contributors here in the future along with the guards that we have coming back.
Coach McCaffery and the assistants are out on the trail hard to get some new guys coming in that's going to help this team, and once they do that, I think they're going to be all right.
Q. Fran, from your perspective, what went wrong there in that 14-2 run? Did you get out of rhythm offensively, seemed like maybe you were rushing a little and then you couldn't stop them at the other end?
COACH McCAFFERY: Well, you know, it's a combination of things, like Matt said. We were running motion primarily. We got a couple clean looks at it, we got it to the rim a couple times, we got the second shot the one time with Bryce. And they are a very dangerous running team. And once we missed, they'd get a run out, we'd miss, they'd get a run out, and then they really started going to (Draymond) Green. He's a handful. He's got a very, very complete skill set. For a guy that big and strong, his handle and his ability to pass, rarely do you see the power forward lead the team in rebounding and assists. He made big plays when they needed them. You know, so it sort of snowballed there, took a time out to get everything calmed down, we started running a few more sets to try to go to people. We got a few baskets, but we really were not in rhythm at all in that stretch.
I felt when Eric May came in and got the steal, or actually it was a deflection off of them, that turned it a little bit. It was only a four point game and we scored and cut it to one so we were in a position to win. So it was frustrating. The other thing, too, is I think Bryce Cartwright was exhausted. You could see it. He was trying to make plays, he was trying to get us into our stuff. Gatens was exhausted. We didn't have Brommer in the second half. I went with a short bench, I went with seven. (Melsahn) Basabe was in foul trouble. So I do think their intense defensive pressure affected our stamina in a lot of ways. I think the fatigue definitely set in. A couple of those shots that were going were falling off the rim a little bit, and that's unfortunate because we had a chance. I think it was Eric May that had a jump around the corner, up seven, that goes in, we probably win the game.
Q. That last shot that Matt took when you were down three, was he the first option in that play, and was he fouled? We couldn't tell from our vantage point.
COACH McCAFFERY: He was the first option on that play. He was the first of a number of options on that play. It's a read for Bryce (Cartwright). He made a good read. I thought Matt got a good look at it. Whether or not it was a foul or not, you have to determine that.
Q. What do you have to do to put records on a season like this behind you and prevent it from happening again? And what has already been done for that to happen?
COACH McCAFFERY: You know, my answer to that is the same as it's always been. We just keep trying to get better. Our team got better, our players got better, and we'll be better next year.
Q. Do you feel like Brommer could have been a factor if he had been available to you in the second half?
COACH McCAFFERY: I thought he was having a pretty nice game. You know, I feel bad for him. Hopefully he's going to be OK. You know, with Melsahn's foul trouble, I think he could have because he gives us another at least another low post scoring threat; he can make a basket. We went to him late, last play of the first half, he got it right to the rim. Any time you have an experienced big guy, and we don't have a lot of size, it would have helped. But we put Melsahn in there, we put Zach (McCabe) in there, we put (Devon) Archie in there. So that's no excuse.
Q. When you look at it, though, having two huge opportunities there, big offensive rebound by Eric May after the first, McCabe missed three, that's all you can really ask for, right?
COACH McCAFFERY: That was a great save. We got another look at it, and you've got to give them credit, they made their free throws. It was still a one point game. They had to go make free throws.
Summers, you give the kid credit. He stepped up there and made a big three and then he made his free throws. We always lock into what we could have done or what we should have done. Let's give Tommy and his players some credit for what they did.
Q. Did Melsahn just not get in a groove tonight?
COACH McCAFFERY: It was sideways, there's no question about it. The thing I think was a little bit disappointing for him and for us, early in the year when he got in foul trouble early, he had a hard time getting back in the groove, and really the last 10, 15 games that has not been the case. He's gotten right back in. As soon as I put him back in, he's right back in the flow and put up huge numbers in the second half. He just never got comfortable at either end. They're experienced big guys; they're big and strong, they were posting hard, and he was trying to position it and he was trying to use his feet, and they go high low a lot, and their post guys, at least (Delvon) Roe and (Draymond) Green are good passers. It was hard for him. And he never got into the flow offensively. He didn't get any put backs. Usually he's good for a put back. I felt when he made that step back jump shot, he would be on his way. But he was just sideways and I felt like I had to get him out and get somebody else in there. And of course, Zach comes in and makes a big shot, but Melsahn will be fine.
Q. When you look at all the areas of improvement this year, is there one that stands out? Is it just mentally conditioning themselves from kind of the struggles of the past to actually feeling like they can put themselves in the position to win these types of games?
COACH McCAFFERY: You know, I think when you go back to the early part of the season, we weren't pushing the ball, we weren't as aggressive offensively, and our defense was just OK. As the season went on, our defense improved, our rebounding improved, our offense picked up the tempo, and individual players got better. Individual players developed confidence and played better. So now we're in a position where we're winning some games, we're right in games against really good teams, so the next step has to be getting over the hump to win those games on a regular basis.
We had a number of chances late today, Wisconsin, Michigan, at Northwestern, to win those kind of games, and all of a sudden you win those and you say this is a heck of a record; everything is different. So I'm really pleased with how these kids grew and developed as a team.