March 11, 2011
COACH IZZO: I'm really proud of this team for what they came back from. I thought last night, you know, they were so tired when we got back, and I felt like we've been emotionally drained as much as physically. I mean, we -- in 24 hours I thought my assistants and my players did an incredible, incredible job of prepping for this game with personnel. And we knew they were going to have different kinds of line ups in there and who we were pressing and how we were coming with certain ball screens with one guy or another. To do all that in 24 hours takes an incredible staff and an incredible group of guys to just pay attention to what you need, and you know, Kalin (Lucas), Durrell (Summers), and Delvon (Roe), early I thought made a couple mistakes, but boy, he was a man child in that second half. I'm just as proud of this team today, only today (laughter), as I've been in a long time, in fact years, so it was a great win for us.
Q. Draymond, last night you kind of analyzed what tonight was going to be like in terms of you knew that (JaJuan) Johnson and (E'Twaun) Moore were going to, as you said, do what they do, but you couldn't allow their role players, the (Ryne) Smith's, the (Lewis) Jackson's, the (D.J.) Byrd's, and if you look at the box score, you were kind of a prophet there. Talk about -- that was what you had to do, right? You couldn't let Jackson or Smith go off for 15 or 20?
DRAYMOND GREEN: Yes, that was the game plan. Like coach said before the game, Jackson averaged 16 and a half points against us this year, but if you look at it, I can't remember what we lost by the first game, but I know the second game we lost by 20. If you eliminate those 16 points, that stops their run, because his 16 points always comes in the midst of their run. So it kind of eliminates their run. When Johnson or Moore are struggling, that's when he kind of gets his buckets more. If they're struggling and you don't let him get his buckets that's where our run comes, and I think that's where our run came tonight where we were able to build a lead. We kind of shut down Moore and Johnson for a minute. We stopped him, which was a big part.
Coach said before the game, role players, and he said Byrd and Smith, he said Jackson is kind of in that line of making the big three. So we knew we needed to stop him, and I think we did a great job on Smith and a great job on Byrd.
Q. Delvon and Draymond, I want to ask you about the stretch where you had the tip in and then you're guarding Johnson, getting some stops, getting a block. Just talk about that stretch and how important that was, and Draymond, I wanted you to comment on that, as well?
DELVON ROE: I think that was the key in the game, that stretch in the second half when I made the tip in and we made some plays on offense and defense again. But they're a great team, and Johnson is a player where he's going to get his points. He's too good of a player to eliminate him completely, but you've got to pick your spots where you can stop him, and I think we did a good job of stopping him that second half, and our motto here is players play tough, players win.
We knew -- when we got deep in that second half in the game, we knew we were going to win that game because we have a lot of veteran guys who have been in that situation and can pull it off.
DRAYMOND GREEN: I think Delvon was just trying to say he was the reason we won. (Laughter).
No, that was a key moment in the game. We were up nine, that's where they were making their run, Delvon comes in flying with a key tip in and then he comes down and gets, I think, two stops in a row. It wasn't just a block. He blocked Johnson, and then the other (Terone) Johnson came down the lane and he blocked that. So I think that was a very key stretch in the game because, like I said, Purdue, they're a team of runs, and they were going to make their runs, and that's where they were making their run at, and we had to stop the bleeding. And he stopped the bleeding.
Q. Can you talk about Kalin's performance tonight? We knew he was hurt with the ankle and he comes out and is 4-of-4 from three tonight.
DELVON ROE: Yeah, Kalin is a warrior. We knew that he was going to come out and give it his all, and he was hot early. He made a lot of big shots from outside and driving to get people involved. That's what Kalin does, he's our leader, our quarterback, and we expect that from him. But the way he played through that ankle pain was phenomenal.
Q. You talked yesterday about that 20 point loss at home to Purdue, and you guys hadn't forgot about that. Was this what you guys were expecting? Were you guys that motivated?
DRAYMOND GREEN: We were definitely motivated. You don't expect to come out and beat them by 20. They're a great team. Everyone thought they would be in -- when (Robbie) Hummel went down, I think they went from 7 in the preseason post to like 23 or something like that. And now that you look at them everyone is like, wow, they're a great team. But guys stepped up. Kalin came up to me at our pregame meal and said, 'Draymond, let's go out there and beat them by 20.' I'm thinking, OK, we've got to go out here and win this game with K (Kalin) hurt, not knowing he was going to come out and score 30. That just shows his mentality, he's a warrior, and he led us tonight. We all followed his lead and we got done what he wanted to get done.
Q. Draymond, there was a point where Delvon was jumping and going all over the place, and his stats don't show up in a stat sheet, but what does Delvon's playing injured mean to this team?
DRAYMOND GREEN: I always tell Delvon to crash the boards because when he doesn't crash, I don't happen to get as many rebounds. So when you do crash I get more rebounds. That's how I know with 13 tonight. He crashed and sometimes he gets his fingertips on them and I come clean them up. He always gets mad at me and say, oh, you get the garbage rebounds. I tell him I got to come up with my rebounds some kind of way.
He means a lot to this team. You look at it in two Final Four runs, he started in both the runs, and he was very key. Even last year he was out there playing on one leg, and if you look at those games, he made big plays for us, and he sits up here and says Kalin is a warrior, but that's what I feel about him. I feel like if I'm going to go to war and I have to take somebody with me, I'm taking this man any day of the year.
Q. Draymond, do you feel this is about as complete a ballgame on both ends of the floor as you guys have played this season or thereabouts?
DRAYMOND GREEN: Yes, it definitely is. Everybody has been waiting to say when is that game coming with Michigan State where they just play a great game. Well, I've been waiting to say the same thing, when are we going to play that great game. I had a feeling we were going to do it tonight. Our backs are still up against the wall. It's a good win for us, but we still have more to do. We're happy with the win, but it was a good win for us, and we're going to watch some of this game and get back to the hotel and prepare.
Q. In any strange way did you draw any inspiration watching Michigan win this afternoon?
DELVON ROE: I don't think so. They're a good program, but we focus on us first. It's all about us, and players we've got in that locker room and the coaches we've got. That's the most important thing. We knew that we had a good matchup against Purdue, and we weren't worried about what anybody else was doing, we had to take care of our own business.
DRAYMOND GREEN: It definitely didn't inspire me to be honest. I didn't even watch their game. No, nothing against Michigan, but I just was trying to focus on Michigan State basketball. You know, everyone said Michigan won their way in that game, and now people are saying we won our way in. Coming into this game our focus was not winning our way into the tournament.
Going into tomorrow our focus will not be if people say we're in, our focus will not be to stay in the tournament. Our focus will be to come out and take it one game at a time like we've been doing.
Like I said yesterday, the NCAA Tournament committee is going to decide whatever they want to decide. We can't control that. The only thing we can control is winning basketball games here, and we're going to keep on taking it one game at a time.
Q. If both of you can please comment on the 10 2 run to start things and how much of a difference that makes in your confidence and your mindset.
DRAYMOND GREEN: I keyed that run. I got two blocks. No, I'm just playing with you. No, that was a great way to start off the game. Everyone is used to us getting off to slow starts, and we wanted to come out and throw the first punch. We knew if we came out and threw the first punch, then we would have to sustain it, but it's better trying to sustain it than fighting back especially against a team that defends as good as Purdue. So we came out and threw the first punch, and you look at that run, everybody was out there contributing to it, (Mike) Kebler, Durrell, myself, Adreian Payne, and Kalin. We all contributed to that run. We were locking down on the defensive end. We got some scores on the other end, and after we made that run, you kind of felt a sense that guys -- everyone believed -- you could tell at the walk throughs everyone believed we could win this game. But after that 10 2 run, it's like, let's go, everybody is ready to go now, guys come in on the bench flying. Austin Thornton come in to make it 12 4 right off the bench, everybody just came in and contributed and I think that was a great run to start off the game.
DELVON ROE: Yeah, Draymond pretty much said it all. So yeah, the keys in basketball games is always the first four minutes of the game, the first four minutes of the second half, and I think we came out and won both of those key points in the game.
They did a good job starting off the game and they did a good job starting off the second half, and when you can get runs like that to start off halves, it really helps you with the momentum and overall confidence.
Q. Have you seen a different look in the eye, and if so, how good does it feel?
COACH IZZO: You know, the strange part about the game is Draymond is 2-for-9 and Durrell is only 2-for-4, but he did have eight rebounds. It wasn't like we played phenomenal, but I did think we played very well defensively. I thought we played -- I thought for the first time we went to the scouting report like never before. You know, we got a shot blocked at the end, but at our place they must have blocked 10 shots, and I don't know if we got any, and here we get eight and they got one.
There was a look in their eye this morning. Last night I was worried. We looked mentally fatigued. This morning I just kept harping on we've all been there before and we're better than we've been playing for a variety of reasons. But we beat a really good team tonight, and I don't think Purdue played really well. I think we had something to do with that but not everything. I really think Matt (Painter) has done as good a job as anybody in the country, and I think that team is really good. They just got off to a bad start and, God, Kalin was unbelievable. So I don't know if it was a look in the eye; I think -- I said it the other day, if we get over the hump, and everybody said, well, we barely won last night, but we barely won against New Mexico State.
These guys are battle tested in tournament time and they're battle tested with the schedule we play, and I really made that part of my pre game speech, that we played three No. 1 teams in Texas and Ohio State and Duke, and we've been through this before, let's just go play our tail off like we know we can, and boy, we did.
Q. In this event, this basketball tournament of March, there's a sense of urgency sometimes, and there was that sense of urgency for you guys tonight. You said last night your guys looked fatigued, but today they really responded to what you had asked of them. How much of a sense of urgency to get that quality win, get to the next round and get in the tournament do you think played into it?
COACH IZZO: Well, I think it played into it and I think it hurt us. Since the middle of January -- I should say the end of January when we lost a couple Big Ten games and it looked like the chance to win the Big Ten was over, there got to be a lot of pressure on this team, then another loss or two and a chance to get in the NCAA tournament is on the bubble. You know, we've been a bubble team for a long time.
I had a couple great coaches around the country call me, and they said, you know, just keep fighting through it because it's not going to be easy because you haven't been there very often. You don't know the road to take. I kind of explained it to my team, I said, 'Hey, I'm not going to be the savior because I haven't been here, either, where our backs are against the wall.' But since I was brought up in the U.P. (Upper Peninsula), it's fight your way out of it, and I think we are fighting our way out of it. We have a long way to go. We did not solve anything tonight, but we took another step forward.
I think we proved to ourselves what kind of team we can be, and I think we'll get Durrell a little better and Draymond will shoot a little better, and I think we can be a little better and that's going to be the goal because I don't think Kalin will shoot like that every night.
Q. Tonight there was a situation where you were getting ready to call a guy over to talk and Kalin went over to talk to him. Was that kind of the it factor you've been looking for?
COACH IZZO: Well, it is, and it started to happen in the walk throughs. You get in those hotel walk throughs and they remind me so much of the Louisville games and the different games we've played in these big events. And these guys have been there and they kind of know what the walk through is supposed to be like.
This morning we had an early one, we had three of them today, and every one of them was really sharp and really attentive, film session walk through. You really can read them, you know.
When we played Louisville, I told my guys after the walk through, we're going to beat them. I didn't say that today, but what I felt today instead of just a player, coach, team, I felt like we were kind of all in it together, because hey, whenever you struggle it's everybody's fault, mine included. So I don't know if anybody was above anybody. I think we were all in it together, realizing we were fighting for our lives a little bit.
Q. Obviously the officiating had absolutely nothing to do with the game, but do you take any issue at all with the fact that Earl Walton was one of the officials in this game?
COACH IZZO: You know, it's a strange -- I don't know Earl as well as I know Tim (Higgins), and I mean, those two guys -- Jud Heathcote was yelling at those two guys. They've been here for a long time, and they're probably two of the better officials in the country. And Earl, I had no problem with that personally because that whole end of the game thing, it was strange. You know, I mean, there were so many strange things that happened. I was more upset watching it on the foul maybe than the stepping out of bounds. Because when I saw Lav (Steve Lavin) walking down, I thought the game was over. I'm looking at the clock. There's so many things that happened.
Personally all I want is the best officials that can do a game. I think everybody has got to be held accountable as I was early in the year, but I don't think it's a reason that we -- guys have earned their keep over years, not over one time, and I'm a living example of that.
Q. Draymond talked about Delvon and I was hoping to ask you about the tip in he had and the run he had, is he equipped to keep playing well day after day on that knee?
COACH IZZO: Well, they drained less fluid out of it than they have in years last week, so that's very encouraging. But the tip in was a big play because they were making a run, and as I said, give us some credit, but Purdue didn't -- this team has played at an awfully high level, and as I look at them a little bit more like I looked at us when I thought we really had a chance to make a run to the Final Four, I look at them in the same way. We lost some games early in the Big Ten Tournament. As you know, that day when one team plays and the other one doesn't, it's hard. Most of the time I've been on the other side of that shoe, and it's a very difficult thing to do.
So I think, you know, some of it was our players, but I really think that we got two teams in this league, maybe three, that have a serious chance to make a long, long run. Whether we'll play ourselves into anything is yet to be determined, but when you look at Purdue and Ohio State and Wisconsin, they've got a chance, and if there's one thing I understand it's how to get to a Final Four. Those teams have got all the ingredients, just tonight they seemed one step behind, which I've been there before, but Matt will get them ready and they'll be good.
COACH PAINTER: Well, obviously we're disappointed. We thought this was a great opportunity after our loss against Iowa to come out and redeem ourselves and lay it on the line and play hard and really compete.
We've got a lot of respect for Michigan State's program and what they've been able to accomplish through the years. You know, they're a program that prides themselves on playing hard, playing defense and rebounding, and tonight they dominated us in those three areas. There's no doubt about it. We're going to have to use this as a learning tool to hopefully improve and get better going into the NCAA tournament.
I do think that the game of basketball you've got to relearn some things at times. You think you've got it figured out, and I think you just flat fool yourself. And tonight the one thing that I felt good about going into this game after our loss against Iowa was us competing, and that didn't happen tonight, or maybe Kalin Lucas was just special, which in my opinion he was. He put them on his back and got them going and made some huge plays and some huge shots. I think they really fed off of that, then I thought Michigan State had a great effort on the glass. They had three or four guys that really got the rebounds, got the loose balls and did a great job. So give them credit. Any time you sweep somebody during the year, I think it's hard to beat somebody three times, and I think you saw that tonight because Michigan State, they played very hard and they were very determined.
Q. Coach just talked about how tough Michigan State plays. One of the things they talked about when they were in here was taking Ryne (Smith), Lewis (Jackson), and D.J. (Byrd) out of the offense. How tough is it to get those guys involved with the offense when another team is trying to take them out?
JAJUAN JOHNSON: I just think that really we just -- tonight we just did a pretty bad job really of moving the ball around. But I mean, it happens sometimes, but we've just got to do a better job of just moving the ball in the offense, and I think those guys will definitely get opportunities. But it just came down to really just moving the ball.
Q. JaJuan, can you talk about the mental state of your team at this point with the loss to Iowa and the loss today? It seems like these aren't good losses to have going into an NCAA tournament. Do you feel like you can put this out of your mind and move forward in a confident manner?
JAJUAN JOHNSON: I definitely think so. Last year we definitely had a good showing here, but we kind of used that to help our -- in the tournament. We went to the Sweet 16, and I think this year we have a better team than we did last year. We still are capable of doing some special things, we've just got to really come together as a team and move forward.
Q. E'Twaun, in the first two meetings with them, you guys were able to get on some really nice runs and were making a lot of shots. It seemed tonight like defensively they closed out on shooters better than they did in the first two games. Did you notice their defensive effort was better tonight than it was in either the game in Mackey or in East Lansing?
E'TWAUN MOORE: I think one thing that we should have done better is get stops on the defensive end, and that's what we did when we were at Michigan State when we played there, and that led us into transition buckets and just getting the ball moving and getting everyone involved just from that standpoint. We didn't get a lot of stops, so that didn't feed into our offense.
Q. JaJuan, could you talk about obviously you were the Big Ten Player of the Year, you take a lot of pride in that, but did you want to come here and really show it? Was it important for you personally to lead this team all the way?
JAJUAN JOHNSON: I mean, as a senior, I don't know if E'Twaun feels the same way, we definitely always want to come out and play our best. We don't have another Big Ten Tournament next year, so with that said, I think, yeah, I definitely did, and I know E'Twaun definitely feels the same way. This is our last Big Ten Tournament and it isn't the way we wanted it to end, but we've still got basketball to play.
Q. JaJuan, their bigs, well, their whole team, they crashed the boards pretty well, out rebounded you by 13. Was it just not blocking out or what led to your dominance on the boards tonight?
JAJUAN JOHNSON: You could say blocking out, pursuing the ball. It was a lot of things. You know, they definitely had some -- I don't know, they just wanted the ball more tonight, and it just wasn't Purdue basketball. But we definitely have the opportunity to correct some things in practice and move forward with that.
Q. How much do you think these two losses back to back are going to hurt you come Selection Sunday seed wise?
E'TWAUN MOORE: I mean, I'm not really sure. I don't know what those guys go off of or anything. All I know is we've got to be ready to play come tournament time, and we've got to find a way to get wins.
Q. Matt, I asked Tom Izzo the same question. Obviously the officiating had nothing to do with the outcome, but did you take any issue at all that Earl Walton worked this game? You've talked about officials and being overworked and all that. Is it symptomatic of a larger problem within officiating?
COACH PAINTER: I didn't take any issue to it. I thought he did a good job. We haven't had him this year but we've had him before and he's always done a good job. Like a lot of coaches have talked about, about that one situation, they made a mistake. You move on. You know, it's part of it. Good officials make mistakes. Good players struggle at times.
But no, it's -- and I understand I think some people are jumping on the bandwagon about the officials being overworked, and I think that is something to think on a little bit. But I like those guys, those quality officials, the guys that are seasoned that have been through the wars before, especially in crucial games. But I think it's in the eye of the beholder. I think each coach would probably argue their point. I like experienced guys that have been there and been through it, and even if they are a little bit overworked, they're still quality officials.
Q. You talked about after the Iowa game that you don't mind three pointers if they're squared up in the rhythm, so forth. Tonight 3-of-16, that's I think 8-of-41 in the last two games. Is that too many, or was tonight a completely different entity?
COACH PAINTER: Well, I think obviously I could answer it better after I watch film, but the fact that we had a couple threes blocked in the middle of the shot clock to start the game, first five, six minutes of game, it wasn't a good sign. I think it's hard for a young guy, it's hard for kids in general. We've had some success here, and we've had a good season. With that as you go on, I think success will mess with you a little bit, and we have to be patient. We have to probe the defense, and we have to generate, manufacture, whatever word you want to use, a good shot, and tonight we had to be more patient at times, and we weren't.
I'm not talking about the second half. The second half we were just trying to stay alive in the fight, in the battle, in the press, in the run at them. You dug yourself a hole and it's hard. I'm talking the first half we just didn't stay with it and make the extra pass, do the little things that help you get a better shot out there.
With our team in general through the years, we seem to be more efficient shooting threes when we shoot less of them, and tonight even though it wasn't a high number, I didn't think we had a lot of rhythm shots. But you've got to give Michigan State credit. We weren't open a lot. I think part of that is us and part of that is their defense.
Q. In a general sense can you just talk about JaJuan and his progression and what he's meant to your team over the years, and this year for him to be conference player of the year, first one since Glenn Robinson, what has he meant to you guys?
COACH PAINTER: He's been great. He's been a player that's gotten better every single year. He's gotten physically stronger, that's helped him, he's added weight, added strength. This year he's a more confident player, he's got some other dimensions to his game. He gives you a shot blocker down low. But he's been great. He's one of the best players in school history.
Q. Coming off the two losses, how do you as a coach regroup your ballclub to make them so they want those rebounds? How do you turn your ballclub around?
COACH PAINTER: Well, I think we've lost two games in a row before, and we've been able to respond to that. The only way I know how to handle it is just by working and trying to get everybody on the same page. A sign of a really good team is a team that struggles to shoot and still wins, and tonight should have been a grinder for us. You know, this should have been in the 50s, because we didn't shoot the ball well, Michigan State defended well, but we didn't have an answer for Kalin Lucas, and you cannot let a great player get going, and when he got going, I think that was really contagious for his teammates, and he really carried them on his back.
We're just going to go back and work and try to get it figured out, and I think it's simple, I think it's basic, but also it's definitely because you've got an opponent and you've got somebody else -- any team you play in the NCAA tournament is going to be a good team. Any team you play in the Big Ten Tournament is going to be a good team for that matter, and I think everybody has proven that.
Q. You always talk about the game can humble you. These last two games, have they sort of blind sided you? You could have never envisioned this going to Iowa when you were riding so high.
COACH PAINTER: Yeah, well, you prepare your team. You're always trying to figure out how somebody is going to beat you when you watch film and you try to dissect that part of it. There's a lot of different ways to approach a game or to approach an opponent, you can go back and forth. The one thing that I felt after the Iowa game was that we would compete. I knew we would play a quality opponent, whether it was Michigan State or Iowa again, but I thought from that game we competed, and I didn't think tonight we did that. Obviously Michigan State was better in that department.
So for many years that's what Purdue has hung their hat on. We've just got to do a better job of that, and every guy on our team understands it's our identity and how we're going to move forward and win games.