Michigan State coach Tom Izzo met with the media following the Spartans’ 75-70 loss to Indiana on Sunday at Assembly Hall.
Watch and listen to the press conference in the embedded media player below:
Quotes available after the jump.
“We did some really good things and we did some really poor things. Our whole plan was to keep them out of the lane and not turn the ball over, and we didn’t do either one of those things very well. We got tired. We were doing so well down the stretch, and with three minutes left we had a chance. I thought [Derrick] Nix got clobbered on that traveling call, but that’s neither here nor there. We had our chances but our key guy wasn’t there. [Keith] Appling is the guy we go to down the stretch but he didn’t play the whole second half. The positive I got out of it, was how well some different guys competed and bounced back. For all the abuse he took, I thought Gary Harris was phenomenal; but we just couldn’t make the big play down the stretch, and that’s where we really needed Keith and we didn’t have him. Indiana’s a very, very good team. The explosiveness they showed the first five minutes was phenomenal. You have to love the way [Victor] Oladipo competes, and Yogi [Ferrell] made some shots that he hasn’t been making lately. I thought we did a pretty good job on [Cody] Zeller, but other guys hurt us and that’s the mark of a good team. We did some good things though, and if we learn from this game we will become a better team.”
On the fifth foul on [Keith] Appling:
“That last foul was just a frustration foul. He did not use his head at all. You don’t go after a guy from behind, especially a guy like[Victor] Oladipo who can jump out of the gym. That was not a very smart move, and he knows that. He apologized to the team. Keith’s been our man he just let the foul situation get to him.”
On what he learned from this game:
“I learned that our guys are fighters, but I also learned that when we get tired, we forget assignments and we need to get tougher mentally. Down the stretch, we were really sucking air and that caused us not to jam or step up or switch. Indiana’s a good basketball team though. I still think top-to-bottom they’re the best team because of depth.[Cody] Zeller isn’t going to have many games like that. I’m impressed with Indiana overall, but Oladipo just plays so hard. He’s the Ray Lewis of college basketball.”
On what he saw in Gary Harris when he was recruiting him:
“Gary Harris has been one of the best freshmen I’ve ever had because he does something that most don’t—he plays both ends of the court. He’s a very good defensive player, and I never thought he’d be a great shooter, but his high school coach told me that since he went straight from football to basketball he needed a little more time. The kid is tougher than nails. He took a serious beating and made some big shots. We feel very fortunate. We love Gary and he raises his game in big situations. A two guard that play both ends of the court doesn’t happen very often in college basketball.”
On Adreian Payne:
“If he continues to shoot 3’s, he can really help us. The problem is he struggles to stay in top shape. When he has to play both ends, he gets tired, and you can see it. That’s why those ball screens ended up layups for them. At the end, he wasn’t moving very well in the middle of that zone. The poor kid was dead. We played him a ton of minutes because[Derrick] Nix got into foul trouble. We got down to the nitty-gritty but we kept competing. I don’t want to feel too good about my team but I don’t feel too bad because I know there are a lot of potential losses out there when you look at the schedule. I said to my staff before the game, ‘We’re going to learn something about this team,’ and 90% of what I learned was positive. The one negative is when we get tired, we need to find the ability to suck it up. The key to that is [Keith] Appling, and he was the assistant coach. A real bad one to be honest with you. I don’t enjoy him on the bench at all.”
On how close the game was even without the play of Appling:
“It’s disappointing. We had a chance but we just didn’t do some of the things we needed to. The turnovers killed us. Points off turnovers is a deceiving stat because if you score within the same possession of that turnover, it counts, but the ones that lead directly to lay-ups kill you. I think they had 18 to our four. They did a much better job in that area, and I think that’s why they shot so well the first half. I can make layups, most people can make layups.”
On the recruiting of Gary Harris:
“We had been recruiting him since eighth grade. Coach [Tom] Crean had just gotten to Indiana when we started recruiting him. Gary had been up a lot early in his career before Indiana even started recruiting him. They had to get players to help build the program immediately. They weren’t looking at the ninth and 10th graders then. Now they’re looking at third graders. It was never dirty. It was never negative. I respect them. They respect us. There was no cheating. We had done a lot of work early, and they came on late. I know one thing though, I’m happy and proud he chose us because he’s the kind of kid I want to coach.”