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Postgame Quotes: Nebraska at Michigan State
Courtesy: NU Media Relations
02/16/2014
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Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo

Opening statement…
I’m disappointed. I talked to my team at our pre-game meal today about the Super Bowl, about how if you come out and get punched in the mouth early, you have to be ready to play all the time. We’re trying to make a big deal about the first four or five possessions both offensively and defensively. I made that point and then sat there and watched the team shrivel up with a couple of bad plays. It changed the dynamics of the game. I’m not blaming one guy or another guy, but we let (Walter) Pitchford pop out and just knock a three down. I can’t tell you how much it was on the scouting report. One of my smartest guys, the same guy missed a layup on the other end and turned the ball over. I think we missed four layups that were dead layups. That one was the deadest of layups and that all happened in the first two minutes.

I also talked to them about when you start having success, you think offense and everybody wants to change instead of just doing their job. We reverted back to turning the ball over. We played without two key people, because we were in foul trouble in the first half. Those two key people, I don’t know how many minutes they were out, but I think Adreian (Payne) was out maybe with seven minutes left and I think (Travis) Trice was longer. Some of that is because you’re not moving your feet, you aren’t prepared.

There are always tough losses in a season. This one was the toughest so far, because I was so disappointed in how we came out. On the other side of it, I’m not upset about the loss because we got exactly what we deserved. They didn’t turn the ball over, five turnovers. They made some circus shots, at least four of them (Terran) Petteway, two of them in the first half and two in the second with guys right on him. It was too late then; he was already into his thing. On the bench, we just said, ‘are you kidding me?’ It wasn’t even a pick-and-pop it was just a pop-out-and-shoot.

We got what we deserved and the only guy that takes the blame for that is me. It’s my job to get them ready to play and we didn’t look ready to play. For that, don’t blame them, blame me. They don’t get paid; I get paid to do a job and they get a chance to do their job. Energy is the biggest thing that you need in these games. There have been a lot of teams that aren’t bringing it. That’s why there have been some bizarre games. Today, it was the Spartans that didn’t bring it. Nebraska, they were junkyard dogs. They remind me of some of our old teams. They took it at us. They talked it, they walked it, they played it. I thought they were tough. I thought they played well defensively. I think they made some incredible shots. I think Tim (Miles) is one of the great new coaches in this league and he did a hell of a job. To be honest with you, we got what we deserved.

On the choice of three-point shots over some open twos…
There might be; I’ll have to take a look at it on film. We took 24 (three-point attempts); they took 30. They did a pretty good job on (Adreian) Payne inside, beat him up pretty good. I don’t know why we didn’t run. Players are funny. I remember two years ago, players talking about how they didn’t want to run. We didn’t run today and I’m going to put that on them. We didn’t run. We emphasized it and didn’t run. I wanted to go down to the locker room and look at the keys to the game; they’re probably still up there. That’ll answer all the questions.

On the decision to take a timeout at 3:27 left in the second half…
I had four left and I had to talk to them about a couple of things. Number one - it’s been hard. Adreian (Payne) missed one day of practice this week and we are just playing different guys. We were playing Denzel (Valentine) at the four there for a minute. I wanted to make sure we got what we wanted. Number two - I wanted to talk about that if we were going to foul, we were going to foul intentionally, because they didn’t call any fouls on us the second half. They wore their whistle out on us in the first half. They didn’t have any left in the second half, so I think we only had two team fouls. That was the reason, but I don’t regret doing it. I don’t mind being questioned about it either.

On the decision to play Keith Appling…
(We didn’t decide) when (Travis) Trice got in foul trouble. We decided after warm-ups that we were going to try and play him some. He tried to do what he could do, but when you don’t practice for two, two-and-half weeks, when you’re not a skill guy it’s easier, but if you’re a skill guy, it’s a little harder.

On Gary Harris’ shooting slump…
Thank God he shot well from the line and thank god he took it to the hole. We’re telling him take it to the hole and get fouled, and he just wasn’t getting fouled. It has to be frustrating for him. To his credit, he went and got seven rebounds and had that big tip dunk. He tried to do some other things and made some nice passes, but we have to be able to make a layup. He’s in here morning, noon and night shooting. I don’t know what you do. It’s not what I do, it’s what he does and all I can tell you is he’s working on it. We’re just going to keep going to him, because he is what he is.

On whether the announcement of the score of the Michigan vs. Wisconsin game had an adverse effect on the teams focus…
No, there’s so many games left to play. To me, it had none. I can’t answer it for the players. My question would be then why shouldn’t it give you momentum? Last year, when they lose that game and (Derrick) Nix talks to me five minutes into the game, I can understand that. That just shows you how sick we are sometimes. If it worked and we went out and won by twenty, we would be saying that is a motivational thing. That should motivate a team, but a team that’s playing where we’re playing right now shouldn’t need any motivation about anything. They should bear down and know who’s a three-point shooter and the first second he pops out and makes a wide open three, you know you’re not in the game. Like I said, I’m not as mad as you think because I think we deserved what we got. Give them credit, they came in here and punched us in the mouth and we didn’t punch back. I think there is a combination of things right now, like trying to get Keith (Appling) back. This is not going to be as easy as most people think. A little controversy might bring us a little closer together and maybe they’ll stop listening to the outside world and listen to the inside world.

On the defensive troubles, particularly guarding sophomore forward Terran Pettaway…
We we’re a little bit better on the ball screens, but when the guy hits the first shot of the game now when he’s coming off a ball screen he’s picking and popping, you respond different. The second part is when you have a healthy Keith Appling, he’s one of the best defenders in this league and a healthy Brandon Dawson is the second-best defender on this team. Gary Harris is somewhere here in there between second and third. Two of those guys were missing in action and we’re not as good defensively without them. We’re trying to do things and step up and then tried to switch some. You do have to give (Terran)Pettaway some credit. Adrien (Payne) switched out, 6’10 decently on him and he hits two fall-away shots. It was their night. It started at the beginning, don’t think it started at the end. That’s why I’m most disappointed that I couldn’t get through to my team.

On how the roles of the players will change when the injured players begin to get healthy…
Well I don’t know if their roles change, but I think they revert back to how they were. Denzel (Valentine) rebounded well, but the turnovers early really hurt us. Travis (Trice) played 24 minutes, but had to sit nine or 10 minutes in the first half because of the foul trouble. That really set us back, too. I don’t see anything really changing a lot in terms of our role players. We just have to get our star players back. There is a reason our role players are role players. They aren’t starters, but they became starters and they played very well. In the end, we deserved what we got and we’ll learn from it. There are so many games left, but we did what non-championship teams do. We did not bring it, we did not defend, we did not play smart and we didn’t play with the toughness most of our teams play with.

On whether Nebraska is an up-and-coming basketball team in the Big Ten conference…
If their making those shots, they are legit. (Terran) Pettaway made some big-time shots. Every one of his three’s, if I’m not mistaken, were at the end of the shot clock falling away to his right. He made some big-time shots. To answer your question ,they’re not at the bottom of the league anymore, that’s for sure. They’re in the middle and working their way up. They’re very well-coached and did a great job.

On whether this is the most frustrated the team has played this season…
Yes, I think they’re frustrated. That’s what happens when you don’t play together. They better get back to realizing that when you play hard, lots of good things happen and when you play tough, lots of good things happen. If you don’t play hard and smart and don’t follow the scouting report and let a team get going, they’ll get going. Were they frustrated? Not as frustrated as I was.

Nebraska head coach Tim Miles

On where he would rank this win for the Nebraska program…
I’ve only been here a year and half but for us, obviously, it’s a marquee win. It’s really important. I think there are certain moments in time that you have to define yourself. I really believe in this group. We’re coming together and we’re figuring things out as a group more and more every day; even in practice. As a coach, I’ve had a chance to coach NAIA basketball, Division II 19 years, and this group is coming together really nice. This is a great win. They really earned it and it was such a physical battle. Michigan State is so well-coached and they’re so good, we just kept on tossing in threes. Up to a certain point, they wouldn’t let us in the lanes so that was our only recourse.

On Keith Appling’s return and defending him…
Like anything, we wanted to just get into him, pressure him. Just because maybe rust more than anything. Sitting out a few games, I was more concerned about rust than how healthy his hand was.

On Gary Harris’s shooting slump…
We pray that he doesn’t come out of the slump against us. We just defended him as hard as we could. We put a big body guy on him - Terran Petteway. You look at Petteway, he carries the offensive load, he guards Harris most of the night and really did a good job on him I thought.

On if this win could propel Nebraska to the NCAA Tournament…
Our standard, like anybody in college basketball, is you want to get to the NCAA Tournament. Everybody’s got this hopeful optimism at the beginning of the year that they want to be able to play in the largest event of college basketball. I’m doing a disservice to my team if that’s not unconditionally our goal. It’s always our goal. Now when we were 0-4 in the league, how are you going to get there right? At the same time, I think we just worry about our process of getting better every day. Can I be a better player today? Can I be a better teammate today? And just stick with the process and good things will happen. After the conclusion of the season, it’s still out of our control unless we win the Big Ten tournament.

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