Post-Game Quotes vs. Minnesota – Michigan State University Athletics | #schoolshooting


EAST LANSING, Mich. –Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo

Opening statement… 

Wow. I don’t think I’ve been in a game when you shoot 52 percent from the field and 43 percent from the three and almost 85 percent from the free throw line and could have lost. But it shows that… what you talk to media, players, staff about is so critical. We missed three layups, I mean, dead-nuts layups at six points, and then that debacle before halftime when we were trying to foul because we had fouls to give. And we didn’t handle that very well, and that’s nine points, and nine points in a game and a Big 10 game is a lot of points. I had some guys that played pretty well. We had some guys that just played well in spurts. I thought Tyson [Walker] had five minutes of his best basketball and then a couple minutes of turnovers so it was hard to feel good about it. We had great practices and felt good going in. But I do give a lot of credit. I have given Ben [Johnson] credit. He deserves credit. He just did a good job, they executed a lot better than we did. Although we shot the ball really well. And that incredibly designed play at the end was off the charts, you know we drew it up. Come up, hit the corner, fumble it, drive it, hit it there and drive it, fumble, it falls into Joey [Hauser]’s hands and he makes the layup, so yes, I did a hell of a job tonight in my play calling at the end. But if you believe that, there’s something wrong, the players play the game and the players make plays and I give AJ [Hoggard] some credit there; point guards struggled at times and our point guards played pretty well at times. But I think the game, [Minnesota] just did a better job of executing their offense and we let them stay in it. And they hit some shots and played with a lot of energy. We out-rebounded them by one. It’s a team… that is the worst offensive rebounding team, I think in the league, and they had 12, [they’re] a team that doesn’t turn over the ball more than five times and they had eight tonight, so I guess that’s not a great rebounding team. I just thought that for the way we practiced… I promise you this, we played better in practice than we did in the game. And the only thing I can think of, is our guys who want to win in this practice weren’t as good as the guys who want to win in the game because we did not play as well. And they did, and we found a way to win in the Big 10, so I don’t know why you saw different teams struggling. And the name of the game was find a way to win and move on. So we did, hopefully we can move on and learn from it and realize how important closing half’s are, how important making free throws are… even though Malik [Hall], one of our better ones, missed. It gives me something to do tonight.  

On Tyson Walker’s potential injury early on… 

You know, I don’t think so. I think he hurt his twisted his ankle a little bit but he was hurting for a minute. He could have gone back in. Same with Marcus [Bingham Jr.]. We just had some lineups in there that, we had to do some switching because they were killing us on those ball screens. So we put in a line up hoping defensively we could cover it. And it worked. Joey [Hauser] you know, I was happy for Joey and I think more than me being happy for Joey, the players were happy for Joey and I appreciate all the fans that chanted his name. I appreciate those guys because that kid has done a lot of the little things for us this year. He’s definitely getting better and you know, Malik [Hall] came in after playing really kind of average. He really went through a stretch where he played really well. And so we had different guys that played good in different parts of the game. They [Minnesota] did a good job on game and we did a poor job getting good the balls, that falls on me, and I think we screened very good and we need to get Gabe [Brown] some shots. But Gabe did, going from three, from the line, so he found other ways to help us win. He also had four rebounds so good did some pretty good things.  

On shifting players out early in the game… 

We decided we were going to go into Marcus [Bingham Jr.] right away and then he started getting pushed out and when he got pushed out, he really got pushed out, and I think Marcus, the more you can realize that… I give him a lot of credit. You guys can laugh, but he passed up a couple of threes and it was the right time to do that. I give him a lot of credit for that. But he is really good in the post. He’s got a great jump hook. He’s just not using it right now. And so we got to do a better job of that because we went to him early. [Max] Christie made some plays, but [Minnesota] made some adjustments to it and if there was another area, I thought we were really poor, really poor at was our bigs. We did not set good screens, and they were more physical and we were, so we won the game. They played their tail off. It’s kind of insane when you sit in a locker room with a guy [Roy Williams], that’s won 1000 games and he had to remind me, we’re 14-2, and I can’t forget that, but I know what’s coming up and I know where we are in my mind. And that’s all I care about. Nobody knows what I know. And I know we got to get better and we got to get more physical. And so we’re going to do that. 

On Tyson Walker’s performance and working through a string of turnovers… 

Some of these things, when you go from different levels… it’s not as easy as everybody thinks. And I think sometimes physically, sometimes mentally and sometimes size and different things… I did think he let that get to him. I mean, nobody got on him or anything. He asked to come out and maybe tweaked his ankle a little bit but he had to figure out a way to play through that. So you know, we’ll just keep working with him. I mean, looking at him at from our tournament down in the Bahamas, he’s grown a lot and all, but it is a different level. And basketball it’s not just basketball, just like pro ball is a different level than college ball, and I’d say that he’s got to realize he’s going to get banged up, he’s going to get driven. We thought we could do some things with our bigs and we didn’t do that very well. So the guards looked worse than they did. But Tyson [Walker], he’s been really playing a lot better. That he goes four-for-nine, two-for-three, it’s just the three turnovers and when they happened… he was playing really well, he hit a three and then just had two really bizarre turnovers in a row. So he just needs to keep working. 

On potential offensive rebounding problems… 

Everybody, everybody asked why we’re such a good rebounding team all those years with [Mateen] Cleaves and Val and all those guys and I said, nobody ever penetrated, nobody ever penetrated down so nobody helps… what was an interesting one was we had seven blocks tonight. I think on three of them in the first half, the ball was loose. They got in, scored, they scored off blocked shots. That’s why I was a little disappointed in our energy level. I just didn’t think we mixed it up enough. And they did. But sometimes that happens with coming off a disappointing no-play and it’s no excuse, but they came off a pretty good game, and Indiana played their tail off against them and he [Ben Johnson] got them ready to play. I don’t know, if we had looked at it differently, I’m going to ask my guys, but we shouldn’t practice like we looked at it differently. But we’ll have to change the ball screens, and they screened with the battle a lot and he’s a great pick-and-pop guy and that’s why we when we started switching at the end we had more success, but then we have to have certain lineups in there to do that.  

On how important the depth of the bench players was in tonight’s game…  

I thought we ran in stretches, I don’t think we’re consistently running yet. We do want to wear people down, because we do want to play [bench players]. I really wanted to play the guy that’s been playing well in practice, Pierre [Brooks]. I really wanted to play him and I was close to pulling that string a little bit. We just didn’t. I thought Mady [Sissoko] deserve the chance to when things were getting eaten up in there. And we didn’t do that either. But we got some time to do some things, and I guess depth is going to be a plus for us. Sometimes you can keep throwing people at them, and I thought we did a pretty good job with it. And, you know, Jaden [Akins] played okay, had a couple of loose balls he didn’t get but he gets four rebounds, so at a time he’s in there his energy levels were really good. I think you’re gonna see, we’re gonna have to play some different lineups against different teams and I think you’re gonna see Pierre start to play a little bit so get ready for that. Maybe we’ll get a larger bench, or a couple more. 

How special it was to have Roy Williams in the audience tonight… 

You know, he called me a couple of weeks ago and said that he wanted to go to six or seven places, a couple of them where his former assistants are coaching, I think it’s Cincinnati or Stanford. Some just places that he enjoyed and just wanted to go there as a fan, and he really talked about the Izzone. He was at Kansas last night because of his former players, but it was kind of funny because he was supposed to go see Tubby Smith. They’re real close. He was supposed to go see his guy at Cincinnati and Stanford and then COVID… So he called me the night before and said ‘I’m going to come up to the game but I don’t know if you’ll get to play it.’ But he have meant last weekend’s game, and he came up today from there and it was great. You’ve got to have a lot of respect. I think Roy likes me because they’re like one and seven or two and seven against us. But I think I like him because he did it the right way. In this day and age, I appreciate guys that the game means a lot to them. The sport means a lot. He’s involved with the Hall of Fame stuff. He’ll hopefully be involved in basketball. We need guys like that, when they’re done to hang around. So it was it was great. I appreciate it.  

On the atmosphere in the locker room after the game… 

You’re right, you know, the locker room was loud and you know why? They were happy for Joey [Hauser] and that’s pretty cool. I don’t think people realize what some of these guys go through. I was happy for him too, but when players are happy for a player that’s special. And those guys are really happy for him, and Malik [Hall], and even Marky [Bingham Jr.]… that was one of those weird special moments in the game where he really didn’t play it that good and yet you won. They acted like we just won the national championship, and it wasn’t the game I think as much as the situation and that was pretty cool.  

On turnovers and lay-ups… 

I know how frustrating it must be for all of you, I know 13 turnovers isn’t ridiculous, but we said if we can get our turnovers down to 10 this team would be a lot better team. We normally guard better than we did tonight and like I said they deserve some credit. But it’s just those little plays. You know, lay-ups are depressing. When you go into halftime, in that situation we have two fouls to give, and we did try to foul. I got to check our clock. I mean, there’s 3.1 (seconds remaining), they got it in and then we foul and there’s still 2.8 (seconds remaining) or something. At least get some home cooking in there. But anyway, you know, that’s depressing, too. So, you have to overcome those things. And that’s why it’s so important that these players realize you have to finish halves, finish games, finish lay-ups. Those three lay-ups we missed were dead nuts lay-ups. Poor Tyson (Walker), he made as good of a move as I’ve seen inside out, bum, bum, bum and the ball just left his hand. So I wasn’t on purpose, but the “my-bads” when you’re trying to win enough games to do something special, they just don’t work. “It’s cool. My bad. I didn’t do it on purpose.” But you have to figure out a way to finish those things and make them good. I’d say still, all those things considered. I thought the game was almost lost with very average ball screen defense, and below average rebounding on loose balls. I thought that’s where they capitalized. 

On the crunch time lineup… 

In fair to Markie (Marcus Bingham Jr) we had to start switching those ball screens and that’s not something I wanted him to do. So we put Malik (Hall) in there to do that more, and Joey (Hauser) a little bit not that he’s great at it, but that was it. Tyson (Walker), as you stated, tweaked the ankle and asked to come out. A.J. (Hoggard) was better because when we switch that 1-4 ball screen, which was (Jamison) Battle, A.J. could cover Battle at 6’7 where Tyson probably couldn’t, so it wasn’t at all offensively it was strictly defensive. I don’t know when Tyson came out, but he made some good plays and then got hurt. He does let things bother him and we have to work through that because he’s actually done a good job since down in the Bahamas. 

On the drawing up the final play… 

We were either going to pop Gabe (Brown) and try to dump it in, or Gabe would get a shot or drive it. Could have gone to Max (Christie) there too, but he had a couple turnovers there late. You just kind of go with your gut. Max I thought played very well. I think we were going to back pick for Joey and then pop Gabe and he’d either get a shot or dump it in. When A.J. came off I think he was looking inside. I think there’s something to be said for we found a way to win a game, it wasn’t like we didn’t deserve to win. I mean, we shot really well. But I wasn’t happy with our performance. And I’m not happy when we win big so I have to figure it out. I just look at things and I say if you don’t learn, you know, the turnover thing is driving me crazy. I have done one hell of a job of keeping my composure on turnovers. Just try to do a better job because that was not good enough to win. We won’t win Saturday if we do that. And just got to do a better job of being consistent with our defense, consistent with our turnovers. And you know right now, I know you won’t believe this but Michigan State is leading the league in offensive field goal percentage, I think. So I’ll try to do a better job. Guys, we’re 14-2, and there’s been better teams than us that have lost to worse teams than Minnesota if you’re going around the country right now and it doesn’t make me feel better. It just makes me put things in perspective. I have to do a better job in some areas.  

Redshirt Senior Forward Joey HauserOn what the play was and how it played out for you…

We were talking about something in the huddle, I can’t remember what it was, but we didn’t really get a play drawn up until right before we were going to go out, so we had a play drawn up, we were trying to get Gabe open for a shot. It kind of didn’t work out and AJ made a really good play going downhill and dumped it off to me and I knew I had to take that shot. It really wasn’t drawn for me but the way it worked shows you how connected we were at the end there.

On the reaction of fans and teammates…

I’m just going to keep doing my thing, working hard. I’m not really worried about what people are saying but I know my teammates got my back, that’s why I was so happy to be in that moment. I was happy that they were happy for me because it has been a little bit of a struggle shooting the ball, but I still feel like I’m doing things to help this team win, rebounding the ball, and making layups and dump offs like that. I’m just going to keep doing my thing, but it was a really awesome moment for me, and I was just glad that I have really awesome teammates.

On the difference between Minnesota’s team from the first time you played…

That’s kind of how the Big Ten goes when you play an opponent twice, they scout you, they know what plays they want to run, they know mismatches they want to take advantage of, but they made tough shots. They drove to the rim really well and made some big plays down there, so give credit to them, they played really well.

On what you were thinking when AJ drove to the rim…

I was telling myself before the play when we got the ball that someone is probably going to get downhill and shoot a layup or whatever so make sure to crash the glass so I was getting ready for that, kind of get in position but then I knew once he got downhill my man helped over so I thought for sure he was going to dump it off to me and I was going to have to make a play.


Minnesota Head Coach Ben Johnson

On Eric (Curry) injury, no update yet but to see him on the bench at the end…

Yeah I mean you feel for him. I mean talk about the game he played, the effort that he gave, not only offensively with 19 points but the job he did defensively in the inside. You feel for him that he couldn’t finish it because I know he wanted to.

Talk about Michigan State’s defense in the first half …

Yeah, they did a good job. Obviously, they’ve got a really good defensive system. They’ve got good athletes, good defenders. They did a good job crowding them. They made a lot of catches tough. Didn’t give them a lot of space. Which, we’ve seen and we kind of expected that. I think the big things for those guys is just to stick with the process and hopefully try to wear them down and get some cuts and random screens. They’re a good defensive team and they did a good job of being physical and taking stuff away early.

On last play, especially without Eric in there, undersized…

I thought we did a good job, it kind of was a broken play a little bit. I’d have to watch it again but it was just going off of a lot but I think it was just a broken play. Gave up a little back cut and they got down in, we kind of held up the floor a little bit too late. Was able to give up the dump down. But, I’ll say this, the fight that I thought our guys had to get it to that point. I think there were a couple times in the game where they could have easily folded. And this is a tough place to play. They didn’t give into the crowd, they didn’t give into momentum. They just kept coming and it gave us a chance, and I think that’s really all you can ask for is give ya a chance. And they did that.

Not into moral victories but on how good your team played, potential for an upset here…

I told those guys in the locker room, it hurts. These ones hurt because there wasn’t anymore that could have been done. I think every guy that came in and every guy that helped us prep, they did everything they could to get us to that point. And to not be able to finish it with that type of effort is tough. You just want to tell your guys, if we play like that, with that type of intensity and that type of aggression and that type of competitiveness and connectivity, we’re going to have a fun second half here coming up.

How’d you see the flagrant foul, four points out of that, and the come back…

I tried to see it, I was late on the monitor so I didn’t really see it. I just know what they told me. If he got him, he got him. Luke’s (Loewe) not that type of guy. I’d have to look at it but I was a little worried because normally when that happens, it goes onto a run and something that you can’t recover from. So that was kind of the first thing I thought of was, I’ve seen this movie before. And that would be a tough way to lose the momentum. But I thought our guys we’re able to get over that and recapture it and get back into the game and finish it the right way.

Going back to the final play, what was said in the huddle, was Houser the option that you were willing to live with…

Yeah, that type of play, we’re going small and switching everything. We talked about not trying to give up an inside touch, just because I knew that we were in the bonus and I didn’t just want to throw that side all of a sudden. We give up a foul, they go to the line and win it. We just wanted to make it a tough play and a tough catch at all five spots. So we’re going to front the post and just be aggressive. I just think we lost our vision a little bit and gave up a cut. Again I think, I don’t know what it was when they got it but for them to get the shot off with maybe a second or two, I think we did a lot of good up to that point, it’s just you’ve gotta be able to close it.

Obviously not into moral victories, but talk about the difference between first time and this game…

I think the first time, that was the first time a lot of our guys have been in, they were introduced to Big Ten basketball. We’ve played some tough teams on the road and we were at Mississippi State but I think that was the first game where it was like, welcome to the show. We had a great crowd, it was packed, they made shots early. I just didn’t feel like we responded well. I attribute a lot of that it was a first of a lot of things. I think now we’ve slowly, as a collective team, figured out this is how you’ve got to play in this league if you want to give yourself a chance. With physicality, with mental toughness, with the execution, with the details. I think it just takes time. We’re in a growing process as a unit with a lot of guys that have never been here. So I think that’s kind of the fun part of being with this group, is you can see it develop. I thought last game at Indiana, we didn’t win, but we were more physical. We were the aggressor. We lived in the paint. We got down low. And I think now we look at the rebounds, to be only out-rebounded only by one. To get more offensive rebounds than them, that just shows that our mindset was the right one. That’s what I care about. I tell these guys all the time, score is going to take care of itself if you do all the details and all of the little things that lead up to it. We’ve just got to think big picture. Learn from it and try to bounce back from it on Sunday.

You did not want MSU to get out on the break, your guys sprinting back hard…

That’s the toughest thing honestly. As you guys know, we’re not ten deep. So it feels like sometimes that floor is tilted sometimes. And they put so much foul pressure on you every possession where you’ve got to get back. It takes your legs. We don’t talk about it too much with our guys but, that’s reality and so for our guys to be able to kind of block that out, and have that mental toughness of not getting crushed in transition. I thought the first game we did the same thing, we did a pretty good job in their transition. You’re going to give up some because that’s just what they do. They’re elite at it. But I thought our guys just stuck with it and got back. Again, I think our defense, when we’re set can be pretty good. We’ve just got to get our defense set and give us a chance.

Unsure of long-term with Curry but, address him in the locker room, keep spirits up…

I think he got the ankle pretty good but I don’t know the extent of it. E.C. is a warrior man. He’ll be fine. I think it’s one of those things, we’ll get back home tonight and look at it tomorrow. He’s got a couple days to rehab it. But if Eric can go, Eric is going to go. He’s a grown man, he’ll tell me when he’s ready. He’ll do what’s right to get fixed up and get ready to go. I just think he’s kind of the leader of our team. He did a great job of showing that tonight.

Michigan State Sophomore Guard A.J. Hoggard

On the last play of the game…

My mindset was just to make a play honestly, like Joey told you guys the play was run off the gate, so when Max attacked and I cut, I saw his man step up and knew it was for him to win the game for us. I just dumped it off, put it in his hands, and trusted him to win the game for us.

On the excitement for Joey Hauser

He’s one of our brothers. We trust him down the stretch, all of us are so close knit. It was his first game winner in college, everyone always wants to hit a game winner, especially at a level like this, and especially us being targeted right now, being top 10. It was big for us, and kept the winning streak going. I was happy for him, I was excited and glad I got to be a part of it being the assist man on the job, so it was a good moment for me too.

On Izzo’s trust in him…

It means a lot. I mean when you get trust like that from a coach, it only makes your job so much easier, because you know he believes in you. You should always believe in yourself, but when it comes from someone of that stature it feels good. Me being in there, trusting me to make plays down the stretch and to will us out that win, it goes a long way for the season, it’ll help me progress and get better each and every night, so I’ll be ready to go.

On only one turnover tonight…

I think I’ve improved a lot, but there’s still a lot to go. We have a lot of more games to play, so I gotta continue to take care of the ball. I would love to walk out of the game with zero turnovers, tried to do that today, but one is good in my book, but it can always be better. It kind of was a silly turnover that I had, so I can learn from that and grow, and continue to get better.

Michigan State Freshman Guard Max Christie

On the team not letting momentum swings affect them…

I think that’s just goes towards the experience of our team even though we may be young in some spots. But I think, for the most part, we’re pretty much a veteran team. We stayed focused when it was sort of that lead change down that stretch. It was a close game the whole game, so we stayed really focused together even in those huddles. We made sure that we weren’t going to get too high or too low when we scored or when they scored, keep ourselves even keel to be able to get the job done, and that’s what we did.

On what feels different during his recent shooting surge…

I think I just realized that, even though my numbers may not have been super great at the beginning of season, sticking with that whole process and I think it’s really starting to show now that, if you can just stay in that process and stay committed and not give up and not give in, your dues will be paid eventually. So, I think I feel more confident with the ball in my hands now that I’m playing a lot better and playing my best basketball since I’ve been here. So, I feel much more confident being able to take some of those shots that I made.

On whether he had nerves late with a near-turnover in a close game…

If I’m being honest, I wasn’t really nervous at all. I just coughed the ball up and I think I haven’t really been put in that situation very often. I mean, maybe once or twice towards the end of the game where they want the ball in my hands, especially at this level. It’s not the same as high school. Yeah, I had the ball in my hands at the end of the game in high school, but here in the Big Ten it’s a much different story. So, I haven’t been put in that position very often and that’s not an excuse at all, but I just ended up coughing it up, and I’m not worried about it, but I certainly wasn’t nervous. I thought I was really confident in myself in that moment. It just happened.

On Joey Hauser putting aside his shooting struggles and finding a way tonight for the buzzer-beater…

Joey deserves that moment, 100-percent. He works his tail off and he’s done a really good job taking care of his body. He’s just done all the little things for himself and by no means has he hurt the team at all. He’s done a great job doing the little things really helping us. Some of the things that the media may not see or anybody else may not see, he does all those little things: The rebounding, the defense when we need it, and he can really shoot the ball even though he may not be shooting great right now. He can really shoot it. So, that’s still a threat for the other team. They know he can shoot it and that opens up stuff for us. Even though a lot of things may not show up in the stat sheet for him, a lot of stuff that he does (do) goes unnoticed for sure.

 



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