March 22, 2011

VIDEO: Izzo says failure will drive Spartans

EAST LANSING - A six pack of Tom Izzo quotes from Tuesday's season-ending press conference at Breslin Center:

1.Was the disappointment of this season a surprise?
"It was a disappointing year but it wasn't a disastrous year. It was a letdown. Dan Patrick asked me if it was a surprise. I can honestly answer that yes and no. I didn't think we would get off to as poor a start as we did. But it was kind of understood when I realized what kind of shape we were in early. I think that's one of the things that's going to be great about this off-season is that we are going to have one. If you believe practice makes you better and practice is necessary for success then there would be almost no surprises.

"We just never really seemed to come out of it all year. We made advances but I'm not sure how you can when you went through as much as we went through."

"It was a dip. It wasn't a disaster. We keep looking at this as a disastrous season. If it had been one of our more normal schedules we would have won one or two more, had 20 wins, 12 losses. When you are under 20 wins and over 13 losses, those numbers look a little different because we haven't seen them here.

"I think it humbled everybody and I think that's okay. I said our fans needed to be humbled, our media needs to be humbled and I think as I look at it maybe I needed to be humbled. Being humbled isn't a negative. it means you refocus."

2.On the main reasons for the struggles this season:"If you asked me what do you think the single biggest reason was that we were inconsistent, it's easy to say the injuries cause you could see those. It's easy to say the lack of practice time because you could figure that one. The biggest one was we had no rotation. Event he year Neitzel and Walton were here as juniors and sophomores we weren't very deep but we still had a rotation that was pretty consistent. That rotation has to get there. Every team needs one. It's hard to have confidence when you don't know when you are going in or how much you are going to play. Unfortunately that changed as it went from August to January with the loss of some pretty key players. I don't foresee that happening again."

3.How long does it take you to get energized after a season like that?
"I think I am going to get energized a lot quicker this year because failure drives you a little bit more than success. It just does. There is not a good taste in my mouth for the way the season ended. I hope it remains there for as long as it takes for me to get it back. I'm anxious to start. We are going to start workouts, just to get some guys back on track. We have had a lot of meetings already. It started Sunday. We got back Friday morning. It started Sunday. We had two of our recruits in already. We talked to them. They will be coming up here the day they get out of school. We are going to take advantage of the summer instead of like the last couple of summers."

4.What's next?
"Now it's about moving forward for me. I think this off-season will be very important. Delvon Roe said to me yesterday, 'I'm finally going to get to do something this summer. I'm healthy enough.' I don't take that to mean he will be working out every day because that's not how that knee is. But at least getting to do the things that a normal guy can do is going to be great.

"What Nix has to do is do what he did last summer and he has to maintain. He doesn't have to do anything different than he did last summer.

"Guard play, I think we are going to make big strides with Keith Appling. He really started to shoot the ball well at the end of the year. I don't think there is any question we will have to rely on freshmen. With Dawson and Kearney and the athleticism that Anderson brings, that will be good. And a shooter like Byrd, we are going to have bigger wings with Byrd and Dawson.

"What we do with DayDay will be important too. Whether we can move DayDay around a little bit more and do some different things is going to be fun to watch, fun to see, fun to go over."

5.What was the context of the meetings you had after returning from Tampa?
"I had about a 20-minute meeting with each kid and had it written up what they needed to improve on and work on and why things didn't go as well for them as they could have. Example, Russell Byrd and his injury, example Garrick Sherman and what he missed in the summer, example Delvon. The first part of the year I thought Delvon was going to be 100 percent and then it started going downhill.

"With some of them I think they have to spend more time on the game.

"I also talked about how close we were early in the year. In my mind we should have beaten UConn. We went over how important free throw shooting was early. And how fragile it is. How one or two points can change peoples' impression of who you are, what you are. We have to start embracing that instead of either fearing it or not looking at it."

6.Will failure drive your players?
"I am going to find out. A lot of them haven't failed much when you look at DayDay, Delvon, Austin Thornton, going to two Final Fours, winning two Big Ten championships. I couldn't honestly tell you I'm 100 percent sure on that because guys haven't been in that position. A very, very good coach in this country called me and told me I was going to have trouble handling this because you haven't been through it a lot in 10 or 15 years.

"It's one of those things that if it doesn't happen to you, you don't look at it the same way.

"My hardest job all year was trying to keep perspective on injuries, schedule and where people thought we should be or where I thought we should be. I thought we could be a very good team. When Chris went (away) I thought it was going to have a serious impact. But I thought we could overcome it. But I thought Byrd would be playing. So you subtract a shooter, but you are getting a very good shooter. And then when we got into September and knew he was probably going to be done for the year, things just kept adding up. That was hard because I didn't want to be one that said, 'I knew in August we weren't going to be very good,' because I thought we were going to be good."

6.Will Draymond Green be more comfortable to lead now?
"Yeah, yeah. That's the million dollar question. You could say everybody knows your real leader is Draymond. But there is a pecking order in every walk of life, as much as Draymond is not afraid to peck over his order. I feel real good about Draymond and Delvon being my leaders, being my captains. Now they have been through it all, the utopia of being in Detroit and playing in front of 75,000 people and they have been through the sadness of being knocked out in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. That usually gives you a better podium from which to talk when you are talking to players or talking to freshmen when they come in this summer."

Bonus. On Adreian Payne:
"I think A.P. is a huge key. The last month of the season he started to spend more time in here, started understanding he has to watch film. A.P. learned that he has to get stronger. The first thing I put on his list was strength, and he kind of laughed. He started realizing it. As far as an athlete, as far as a guy that has offensive skills with the right and or left hand, he just needs reps. He needs a summer of lifting and shooting and maybe he goes from an average layer to a phenomenal sophomore year. I really think he has an upside that is off the charts."

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