March 10, 2012

VIDEO: Izzo ecstatic to be in title game

INDIANAPOLIS - Tom Izzo did not care if his team played Michigan, Ohio State, or even the Indiana Pacers, the Michigan State coach is just thrilled that his ballclub is in the championship game of the Big Ten Tournament.

Michigan State has not been to the championship game of the league tournament since 2000. The Spartans have gone to four Final Fours since their last Big Ten tournament final appearance.

"It has been 11 years since we've had a Sunday chance," Izzo said. "I am just ecstatic about it, especially for the way that we did it for the most part. Poor start, but I think somewhere down the line it is going to be a great thing because it says that we can come back without Draymond. And I don't mean that like it sounded. But that run, and he (Draymond) gave Austin and B Wood (Brandon Wood) all of the credit. They brought us back when he was struggling early and there hasn't been many games in the last two months that he has struggled and he was struggling early."

Izzo hopes that his team's success in the 2011-2012 Big Ten Tournament will quash the idea that he doesn't take the conference tourney seriously.

"I can say where people might think that because we haven't had much success here," Izzo said. "But that is not because of a lack of preparation, a lack of interest, or a lack of anything else. I don't have a good reason why, but I don't blame people for being upset that we are not winning. If they know me, they should never think that I am golfing during this time. Every game is important to me and I like the focus this team has had and we are going to try and see if we can win a championship."

Green bounce back from his slow start record his 19th double-double of the year with 14 points and a team-high 16 rebounds.
"He gets 16 rebounds, he makes a couple of big time assists," said Izzo, "and defensively he was really, really good after those first five minutes. It just proves that Draymond can beat you in a lot of different ways when things aren't going right with the things that we are used to going right for him."

Michigan State fell behind 20-9 in the first half before putting together a 37-7 run that spanned two halves.

"I can't remember being able to do that to my son Steven on an X-Box game in the basement to be honest with you," Izzo said. "You can tell by my reaction. That is amazing, I never thought you could do that against Wisconsin. I think you have to give a lot of kudos to our defense. Our guards did a great job, our bigs stepped up and my staff did an unbelievable job in the last 20 hours. We did a lot of things like it was an NCAA tournament. It was just, stay down on the shot fakes and don't let them drive base line and a couple of things that they do well. We almost did all of them well, which is amazing."

As was the case in Michigan State's quarterfinal win over Iowa, the Spartans ignited their offense after establishing their presence in the post. But unlike the quarterfinals where Adreian Payne spearhead Michigan State's post offense, Derrick Nix sparked the Spartans with nine big points on 4-of-7 shooting in the first half.

"Nix gave us a big left too at times," Izzo said. "Our defense is good when our bigs can help on those curls and step up on those screens."

Michigan State's guards deserve most of the credit for their third win of the season over Wisconsin. Spartan guards 46 of Michigan State's 65 points against the Badgers. But it was the defense played by Spartan guards that stood out to Izzo.

Sophomore point guard Keith Appling had the toughest job. The former Pershing star checked Jordan Taylor, who 19 points put had to work hard for almost all of them.

"Appling is a special defender," Izzo said. "He can stay with most people most of the time."

Click below to watch Izzo's complete off-podium interview following Michigan State's semifinal win over Wisconsin.

If you prefer to listen to audio of Izzo's interview, click the link below.

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