“We did remove the diapers when the regular season ended,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said Thursday in one of his most peculiar uses of metaphor.
Well, hopefully it was a metaphor.
He meant to indicate how his young team remains a work in progress. But after a 78-51 win over Penn State in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament, he acknowledged that it looks as good as ever.
Here’s what Izzo had to say after the blowout victory.
Initial reaction: “I felt like we played one of our better games, if you looked at it in all aspects. I thought defensively we were very good. Offensively I thought we executed well. We shot well the first half. I thought we took a few bad shots the second. Only complaints I had, I thought we got a little complacent the second half, which you sometimes do.
“I thought the first half we defended well, but we fouled too much. We let them go 9 for 10 from the line. I also think it was a tough game for Penn State yesterday. I’ve been really impressed with the job that (Penn State coach Pat Chambers) has done. When I look at Rutgers, Penn State, Nebraska, I think these teams are going to be really, really good next year.”
What he told Chambers: “I told him he just has to keep that team together. (Mike) Watkins was getting better. We did a pretty good job on him. As (Michigan State freshman Miles Bridges) said, (Lamar) Stevens and (Tony) Carr are really good players. They can play on any team in this league.
“I just told him, you know, I thought we played our best game. He didn’t play as well. Maybe the fatigue from yesterday, who knows. But I love his team. I think he’s lost some games that came right down to wire. Today the roof fell in. I’ve been there. That’s what I told him.”
On his team’s offensive performance: “I thought the execution of plays was the best it’s been. (Junior point guard Tum Tum Nairn) had 9 assists and zero turnovers. The reason is we broke well, we defended well, rebounded well. The first time they out-rebounded us by 10. We out-rebounded them by 15 (on Thursday).
On Bridges’ progression: “He’s just such a good kid. I don’t know. You can get on him and he doesn’t waver. A couple times he didn’t rebound well enough. A couple times he wasn’t ready to shoot. You don’t have to say, ‘Miles, will you please do this?’ Pamper him like a superstar. You can coach him, talk to him, tell him.
“He was jacked before the game started. This means a lot to Miles, as it does our other guys. Everybody else is growing in their game. He’s growing with his leadership, too. I told him it’s going to be very important for his present, his future, his longtime future.”
On the defensive performance: “I thought it was one of our best defenses. I’m sure, at the same time, they had some shots they felt were good enough, and they just didn’t go in. I can’t reiterate enough, that is going to be a really, really, really good team. Kind of sad to see Ohio State, Nebraska (lose).
“We have (athletic directors) coming out because of my favorite sport, Twitter, that everybody is tweeting about this and that (about job security). We’ve got to give guys the green light. Hell, I’m nervous. My AD hasn’t called me, tweeted nothing. I’m nervous right now.”