NEW YORK — Miles Bridges sat in his temporary stall in the New York Knicks’ locker room at Madison Square Garden following Michigan State’s 75-64 loss to Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals Saturday and pondered the future.
Michigan State will have to wait a long time — nine days, to be exact — before finding out if it will receive a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Bridges said it won’t matter where the Spartans (29-4) will be seeded.
“We don’t really care,” Bridges said. “Anywhere we go, we just want to play hard and not get this feeling at the end.”
That “feeling” Bridges is talking about is losing. And for them to not experience it again would mean winning a national championship. That was the message in the locker room after the loss to their hated state rivals, Bridges said.
“Let’s just get ready for the real tournament and win a national championship,” was the way he summarized it.
Watching film will be key, Bridges said. But improvements must be made on both sides of the ball.
“We’ve got to get better chemistry-wise on offense,” Bridges said. “We’ve got to get way better on defense. We were a little too stagnant on defense. One pass, shot. One pass, shot. The whole game.”
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said he would consider taking the team on a short trip to either Chicago or Detroit to take in an NBA game as a team.
“Knowing me,” he said, “I’ll come up with something to take advantage of it.”
The players also feel the layoff could benefit the Spartans in the long run.
“I feel like we’re going to be anxious to play,” Bridges said. “It’ll be good for us.”
Spartans guard Joshua Langford agreed with Bridges.
“I’m a basketball player, so I play basketball all day,” Langford said. “But I do think this time is going to be good for us. What we’re going to do is just put our heads down and get better and work. It’s something we always do. I feel like this team learns from our failures and learns from our mistakes. This is just another chance for us to just do that.”
While other teams have to play next weekend as the Power 5 conferences will be finishing their tournaments, Langford said the break will be a good chance for Michigan State to relax and, more importantly, get better.
“Everybody’s going to be anxious to get redemption,” Langford said. “But I also think everybody is going to understand that this time is really important because it’s an advantage for us to get better.”