Michigan State coach Tom Izzo saw his team put forth a good week of practice only to lay an egg in the game that followed.
The Spartans’ 86-57 road loss to arch rival Michigan on Tuesday night left Izzo disappointed, but not necessarily surprised. He had seen inconsistency from his freshman-laden team, and it reared its head again at Crisler Center.
Here’s what he had to say about the performance.
Initial reaction: “I’m disappointed in the game, of course. It started out bad (Michigan scored 9 or the game’s first 11 points) and it got worse. And when it starts out bad, it usually finishes bad. … Our freshmen, they looked like a bunch of freshmen against a bunch of juniors and seniors. Give (the Wolverines) credit. They had a purpose. They came out.”
On the transition from practice to a game: “I said, ‘The last step you take to become a good team or real good team is can you take practice to a game?’ We did not take practice to a game. They practiced hard. They practiced well. I couldn’t have been prouder of the week they had. I couldn’t have been more disappointed in a couple guys in the game.
“The (21) turnovers are a joke, and that all should fall on me. Don’t even bother ripping them. Just look at me, because it’s been an ongoing thing all year. It has not changed. I’m disappointed in the way a couple guys went in the first time or started the game. We had some things set up that were wide open in our minds, and we just did not run it right.”
On the freshmen: “I don’t blame our freshmen. I just don’t think they understand the intensity level. Nick (Ward) struggled. Josh (Langford) struggled. And Cassius (Winston) really struggled. The turnovers are ridiculous. Miles (Bridges) had some turnovers but did some other things to at least participate.”
On the multiple shot-clock violations: “We got late and lost. They put a little bit of pressure on. We had some back-doors, we had some lob plays that we thought were wide open, and we just didn’t execute. Nick really struggled in this game. Some of it’s understandable. You look at those seniors, and they’ve lost four or five times, and I thought they played with incredible passion. Our freshmen did not match that. That was a big part of it. We script our first four plays, and we screwed up all four. We not only script them for two days, we script them the day of the game. We script them in the walk-through, and we screwed them all up.”
On grasping the meaning of the rivalry: “I said, ‘If you don’t understand the rivalry, listen to the fans.’ I just said listen to them. That’s what it’s supposed to be. That’s what ours should be doing at our place and theirs should be doing at their place. But I said I’ve got too many guys who don’t understand it.”
On Ward’s trip of Moe Wagner: “I didn’t see it yet. One of my guys saw it. If he tripped him, it’s the most unexcusable (sic) thing there was. I’m not dealing with that. He’s going to hear about that. From what I saw — and Wagner can be a pain in the butt, too. So let’s not kid each other here about what goes on. It went on at our place, too. But the experienced guy got the unexperienced guy, and (it’s) unexcusable if Nick did any of that.”
On his team’s effort: “We’re not battle-tested. We haven’t been in this game. We haven’t been down here. I’m not going to make an excuse, but that was seniors against freshmen. That’s what it was. They took it to us, and we did not respond very well, and we’re going to have to get better. That was tough to see us, what I would say, not compete. That doesn’t happen very often, but when they’re hitting shots that they’re hitting, all the credit goes to them. They outplayed us in every aspect of the game.”