BIG TEN TOURNAMENT WINNERS, MICHIGAN STATE

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Michigan State Postgame Quotes

Final Score:   Purdue 62 – Michigan State 66

Sunday, March 13, 2016

COACH IZZO: We can’t wait two hours to get back when we get back at 3:00 in the morning. So really, it’s all I’m not worried. If you hear it, let us know. I’m worried about winning a championship.

MATT COSTELLO: We took care of our business and we have stuff to do.

COACH IZZO: Well, you know what? For us, this was the battle cry of the seniors and since last April, really, since we lost to in this great city. And I think they worked for it. They deserved it. They earned it. They got it the old fashioned way, and that’s what I love about them.

So we still had some times when we struggled a little bit, making a few plays. But we got better than we did the night before and we’re going to get better from here on out. I think we’ll take some steps forward when we get home and get a little time to relook at those last ten minutes of games. We’ll get better.

But they all came through. We utilized a lot of guys. It was the ultimate team win.

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Q. The first is for you, Bryn [Forbes]. What does it say about your maturation as a basketball player that you cannot have your best scoring the last three games but you still stay on the court because of your defense?

BRYN FORBES: Yeah, when my shot wasn’t falling, that’s something I had to focus on because I know the first game of the tournament I struggled a little bit on the defensive end. I know since then I had to really lock in on that part of my game if the shots weren’t going to fall.
Q. Colby [Wollenman] had a major day. He is overlooked as one of the four seniors. But when you needed him, he played like a monster. Would talk about all three of them and about Colby today?

DENZEL VALENTINE: Colby is a big time player. He’s never scared. It doesn’t matter how big they are, how athletic they are, he’s never scared. That’s something I always like about Colby.

In practice, he’s on the scout team. Going up against A.P., B.J. I mean, he has nothing to be scared about. He’s going up against the best athletes every day in practice. So Colby is a big time player.

BRYN FORBES: I really think Colby is overlooked sometimes. He’s so cerebral. He’s helping everyone on the court from guards to bigs. It’s just crazy. He’s like another coach in a way. Even games he doesn’t play, he plays such a big impact that it’s like it’s just good to have him around.

MATT COSTELLO: Honestly, he’s always ready to play. He knows he may not get his chance sometimes if D.D. is playing well. But he came in today and really muscled A.J. and Isaac when he was facing them in the post and that saved us a lot of times.
He got five boards today. He was all over the place. He got a put back dunk. He never said that. But I’m happy for him.
Q. Matt, I know getting the you were talking about getting those blocks the other day. You got two today and you got the block record, especially one late after the missed free throw. What did that mean to you?

And then I wanted to ask all three of you guys if there’s any disappointment this didn’t result in the number one seed in the NCAA Tournament.

MATT COSTELLO: I know I’ve been trying to get that block for four games now, and I still haven’t been able to get it. Today I got a couple. I had to make up for that missed free throw somehow, and it worked out that it was a block.

But as far as a one seed, man, it is what it is. That was out of our control. We took care of what we could take care of, and we know we got some goals ahead of us. So let’s enjoy this win for a little bit, but we got some work to do.

BRYN FORBES: I completely agree with Matt. I think we’re just going to take it a step at a time. I think we’re going to celebrate this one. And after that, it’s one step at a time, one game at a time. I don’t think we’re really overly worried about that.

DENZEL VALENTINE: I completely agree with Matt and Bryn. We can control what we can control. We’ve got a tournament championship. And it’s up to the committee on who they seed so we have no control over that. We’re just going to come out and play Michigan State basketball in the tournament.
Q. Denzel, you got 16 points out of your bench in the first half. You played 12 plays. Can you comment on that and what that means to you at this point in the season?

DENZEL VALENTINE: I mean, it’s a big bear off my back. When I’m out there, I know pretty much everybody on this that got in scored. So everybody played a big part in this win. And that’s what’s been so good about us throughout the year. We’re so deep. Everybody can come in and contribute.

So knowing that, I can go out, I can take rests. I can play my game and feel it out and still come up with the win. If I don’t have any best shooting performance or have my best game, I know that my team has my back. And they have all year.
Q. Denzel you were pretty demonstrative in the final seconds as you guys got closer to winning, and there was a moment when Bryn took the foul instead of passing it to Eron [Harris]. What did you say to him there? What were the conversations between you and Tum and the emotions of that moment?

DENZEL VALENTINE: I was kind of dribbling the ball up the court, and I felt somebody trying to back tip me so I just tried to give it up and tried to get it right back. But, I mean, they went to Bryn so quickly. And credit to Bryn. He went up there, and he knocked down the free throw. So, I mean, can’t complain too much.
Q. What did you say to Bryn and Tum?

DENZEL VALENTINE: I just went up to coach and said, I’ll try to get it back or whatever. But coach understands that. He knows that he has full confidence in Bryn. So he wasn’t really that mad anyway. He knows that I can make them. But he knows that Bryn can make them, too.

And then I just went up to Bryn and I said, Do it for Carter. Do it for his son. And once I said that, it kind of kicked in for him. And he knocked them down, and he gave me a little smile after two.
Q. All coaches of the best teams have had at least two to three guys from Michigan leaving their own mark. What sort of responsibility do you guys feel or sense of pride do you have because all three of you guys are from Michigan to leave your own legacy or chapter in establishing that?

MATT COSTELLO: I mean, we talk about legacy all the time. Put your footprint in the sand. We’ve done it a couple times this year with some records we’ve broken. But right now we’re just trying to win another championship. Again, like I said, before, happy we won today but we got bigger fish to fry.

BRYN FORBES: Yeah, I’ve only been here for two years. I haven’t done some of the things they’ve done or achieved some of the things they’ve achieved. But this is huge to me. Being from Michigan, being from East Lansing, it was all I saw when I was growing up. So to leave my own footprint would be huge, and I know the same for them.

DENZEL VALENTINE: We’re not done yet. We’ve got six more games. I’m trying to win a national championship. But this feels great, because it’s two out of four years, two out of three championship games. So it feels great. But we got to win the national championship.
Q. Kind of off-shooting it, but you had tremendous season. Drawn a lot of comparisons in the media to the Splash Brothers here and there. I want to get your thoughts on that if that seems hyperbolic or extreme or if you watch Golden State, or if you’re a big fan of those guys. Bryn Curry?

BRYN FORBES: I’m a fan of them absolutely. I don’t know if I’m that the good. But it’s just nice to be mentioned in the same breath as those two. They’re very talented, best shooters in the world.
Q. Denzel, yesterday you talked about being at the free throw line with the game on the line with 14 seconds, whatever. You hit the second two free throws. Today that off balance shot with a 1:45 to go, you’re kind of in the lane. Is it you just get in the zone and make big plays. You expect that from yourself, don’t you? Could you just talk about that?

DENZEL VALENTINE: I mean, yeah. When I’ve driven the ball up the court, I’m just thinking me and the driveway when I was little. In this moment, this is what I’ve been picturing all my life.

So, literally, I know you might think I’m crazy, but that’s what I’m thinking about: Making those big time shots in the driveway. Counting down. So I live for those moments. I might not make every shot like that, but I’m going to try my best to get the best shot I can.

And on that play particularly, I came off the I came off the screen, snaked it. I did a little step back, got some separation. But Raphael Davis, he’s a good defender. He didn’t quit on it. So he came, almost blocked my shot, and I kind of pump faked it a little bit and then just followed through and made the shot.
Q. Matt and Bryn, sadly in the media, when a player screws up off the court, a star player, that gets attention when really 99 out of 100 aren’t that. Denzel is the best player in the country and may be the best off the court. Would the two of you please talk about his character and the kind of man he is away from basketball?

MATT COSTELLO: I mean, that’s why he’s one of my best friends just because he is such a good guy. He would take care of all his business in the classroom and working in the community and keeping this team together. I mean, being a captain isn’t just what you do on the court and leading guys that way but it’s also what you do off the court, calling everybody over to watch day to day play one night or going to the movies, whatever, just hanging out. So give all the credit to him.

BRYN FORBES: One thing I will say about Zel is he’s probably best attribute would be is how well rounded he really is. He’s good at a lot of things, he balances a lot of things. And I think that speaks a lot about him to be able to you know, balance it on the court, off the court, help the team off the court, not just himself, you know? I think he’s very unselfish. That’s another attribute he has is you know, just made him successful this whole way.
Q. Tom, last year after you guys lost to Wisconsin, one of the things you were most disappointed about is you wanted that group to have something and you didn’t know if they were going to get that opportunity again with the Final Four. With this group and, obviously, they’ve got bigger goals still for them but to have this, have something, what does that mean to you?

COACH IZZO: Really, when we were in Anaheim, you know, winning a championship, we felt like we had to win a preseason championship. There’s just something different about playing in the final game and winning the championship. And, whether it’s at a smaller level, which is was then, a bigger level, which it is now, or the biggest level, which is down the road, I think you have to learn how to do that and realize that it just gets tougher as you go.

And you know, I’m really happy for Denzel and Matt. And they’ve been here four years. This meant a lot to them. Denzel, that’s all he talks about. He’s kind of like me. He’s kind of anal in that area that he just wants to win a championship. I think in Denzel’s case, with his dad being here and playing here, I just think he looks as this as I’m helping my dad live through me. And what a cool thing that is.

And Matt and Bryn and Colby. Colby has been to four out of five finals. Think about that. So when he’s operating on somebody someday, he’s going to have a hell of a story to tell.
Q. Tom, two parts. You’ve coached a lot of great players, but I know there may be some as good as Denzel but nobody better. What does it mean off the court the kind of young man he is?

COACH IZZO: Well, with Denzel it means he’s got incredible parents, to be honest with you, that have been supportive and helpful and demanding. But he’s you know, he’s going to make his mistakes, like I made mine. But he has values, you know. He understands right from wrong. If he makes a mistake. I’m getting tests for two days. I tell him I hate reading those things, so don’t send them. But he’s just one of those kind of guys and he works I don’t know if he’s the best player I’ve had. I know he’s the most versatile player I’ve had. As Bryn said, he’s a multidimensional human being. The leadership he did all summer was incredible him and Tum. Every time I’d come back from recruiting trip, they’re going to a movie, going here.

It sounds so kind of goofy in a way. But it matters on championship teams. There’s a special bond with people that win championships. And that bond now gets cemented. And it will grow.
Q. If I had told you early in the season that you’d go through a three-game stretch where Bryn was not scoring well but staying on the court because of his defense, you would have thought I was high. But the fact that he’s getting there and getting better, would you talk about that dimension it adds to this team?

COACH IZZO: Honestly, I would have thought a lot worse than that. I am proud of Bryn. Because he was a guy that had to buy in. And he got some rebounds today, one. He had a tip-out. And he defended very well. And he was not able to do that early, and he didn’t get frustrated today. I thought the other night he did. He missed some good shots again.

You know? And everyone one of us, including me, said keep shooting it. Because I thought the shots he missed were half in and out. They weren’t bricks. It speaks but guys changing Eron Harris, guys changing, guys buying in to doing what they’ve got to do to make sure that the team is put ahead of the individual. This day and age that doesn’t happen a lot.
Q. Tom, what have you learned about your team this weekend that helps or hurts the cause?

COACH IZZO: Well, what hurts a little bit we’re still not very solid down the stretch. You know, last 10 minutes of games. What helps is we’re not very solid, and we get a chance to work on it.

You know? When you play the number of games we played and win by what we won. Not because we’re so great, just scheduling and this and that, I think it speaks volumes that we’ll get a chance to rally work on it now. And we’ll have their attention. But we did execute some good things down the stretch, too, and made big time plays that I think are going to really help us as we move forward in this tournament.
Q. The development that Bryn Forbes made, did that surprise you? Did you see that coming? Has that exceeded your expectations?

COACH IZZO: Yeah, it has. It really has. And it helped because Zel and Carlton Valentine, his dad, coached him. Kept telling me Bryn Forbes is maybe the greatest pleaser I’ve ever had. That kid came in this morning early. “Coach, can I watch film with you?” He always wants to learn. He, too, is a very good student and an incredible kid.

So, man, I think he’s got some basketball ahead of him. He’s getting better. This was a good sign that he struggled and kept playing. Not that I kept playing him. He kept playing. That was a good sign for him for now, for the immediate feature, and for the long term future.
Q. Tom, can you comment on the play of Ellis in this tournament?

COACH IZZO: You know, when I look at this stat sheet and I see again, we played 11 guys and 10 of them scored and Ellis made a couple big shots and made a great sweeping layup. But what Alvin has done is he’s been a lot better defensively. And he’s strong enough and big enough that I can play him and switch off on people. And so it’s great to see a guy who struggled for two years, hung with it. We almost didn’t hang with him. And he bounced back, and he’s making a contribution. And, again, he deserves the credit because he made a commitment this year. And, because of that, I think he’s playing better.

So we had a lot of guys that are playing good. We got to get a couple more playing great. And we got to get a little more solid down the stretch.

But heck of a championship. Big Ten is so good. And Purdue, we didn’t even talk about them. Very well coached. Very good team. Hard team to defend. I look at this tournament, and I think what Jim Delany had in mind when we when he invented this, was give yourself a chance to prepare yourself for the NCAA Tournament.

We played an Ohio State team big guards, a lot of athletes. We played a Maryland team big guys who could step out and shoot and maybe one of the better point guards in the country. And we might have played the biggest team in captivity today. And tough, tough, toughness. As I said, Gene and Jed would have been proud today. But we played three different teams in three days. And I think that will benefit us. I think it will benefit Purdue and Maryland and all the other teams that make it into the tournament. So I hope the Big Ten has a lot of representatives. Looking forward to it.