Tom Izzo & Nick Ward take a moment to laugh during the blowout of HBU

Breslin Center

East Lansing, MI

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The #2 Michigan State Spartans held home court tonight in a 107-62 blowout win over Houston Baptist.  If was the Spartans tenth straight win since losing to Duke 88-81 on November 14.  The Spartans have won all ten games by at least 10 points.

Four Spartans hit double digits in the scoring column for the Spartans.  Miles Bridges led the way tying his career-high 33 points and six rebounds.  Nick Ward had 20 points and six boards.  Joshua Langford had 14 points and Cassius Winston had 10.  The Spartans had a disappointing 14 turnovers.

With the win, Michigan State improves to 11-1.  Michigan State outrebounded HBU by a dismal 43-39 margin. The Spartans had 30 assists on 36 baskets.  The Spartans also set a single-game record for their program with 16 blocks.  The previous record was 13.

You can watch Tom Izzo’s press conference above or read the transcript here:

Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo

Opening statement…
As they always say there’s old school and new school, and I always say it’s right school and wrong school, but I do talk often about, you know, you’ve got to make sure you don’t let analytics get in the way of reality. So analytically, we shoot 65 percent, we shoot 50 (percent) from the 3, we shoot 76 (percent) from the line, the one that I do like is we had 30 assists on 36 baskets. But the eye test, we weren’t very good. I just told my team one thing: we went into the game with keys on the wall. The keys were no turnovers. We must have slept through the first 1:38 when we had four of them.

We said we were going to contest 3s, we out-fouled them. We didn’t contest them very good they just missed some shots. You know they’re missing their best player, so you know that’s no insult to them, they’re missing their best player a center averaging 16 a game.

I was never prouder of a team than I was of their team. They were over-matched, under-sized…for a team like that ­to get 24 offensive rebounds and just absolutely embarrass us, you know it was a shame.

I told my team there’s two kinds of efforts; there’s efforts to win games and there’s efforts to win championships. We gave an effort to win a game. And I told you guys last week…the ironic part of the whole night for me is it’s poetic justice against you guys sometimes, but my star by far was Nick Ward. He communicated, he stepped up on ball screens, he guarded smaller guys, he scored in the post, he ran the lane, his communication was off the charts. By far the best player on the court for us. Miles (Bridges) had a good night offensively. I thought Josh (Langford) played pretty well too, but this turnover thing is the reality now. It hasn’t changed from last year and there’s only one guy that’s to blame and that’s me.

So we’re going to fix it in the next couple of days somehow. No more rules on how much time you can practice, just when you can practice. No more rules on how much time you can watch film, you just can’t watch it until six in the morning. There’s no more of these great rules, so now it’s time to hold some people accountable to what they’ve gotta do.

And so I’m not very happy, not very pleased. Please to take that insulting to Houston Baptist because they didn’t have their whole team, in fact, I would take it just the opposite. Yeah we won by 30, 40 points, but as far as heart and courage and toughness, they played with it and we didn’t. And that’s what I told their coach after.

I’ll take every question you’ve got.
 
On setting the single game blocks record…
I’d like to recognize Jaren Jackson the second half because he played with four fouls almost the whole half and I thought he did a pretty good job. He was still blocking shots, but you know those fouls early that was too bad but he still…he almost leads us in rebounding and he really was never in the game. It shows you how inept we were with other players. But, you know, how many did he block? Probably six, seven of them? Six of them. And Nick Ward got four.

Like I said, Nick Ward played the best. He played the best. Both ends of the court. So, we block shots because we were a lot bigger than the team we played. We are a good shot blocking team and I thought Nick did a … I mean Jaren did a great job considering he had foul trouble and had to block shots from a distance instead of getting right into them because every time he moved there was a foul.

On if the early turnovers were casual or forced turnovers…
I think we lead the world – Italian basketball, Spanish basketball, Russian basketball, Chinese basketball, French basketball, and American basketball – I think we lead the world in unforced turnovers. We come down, throw the ball up – first play of the game – right into a guy’s arms. And those things are just, you know, they’re not something we can take lightly anymore because they’re happening on a regular basis, that’s the way we started out in the Oakland game.

So, somebody’s not getting the message. So, tonight was a second time-and-out rule, next time it’s going to be a first time-and-out rule. If people are playing scared, good. They should be.

On if he’s ever called a timeout so early in a game and on Miles Bridges’ play tonight…
Yeah, no I’ve never called a timeout that early in my whole life. And it was needed.

Miles, you know, he dunked. You can see his athleticism is finally back. He looked more aggressive, he took it to the hole. He did pull up on a few mid-range jumpers and he shot really well from 3. So I thought offensively, Miles was as good as he’s been since he’s been here. I’ll just leave it at that.

On the fouls outside the arc…
Well, two games in a row, I mean McQuaid is fouling guys, and Josh (Langford), those guys are fouling guys, so if they’re mistakes they’re bad mistakes. And if they’re mistakes they’re continuous mistakes. And there’s one thing that coaches, parents, anybody else can’t stand, it’s making the same mistake over and over and over and over again.

So, no, I think it’s completely our fault. I’m going to take blame, we tried to look at switching a little bit. So try to make sure I don’t blame my players because people get upset with that, so I’m going to take full responsibility and blame because we tried to switch a little bit and we just, we don’t communicate well enough and that was totally my fault, I think. It has nothing to do with not cutting a guy out and not putting a hand up and fouling a guy or turning the ball over.

Both myself and my staff are going to work diligently tonight through the wee hours for an early morning film session and hopefully the players will take some responsibility and I think there’s enough to go around. I mean, I don’t want to act like the world’s caved in, well maybe I do, because I thought this was an important couple of games. I think that we had to change what we’re doing in areas that are going to matter as the games get bigger and more important. We showed tonight we’re not the second-best team in the country, although other teams are struggling with the same thing. I’m not getting through, so the blame really should go on me. I gotta do a better job of getting through to some people. And, but, I don’t know if guys are reading their press clippings, I don’t know if guys are believing where they are, I don’t know if guys are, what they’re doing, but we are having reoccurring mistakes of the same quality.

The sad part is it’s overshadowing some incredible things. Cassius (Winston) has 12 assists. That’s incredible. Jaren (Jackson) has six blocks. That’s incredible. Miles (Bridges) has 33 points. That’s incredible. Those are what I call analytic b.s. The eye test didn’t show the same things that the analytics did. And the analytics for Tom Izzo – now maybe some NBA guys are…do something, for me it does nothing. 

On Jaren playing in foul trouble…
It was good to see him play with foul trouble. I thought Jaren was ready. I think he got taken out of the game, some his fault, some question marks. I need Jaren to get better and again you know everybody’s got to have some games they you’re supposed to win. We didn’t have many of those early so that’s why this was an important game and I need Jaren to get better during this time. I need some other guys to get better at what they do. I need to see if we have maturity and leadership and Coach didn’t display much so maybe the players followed.

On accepting his to not play with a championship mentality…
No, I can’t. Not if you’re a championship possibility team. Not if it’s effort related things I can’t. I can understand why you can’t shoot the ball well every night. I can even understand why you’d miss free throws. I can’t understand why you wouldn’t cut anybody out. So no, 150 times no. I cannot understand what guys would do working their butt off, which this team worked as hard as any team I’ve ever had morning, noon, and night all summer long and then you get 30 chances to let that stuff shine that you worked on and you’re going to go out there and let a team just run by you and run by you? No, no, no. I’m not expecting us to score 107 points. I’m not expecting us to shoot 65%. I’m not expecting a lot of things. Let’s reverse this press conference, does anybody think that our turnovers have been forced or unforced? (Media member: a mix of both, but a lot of unforced.) A mix of both, that’s why you’re a reporter not a coach. Okay Larry you’re always thinking you’re a coach and I’m not press so what do you think? (Media member: mostly unforced, especially at the beginning of the game.) Mostly unforced, I mean seriously do you think I’m picking on that? I mean I think my wife could figure that out and no offense to my wife. She’s just not into coaching, but I think she could figure that one out. You come down the court and you throw it to a guy. You don’t get to this level by doing that. That means you lack concentration or it isn’t as important to you as you got to make it and that is inexcusable.

On if his team did enough to prepare with a one-day break…
Yeah, they did, they really did. They worked their tails off yesterday, they really did. The one-day of prep is hard. It’s hard and it’s hard to prepare for a big guy and he’s not playing and we’re playing against a bunch of small athletic guys. We got 6’9 guys guarding 6’2 guys and it’s hard. Remember for me, Middle Tennessee was a bunch of small guys. You guys may forget, players may forget, but I got a memory like an elephant and I don’t forget. So, I’m not going to forget and so I’m the one who’s driving harder.

On going big on small teams…
Well how did you think it worked? Again, this is a fun press conference and it’s about time I get to interview you guys. I don’t think it worked too good. We made some shots, but we didn’t guard very well. Normally now with the analytics people, a bigger line-up should mean rebound better. I mean, guys at one time we’re down 13 to three and here’s the funny part about it. At that point, we’re shooting 72% from the field, so there were no rebounds on our end to get. They were getting all of them on their end and that is disappointing. Those two things, that and turnovers, disappoint me more than anything because we’re not playing a pressing team. We haven’t played a pressing team. Jon (Crispin) from Big Ten Network asked me a good question, does a lot of basketball, he says ‘you guys look better when you get pressured a little bit,’ which means that we lack discipline and we lack the ability to want to play the game for the game, not play the game for the score of the team you’re playing. So, I don’t know and the good news where Houston Baptist was missing their best player, Long Beach they won’t be.

On his team not playing the game like a championship team…
Since I’ll get blamed tomorrow on everything, this is one time I get to blame everybody else because everybody tells them how great they are and it’s hard to handle that. It’s hard to handle that and we got out worked by a team that’s worse than us. To win big games and again I watched a great, great story today on the coach from Georgia and they showed a clip up 61 to something and him going off and they said he’s coaching to make sure his team plays at a championship level every day. Sometimes I worry about too much that’s said, too much that’s out there and I know what it’s like to win a championship and I know what you have to do to win a championship. I know what you got to do to win a conference championship, I know what you got to do to be a very good team. To hell with the championships because in all fairness and honesty you can be really good and not lucky enough to win one. I know what it takes to be a very good, very good basketball team. Right now, we’re good. Good as I always say to my players, you know what’s good, its average and average is C’s. Any of you fathers or mothers in here happy when your kids getting C’s because I’m not. I don’t need to be average and we’re not that far away and we can do some incredible things, but on a consistent basis we have not rebounded as well as we need to and we’ve turned the ball over too much and that has not changed since last year on the turnovers. Since last year on the turnovers, I should be blamed so I hope everyone does blame me because I should be blamed. If that has consistently gone on, that’s my fault. 

 

The Spartans return to action on Thursday against Long Beach State.  That game can be seen on BTN and it tips off at 7PM.

 

 

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