February 21, 2011

Izzo: 'My biggest fear now is our fatigue factor'

EAST LANSING - Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo spoke about his team's health, level of fatigue and the importance of accumulating victories at this time of year, with four games remaining, heading into Tuesday night's game at Minnesota (9 p.m.)

A six pack of Izzo's best quotes from the podium portion of Monday's press conference:

1. On Injuries/Illness: "Draymond Green spent a lot of last night getting rechecked and everything because they are wondering why the virus is staying as long as it has. The good news is after a battery of tests it is still viral, it is just lasting longer and it could last a while longer but he is feeling a little bit better.

"Delvon Roe spent some time walking through in our walk-through (Sunday). The knee wasn't any worse. There was no more swelling so that was encouraging. We are still going with the bruised theory that it is just going going to be pain-related. If we could sit him for a week or two maybe it would go away but we are just going to try to manage it the best we can manage it."

2. On Freshman Guard Keith Appling: "I thought Keith, after struggling in the first half (against Illinois), was better in the second half. Most freshmen, we are talking about hitting the walls and things like that. We just expect Keith to keep going like the Energizer bunny. He is always getting the best assignment, plus now he is starting to play over 30 minutes a game. I think he has done a great job. I would like to see his offense come a little bit more because I think it's there, and I think he will too.

"Remember when he airballed that wide open shot, I said to him at halftime, 'Did that bother you?' Because he had never done that in a game. He said yeah.

"So whenever you try to get some guys some confidence, sometimes it can backfire on you the other way. But Keith is a good enough scorer and he has been throughout his career as a high school kid. He ahs been working on it more. I think we do have to find a way to get Keith the ball more and we have to find a way to play him at the point so we can get Kalin the ball off of some pindown screens, instead of on his own, and that's what we are going to try to do."

3. Concerns: "My biggest fear now is our fatigue factor. We get a quick turn-around with definitely two major guys that chances are they won't practice again today. For Draymond that means the last five days. Delvon is more used to it because he has had times when he has had to play and not practice much. For Draymond, now it gets to the point where, does it start affecting his conditioning? "

4. Durrell Off The Bench Again?:"I'm not sure where it's at that. I'm going to try to do what Durrell said: hold him as accountable as I can. So every practice, every day is going to be an important day for Durrell to do the other things besides shooting. I do think he got more lift on his shot. He had the two 3s that were in and out. But he did play with a lot more energy and a sense of urgency. I think half of that is - it's not like he's lazy, he practices as hard as anybody - I think he lets offense dictate his whole game. That's what he has to quit doing because we need him in there.

"In this game, Durrell gets four rebounds, he gets to the line six times, he does a better job of that. I think he is in a better frame of mind and I think the players did a good job of rallying around him."

5. On Minnesota's Guard Situation:"It's another mixed bag for us because it's not a great shooting team other than him (Blake Hoffarber) so you kind of want to pack it in. And not maybe as good of guard play so you would kind of like to pressure. So we want to look at two different things.

"The ball is in his (Hoffarber's) hands all the time, and he has taken some shots lately from that animal that is in the middle of the floor, I mean legitimately has. So you have got to be wary of that at all times. So that is going to be one thing that is a little different. Before he was just always coming off of picks. Now he can use ball screens a little bit better, he has the ball in his hands more.

"He has the quickest release I have ever seen in college basketball. I can't think of a player that has a quicker release than Hoffarber. That's where he creates a little bit of a problem."

6. Lucas Getting Worn Down?: "He asked to come out twice in the last game, which he very seldom does. The first time I looked at him and then looked away and pretended I didn't hear him, and told him,'Too bad.' And the second time I got him out I think it was for :21 seconds, so I did a hell of a job of listening to him.

"I just told him, 'Think of yourself as an iron man.' But I do worry. He is back to the best shape he has been in since last year. He is better defensively. He is not turning it over. But they can wear him down. Illinois threw three different players at him. They threw McCamey, they threw Paul, they threw Richardson at him. They just kept throwing guys at him and dogging him. That's the hard part about playing the point. If you are an inside guy you can find ways to hide those guys both offensively and defensively. When you are a point guard there is not a lot of hiding out there.

"He just has to get some rest. We have to be smarter. Yesterday we had a film session and walk-through. We didn't even practice just because of all the situations. But we are going to try to handle some of these like you would in a tournament and see what we can do. Yet he is very confident in his shooting, so he wants to get in and shoot more. We are just trying to balance everything. We are kind of in new territory for us. We haven't had to do this since maybe Neitzel. But with the injury to Kalin it has been even harder. With Neitzel, we brought him off of screens and didn't have him on the ball at times, so he wasn't getting dogged all the way up the court. With Kalin, he is, but he has been able to handle it and is playing his best basketball, so that's encouraging."

Bonus Quote: Any NCAA Lobbying?: "I won't. I have done that some years, complained about the seed we got. I'm looking at this whole thing and ... we put ourselves in this hole. We lost one game that was a bad loss and that was at Iowa. The Michigan game was a tough game. They are playing good. And two days before was the Korie Lucious thing, and I don't know what affect that had. But we still played the best nonconference schedule of anybody in the country. What does that mean? I don't know. Would we have one or two more wins? Probably. And if that gets us, then it gets us. So I'm not going to politic for it this year. We are going to do what we can do.

"I think it would be insane in the Big Ten and Big East if everybody who at least was .500 in their league wasn't going.

"The only thing I keep saying to our team is we are not going to feel sorry or worry about it because we put ourselves in this position and it's our job to work our way out. So you are not going to hear much from me on that in the next couple of weeks, and I don't play the numbers games other than that we have to win more games."

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