Connecticut-Michigan State Quotes
April 3, 2009
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Connecticut student-athletes Jeff Adrien and A.J. Price. We'll open it up for
Q. What's your feel for the mindset of the team? What has it been like waiting this long to get
back on the court, the chaos of this entire experience this week?
A.J. PRICE: I think we're in a great mindset as a team, focused, ready to play the game. It's been a
good experience to be down here. But I think we just ready to get on the court now.
JEFF ADRIEN: Yeah, we're very excited. We just want to get on the court and start playing some ball.
Q. Looking at film, what jumps out at you about Michigan State? What do they do that most
JEFF ADRIEN: Uhm, they have so many offensive sets. They can run several different things. We just
got to be prepared for that and be ready, you know, for their pick and pops, Lucas getting to the hole, into the
paint. We just got to be able to contain that stuff.
A.J. PRICE: They play hard as a team, have a lot of offensive sets at Jeff said. They a good all-around
Q. Can you take us back when you got sick with the brain incident, when did you know it was
really serious? When did you know you were lucky to be alive? You talked a lot about wanting to get to
the Final Four. Have you reflected back at all about being here now and how close to never being here?
A.J. PRICE: I think I realized how serious it was when I woke up in ICU. They kind of told me that
something serious had happened. You know, there was a couple times in my career where I wasn't sure if I'd
have this chance.
But, you know, I just been blessed with the opportunity to be here. Everything worked out. I stayed with
it. Here we are today, so very grateful.
Q. Jeff, you led the nation in shot blocking seven years in a row. What is it about UConn that
breeds great shot blockers?
JEFF ADRIEN: It's tradition. Coach recruits very well and he recruits the right players that gets that job
done. You know, past couple years we had a lot of great shot blockers. Hasheem is a great one, there was
Hilton and Josh. Before that there was Emeka. We've just been passing it down.
Q. AJ, in the past couple days, have you thought back more to where you were, where you are
now, and who in your life was most important in helping you get through that?
A.J. PRICE: Well, I can't say I have thought back to the past. Really trying to look forward and get to the
games more than anything. I think, you know, my family has been the cornerstone of me just staying focused
and trying to get on track. So I have to give a lot of credit to my parents, obviously, who just been there for me
throughout this whole time. You know, Coach Calhoun also has played an instrumental part in that, as well.
Q. AJ, what kind of mindset do you take into a game when you're facing a so-called top
defender like Walton?
A.J. PRICE: Just try to go in and be at your best. Know he's going to do his job, which is to be a
defensive stopper. So I know he's going to bring his A game, I just got to try to bring mine. I just try to come in
with the mindset that I'm probably going to have to be at the top of my game or near the top of my game to be
Q. Jeff, can you discuss the problems Suton can present. Do you expect to share defensive
responsibilities with Hasheem on him?
JEFF ADRIEN: I'm probably going to start off on Suton. His ability to shoot from the outside, stretch the
defense out is real good. What they do over there is very effective. To beat a good Louisville team like, that
Suton will be a big part of that. That will present some trouble for us.
But we're going to be ready and contain Suton.
Q. Your team has had to deal with a lot of things that could have been potential distractions
before the season started with Coach being sick, yet you haven't seemed to flinch. How have you
managed to do that?
JEFF ADRIEN: We're just immensely tough mentally group of guys. It really started with our coach.
Like you said, he had his sickness and everything. We just see how he responds to it, how he goes about it.
You can almost see he brushes it off and the next day he's at work. So I think we really learned from Coach from
the mental side and that's what makes us who we are.
Q. In watching film on them, did anything strike you that made you think you're a lot like them in
a certain part of it, rebounding, whatever?
A.J. PRICE: I think that part that you hit on, they rebound the basketball very well. That's something that
we try to do every single game, hit the glass. If you dominate the glass, you always have a chance to win the
game. And they're a defensive team as well. Those are two things that jump out at you.
Q. AJ, was there ever a point back in '05, when you had your problem, where you thought you'd
blown it, scholarship, everything? What was it like facing your parents the first time after all that came
A.J. PRICE: Yeah, there was a time where I didn't think, you know, I'd have this chance to play
basketball again at this level. But, like I said, I stuck with it. Everything worked out. You know, my mother, she
was always on my side, always behind me, always knew I would do what I needed to do to get back to where I
was. My father, a different story, kind of tough love. But eventually we worked through that.
Q. Is there any sort of us-against-the-world mentality with the team now in light of the
revelations on possible recruiting violations?
A.J. PRICE: We go in every game with the us-against-the-world mentality. With everything going on
now, us having a road game basically out here, it will make that more apparent. I think it will be much easier for
us to go out there and focus and execute and do the things we need to do to try to win this game.
Q. AJ, Durrell Summers is a guy from Michigan State that's emerged in the tournament. Is he on
your radar? What do you think of his game?
A.J. PRICE: Yeah, he's a very versatile player. He has really stepped up over the past couple games
and had a good tournament so far.
But he's on our radar, along with everybody else on they team. We're not going to overlook anybody.
He's definitely somebody that we gonna try to stop.
Q. Is Michigan State the closest thing you've seen to a Big East team outside of the Big East?
JEFF ADRIEN: Definitely. You know, they're a different style of team. They play -- they're different from
other Big-10 schools. They like to run and they rebound, they're very physical. So, you know, I think that's really
why they won the Big-10 this year, with their different style. You know, Big-10's traditionally, they say it's like a
slow conference, but they're able to play all different types of games. So, yeah, that's very impressive.
Q. Coach Calhoun has been very vocal about saying this is a group of guys he really enjoys.
Have you seen that from him this season? We never get to see the side of him that enjoys what he's
JEFF ADRIEN: No, definitely we have. Coach is always around us. When we're eating, he's there.
He's chatting with us, he's telling jokes. He's definitely happy right now. You know, he's happy for us. Like he
said last night, we've been through a lot of stuff. For us to fight and stick to it, you know, he's very proud of us.
And can you really tell.
You know, every year is different. This year, you could tell Coach is very excited and happy. He calmed
down a little bit, to tell you the truth, as far as the yelling and everything, so...
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen.
A.J. PRICE: Thank you.
JEFF ADRIEN: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Coach Calhoun. We'll open it up for questions.
Q. (No Microphone.)
COACH CALHOUN: AJ, was rushed, I'm sitting in a waiting room, the blood pressures with 220/150.
They really had doubts whether the AVM he was experiencing would do permanent damage or possibly fatal
damage. From that point on we had -- to take care of the AVM, the small vessels that were transporting blood
and shouldn't have been. Then an ACL, everything possible for him to get here to match his father to get to the
Final Four, Tony Price, here in '79, against Michigan State. It's one of the great feelings I've ever had because of
the five-year journey that we've had together.
An incredible extension of what we were trying to do at UConn.
Q. Can you describe what makes Travis Walton a good defender, his matchup with Price, what
Price will need to do.
COACH CALHOUN: Two things. First thing he's a great athlete -- three things really, he plays for Tom
Izzo, therefore, if he doesn't play defense, he doesn't play. Fear is a great thing. And third, 'cause he wants to.
You know, we had a kid, Ricky Moore, who locked some folks up at Duke. He really wanted to play defense.
We really built that thing up, that's what he did. They stop people. You build it up more and more in practice to
show how special he is. He takes that role very, very well.
Q. I know you go back a little bit with Coach Jay Wright from Villanova. Him getting to his first
Final Four, establishing himself among the country's elite coaches, talk about the job he's done.
COACH CALHOUN: Well, he was a great coach at Hofstra. I remember him as an assistant at
Villanova. I've had to face him. He's the ultimate small-ball player in the Big East. Plays different than most of us
do. Not that they're not physical and come at you, but they do space the court as well if not better than any team
I've seen recently. He has an incredible rapport with his kids. How do I know that? Because they go after every
loose ball and play hard for him.
He clearly is one of the best coaches in America, and he's proven it by being here. I will clearly,
definitively say this will not be his last trip to the Final Four. He's an terrific coach and one of the best people in
Q. AJ was in here and he called Durrell Summers versatile. Last few games, Durrell has made
some key shots. What is your plan to combat that?
COACH CALHOUN: Try to stop him. I think the biggest thing, almost looking at Suton or any good
player, when they get on a roll, you've got to do something to them. Each player on their team, the thing that I
think that -- I think we're much more mirror images of each other than people realize. Michigan State can go into
the Big East tomorrow and fit right in 'cause they're going to be like Pittsburgh, a lot of teams in our league, bang
you on the boards, number one in the country. They're going to run as tight of sets as you're going to see
We went over 15 different plays and finally gave up because we had 85 more to go. Tommy runs so
many different offenses. They play great defense. They prevent you from running. I say a real sneaky
fast-break team. Because of the way they play, they're a much better fast-break team than people realize. We
tried to make an adjustment for each kid on their team. They go nine deep. We probably go seven or eight
I think you're looking somewhat at mirrors. I think right now, I know Tommy has said they like us to run,
Hasheem to run. We want to run. We also want to use our inside power. We think between Jeff and Hasheem,
they shoot 60-something percent between them, they get 23 rebounds, both are double-double guys. We're
going to try to get the ball inside early as much as we possibly can.
Q. Ty Lawson was talking yesterday and said he had gone out to one of the casinos earlier this
week. Because of the NCAA's discomfort with gambling, did you have a talk with your guys at all?
COACH CALHOUN: Well, our curfew has been tight, number one. Number two, we told them that was
off limits. He's of age. Quite frankly, I don't -- I'm not speaking for Roy or anybody else. I just don't really find it
really that problematic. A person of age is allowed to do really what he wants to do as long as it's legal. That
certainly was very legal in his particular case. So, no.
I'm sure if he had it to do over again, just like some other things in life, you do them over again. I
remember the U2 thing, that I might at least not say -- I meant what I said, I just wouldn't have said it the same
way. You know what I'm talking about now? A do-over kind of thing.
I just have one thing to say. As far as me to speaking to the things that are swirling around, I can't speak
factually on any base for one simple reason. I was accused today that I would, today, make the definitive
definition of whether we were guilty or not guilty. I can't say anything.
The NCAA has put a gag order. While they're doing their, not an investigation right now, but a review,
they have told us we cannot speak to the facts.
But people, if they see fit to want to work, can write about the facts as they like, as opposed to unfactual
(sic) things, but I can't speak to the facts. So please do not think by my silence about what's been swirling around
a little bit, quite a bit actually, that it's not because I don't want to say anything, it's 'cause I can't say anything else.
We've been put on a restraining order while the NCAA continues its review.
I just wanted to clarify that so you know why I'm not speaking. Knowing me in the past, you know I
probably would speak up, but I can't.
Q. You just clarified that you can't talk about that. But the season as a whole from trip to the
hospital, to that thing, to the governor, have you been able to enjoy any of this ride or has it been kind of
COACH CALHOUN: No, it's been great. It really has been. I didn't want to go through cancer last year,
but it happened. How did I handle it? I went public and tried to get as many other people to check themselves,
try to do everything I could to do PSAs about it. I thought it was my obligation and responsibility to do that.
Same thing with the Calhoun Cardiology Center. I had both parents lost because of heart disease. I
thought it was important I try to use the position I was in, UConn basketball coach, to make people aware of that.
I looked at it as another trial in life, and we're given those trials, you've got to overcome them by getting up every
This team has given me incredible joy this year. They came back from 17-14, from adversity. AJ's ACL,
near-death experience, self-induced problem he had. I can give you a whole -- the journey of Hasheem Thabeet.
So, no, I got so much joy watching these kids grow.
Particularly when they got here, you know, because there's been a lot of pressure on them by our former
players. Rip, who I spoke to two days ago, he said, "They got there. Yeah, we got there.
After being 17-14 two years ago, they were the tonic, they were, quite frankly, the best medicine I could
ever possibly receive coming off of radiation, which really, quite frankly, for two months afterwards was very
difficult. The governor, by the way, I believe bet with the governor of Missouri, that's another issue for another
day, for our Missouri game, something of that nature. I really don't look at that as being a major issue, no.
That's why I was saying, I speak the way I feel, because I can talk factually about that.
Q. Since you've gotten probably the bulk of the work out of the way, what do you hope to
accomplish in today's practice?
COACH CALHOUN: It's a great point. It's a different venue. We can say this is a regular gym. I call it a
gym. Even though it holds so many. It's because I'm older. Tommy Izzo in the interview reminded me that I was
much older than him, never expected to be coaching at my advanced age. With that said, only a friend could get
away with it, but with that said, it's different.
When we were here yesterday, to be honest with you, when we played in Glendale, where the Super Bowl was held, I thought this had a tighter feeling as far as being able to shoot the basketball. We're going to go out there today and we really want to work hard on shooting to get the situation. We also are going to try to do timeouts. One of the great debates amongst my staff, what am I going to do during the game with a stool, which I don't use a seat anyway, on top -- what am I going to do? Especially if things aren't going particularly well, or if they are going well.
That's been the greatest debate we've had on our staff. Then we want our players up. We'll probably
get stools have them up for timeouts. We're going with six. Plus you're right, the actual background and the
atmosphere that we're playing in.
Q. Would you anticipate it was like, I think '98, you played Carolina in the Elite 8.
COACH CALHOUN: Greensboro.
Q. I think we all knew who they were rooting for that day. Do you think it will be like that here?
COACH CALHOUN: I'm sure it will be. I mean, the fact that some of the memos are coming out in
green, I don't think that being a major problem. True story. The ushers in entire Greensboro at that time were
handing out blue and white shakers, the ushers were employed for Greensboro. True story. In 1998, we lost that
year to that great Carolina team with Vince Carter, et cetera, then won it the next year.
But I think once the game begins, I don't think it makes any difference. We've got to play basketball. We
had to go to Louisville before 20,000 people. Once you get a big crowd, once you get something that's very
important, we're just going to have to play basketball.
We've been a very good road team this year, but we're playing a really good team. That scares me
mainly because they match us. They can do things that we can do. I'd rather get a contrast. Missouri was
somewhat of a contrast. I like that. Purdue was definitely a contrast.
Q. In a sport where coaches are now making as much as $4 million a year, is it harder to know
what to say when a kid or his family, often from poor circumstances, say, When do we get ours or what's
in this for us?
COACH CALHOUN: First thing, addressing, we are in America. We're in a situation where we're still
involved in a capitalist system where you get paid market value. That's why people are paying. Are we getting
out of hand? I don't particularly think so, obviously, but I wouldn't. You know, I'm at the end somewhere, one,
two, three, four, five years of not being one of the recipients of that.
But I do think players will start saying, Where do we get this piece?
Well, yeah, I think they do. But room, board, tuition, books and fees, plus all the trips, gear and
exposure. You're a great player, you're getting incredible exposure. You can tell me you can get that in the
development league or NBA. Yeah, LeBron can, certain players can. But for a lot of our kids, A.J. Price,
Hasheem Thabeet, who certainly couldn't, as a freshman, done that. They get a great opportunity to get an
education, to be a part of a team, to do an awful lot of different things.
Do I see that coming? I probably do think that's probably the next step as it becomes more and more
publicized. Shouldn't we have trips home?
I've always said, we should definitely bring them to the NCAA tournament, families. I've always said that
we should bring 'em home during Christmastime. 68% of all problems in the NCAA involve transportation. So
why don't we set up initial enrollment?
If we're going to bring in $6.2 billion, maybe some of that should be for the student-athletes, I would be
for some of that. Not necessarily cash payments. It's still amateur athletics, no matter what anybody says.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by coach Tom Izzo. We'll begin with questions for Coach Izzo.
Q. Chris Allen is a rarity in that he's from Georgia. Most of your recruiting is to nearby states. If
there was a top 20 player from California, Georgia, Florida, do you bother going after these people?
COACH IZZO: Chris was a special guy. His aunt and uncle live next door to Magic Johnson's mother and
father in Lansing, and there was a connection there, and he used to come up when he was a young kid.
Sure, I would go after him. Again, it goes back to today. I believe in the state. I think there's enough good
players in this state where us and Michigan can do very well. I still believe in the family atmosphere. Sometimes you
get more kids closer to home, more parents involved. Some people can look at that as a negative. I look at it as a
If you have a star in Boston, you have a name for me, I'd be glad to take it.
Q. Given the little flap that erupted yesterday over Ty Lawson's run in the casinos, did you feel any
need to talk to your kids for warnings?
COACH IZZO: To be honest with you, I've already done that. I think I was a step ahead. I think when you
look at them on some NCAA committees, you look at the problems everybody is worried about with sports in general.
I'm not here to be judge or jury or say anything about that case. I don't know anything about it.
I did talk to my players. Let's face it, this is an image tournament to a certain extent. There will never be this
many media that kind of come together for one event in any other athletic event they'll participate in. So that's what I
try to talk to my guys about.
You know, I don't know the whole circumstances there. It would be hard for me to comment on it. But I do
talk to my players about it. I haven't brought it up since because I already talked to them.
Q. You have some big contributions lately from your freshmen, particularly Draymond Green. Can
you talk about the freshmen stepping up in general.
COACH IZZO: Well, freshmen have stepped up. Delvon had a great second half, Big-10 season, then
studying a little bit. I think he hit a little bit of a wall. Korie Lucious had some big moments where he hit some big
shots. One of the reasons we've been up and down, we played our three freshmen, our three sophomores a lot.
Draymond has been incredible of late. He was well-coached in high school, great understanding of the
game, smart kid. I'd almost say his intelligence out does his skill level. He knows where to be at the right time. He
knows where to read a rebound. Definitely he might not be the quickest guy, but he's the best position guy. Has a lot
longer arms than his height. So he is a good rebounder because he's got some toughness. Even though maybe not
a superior athlete, he's got that nose for the ball, that linebacker mentality, and he goes after it pretty good.
Q. You often talk about cutting off the head of the snake and the body will follow. What do you think
you have to do with Price? How important is that matchup?
COACH IZZO: Well, I think that is a key matchup. Even though they have tremendous size up front, some
very tough, good players up there, great rebounders. But I still think Price is the guy who stirs the drink. He's had an
incredible tournament. He's making shots off the dribble even more. He's getting to the basket. If he gets to the
basket, then we have to help with our big guys. It's going to be a dunkathon in there. We have to keep him in front of
us, out of the paint. Easier said than done.
I ill still think Price, both from a scoring standpoint and from a penetration and cause-problem standpoint, is
as good a player as we faced at that position now, and we've faced some good ones.
Q. You've talked about Goran as an enigma. Talk about his personality and your relationship with
him over the years.
COACH IZZO: It's been great. It's one of those love/hate relationships. He needs to be pushed. He wants
to be pushed. He's an incredible guy. Very intelligent and very worldly, would be a good word.
But there's times that he didn't love the game of basketball. I think he'd be the first to tell you. That might
sound surprising to some. But it's more normal than you think.
But I think he has grown to really start to fall in love with it I. I think the last year and a half he's worked
harder at it, had more success. If it wasn't for that injury early in the year that kept him out quite a while really - about eight weeks, missed all of our pre-season stuff, so he never had a good base - I think he would have had a dynamite
But what better way to save it than for the last month. He's been pretty good down the stretch.
Q. There was a great moment at the end of your workout, saying thank you to the crowd. Talk about
what that meant to you, what was going through your mind at that point?
COACH IZZO: Remember, I was an assistant in the Goodwill Games. Flip Saunders was the head coach.
Doc Rivers and I were assistants. We went to Australia. It was after that Olympics when we had some problems.
After every game, Flip huddled the players in the middle and thanked the fans. I thought that was an awesome
So I guess I copied it. I just told the guys, Spend the moment to do two things: thank the people that came,
thank Detroit, and then soak it in because you're not going to get to soak it in from here on in. It's dog-eat-dog.
We're going to be thinking about what we got to do to accomplish our goals.
So I said, "Just walk to the edge, thank them, then soak in your walk back to the locker room."
Hopefully they did that. We really appreciated the people there today. It was incredible, it was awesome.
Q. A couple years ago you said you thought maybe you had a real shot against North Carolina if you
would have had Ibok ready. He could have made a big difference. You have him now. With the stakes so
high, knowing he doesn't play much, what can he do for you? What has he been like during the preparation?
COACH IZZO: You know, Idong Ibok is probably -- I look at Mateen from the past, different players I had a
chance to coach that I think had a bigger impact on me than I did on them. Ibok is one of those guys. They did a
story of him over in his native country. Just kind of learning about the kid. That kid has come to practice every day.
He has not played a ton of minutes for five years. Every day he's done everything asked. He's been on the scout
team longer than most people. It's not even legal.
In saying that, we used him in the Illinois game at the end and he came through big for us. I mean, he
knows this weekend he's going to have to play. I know he's going to have to play. I think our players know he's going
to have to play. I think everybody is comfortable playing him.
He's done his job, his homework. He hasn't given up on anything. You're right, we're going to need him this
Q. At this stage of tournament every team is talented. How much does it come down to will and
COACH IZZO: I think players play and the toughest players win. I never changed that when we were not
the toughest team or the toughest team. You're right. Everybody has all their great players. Somebody is going to
make a few more shots than somebody else. It really comes down to who is going to cut out on the free-throw line,
who is going to get the loose ball. We got a couple loose balls in the last couple of games that we're game changers,
that if you're an average fan, you probably never realized what Chris Allen did, what Travis Walton, Durrell Summers
saving a missed free throw did.
You hear coaches talk about little things make the difference. The biggest reason for that is everybody does
the big things. The big things are stuff you do every day. The little things are what people do when nobody's
watching, that kind of thing. If you have a habit of doing the little things as you get deep into this tournament where
every possession counts, I think it makes a huge difference.
Q. Between yourself, Coach Calhoun and Coach Williams, all been to multiple Final Fours, and Jay
making his first trip. Talk about the way he's starting to establish himself among the country's elite coaches.
COACH IZZO: I called Jay and gave him some great advice that nobody gave me. I told him to get your
tickets and hotel done on Sunday night instead of on Friday night the following week like I did the first time.
But I love Jay Wright. He's a great guy. He's a very good coach. I think he's making an incredible impact
there. It's kind of neat with Rollie being his mentor, I kind of feel like him and I have some things in common. I think
he's going to have just an incredible career because he's been kind of on the edge here the last couple years. He
finally got over that hump.
Once you get there, it's harder to get back. But at least you know the road to get there. I think he'll be able
to use that with teams in the future.
Q. Travis Walton was voted most inspirational on your team by the players. What is it about him
that earned that title?
COACH IZZO: You know, that's odd. Usually it goes to a sub or something else. But I think because every
day he brings it. Every day, everybody knows, if you looked at just talent, I don't know where you'd put him, sixth,
seventh, eighth most talented player on our team. If you look at just heart, you'd put him 1by a mile. Somewhere in
between is where I think or players have an appreciation for him being a difference maker, us being able to win a lot
of games this year.
There's no question he has been. He's gonna have his hands full tomorrow because we've put him up
against the best of each conference has to offer. Sometimes it's been 6'6" guys, sometimes it's been 5'10" guys.
99% of the time he's answered the bell. He's got a little tougher task ahead of him tomorrow.
But if there's anybody I feel comfortable in doing it, it's him.
Q. What's Raymar's mindset going into this game? How has he practiced this week? How big of a
concern is Robinson? Do you feel you have to stay big in this game?
COACH IZZO: I think we have to stay contact with him 'cause if you don't, those jets go off in his legs, and
he kind of leaps above everybody. I think you're going to have to have contact if have a big or small guy on him.
Raymar is a decent matchup for him. I think there's no doubt Robinson is maybe the best athlete at that size I've
seen on tape anyway. Yet Raymar is a pretty good athlete with maybe strength, too.
So I think he is the best matchup. Raymar's had a good week of practice. He had a good week of practice
last week. I think mentally, honestly I think he's been a little bit beat up. I think his confidence has been hurt a little bit. Yet in saying that, it's nothing he can't recover from. When it's hard to recover is when you've never done it
before. He's done it before and he's done it on a pretty consistent basis the first 14 games of this season. He's had it
back a few times, but it's been a little tougher lately.
The nose doesn't seem to be an issue. The mask is a lot better than the hockey mask he had last weekend.
I still say he's a big key to our success this weekend, if we have some.
Q. How much did you know about what Goran had been through back in Serbia before he came out
here, before he moved to the U.S. Also, how much of an impact do you think all that he's seen through the
years has on the person he is now?
COACH IZZO: I think anytime you go through tough times, I think of my trip to Kuwait, it was a life-changing
trip for me, and that was a week. He had years of it. So I think it had a serious impact.
I did not know as much about it when I first was recruiting him. I knew very little about it. But as I've gotten
to know him and listen to the stories, he really doesn't talk about it a lot, he doesn't want anybody feeling sorry for him in one day. He quietly lets everybody know things aren't so bad. No matter what goes on, no matter how crazy a
practice gets, no matter how bad a loss is, he has a great perspective on life, one that I'm not as good at as he is.
He's taught me some things there.
He's really a great guy. I listen to a lot of coaches last night talk. You probably don't get this far unless you
got some pretty good quality character guys. Each has their own story. I think you do an incredible job in the Final
Four, you find the personal stories. Had when you get done, I must admit, I go back and read all those, because for
every team we play, they're very interesting.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.
COACH IZZO: Thank you. We're joined by the Michigan State student-athletes. We'll open it up for
Q. Kalin, I think there's an impression of you, maybe because it's generalization of the Big-10, but
you like to slow the game down. How much do you like to run in reality?
KALIN LUCAS: No, as far as the game tomorrow, we aren't going to slow the game down at all. We're
going to try to run on them every time, try to make them get back and play defense. It's just going to be an exciting
Q. Coach said he told you guys before you got here, warned you about gambling. Wonder if any of
you recall what specifically he said?
RAYMAR MORGAN: No gambling (smiling).
GORAN SUTON: You bet, you lose.
I don't really remember him talking about it that much. You guys?
KALIN LUCAS: No, he ain't talk about it.
TRAVIS WALTON: I don't think they remember. But, no, he just said no gambling. We don't want that
Q. Travis, can you talk about the matchup tomorrow night with A.J. Price, what you expect, how
you're going to handle it?
TRAVIS WALTON: Uhm, well, you know, he a great player. He make big-time shots. So it's gonna be a
tough cover for me to kind of contain him. The main thing is try to contain him and don't let him, you know,
embarrass me in front of my home crowd.
Q. Goran, can you tell me a little bit about your path to the University of Michigan [sic] and also
what you think about the increase in international players.
GORAN SUTON: I have to correct you with that first. Michigan State University. We don't want to be
confused with the U of M.
It's been a long path. I moved to America not for basketball, but for, you know, plenty other reasons that
involve life and stuff. I went to Everett High School, got coached by a great coach by the name of Johnny Jones.
Won a state championship there. Got recruited by Michigan State ever since my sophomore year and fell in love with
the program, with all the coaches, you know. Five years later, I'm here playing in the Final Four. It's just a dream
Q. Tell me about your feeling about the increase in international players in college basketball, going
into the NBA.
GORAN SUTON: I think worldwide there are so many smart coaches. In Europe, there's a lot of potential, a
lot of fundamentally sound players that are getting better over there, too. It's a difference between American play and
European play, definitely. Hopefully I'll be able to play in the NBA one day.
Q. Raymar, can you give us a sense on how are you feeling? A lighter mask than what you had last
RAYMAR MORGAN: Yeah, definitely it's a lighter mask, tighter fit on my face. They made the eyes bigger
so I can see out of my peripheral and things of that nature.
It's just a complete better fit for me.
Q. You're feeling?
RAYMAR MORGAN: I'm feeling pretty good, too (smiling).
Q. Kalin, there's been a lot of talk about this community, the struggles it's dealing with, also that the
presence of your team might help the community as far as spirit. Do you think there's something to that?
Are those hollow words?
KALIN LUCAS: No, I think it is something to it. Detroit has been struggling. A lot of people been getting
laid off and stuff like that.
So, you know, us playing here in the Final Four, us being a Michigan team playing, you know, it can bring a
smile to everybody that stay in the City of Detroit.
Q. Travis, you seem to be a guy who gets up for the defensive challenge. I know you asked to
defend certain guys. How much do you judge your own performance on how much you limit an opponent?
For the other guys, Travis was voted most inspirational. Can you talk about why he was voted that.
TRAVIS WALTON: Uhm, well, as a defensive player, you got to kind of judge yourself off of, you know, how
many points the person you guarding scored, you know, what he did to change the game. You know, so sometimes
it's kind of hard to stop the main player from scoring a lot of points.
But one thing you want to not let had him do is change the whole game, take over the whole game. You know if him scoring 20 points, but having five or six turnovers, and you win the game, you did your job. Or him scoring 10 points, but him having 10 assists, you know, doing other things, you really didn't do your job.
So it's pretty much, you know, containing him, you know, not letting him change the game where he making the other players and they beat you. So you got to kind of do a job of containing him and also not letting him change the game.
RAYMAR MORGAN: I think a blind man can see how inspirational he is. Just his effort on the court and things of that nature, the way he leads, is extremely mind-blowing. So I think that's why we voted him most inspirational.
GORAN SUTON: I think his enthusiasm, his passion for the game. I live with the guy. He watches so much film, so much basketball.
He dribbles the basketball around the apartment. He drives me crazy.
RAYMAR MORGAN: We call him Coach Walton.
GORAN SUTON: He is like another coach. He's directing traffic, he's yelling, screaming, motivating everybody. You know, I think that's exactly why he's inspiring the whole team.
KALIN LUCAS: Yeah, the same thing these two guys said. You know, he is our coach on the floor. He is our leader. He is very passionate about the game of basketball. And, yeah, that's pretty much it.
Q. "Coach Walton," talk about Durrell's emergence in the tournament. He played well for you in the last game. His
midrange and long-range shots will be key tomorrow night.
TRAVIS WALTON: You know, Durrell is a big-time player. If you think of all our big-time games, he stepped up in 'em. Not only when the big-time games when Raymar was sick, with his sickness, he stepped up and made big plays and came to assist our lineup, did some great things for us.
Durrell is key to the game, not only his offense, but his defense and his rebounding, because if you see him today, he can jump with the best of 'em. He just a major key to our team of how far we can go and what we can do offensively and defensively.
Q. Goran, can you tell me how you match up with Thabeet. Take him outside? What's the game plan?
GORAN SUTON: Well, I don't know what they're going to do as far as who they gonna put on me. I think they're gonna start off with Adrien on me. If they do that, then I'll probably have to go inside. If they put Thabeet on me, try running the ball screens, get him as far away from the basket, making him work.
The defensive end, there's not much you can do against a 7'3" guy like that. Have to push him away from the basket, keep him from getting the touches as much as possible, keep him off the offensive boards.
Q. Kalin, coach talked yesterday how the midrange game is going to be big for you tomorrow. Is that something he's
stressed to you as well? How do you think you can take advantage of that?
KALIN LUCAS: Yeah, that's something he has talked to us about, our midrange game going to be very important 'cause, you know, it is a giant standing in the middle. We do try to go in there. He just going to try to send it the other way. That's something coach has been stressing and that is something we have been doing at practice.
Q. Travis, you talked about your defense. How did you develop that? A lot of guys want to be the big scorer. Why do you put so much focus on your defense?
TRAVIS WALTON: You know, I think when you growing up, you kind of scoring on somebody else, you know, they scoring on on
you, I think you kind of develop. I don't want them to score on me. I think that's why I got it, back in my hometown where I used to play basketball.
Everybody be watching, you talking trash to your friend, you score on him, try to stop him so he can't talk trash to you, score on you.
I think as time grew, I started getting a name for it. I could stop people, you know, be tough, be the toughest one on the court and do those type of things. When I got to Michigan State, it was me. That's who I was. I was a defensive stopper. I wasn't supposed to play my freshman year. I probably wasn't going to play five minutes at the most. The only way I got on the court was to go out there and play hard basketball, defend people. I think my first time I played in Hawaii, I was guarding Adam Morrison, those different types of players. I developed that rep and it's been me ever since.
Q. The last night you had the salute. How was it to interact with the other players from the other teams? Do you know who on the team received the most ticket requests?
TRAVIS WALTON: I think it was a blessing for us to be there, first off, be around all the people that -- coaches and players that is blessed enough to be in the Final Four. It was a great crowd. We had great people there. We had some other great people there for us to see, us to talk to.
What was your next question?
Q. In terms of ticket requests, how you handled that.
KALIN LUCAS: Me, I got about a thousand ticket requests, everybody trying to come, family, friends, some people I ain't talked to in four or five years calling me, trying to hit me up on Facebook that I don't even know 'em. They try to get tickets to come watch us and trying to come out and just support us (laughter).
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you very much.