Tom Izzo just finished talking to the media and here is what he had to say before we started asking him questions:
Well one thing I did say was that I thought it would be hard when we were missing those guys but I told you can it be harder when you get everyone back. It’s been a hard couple of days as you can imagine. All I can say is that not a lot surprised me but the energy level of this team. Even the turnovers disappointed but when you are playing new bodies in there that haven’t played together not outrageously surprising. I was surprised that I didn’t think we brought the energy level. But, when you turn it over for a touchdown and it’s kind of like what happened in eh Super Bowl. Turnovers for touchdowns are deflating; turnovers that go out of bounds are not. I thought the combination of us not playing well and them playing pretty well was a key.
This week, we just practiced now and we are going to practice again tonight, maybe midnight. No rules. The NCAA can’t slap me with anything. We just have to get our guys playing together, practicing together it is a very important week for us. With no classes this is one time it is a good thing for us. We can focus 100% on us and getting better and today there will be now Iowa. Tomorrow we start practicing on them.
After looking at tape what do you get out of that? I thought Harris played the best he has played in sometime. I think some of you agreed with that. More of it wasn’t his shooting; it was his energy, his defense he was all over the court. He had steals he had deflections. I think Dawson played very well considering what he’d been through. He brought some energy. He got seven rebounds. I think the negative was the turnovers which were unusually high for us, but also the ones that were for touchdowns are double deflating.
Being the last week of the regular season you got a couple of things you got to do here. Make sure you are taking steps at getting better as a team and we got to manage the emotion of seniors being almost done. In many ways you have to approach this week with the same urgency that you would in the tournament. One thing the players said in the film session yesterday is that is seemed like we lacked a sense of urgency. It’s been brought to my attention that a lot of teams are doing that and were going to put a cap on that.
Still think this team is capable of accomplishing just what I said at the beginning. I don’t blame anybody or any fan for doubting that. I just can’t help but think that you don’t know what we have been through with all of these injuries and there is a process. The process doesn’t work like the NBA with freshman. You know where everyone is trying to speed the process up. The process is a process because it is going to take a little time. Right now we don’t have a lot of time. If we are asking Branden Dawson to come back with two days of practice be what he was 35 days earlier that probably isn’t going to happen. So we are trying to speed the process up. The two a days will help, the film session will help and probably move on.
As far as Iowa goes they recently went through a tough stretch too. Wisconsin lost five out of six and then bounced back and got seven in a row. I thought Sunday they played with more vigor at home too. They have been in a lot of close games. Defensively they have not been quite as good. The preseason they were off the charts. They were in the twenties and low thirties and right now they are 11th in the league in field goal percentage defense. Where we have struggled a little bit with three point defensive field goal percentage they’ve struggled a little bit with that. But they still have so many players. Oglesby is getting better. He missed 12 games early in the season and has constantly gotten better as the season has gone on. He is a threat any time he catches the ball to score. Devyn Marble arguably one the best players in this league. They’ve got good guard play. You know Gesell is playing very well. He made some key plays the other night. We know they are coming in to make a statement on a national game, just like we are going to try to do.
I think there is a reason this is a big game because it has been on all the year. I think it has been hurt a little bit, by both of us losing some games that we didn’t expect to lose. As I told my team today, we’ve lost two or three games, two really that we didn’t really bring it. I thought Georgetown was one and believe it or not yesterday.
As bad as it seemed against Nebraska they hit some shots. That kid Petteway went three for twelve and five of eighteen in his last two games. The kid from Grand Rapids was two of six and one of three yesterday. They played extremely well that game. If you watched the tape we guarded we just didn’t stop them. We can’t give us a hall pass on that game, but I can make an exception that I thought they played extremely well too.