News and Notes that You Need to Read & Know Before Michigan State Tips Off Against Delaware
1. The Blue Hens want to run! They are averaging 79.5 points per game. They are 25-9
2. Adreian Payne loves the energy from Branden Dawson. He said “I seen his energy. He’s been playing with a lot of passion and just a lot of energy. When he’s doing that, he’s an incredible athlete and incredible player.”
3. Keith Appling thinks of Dawson that, “he’s able to do a lot of things that many players can’t, because of the abilities that he has.”
4. Gary Harris loves what Dawson is showing, “definitely increased his intensity which causes us as a team to improve our intensity because he’s one of the main guys on the team. When we see him raise his game to another level, he forces us to raise our game.”
5. Payne, Appling, Harris and Dawson all were enamored with the President of the United States picking them to win it all. They said:
ADREIAN PAYNE: That’s a tremendous accomplishment. Just having him be able to say that about us, because we’re playing well right now, and we just have been through so much adversity and stuff. So, it’s been hard to really see our team and be able to show what we could do in the Big 10 tournament. It’s just been great for us to be able to continue to play with each other.
KEITH APPLING: I think it’s great that people have such high expectations for us as a team. But, heading into the season we had goals as a team that we wanted to accomplish and winning a National Championship is one of them. So, we’re just trying to stay focused with the task at hand and accomplish one of our team goals.
GARY HARRIS: We had high expectations at the beginning of the year. We hit a little rough patch there at the end. But, we stuck together as a team, held each other accountable, and we knew we could count on each other and we would work our way out of it. And we showed what we could do in the Big 10 tournament. Now, we just got to keep it going here in this tournament.
BRANDEN DAWSON: Well, like they said, we have been through a lot of adversity in the beginning of the season and now that we have our chemistry back and we’re starting to play together as a team and we have our rhythm back. I think it’s great because it builds our confidence and definitely for our teammates.
6. Appling has a lot of respect for Delaware. He said, “Delaware is a pretty good team. We know that they’re not in this tournament for no reason. They have three players that average over 18 points, so they have every right to be confident. But, at the same time, we’re playing some of our best basketball right now, so we’re a pretty confident team, as well. So, it should be a pretty good matchup heading into tomorrow’s game.”
7. Izzo revealed one of his keys to success in his 17 seasons. “I’ve always believed that playing a tough schedule, so you learn how to play against zones and presses and big teams and small teams and it just helps get you ready. Then we have always been able to play slow and play fast and we can play Wisconsin to a 50 49 game and Florida to an 80 70 game or 90 80 in the same weekend. So, I think that’s been a plus with the big and small. That was one of the problems during the year, when we were missing Dawson for those eight or nine games, he gives us that ability to guard and switch differently and can put him on different people. I can move him around a lot. And this day and age where you’re getting these hybrid fours that are pick and pop guys, having a guy that can cover that kind of guy and Usher is a heck of a player, is, that’s at least some kind of a benefit for us, if nothing else.”
8. Izzo has always loved and embraced expectations. He says nothing has changed now that his team is the darlings of the nation. “You know what? I like it. I like it. I look at it, at some of the programs that they have done with consistency. Duke and Kansas, what have they done to stay so consistent for so many years? Carolina, you know. And, they have had to deal with pressure and they have had to handle it. I think that’s part of our growing process, we have to learn how to handle that. And we have had it before. The problem is, two weeks ago, around our place, people were sticking a fork in just trying to figure out which area to stick it in. And then two weeks later but isn’t that the way the world is now? What did you do for me today? It’s so much more instant gratification and I told our players, this will be a good learning curve for them to figure out how to deal with the things they’re going to have to deal with their whole life. I think it’s a privilege, I really do.
I hope we can live up to it, I’m most worried about us, though. I did have a meeting about it, I was a little worried on how do your kids handle getting barbed on the Internet and on the social media two weeks ago and then some of the top people in sports and then the No. 1 guy in the world in the United States is picking you. I said, man, that is awesome. And I think that that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to embrace it and just see if we can do our job without getting too full of ourselves, because we are a four seed. We have lost a lot of games, seven or eight games. We have been down in the bottom before and we have been up on top before. Early in the year we were a lot of people’s picks especially after we beat Kentucky. So, that’s the way I’ve tried to handle it.”
9. Izzo is worried. He respect Delaware, but he is worried about the officials. How will they call the game? Will it change at halftime? He said about the unanswered questions of officiating that, “Every year that I’ve been in the tournament different things happen. Usually it goes back to more physical brand of ball, and I just think there’s more unknowns this year. Because to me it’s been a lot less physical outside, a lot more physical inside, but my biggest worry is that we make I don’t have any problem with the decision that they made, but should there be six fouls? Should there be I mean you always have to worry about your best players being on the bench much. And that can change a game faster than three point shooting, bad defense, anything else. So, my concerns would be trying to figure out how the game is going to be called and adjust to it without making my players fretting over it, if that makes any sense. And this is the first year of the absolutes that the way we have done it, and it’s going to be interesting to see how it goes.”
10. Junior guard Jarvis Threatt says that he knows what MSU does well and he declared, “Their rebounding. They’re a team that crashes the offensive glass. The offensive sets, they run plenty of sets but when the ball goes up in the air you got two or three guys going after the offensive rebound each possession. They’re a team that really doesn’t make too many mistakes, so they capitalize on every opportunity they have and we got to limit our turnovers and basically keep them over the glass. That’s what sticks out to me.”
11. Blue Hens best player Devon Saddler played last year at the Chris Paul camp. So did Spartans star Keith Appling. Saddler said of Appling that, “I learned during the summer that when I was at the Chris Paul camp, that Keith Appling is a very feisty player. He’s going to play every play. He never take as play off. On offense he’s going to push the ball every chance he gets. He’s just a great player and he’s a very smart player, as well. He’s a veteran, he always knows what’s going on on the court and on defense, he’s going to give it his all, every time.”
12. Senior forward Carl Baptiste thinks the key for the Blue Hens to win in inside on the Spartans. He said, “We’re going to need all five on the glass. That’s definitely going to be my main focus tomorrow. I’m going to find Adreian Payne every play and make sure I stop him from getting to the glass, because him and Dawson are monsters when it comes to that.”
13. Baptiste wants America to know the mindset of the Blue Hens. “We’re ready to play. We have had a lot of success this season and we’re looking at this as just another challenge and we’re excited to get on the floor with them.”
14. With Delaware having played some very good teams Baptiste thinks he has a read on the Spartans. “(MSU) reminds me a lot of probably Ohio State. They had a good offensive rebounding team. And Villanova. Every game there’s going to be something that you need to focus particularly on to win, and this game just happens to be keeping them off the offensive glass.”
15. Coach Ross agrees with him. “They’re well known for crashing the glass and when you think about Michigan State, you think about shoulder pads and helmets and all that stuff when Coach Izzo gets pissed at them. So, that’s going to be a task for us. That’s going to be one of the things that we have to do, because they are so hungry getting to the glass. We’re going to have to keep them off. So I think that’s a universal analysis in Delaware nation.”
16. Coach Ross wants and up and down game with the Spartans. He welcomes it rather than a Wisconsin slow paced battle. “I would much rather do that than play in the half court set. And I think their running much more than they have in the past. I think that probably about 40 or 45 percent of their offense comes in transition. I don’t know if that’s going to be said of a Michigan State team in the past. But it sure is now.”
17. Although Ross had been comedic much of the time, he says he isn’t going to change facing the Tournament favorite in Michigan State. “We will have to do what we do. For us to come now and start to change what we do, one, the players see through it right away. If you start, if I start to go in there and be different than what I’ve been all year, they will see and then it provides, in my opinion, a certain angst among them that we don’t want to have. We want them to be the same way. It’s worked for us 25 times this year, so we’re going to do the same thing. We played high level opponents, just like Michigan State, not as good as Michigan State, but high level opponents. Villanova who is a two seed, Ohio State who is I think a six seed. So we played some high level opponents and we want to make sure these guys go out, they’re loose, and we want to do the things that have gotten us to this point. We don’t want to change it mid course or midstream here.”
18. Ross thinks his Blue Hens need to start fast. “They have such fire power that we have gotten behind a lot this year, and been able to come back. But Michigan State does have a lot of fire power and when you come back it means that the other team, it means you’re scoring and the other team is going through some droughts. They don’t go through a whole lot of droughts, just because they have so many answers to a lot of questions. And so it’s going to be important for us, yes, to get off to a good start.”
19. Ross is hoping for an important phone call. He says, “I just told the guys, I said shoot, if we are able to do and play the way that I expect us to play, I’ll probably get a call from Warren Buffett, because he’ll be the happiest person in the world, because we’ll break up everybody’s bracket so there will be no billion dollar pay out. So, we’ll see how it goes.”