"Obviously they are one of the very most talented teams in the country. They are deserving of their pre-season ranking based on what they did at the end of last season and who is coming back. They have a pro inside with Paul Davis and they have another pro inside with Allen Anderson. They probably have as talented of a backcourt as anybody in the country -- without any exaggeration. They will go six deep on the perimeter. They will be good, they will be tough and they will be physical as all of his (Tom Izzo) team's are. They will play extremely hard and they are very well coached. You have to beat them because they won't beat themselves."
On Michigan State being labeled a soft team:
"His definition of soft is not necessarily what the average human being's definition of soft is. Soft to Tom (Izzo) is when three guys aren't out on a loose ball. He will never have a soft team by any means."
On KU's progress:
"I think our team has really made some great progress. It's early in the season but this will be a great gauge to let us know where we are right now. They will be as tough as any team in the country physically in how they play -- this will be a great test for us."
"I think our team is getting tougher. We are not a finished product by any means in the intangible areas. I think we are gaining on it. We are going to have to be very tough tomorrow."
"I think toughness is as much mental as it is physical. Guys still get upset when I get on to them or they make a bad play. I think we can definitely become tougher physically but primarily it is mental."
On Michigan State's backcourt:
"Chris Hill has been the thorn in our side every time we have faced him. He's a great shooter and can play both guard slots. He's just a really solid guy -- a real nice player. He's probably one of the best three point shooters that we will see all year. Alan Anderson is a terrific player. He could play the one, two, three or four and will play both the one and the four a lot -- it shows you how versatile he is. Kelvin Torbert was a high school player of the year three years ago and was right around scoring in double figures his first two years. I'm sure that they are expecting him to be a guy that can average 12 or 13 a game -- he's capable.
Maurice Ager is a great basketball player. He will play the wing position and can really shoot it. Then you bring in Shannon Brown who was a McDonald's All-American who we are too familiar with because of being from Chicago -- he's a big timer. Brandon Cotton is another All-American and is probably their sixth perimeter player. It just shows you how deep they are on the perimeter."
t makes Michigan State a good team: "They do a really good job of bumping you off your cuts and don't let you go where you want to go. The biggest thing about what Michigan State does is that they go after every ball with two hands. If there is a loose ball they react really well. They get on the floor and do intangible things that give them a chance to win. There's a reason why they went to three straight final fours and won the National Championship. When I was at Illinois our guys knew that when they played Michigan State they had to take on the same personality as their opponent."
On using Michigan State as an example:
"They are probably a great example because they play as fast as anybody in transition. Transition defense will be a huge key to the game. If it's not there they get a defensive chance to break down. They are really disciplined in how they execute their sets -- they run a lot of sets. We will never run as many sets but I think the philosophies are very comparable as far as score early or give the defense a chance to break down -- they do a real good job of that.
Regardless of stats, Bucknell played a great game against them the other night. MSU missed shots but sometimes you just don't make them. They have been a top five rebounding team year in and year out for the last six or seven years so i'm sure this will be no exception. They aren't quite as big as what they have been in the past when Anderson plays at the four. He's kind of like Bryant Nash -- he can play inside and outside."
On advantage of playing at Allen Fieldhouse:
"It's huge. I can't imagine it not being an advantage for any team to play on their home court. Especially an environment that I anticipate being pretty good tomorrow night."
On the students that have been camping out:
"I think it's awesome. I would have to check a few of their intellects if we didn't let them camp indoors with the weather we are having. I walked through there this morning and there we 100 people down there. I believe that each person counts for 30, so there's already 3,000 tickets accounted for. Of the 100 down there probably 70 were asleep this morning. I think it's pretty awesome -- it's great. It's amazing to me that after our game against UT Chattanooga they were camping out the next morning and then got a break to go to the football game. It continues to amaze me every time I walk through there."
On the timing of tomorrow's game:
"I will say its a good time. If you had your choice and could pick any date you wanted -- Tom (Izzo) may say the same thing -- lets push it back a little bit. I think it is good to play at this time. It let's us know where we are. Its has to be one of the most anticipated game of the early season, nationally. I think it is all positive to get your program a lot of exposure."
On Jeff Graves:
"He is getting better. He has a bruised knee. He has gone full speed the last two days and made it through all practice."
"I really feel when Jeff gets to the point he was playing at the end of last year -- I don't think he is far off. Maybe we will reconsider how we do things. Now he needs to make the most of coming off the bench. We have three big-guy starters. If David (Padgett) and Wayne (Simien) start it doesn't mean I don't think Jeff is not good enough to start. We are only going to start two of the three. Jeff's foul situation is one where would rather not have our starting big guy get two fouls in the first four or five minutes. Based on past history there is always a chance that could happen."
"He is a senior and this is his last chance. I know he has aspirations to play after college. I can't believe anybody would not be motivated to play under those conditions."
On the third perimeter position:
"We have Michael (Lee), Jeff (Hawkins), J.R. (Giddens) and Jeremy (Case) all kind of bunched in there at the third perimeter player position. Bryant Nash also fits in there if you want to play him. There are five guys fighting for time there."
On KU's perimeter depth:
"We can throw numbers at them (on the perimeter). When your sixth perimeter player is a McDonald's All-American and your fifth is as well and your third is and fourth is as well -- there are a few guys there. The advantage they have over a numbers standpoint is probably maturity and strength like (Kelvin) Torbert and (Alan) Anderson and Shannon (Brown). They are very strong and physical guys much like Keith is today. That is one thing we have to combat."
On Illinois' success against Michigan State:
"The game we played at Michigan, we led by 18. Our best player, Brian Cook, played about 18 minutes because of fouls. They came back and beat us by three on the last possession of the game. The game at our place we played really well. The home court has had a lot to do with it. Although we have won on their court and they have won on our court. It has been a pretty evenly matched series. I think my teams at 3-3 against Michigan State."
On Michigan State's schedule:
"I think their schedule is pretty tough. That tells you they have a pretty good team. Tom (Izzo) wouldn't play a schedule like unless he was really confident. That tells you a lot of what he thinks of his team. They play just about everybody."