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"Well, needless to say, we're ecstatic, yet we have some compassion for Jay and his club because they had a great, great year, and I've been there. I was there a year ago. It feels like somebody just reaches in, jerks your heart out and shakes it right in front of you. There's nothing worse than the feeling of your season being over with and knowing how close you came. But I'm hopeful that Jay and his players will think about what a great, great year it was.
"For us, you know, as I said, we're ecstatic. It was an ugly game in the second half. Nobody could make a shot. I think both teams took the excitement of the Final Four and were so spent, I don't know that we could make any shots. I think Jay's club, their legs were gone, ours were gone. We shot free throws. Been sensational from the free-throw line. We struggled there today.
"We struggled getting an offensive rebound. -- excuse me, stopping them getting an offensive rebound. But we made plays. We're still playing. That's what we wanted to do. Jimmy Valvano's line about survive and advance is what we wanted to do."
A lot has been made about what this Final Four means to the City of Detroit, what Michigan State means to the City of Detroit. I know you don't want them to celebrate on Monday night, but do you feel glad for the city, the people, that their team is in the championship game? Talk about your thoughts about what this city is going through.
"You know, the whole country's going through an extremely difficult time period right now. I think Michigan, particularly with the auto industry, what they're going through, the people losing jobs, it's perhaps even a little more harsher, if that's a word. Think about that for a second, it's a little more difficult for those people here. And I appreciate that and understand what they're grabbing onto. They're latching onto Michigan State. Tom, his club, what a great run they've had. I do appreciate that and understand it.
"I'm happy for them. I will not be as happy on Monday night, okay? Let's understand that. But I think it is great. Even in playing basketball, I always say to our players, give me something to hang my hat on to keep putting you in the game. Do something to keep putting me -- do something to make me feel good about you. I think that's what Michigan States basketball team is doing for this state. They're giving them something positive to latch onto.
"I'm ecstatic. Tom Izzo, it's impossible to have any more respect than I have for Tom and his staff. Lupe, his wife, they're people I generally enjoy, like, respect. It's fantastic. But I'm not going to be a Tom Izzo fan on Monday night."
When Ty was asked to compare tonight's meeting to Monday nights, he said that Suton was not in that game. What do you plan to do in the next 48 hours to guard against your team becoming overconfident?
"Well, we are a confident team, but we will not be overconfident Monday night. We will not be, okay? That's just not gonna happen. We'll be intense. We'll have a sense of urgency. We'll have a tremendous amount of respect for what Michigan State has done.
"If you saw the game, you could tell early, early in the second half that Michigan State just did not have their legs. The three games and the travel had a tremendous impact on that game. Not having Suton had tremendous impact on that game. I honestly believe that, and no one will ever convince me differently.
"I've coached in games before where we beat a team easily or got killed and turned around and beat them the second time. As I said earlier to one of the questions, I have respect for Tom. My team will not be overconfident. My team will be confident. But my team knows that they'll have the battle of the state of Michigan. We're not in New Orleans. But the battle of Detroit is what we will have Monday night."
What specifically goes through your mind during a game, particularly when you're playing quality opposition, and what your role is?
"My role is -- basically, the coach always tells me manage the game. Basically get everybody in the right spots and get our scorers wide open looks, wide open shots, where they want the ball, real comfortable. Just be a leader out there. Just tell everybody where to go, what defense we're in, make sure everybody's on the same page."
Could you talk about the rematch. What do you remember about that game?
"The impact of the last game really doesn't have anything to do with the next game 'cause they had a couple players that was hurt, and also they came off of like a long road stretch of games. I know they're a better team right now. They got [Goran] Suton, yeah, I think Suton. He's playing real well right now. We're going to have to change up our game plan and just see where it goes from there."
You have said on many occasions the reason you chose North Carolina is because you wanted to play for a national championship. What does it mean that you know you're going to be doing that on Monday night?
"It feels great. You know, we worked so hard all season, all year long to be able to play in this big game. For our seniors, this is huge. We want to send those guys out right. It feels great to be able to get to this game and be on the biggest stage in college basketball."
Because the expectations for you are so great, they expected you to be here at this point, is it more a sense of relief or do you feel joyous and happy?
"I think we feel pretty joyous and happy, you know. All those expectations from outside, within ourselves, we know we wanted to compete as hard as we could this season and leave it all on the floor. You know, with us doing that, we got back to this point and got past where we were last year, and we're happy to be able to compete for a national championship on Monday night."
With as ugly a second half as this one was, do you just wipe the slate clean and forget about it?
"I'm not sure you wipe the slate clean after any ball game. You definitely look at the mistakes that you made and try to work on them the next day at practice. It's a quick turnaround, so we're going to have to make fast adjustments and hopefully move on."
On the team's quick start:
"Guys found their stroke early. It always helps when [Danny] is hitting some shots and Wayne is playing really well. We came out sluggish in the first minute, but after that we got back within ourselves and went on a big run."
On Monday's game:
"Hopefully we can get it done. We'll celebrate this win until midnight. But we have another tough game ahead of us. For Michigan State to beat UConn says a lot about them."
On the team's confidence level:
"You have to come in with confidence. If you come in timid, teams will attack you. So you have to attack or be attacked. That's our attitude. We have to come in with confidence and play our game."
What do you think about Michigan State having a homecourt advantage?
"That doesn't mean anything, because those are not going to come down and shoot the basketball. They've still got to shoot it. The fans are going to be cheering, but once you're in the game, you really don't pay attention to something like that."
Were you trying to be a round machine tonight?
"Yeah, I'll do anything it takes, I guess. Just making smart plays. If you see a shot and it is going to be long, you have to track it down. I did that a couple of times tonight. I don't if that is a career high in rebounds, but I think it's got to be."
Each year, this senior class has moved one step closer to the national championship. Does it feel like each season is building on the previous one?
"Every year is a step or two closer, and if we can keep it going, keep getting further and further, then it would be an ideal way to go out."
JAY WRIGHT, SCOTTIE REYNOLDS & REGGIE REDDING
"Well, we want to congratulate Carolina. They played a great game. And they are playing extremely well. I think they've got all the pieces, and we have great respect for them. We've been getting better every game. We did not get better this game.
"There's a number of reasons. Probably the main reason, though, is we played a better team tonight. There's nothing wrong with hurting and nothing wrong with failure. We gave it everything we got. We're going to hurt tonight, and then tomorrow we're going to make sure we celebrate this senior class and this team. But we're going to try to learn from this tonight."
Not to put you in a place where you have to speak for the whole conference here, but for so much of this season, the Big East has been what everyone has talked about. Do you think the fact that there is no Big East team in the national title game in any way diminishes what's been said all along?
"I really don't. I think that what we thought was great about the Big East this year was just top to bottom level of competition, outstanding teams. I think that was proven throughout the tournament.
"I think right now Carolina proved, regardless of conference, that they're playing the best basketball in the country right now. And so did Michigan State. That's what it was. You know, I think that Michigan State/UConn game could have gone either way. I think Michigan State finished it and just played a little bit better.
"Our game, I think Carolina's just playing much better than us right now. But, you know, four of the top teams in the country, two of them were Big East teams. I think that speaks well for our conference."
You've dealt with teams who had the season end in the tournament, deal with their emotions. With this group, how long do you think it will take until it really sinks in what that he accomplished, making the Final Four?
"I always tell our guys, There's nothing wrong with failing. You can't fear failure. And when it happens, you've got to learn from it. So I really want us to learn from this tonight. You know, we didn't play our best game. The number one reason is Carolina played better tonight. You got to give them credit.
"But there are things we could have done and should have done that we have to learn from. And then tomorrow, I'm going to make sure that this senior class is celebrated. I'm going to work hard at it. To answer your question, I'm gonna do everything I can tomorrow that they're feeling great about themselves."