April 4, 2010

Izzo: 'We had our chances early'

INDIANAPOLIS - Michigan State coach Tom Izzo did not like some of the calls that went against his team during a 52-50 loss in the national semifinal game against Butler at Lucas Oil Stadium, but the Spartan head coach also didn't think his team deserved to beat the hometown Bulldogs.

"We had our chances early," said Izzo. "We missed free-throws. We missed lay-ups. You shouldn't take away much from those guys (Butler) or our guys. We were playing with bizarre line-ups in there and it was hard. It was hard to figure out what to run or what to do. Every time I turned around we had somebody different in there."

Michigan State was held in check by a stingy Butler defense as well as personnel packages that the Spartans would have preferred not to use. Michigan State's sputtered on offense thanks to 16 turnovers as a team.

Those turnovers allowed Butler to grind out a close win despite shooting just a shade above 30 percent from the floor and being out-rebounded by the Spartans. Michigan State shot 43 percent for the game.

"If they shoot 30 percent and we shoot 43 percent and we can't find a way to win," said Izzo. "We outrebounded them by a few, the turnovers hurt us, but some of those turnovers we good ones."

There were a handful of occasions during Izzo's off-podium interview that he couldn't help but smile when referencing the ability of his team to get to the Final Four without leading scorer Kalin Lucas. Izzo also spoke about the limitations imposed on his team by injuries to Delvon Roe and Chris Allen whom if 100 percent might have been able to put Michigan State over the top in a Final Four field that featured a quartet of teams with very little separation in terms of talent and ability.

"Delvon has not practiced in a month," said Izzo. "Chris Allen hasn't practiced much at all. In fact, did you so the guy go around him on the baseline like he was standing still. He just can't move. It is not his fault, he just can't move. As you all know, he was one of our best defenders up until the last two months of the season, until the injury.

"It is frustrating because you sit there and you go through your playbook and you say, well you can't do that, you have this one in there. Austin Thornton played his tail off, and Mike Kebler was in there. Those two guys are walk-ons and they played 20 minutes in the national semifinal game. That says it all too. Frustrating was a good word for that because I just didn't know where else go to. My staff tried to do a great job. We got the ball in the right guy's hands at the right time, down the stretch. We just didn't finish it."

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