March 15, 2008

'He Showed What a Warrior He Is'

INDIANAPOLIS - Following his team's 65-63 loss to Wisconsin in the Big Ten tournament semifinals all Drew Neitzel Neitzel could think about was his last second shot that missed the mark as time expired.

"We just got the rebound and tried to push it up," Neitzel said, recalling the game's final seconds. And I saw an opening so I pulled up. I saw Butch coming out on me and just missed it. He had a good contest. I had to get it over him. I didn't want to get it blocked. I wanted to have at least a chance of it going in. So he made a good play on the ball."

But that missed shot will be a minor footnote in Neitzel's senior season if he is able to continue scoring in the NCAA tournament the way he did in Michigan State's Big Ten tournament games against Ohio State and Wisconsin.

Neitzel scored 28 points in Michigan State's Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal win over Ohio State. The senior from Wyoming Park followed that up with a 26 point performance against Wisconsin while matching up against the Badger's defensive stopper Michael Flowers for significant stretches in the game.

Izzo was proud of the way his senior looked for his shot during the Big Ten tournament and was able to bounce back from some of the criticism he has faced after failing to live up the expectations of being the pre-season Big Ten Player of the Year.

"I guess all the crap that Neitzel has been through is all worth it," said Izzo, "because I think in two games he showed what a warrior he is."

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