The Spartans played lethargic and were unorganized, and the Wildcats capitalized on that early and did not let up for the entire game.
First out in the postgame press conference was Northwestern head coach Chris Collins.
“This was a really important win for us,” Collins began. “You know when you play this team, and this program...every single time you play this program you write toughness, you write rebounding on the board, and you write transition defense on the board. Those are three areas when you play this team that if you don’t do a good job then you have no chance of winning.”
With Pete Nance, Northwestern’s leading scorer, missing the game, Collins mentioned multiple times that he was very proud of some of his younger players for stepping up and filling minutes that they have not had to do yet this year.
Up next for postgame questions was Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo, who was disappointed with Saturday’s performance.
“This is no surprise, we have been living on borrowed time,” Izzo stated. “That game was not lost at the end, it was not lost in the middle, it was sort of lost in the beginning at the start with a couple of players walking around. But in my mind it has been lost since Christmas.”
Izzo mentioned over and over that he and his staff definitely took responsibility for certain portions of this loss, but those effort based pieces are on his players.
“We had a lot of guys that did not play well and a lot of coaches that did not coach well,” Izzo said. “We did get beat in all the effort-related things, maybe its good...It is no surprise to me at all.
“If this is what it’s gonna take to get better by the end of the year, then I'm glad we lost,” Izzo summarized.
Izzo finished up by talking about working on effort, and said that he and his coaching staff need to step up their game and hold their players accountable for not putting in the work that is required of them to play Michigan State basketball.
Out next to speak to the media was a somber-looking Malik Hall.
“They played harder than us, they wanted it more,” Hall, a Michigan State team captain, said. “I saw it coming a little bit...Going forward we need to get everyone to buy into going 100 percent when you are in the game...If you are going 100 percent for two minutes that’s better than you going 50 (percent) for four (minutes).”
Julius Marble was up next to take some questions. After playing 19 minutes and scoring a career-high 18 points, Marble echoed Izzo’s sentiments about being disappointed.
“I kind of agree with (Izzo),” Marble began. “Last couple weeks he has been talking about how we look complacent, we look comfortable and I think we needed this right now. I would rather it earlier than later...We have a little bit of a break to work on us and figure out what we need to do.”
Finally, Gabe Brown was up last to talk through some questions.
“We didn't come out ready to play,” Brown started. “(We) can’t take no team for granted...They came out and played hard.”
Brown has noticed that teams are working harder to shut him down and cut down on the amount of looks that he has been getting. He said he was proud of how Marble stepped up to help fill in when Brown is covered.
“I’m doing my best job of getting on guys as much as possible,” Brown said. “Guys need to step up, especially on effort-related things...That’s Michigan State basketball, it’s effort-related things...We can’t go out there and play like we did today.”
The Spartans move on to play Wisconsin on Friday. Here’s to hoping these next few days off will be all about addressing those effort-based areas that both Coach Izzo and his players brought up as needing to be addressed.