On Saturday afternoon, the Michigan State Spartans took down the Michigan Wolverines with a dominant 83-67 win at home. After a great team effort to seal the deal in the second half for the Spartans, both teams discussed the game during the postgame press conference.
First out to take questions was Michigan center Hunter Dickinson.
“Every game from here on out is more or less a must win for us,” Dickinson said. “Division one college basketball is hard...Just as a team we need to continue to buy into what Coach (Juwan) Howard is teaching.”
When asked how frustrating it would be to not have another crack at the Spartans, Dickinson simply stated, “Oh, we will.”
Out next was Michigan head coach Juwan Howard.
“I give Michigan State credit,” Howard said. “They came out as the most aggressive team...The first half we were punching, fighting, scratching and clawing. The second half we backed off, and that cannot happen.”
Both Dickinson and Howard mentioned that the atmosphere was fun in the Breslin Center, but that the Wolverines lost focus and even looked a bit tired at some points.
“We competed, but we did not compete for 40 minutes,” Howard summarized.
When asked about the previously postponed game, and when a potential makeup game would take place, Howard gave a short answer.
“I don’t know,” Howard firmly stated. “That’s not a question for me. You talk to the Big Ten, ask them that. But we are going to play whoever, whenever, wherever. Got it?”
Up next was Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo. He began with an opening statement and then took a few questions. It was obvious that his spirits were high after that performance.
“Well as you can imagine, it was a big win for us,” Izzo started. “It was a good game, (Michigan) played really well early...What hurt us was their offensive rebounding...I guess our defense must have been pretty good.”
As always, Izzo was critical of his team, but picked out a few positives from his players.
“I thought overall Max (Christie) was phenomenal in the first half and I thought did a very good job defensively,” Izzo said. “I though Malik (Hall’s) energy in that first half...was phenomenal. And then when we got into foul trouble, I’ll just be honest with you, it brought tears to my eyes to hear the crowd chanting for Joey Hauser. He gave me everything he had. He rebounded the ball...he did everything he could. But, hitting those big threes, made a difference.”
Although reluctantly, Izzo gave a special shout out to point guard A.J. Hoggard.
“I swear I wouldn't do this because when I do it, it ends up disastrous, but I do gotta give A.J. (Hoggard) a lot of credit,” Izzo stated. “I thought he really played under control, he really controlled things. Getting a double-double, getting 10 assists was a big deal for him.”
Izzo had nothing but gushing positives for the crowd and atmosphere that filled the Breslin today.
“When you make a great play last year and those stupid dummies — those cardboard cutouts — they didn't cheer or yell or didn’t do nothing,” Izzo said with a smirk. “So that all leads to the energy of everything...This is one of the more difficult places in the country to play, and we haven't had that...It felt good from a fan standpoint...It was a combination.
“I love the place, I love our students, and I love when the place is electric. I think today was a good win for Michigan State, and Michigan State means the world to me,” Izzo finalized.
Up next were a few players from Michigan State to give some different perspectives on what this win meant to them.
First up was Joey Hauser. When asked what it felt like to hear the crowd chanting his name, Hauser stated that if he was going to be honest, he was too focused on the game to hear them chant.
“My job is to just stay focused on the game...It was just an awesome game and moment for my team and myself,” Hauser said.
Hauser was happy with how both he and Malik Hall played in the four spot. He said that it is special and important to have that offensive production from their position and he likes that both him and Hall can switch off and bring energy in that area.
Next up was Hall. He had really positive things to say about the energy that the team brought.
When asked how to keep this energy moving, Hall brought a captain’s perspective to his answer.
“Really, I just try to keep everybody focused,” Hall said. “It’s a good win for us...You beat your rival but, it’s not the end of the year. You still have so much time left and a lot of games left to play, so I’ll just remind them of that.”
Hall mentioned that importance of the players coming in off of the bench and putting up impressive minutes. Michigan State’s bench outscored Michigan’s bench 33-6 during the game. It was evident that this team and its leaders have truly bought into that team-first mentality and are a bonded group.
Following Hall out for questions was Hoggard. Since joining the Spartans last season during the pandemic, Hoggard has never truly experienced a full Breslin Center during a rivalry game. With his impactful assists, he had many of the fans out of their seats and cheering. When asked how that made him feel, a smile lit across his face.
“It was exciting,” Hoggard said. “It was something you live for...being able to play in a rivalry like this. Hearing them go crazy off a pass makes me excited, so it kind of got me going a little bit.”
When asked what the most important postgame stat to him was between the 10 assists and the lessened turnovers (he only had one on the day), Hoggard gave a sly answer.
“The 10 assists...and the turnover column,” Hoggard said with a smirk. “They go hand in hand.”
This earned him a laugh from the whole room full of media member, but did give a glimpse into how much Izzo and his staff have been working with Hoggard to build up what he can do well and limit those turnovers that have plagued the team throughout the season.
Last out was Marcus Bingham Jr. Bingham has also taken on a much more vocal role this season and it was evident in the way he analyzed his own play and took questions.
When asked about the moment it looked like Izzo kissed him on the cheek, Bingham said this:
“Oh, you’re talking about the time I dove on the ground?” Bingham clarified. “He did kiss me on the cheek. It wasn’t really a kiss...it was a wonderful moment, though.”
The relationship that Bingham has built here with Coach Izzo was obvious. He stated multiple times that Izzo pushes them all for a reason and only will expect more when he knows his players have more to give.
There were tons of positive comments about the win over Michigan from the Michigan State players and coaches, and a positive outlook about the games ahead as well. The team atmosphere and the connectedness between the players and their staff should serve as a solid foundation moving forward into March.