Feb. 15, 2008
On Friday, Head Coach Kelvin Sampson, senior Lance Stemler and freshman Eric Gordon gave their thoughts on the upcoming game against Michigan State.
Head Coach Kelvin Sampson
On the significance of the game:
"We have a lot to play for. First of all, we're still in the running for the Big Ten Championship. We have three seniors and two senior captains, in Lance Stemler and D.J. White, that are coming down the stretch run of their careers. When you get to this time of the year, kids get excited about March, but for us we have so much to play for the remainder of the season. We're disappointed in certain aspects of the game against Wisconsin on Wednesday night. We feel like we can play better and we need to play better."
On Michigan State:
"The guy that jumped out at me Tuesday night against Purdue was Kalin Lucas. He's a matchup problem. He uses high ball screens well, he's a one-man fast break the way he gets up the court. What's always been a staple with Tom's team has been his offensive rebounding, their size. We're rotating guys in at the four-spot trying to get some consistency there. We've got guys giving us a good effort, but we need more productivity in terms of rebounding. One of our issues the other night against Wisconsin was defensive rebounds at the four-spot. D.J.'s been a stalwart all year, but we really need another guy up front to step up and get some defensive rebounds."
On Eric Gordon attacking the basket against Wisconsin
Senior forward Lance Stemler
"You could tell that the wrap he's using on his left hand, he's getting more comfortable with that. He didn't shoot the ball as well as he has been this season, but I thought he was tremendous taking the ball to the basket, creating offense, he got to the free-throw line, he made his free throws, he defended well. When a team makes 11 3-pointers against you and you lose on a shot at the buzzer, you're probably pretty good in a lot of other areas. Defense and rebounding is going to be the key for this team down the stretch."
On Michigan State's offense:
"They're big across the board, they hit the glass hard. I think rebounding's going to be key tomorrow. We have to take (Drew) Neitzel off screens. We just can't let him get going."
On the size of the Spartans:
"We just have to push them off the block and try to front them as much as possible. The main thing with their big guys is rebounding, we just have to keep them off the glass."
On the importance of the game:
"I think [it's important] because we have to have this one to stay in the hunt for the Big Ten Championship. We know that and that's the extra emphasis on this game."
On how to bounce back from the loss to Wisconsin:
"We just have to come out and play as hard as we can. We have to defend our home court better than we did against Wisconsin. This is a must-win game for us if we want to win a Big Ten Championship."
Freshman guard Eric Gordon
On what he's seen in film of Michigan State:
"They've got really good, physical big men. They've got nice guards. They are just transitionally up and down the floor, but that's what we like. Overall, they have a complete package team."
On being more aggressive going to the basket against Wisconsin:
"I had a lot more going for me. I was passing the ball a lot better and just hit the open man and that spreads out the whole seam. If I keep on doing that then everything will be good."
On Drew Neitzel:
"He's a really quick guard that makes a lot of good decisions. He's a really complete player. He doesn't do a lot of things that just shock you, but he'll do a lot of the things that change the game for them."
On bouncing back from Wisconsin:
"We just need to play hard and compete like we did against them. We just lost by a last-second shot but now we just need to get a good win and not let it get down to that point."
On whether it's more fun playing in a high-attention game:
"It's just like a normal ESPN game but you get talked about a lot. It's just like a normal game."