March 13, 2009
'We are some warriors'
INDIANAPOLIS - Foul trouble has rarely been the nemesis of Michigan State during 2008-2009. But early fouls in the Michigan State's quarterfinal game against Minnesota were a significant issue early.
Second-team All-Big Ten center Goran Suton and All-Big Ten freshman Delvon Roe were each held scoreless in the opening half of Michigan State's 64-56 win over Minnesota. Early fouls had a lot to do with both players' diminished first-half production.
"I just wanted to play, I was out" said Suton. "I had two quick fouls and I was out. I think I had two quick rebounds and zero everything else. My mindset in the second half was to be smart out there and not to pick up a third quick foul."
Suton believes the foul difficulty in the first half had a lot to do with allowing Minnesota to have too many possessions.
"Myself, as a team, we had to rebound better," said Suton. "That hurt us a lot.
The loose balls we didn't get to hurt us a lot. The mindset in the second half was to shrink the court and to execute better on offense as well."
The fact that Michigan State's bench scored 25 of the team's 33 first-half points says a lot about the toughness of the Spartans and the depth of Michigan State says conference Player of the Year Kalin Lucas.
"We are some warriors, we are some warriors," said Lucas, who finished with 12 points and 3 assists. "Coach told us it was going to be tough because it was our first game, and Minnesota had already played here and already had a game on us. It might not have looked nice and it was probably pretty ugly but we pulled it through."
Suton finished the game with 9 points and 10 rebounds in 25 minutes. Suton was effective when he looked to score. The fifth-year senior was 3-of-3 from the field. He even knocked down a 3-pointer with confidence in the second half.
With Suton, Morgan, and Roe in foul trouble, Michigan State looked to Marquise Gray for production in the paint. Gray was responsible for a sequence of six consecutive points in the first half when Suton was on the bench. The fifth-year senior finished with 11 points in just 10 minutes. Gray scored nine of his points in just four minutes.
"We know that sometime they are going to have to have our back just like sometime we are going to have their back," said Gray. "That is what a team is. Picking things up for one another and having one another's back. Do the little things that help out. When certain individuals are struggling that's when we have to step in. I shouldn't say team, I should say family because that is what we are."
Gray was also strong on the class, pulling down 6 rebounds off the bench.
Roe was playing in this first postseason game. The quarterfinal didn't quite go as Roe would have scripted it, but the sophomore from Ohio is glad that he will get another taste of tournament action on Saturday in Michigan State's semifinal match-up with Ohio State.
"It feels pretty good," began Roe. "I wish I would have played a little bit better, but to have that first victory under your belt, get to the semifinals and have a chance to play for a Big Ten championship and a Big Ten Tournament championship is going to be pretty fun."
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