Listen to Audio (5:35)
On the event:
“It was a wonderful experience. I had no idea what to expect. I thought it would be something that would be great. Tom [Izzo] and I spoke four or five years ago and agreed to do it at that time and it just didn’t work out. When he called me back this time, I said yes. I called my athletic director and my chancellor and said, ‘This is what I’ve agreed to, so I hope it doesn’t cause any problems.’ It was a thrill for me. It was one of the neatest things I’ve ever been involved in.”
How are you feeling?
“I’m alright. I got a little dizzy when we were out here today at the shootaround and had to take a couple of my vertigo pills. But I only got ticked off enough one time that I made myself dizzy, so we’re alright.”
How did your team fare with all of the distractions?
“I don’t think we got caught up in the surroundings. We got off to a quick start at 6-0 and then everybody thought it was going to be easy. Then they kicked us for a few minutes and I really liked the way we responded at that time. The last play of the half, we didn’t do a very good job of that, but we came out early in the second half and did some nice things. I think we got it to 20 at one time. I don’t spend a lot of time watching the scoreboard, but then we made three of the dumbest plays you can make. Two turnovers and then give them a four-point play and a lane violation and those kinds of things and all of a sudden it’s back to a 12-point game. But you’ve got to weather those storms and make sure you don’t do that too often.”
Were you able to detach yourself from the game and enjoy the setting?
“I really was the entire trip until this afternoon and I was just trying to remember what was up and what was down for a while. But I’ve had this problem for 14 or 15 years. There’s some things you can do to help it and I talked to our doctor on the trip to make sure I was doing the right thing and it worked out. But I did, I enjoyed every possible thing about it. Hopefully I’ll coach another 10 or 15 years, but it will be hard to top this unless it’s a Final Four.”
Listen to Audio (2:37)
What will you tell family and friends about this event?
“One, that you might get seasick coming on a boat. But two, what the navy does for us, what the military does for us – we’re so appreciative. Obviously, us against Michigan State was a great game and I’m glad we won, but just showing our appreciation for them. These guys go out tomorrow, they deploy tomorrow. So we wanted to express our gratitude for them.”
On President Obama meeting with the players before the game:
“It has kind of crazy. He knew most of us, who we are. He was like, ‘Hey, Z, good seeing you again, just like in ‘09’, ‘Hey John, are you going to block some shots’, ‘Hey Harrison, are you going to make some threes?’ So it was kind of cool to see that he knew and that he was in touch, because what else can you expect from the President other than that he does the bracket in March. It was cool.”
Listen to Audio (2:13)
On bouncing back after the early deficit:
“I think my team did a great job of keeping its focus, because we’ve been in those situations before. Just having that experience and knowing what to do, and just listening to Coach and executing what he wanted us to do and it turned out very well.”
Did the weather play a role?
“Not really. When you’re out there, you don’t really feel the wind and stuff like that. I only felt it when I was on the bench. The managers did a great job of giving us towels and keeping them on our backs to keep us warm. But I don’t think it affected anybody.”
Listen to Audio (2:28)
On shooting against the sky:
“It’s just completely different turning when there’s really no background to judge or aim by. So it was a little different, but at the same time, it’s something that you’ve got to get used to and adjust to.”
On the event:
“It was really cool. The whole experience of being able to play in front of all the armed forces and President Obama and some NBA people were here, so it was an incredible experience. It’s something that I’m very happy to be able to do.”