Feb. 2, 2007

Head Coach Thad Matta
On playing in front of a hostile crowd
“I think our guys have a tremendous amount of respect for Michigan State. I think they have a good feel for playing in front of a hostile crowd with the games we played this season against Florida, North Carolina and Illinois. They have the right demeanor about them.”

On Greg Oden’s handling of his best friend passing
“I can’t imagine being a pallbearer in the morning for your best friend’s funeral, spending the rest of the day with the family, having to drive two hours in a car to come play a game. I made it clear that he didn’t have to play if he felt like he couldn’t, but he chose to play and I’m obviously glad he did.”

On the Big Ten title race
“We are 7-1 in the Big Ten right now but that doesn’t mean very much. We have eight games left and one win won’t win the conference.”

On David Lighty
“David is an integral part of what we do because he can play so many positions. He knows his role and does a great job for us.”

Greg Oden, freshman center
On losing his best friend to a car crash last week
“I’ve had a lot on my mind lately, but I talked to his parents and they want to keep going. I’m not the type to sit around and cry all day so I think playing helps.”

On sharing the court with Othello Hunter
“It gives us two forces inside when Othello is in with me. Ivan (Harris) has been playing inside a lot too, but when Othello and I are in paint at the same time we bother a lot of shots.” On containing Michigan State’s guard, Drew Neitzel
“We need to make him take a lot of tough shots, which is easier said than done. I thought we did that the last time we played them, but he made most of them.”

David Lighty, freshman guard
On what his coaches expect of him on the floor
“They expect me to play good defense, but at the same time they expect me to play my game, too.”

On the difficulties of playing defense in college
“Defense in college is a lot harder than high school. There are a lot of little things you need to do in college. Like if I get lost in a screen for a split second, the guy I’m guarding can get his shot off. That’s all it takes at this level.”

On practicing defense
“Every day in practice makes me get better. I have to guard all our guys in practice. Daequan (Cook) comes off the bench almost every game and get 15 points so guarding him makes me better. I just don’t like when I get switched on Greg (Oden). I think he is the toughest player for me to guard.”