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Posted on Sat, Mar 5, 2011 : 8:07 p.m.

Confrontation at midcourt dismissed by Darius Morris and Kalin Lucas; Evan Smotrycz's hot hand and more

By Rich Rezler

Just in case the Michigan basketball team’s season sweep of Michigan State didn’t do enough to re-ignite a one-sided rivalry, a brief tussle at the end of Saturday’s game may have fanned the fire a bit more.

After Michigan guard Darius Morris laid in a finger-roll layup in the closing seconds of the Wolverines’ 70-63 win at Crisler Arena, he had a few words for Michigan State senior Kalin Lucas.

The two crossed paths again after the final buzzer sounded, coming chest to chest at midcourt. They chatted a little more and Lucas threw the basketball in Morris’ direction.

“I didn't throw it at him, at him. I threw it toward him a little bit,” Lucas said after the game. “That's basketball. Things are going to happen like that. Guys are going to get into it. But we still shook hands after. Everything's fine.”

Both Morris (“It’s all good. It was probably just collective frustration.”) and Lucas (“He was talking smack, I was talking smack. It’s part of basketball.”) seemed to brush off the confrontation after the game.


Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said he wasn’t happy with the interaction, but that Morris may have had it coming.

“I'm not for that, so I'll straighten that out. But at the same time, going for a layup with three seconds left …” Izzo said. “He talked a lot of stuff the whole game, including at our place. Maybe he deserved it.”

Michigan coach John Beilein said that he didn’t see the incident but that he would investigate.

A week to prepare

With seven days passed since Michigan’s last game at Minnesota, Beilein referred frequently this week about the possibility of “rest or rust.” When the Wolverines got out to a 15-5 lead in the game's first seven minutes, it was apparent there was little rust.


Michigan State University's Derrick Nix loses control of the ball as Michigan's Zack Novak, right, prepares to pounce during first half action of Saturday.

Lon Horwedel |

Michigan junior Zack Novak says the extra time off helped Michigan prepare for the Spartans.

“This is the first time we’ve had a week to prepare for a team in months,” he said. “You give (Beilein and his staff) that kind of time, and we’re going to come at you with a pretty good gameplan.

“(Beilein) draws the plays up for us and puts us in great positions. Him and our assistants put a lot of work in and they’re just a really good group.”

When asked about Novak’s comment, Beilein laughed and said, “Zach wants to play lots of minutes, huh?”

“The extra time helped, but to be honest with you the first three days were rest and reshaping what we want to do as a team. It wasn’t about Michigan State on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday,” he said.

“But on Thursday and Friday we were able to focus and they were playing a game Wednesday night. They played Sunday, Wednesday and Saturday. That’s a tough cluster. The rest helps, but it never really determines the outcome.”

Green feeling green

Michigan State junior Draymond Green called the loss “one of the most frustrating of my career” and pointed to his own 3-of-14 shooting performance as a determining factor in the game.

“I missed layups and jump shots. You're going to miss some jump shots, but the layups. I can't explain that. It's a layup. It's something I learned to do when I was in kindergarten,” said Green, who finished with seven points and six rebounds.

“Layups were the difference in the game. Just go back and look at the film. I missed all the layups.”

Recruiting help?

Beilein dismissed his team’s first season sweep of Michigan State since 1997 being an in-state recruiting boost for his program.

“Michigan State does a wonderful job recruiting and, I believe, in our future we’ll be doing a wonderful job recruiting,” he said. “We certainly recruit the same guys sometimes, sometimes we don’t.”

Horford hurting


Michigan's Evan Smotrycz cruises in for a layup off a steal during first half action on Saturday.

Lon Horwedel |

With freshman Jon Horford missing the game due to a knee bruise, fellow freshmen Blake McClimans (2 minutes, 2 points) spelled Jordan Morgan at the center position.

Evan Smotrycz, who's spent most of his freshman season on the wing, also saw some time in the post. He finished with 14 points, but didn’t pull down a rebound.

Beilein said they’ve been giving Smotrycz time at the center position in practice since January, working on both offensive and defensive post moves. He said it gives him an alternate way to contribute to the team if opponents take away his 3-point looks.

Welcome home
Nick Giard, a 2009 Pioneer High School graduate, returned to his hometown as a walk-on member of the Spartans. He has played in five games for Michigan State, but has not scored. Giard, who grew up a Spartan fan in Ann Arbor, was part of Pioneer’s 2007 team that reached a Class A state semifinal. The Pioneers lost to Giard's current teammate, Saginaw High graduate Draymond Green, at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.

This and that

Michigan manager Brandon Verlinden dressed for the game. The Clarkston native, who has played intermittently with the team in practice, wore No. 40. ... Beilein had 30 friends from the Buffalo and Lockport, N.Y., visit for Saturday's game. They take the five-hour one-way trip once a season and planned on staying overnight Saturday night. ... Beilein and his wife, Kathleen, became grandparents last week when Shauna and Ryan Hendricks gave birth to a daughter, Finley Rose. Since Finley's birth, Michigan is 2-0. Shauna is Beilein's eldest child and only daughter. ... With six assists, Morris passed Mike Griffin, who played from 1986-90, for 14th all-time at Michigan. Griffin had 290. Morris has 294 and is five away from Louis Bullock, who had 299.'s Michael Rothstein and the Grand Rapids Press's David Mayo contributed to this report. Contact Rich Rezler at



Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 4:06 a.m.

Random Thoughts: . Who woulda' thunk it.......The Cavs and MSU have 29 wins between them.....about the same number as MSU had last year all by themselves! . Tom Izzo - my candidate for Little Brother, 2011!! (at least until football season, then I'll nominate Dantonio) . And yes, Darius Morris probably did deserve it. And it's about time that a Wolverine got under an MSU player's skin! Good for him!!!!


Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 1:15 a.m.

Hey Izzo. Chill out. Your team wiped out Michigan on a few occasions, and you did not call off the dogs. If Morris was trying to "rub it in", he would have slam dunked and showboated. Instead, he did what all players are coached to do--in a close game, take the ball to the basket and lay it in. I'm surprised by Izzo's comments. He usually has way more class than that. Maybe he is hanging out with Dantonio too much!!


Sun, Mar 6, 2011 : 9:10 p.m.

It is nice to see Izzo whining. He is really frustrated becuase he has "superior talent", but can't get a W. His team is way of mentally. They charge on through, and then complain when they get if something is owed them. Like, "How dare you call me for charging!, I'm more talented than that little white kid standing in my way!" Get over yourselves and maybe you will start winning some games. Izzo's a good coach and he will have them ready for next year, but I don't see this team doing much in the BTT or NCAA's.


Sun, Mar 6, 2011 : 2:59 p.m.

Come on, what's the Wizzo - Izz0? They both said they were talking trash. That should equal things out. The only thing that wasn't equal, to complain about was the score!


Sun, Mar 6, 2011 : 2:12 p.m.

I'm not a fan of trash talking but it ia fact of life. Players should learn to ignore it as much as possible or else they can get caught up in moments like this, which make both players look a little childish and lacking in self-control.

John B.

Sun, Mar 6, 2011 : 7:32 p.m.

The problem here is Izzo, not his player. It sounds like he encouraged this behavior, then publicly defended it (along with his AD...?). I'm disappointed in him.... The two players seem to have handled it just fine, in the end.


Sun, Mar 6, 2011 : 1:28 p.m.

Izzo didn't seem to mind his Flintstones team running up the score a few years back and beating us by about 60 on senior night. I usually have a lot more respect for Izzo, but his (and AD Hollis' tweet afterward) comment really irritates me. Why is it that the kids on the team are handling this better than the grown man on the sideline?


Sun, Mar 6, 2011 : 1:09 p.m.

I have a lot of respect for Izzo, but those comments seem very childish. Last I knew you play till the buzzer sounds. Somebody help me here, but back a couple weeks ago MSU had the game won and they padded the stats of one of their guys who damn near tore his knee up. Tom just show some class because if you continue with comments like this than you will really start to sound like Mark D'Antonio. Now he is a true whiner!

Gary Stauffer

Sun, Mar 6, 2011 : 12:56 p.m.

People show their true colors under stress......Izzo makes himself look like a trash-talker and a whiner. Bad enough when the officials succumb, but to trash-talk (whine?) about an opposing player who just beat you shows zero class!


Sun, Mar 6, 2011 : 12:05 p.m.

Did Izzo really say that? Cmon Tom, you have more class than that. Morris drove down for that last lay up because State was coming on. He did what a leader does, he put it away. No disrespect there. It's not like we were up 20. It's been a tough season, but even your rivals respect you. Don't ruin that by saying foolish things.