February 3, 2012

Draymond is feeling good and feeling the hatred

EAST LANSING - The biggest crowd of reporters of the season enveloped Draymond Green as he took a court-side seat following Friday's practice.

Everyone figured the Michigan State captain would have a lot to say. Topics were many:

  • MSU's pending rematch with Michigan.

  • Green's feelings about Michigan.

  • Green's feeling about his knee, which he sprained on Tuesday night.

  • Green's feelings on the technical foul he committed, Tuesday night.

    Media were not disappointed. Green, always a quote machine, was running on high test fuel, Friday night.

    First of all, his knee:

    Green's injury was diagnosed as a sprain on Wednesday, the morning after going down frightfully during Michigan State's 42-41 loss at Illinois.

    There was no structural damage to the knee. He doesn't have to wear a brace or a bandage.

    Green practiced at what looked like full-go, Friday night. He had a sleeve on his knee, but said it was to offer warmth and therapy to his knee.

    He wasn't running and jumping like he normally does, but he wasn't limping, either.

    "I feel a little more sure about it than yesterday and it's a little more stable than it was yesterday and some of the soreness has went away," Green said. "There is not too much pain, but of course there is a little bit of pain. You just have to play through it. Yesterday there was a little bit of pain. It's better today than it was.

    "I'm fine. I don't have to convince anyone of anything. This is Michigan State and we're built on toughness. Coach is not going to sit me out and say I'm hurt, and I'm not going to sit out and say I'm hurt. That's what we do."

    Any swelling?

    "(I'm getting) Multiple treatments every day, just keep on doing stuff every day to make sure that is all the way out," he said. "The doctors said it was a sprain. They just had to make sure everything was in place and all the ligaments were in place. MRI came back and it looked like a perfect knee so they said it was one of those injuries where rest wasn't going to help it. It was one of those things where you just have to work your way back into everything. So that's what I'm doing - working my way back into it."

    What about Michigan?

    Following Michigan State's 60-59 loss at Michigan on Jan. 17, a frustrated Green said he had unfinished business with the Wolverines.

    After what happened in the last game was there any chance he would miss Sunday's rematch with the Wolverines?

    "No. I was playing regardless," Green said. "So Lavall Jordan's Tweet; tell him he got his wish."

    That is in reference to an apparent message on Twitter by Jordan, an assistant coach at Michigan, wishing Green well so that Michigan could face MSU full strength.

    Green didn't seem to take much goodwill from it.

    What would it have taken for you to miss a game like this?

    "Death," he said.

    Questions will arise as to whether Green can move laterally well enough to play defense effectively.

    "Draymond will be back, but I'm not sure what kind of Draymond I'm going to get and what level he will be at," Tom Izzo said.

    When asked about his defense, Green said:

    "Tell 'em to go at me and see if I can move. They'll see on Sunday if I can defense or ... Just tell 'em to go at me. They'll watch these interviews, so they can go at me."

    Green has been an ambassador of goodwill of sorts throughout the Big Ten in his four years at Michigan State. He has made phone calls to peers around the league when they have been grounded by injury.

    But Green showed a more surly side than usual after practice on Friday, with Michigan looming.

    "It starts off, you want to beat Michigan," he said. "And then as you grow, you want to see the football team beat Michigan. And then as you keep growing you want to see field hockey beat Michigan. And wrestling, and chess and everybody else beat Michigan.

    "And then you personally playing against them in Michigan, you want to beat them more. So it definitely grows every year.

    "We hate them and they hate us. They may dislike us, but we hate them."

    "I tell them, trying to win these games now because as you get older the wins and losses are going to stay on your record and you will figure out how much the hate is as you keep growing and get older, and how much the hate is."

    Michigan State (17-5 and 6-3 in the Big Ten) is now a game behind league-leading Ohio State and a half game behind Michigan and Wisconsin.

    At forth place, MSU has sunk farther in the standings than at any point all year. Green blames himself.

    MSU trailed 12-10 near the 10:00 mark of the first half when he was called for a charge at Illinois, his second foul of the game. He protested the call and was whistled for a technical foul, which resulted in two free throws for the Illini and Green's third foul.

    Izzo sat Green for the remainder of the first half and the first four minutes of the second half.

    By the time he had returned to the floor, 24 minutes into the game, Green had logged only 10 minutes of playing time. MSU trailed by 4 when he returned.

    MSU eventually rallied for a 1-point lead with 4:00 to play, but then Green went down with a knee injury and the Spartans failed to close out a victory.

    "I cost my team a game, and I have to control my emotion," Green said of the technical foul. "Regardless of what the situation is, flu, frustration, frustration on the court, down, whatever it is I have to control my emotion I can't let my team down like that."

    Oh by the way, Green was battling a terrible stomach flu that night as well. He said he went nearly three days without eating as a result. But he did not use that as an excuse.

    "I know I cost my team a game," he said. "I left my guys out there and I have to make one up for them.

    "I sat that whole time and we were never able to get in synch, and once I picked up the fourth I had to go back out.

    "Like I told them, I just have to make up one for them."

    Green addressed his error with his team.

    "That's my job as a leader of the team," he said. "It's a mistake I made and if they make a mistake it is going to be acknowledged, so my mistakes need to be acknowledged as well."


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