Michigan State's reputation for being a tough team starts with the war drill.
It's a type of scrimmage Izzo implemented in 2000 to help improve his team's rebounding and toughness.
``The war drill is a drill - no out of bounds,'' Big Ten defensive player of the year Travis Walton said. ``They shoot the ball. It's five-on-five. Everybody just run at each other like you all little kids, trying to get a little basketball.''
Sometimes, the drill becomes intense, as the name implies.
``So we just go at each other, no fouls called,'' Walton said, smiling. ``You're grabbing, you're pulling, you're scratching. Sometimes people get to bleeding and different things like that. When they get real tough, we might put football pads on. So it's tough.''
The tradition started after a loss to Ohio State during the 1999-2000 season. Fed up with his team's soft play, Izzo contacted then-football coach Nick Saban and asked to borrow shoulder pads and helmets.
``We're going to learn how to hit somebody and get a rebound,'' he recalled thinking.
e drill.
``So now, whenever we have our little reunions, that's what everybody talks about,'' Izzo said. ``So what seems brutal and cruel, really there is a mission to the madness.''
Izzo said it even has been educational for some players. Suton, who is from Bosnia, didn't know how to put the shoulder pads on before participating.
KENTUCKY WHO: Apparently, Louisville forward Terrence Williams doesn't keep up with news about rival Kentucky.
When asked about the Wildcats firing coach Billy Gillispie on Friday, Williams gave a classic response befitting of one of the nation's most intense rivalries.
``The next who coach?'' he asked, prompting laughter from the media. ``That don't apply to us. I didn't even know until a couple minutes ago that he got fired.''
Williams wasn't finished.
``What happens up the road, down the road, wherever they are located from us, it don't apply to us. We wear red, we've got Rick Pitino. ... Like I said, that school, we don't concern ourselves with them. At all.''
PITINO'S SON: Louisville coach Rick Pitino doesn't hide the respect he has for his son's coaching ability.
``He's, I think, the best young recruiter in the country,'' said Pitinio, who hired 26-year-old Richard in April 2007. ``He's doing things for our program.''
er his father. Rick Pitino believes his son is ready to be a head coach, but he wouldn't mind him sticking around.
``I would be really upset at him if he left to take a head coaching job, and I may just cut him strictly out of the will,'' he said, joking.
OFFICE CALL: North Carolina coach Roy Williams called Danny Green into his office after the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, worried about his senior guard's shooting.
Green had averaged 16.4 points the last four games of the regular season, then gone 3-of-25 in the tournament. ``And two of those were tip-ins,'' Williams said.
``I did want to see if there's anything wrong,'' he said. ``I didn't know if I could fix it, but I knew that it was part of my job to try to find out if there was something wrong.''
Turns out, Green really just had a bad weekend of shooting.
Now, Green enters Sunday's South Regional final between the top-seeded Tar Heels (31-4) and No. 2 seed Oklahoma (30-5) averaging 12 points in three NCAA tournament games. Green credits Williams with telling him to just play and not press.
``From then, I've just been playing and not really stressing or pressing anything and losing myself in the game, and things have gone my way,'' Green said.
his season.
``Danny is a stat sheet stuffer for our column,'' point guard Ty Lawson said. ``He does everything: blocked shots, rebounds, scores.''
COOKIES, MORE COOKIES: Keeping some hungry Tar Heels fed is important, especially the day before the South Regional final. So it was the first thing coach Roy Williams addressed when he stepped behind the microphone to talk to reporters.
``As much money as we're making off this tournament, we ought to be able to afford more than one freakin' cookie back in the room there,'' he said. ``I think the NCAA can afford more than that. Other than that, we're happy to be here.''
There had been only one cookie on a plate available to players elsewhere in the arena in Memphis, Tenn. Officials asked for more cookies to be delivered.
Ty Lawson was asked who took the cookie, and he said nobody.
``I was about to take it, but everybody was looking at it, and I didn't want to be selfish. So I just left it there,'' said Lawson, who requested more oatmeal-raisin cookies.
The plate must have been refilled by the time the Oklahoma Sooners came through. Blake Griffin was asked about his favorite cookie.
``I don't know if they had my favorite one. I just grabbed the first one I saw,'' the Big 12 player of the year said.
be wearing Sunday when his Sooners take on North Carolina.
OU red, not Tar Heels' blue.
``It will be a red OU shirt, and he'll be cheering for us, which he should. I know a lot of Carolina people may not like that, but he was my brother before he was a Tar Heel,'' Jeff Capel said. ``And he'll always be my little brother. He'll be cheering hard for us tomorrow.''
Jason Capel helped lead North Carolina to the 2000 Final Four.
North Carolina coach Roy Williams understands, even though his son played with Jason Capel.
``Blood is thicker than that diploma, and I understand that and have zero problems with that,'' Williams said.

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