MICHIGAN STATE SPARTAN CASSIUS WINSTON PRE-FINAL FOUR VS TEXAS TECH!

MICHIGAN STATE SPARTAN CASSIUS WINSTON PRE-FINAL FOUR VS TEXAS TECH!

#5 Michigan State Spartans and their Hall of Fame Head Coach Tom Izzo are sitting at 32-6 this season and are the Big Ten Conference regular season champs and Big Ten Tournament champ.

Q. Cassius, you were just named to the first team All-America Team. What does that mean to you?
CASSIUS WINSTON: They just told me. That was crazy. Just, I don't know, it was hard to picture. I really didn't picture myself in that position at the beginning of this year and for it to come out, it's a year full of blessings for sure.

Q. As you walk around campus, go to class, certainly going to class, what's it like? You guys have become celebrities around here locally what's it been like walking around campus the last couple of days?
CASSIUS WINSTON: It's been a lot of love. Took a lot of pictures these last days at the gas station, just everywhere. People just supporting us and things like that. So a lot of people just want us to see us do our best and want us to get this job done.

Q. When you look at Texas Tech, what do you see from their defense that makes them so uniquely strong?
CASSIUS WINSTON: They're really connected you know what I'm saying? They speed teams up a lot but their teammates are always there to help them. Help cover up for the guys. That's how they get a lot of steals, quick hands. They throw teams off their rhythm pretty well. They're a really good defensive team.

Q. What would it mean to you to join Magic and the team as National Championship-winning point guards here at Michigan State?
CASSIUS WINSTON: That would mean a lot. Those are the greats, definitely. Gotta be top two. So just to be up there with those guys, to get a national championship for this program, that's something you can't replace.

Q. You have had an opportunity to celebrate a couple times in the locker room great celebrations wins against Michigan. Big Ten, Big Ten Tournament, how would you rate Tom Izzo's post celebratory dances as the season progresses?
CASSIUS WINSTON: He's definitely gotten better. I credit that to Gabe and Marky, you know, give him a couple moves and stuff to help him out a little bit. But he's gotten better as the season's gone on.

Q. You and your brothers are very close. I'm curious because you've tried to share every moment with them that you can. What's it like to share this journey with them?
CASSIUS WINSTON: That's the best part about it. Just to have them by my side, having them at all these games with me. We're doing this together. That's the best part. When they come on the trips they spend a lot of time in my hotel room kicking it with me and things like that. That's who I'm really doing it all for. Makes it all that much sweeter.

Q. Trying to get Coach his second title, do you guys now at this point talk about that at all, or how have you maintained that one-game approach throughout the course of the last three months?
CASSIUS WINSTON: Man, all we've been talking about is Texas Tech. We can't win no national championship game without beating Texas Tech. We'll get to a national championship game if it's ahead of us. Right now we have to focus on the opponent ahead of us getting to that point. Everything we've been talking about has been this game ahead of us.

Q. On the inbounds that last inbounds play, when Xavier used his eyes and his mouth, is that something just was it organic? Has it happened before? Just knowing each other?
CASSIUS WINSTON: Yeah, it just happened on the moment. Like I said, we spent a lot of time with each other. I don't know, it's just goofy in the fact that he was just trying to coach us with his eyes real quick. It was just funny. It worked out though.

It kind of worked out by accident, but it worked because Kenny and Henny did the same thing which kind of cleared me to be wide open. It was funny, but us communicating us being on the same page almost a little bit it worked out in that moment.

Q. After the game, you and Ward went over to console Jones. I'm curious how components like that, you have characteristics like that, that can help determine what it means to be a national championship team as well as maybe not so much as the impact you have on the floor and what your talent is on the floor, how do both maybe go together?
CASSIUS WINSTON: I think it's a team game. So the more you care about your players, your teammates, that's the better team you're going to be. You can be as talented as you want. You can have the highest jumping people, all those type of things. But if you're not connected. If you don't care about one another, it's not going to carry you as far. Us reaching out to Jones was just we know how heartbreaking that is. We know that feeling. And you work so hard to get to this point and then to come up short, you don't wish that upon anybody. So just to reach out to them, tell them that he's got bigger things ahead. This isn't the end of the world. Just something you can learn from. That's really all that was.

Q. Coach said a couple times that there were points where he didn't think you guys were capable of getting here. Wondering if there was ever a point that you felt that way and when was it that you knew, okay, this team can do what you're doing right now?
CASSIUS WINSTON: I think initially when things start to happen of course you have that doubt. Just even from the beginning of the year you lose two lottery picks and you can say that oh we're going to be better we're going to do these things, but you're going to have a doubt in your mind. Then once you get out there, once you see these guys, once you see how you're playing then you're okay we can do this, we can get better, we can do these things and then you lose a Josh Langford and it's like, okay, we can say we're going to pick it up as much as we can, but you never know and then guys start rallying together. And guys start stepping up. And once we've seen guys just keep stepping up, guys just keep taking care of opportunities in the moment, we're going to ride this out, we're going to make it happen.

Q. At a certain point, it was one hot game, one win or something?
CASSIUS WINSTON: No, not really. Just kind of been -- we've gradually been going through the year. Like I said we do a great job, we take it one game at a time. We don't think about the past games. We don't think about the future games. We think about the one game ahead of us and that's been our approach all year.

Q. Your coach keeps calling this one of the most mentally tough teams he's ever coached is that something that you thought the team had at the beginning of the season or is it something that's more developed through the years given all the adversity you've gone through?
CASSIUS WINSTON: I think it's one of those things we've gradually we gained. We kind of just accepted the fact that a lot of things probably aren't going to go our way this year, things just kept happening. So instead of talking about it crying about it we told ourselves what we're going to do about it. And for us to grow closer together, forced us to win in that whatever it takes. That's been our focus.

Q. What's it like to play for Tom Izzo both when like he's getting on you in public and maybe in a private moment that people don't see where he's not ranting at you?
CASSIUS WINSTON: It's just great. You know what I'm saying? It's great to have a hall of fame coach that cares about you. That's really it. I'm pretty sure Coach Izzo could stop coaching right now nobody would be mad at him. He accomplished everything he just did everything you could at this level. So the fact that he's still out here still yelling, still coaching, still caring you know what I'm saying? Coach Izzo, nobody's going to fire Coach Izzo. Coach Izzo doesn't have anything else to prove to anybody. So the fact that he's still out there staying up until four in the morning doing all these types of things just for us just so we can have a chance to reach our dreams, reach our goals, you know what I'm saying? Everything that's out there to do he's done it. So everything he's doing now is just for us and he cares that much. That's the beauty of it.

Q. I was curious if you noticed anything different out of Kenny. Maybe since the tournament started with him being an older guy. We've only seen so much, but in our interactions seems like he's a little more demonstrative or fiery I don't know if behind closed doors if he's been any different around you guys in terms of his leadership and being a motivator, anything like that at all?
CASSIUS WINSTON: Oh, yeah, definitely he's locked in you know what I'm saying? You know it's different when you know it's your last go-around, your last chance. And he's just every day in practice, film, he's holding guys accountable, bringing that energy, just bringing that flame, just especially for these younger guys they don't know how short it can happen. And luckily they won't know until some other time. But he knows that any game could be his last. That's how he's been approaching everything.

Q. Does that translate to on-court stuff as well?
CASSIUS WINSTON: Definitely. It's that sense of urgency that can take your game to a different level.

Q. You did not play at Minnesota this year, but you played Gonzaga in Minneapolis at the beginning of the year. I was wondering when you were there, were you looking around like this is where we're trying to be back at and then how cool is it to kind of complete the circle as the season --
CASSIUS WINSTON: I can't even say I thought that far ahead. Like I said it's crazy that we are in this situation. We always -- we knew we were capable of it. We knew that we had the pieces to get there and things that we needed to get there. And just like I said we took it one game at a time and just got better and better along the way and that's why we're in the situation we're in today.

Q. Curious, when Kenny said back in when you guys had those three-game losing streak when he said the phrase nut up or shut up, did you guys hear that? Was that something that came into play at that moment or was that something you guys were talking about internally at that point?
CASSIUS WINSTON: Definitely. We had a meeting after that game, after that three-game losing streak about just the things that we weren't doing, the things that maybe were wrong with the team and things like that. That's when really the connection started. We told each other how much we loved each other, how much we wanted to be there for each other, how we've got each other's back and things like that. We told each other the things we don't like about each other. The things we do love about each other, all those type of things. So everything was out there on the table. And after that, like Kenny said, after that it's actions. We've been doing it since then.

Q. Did he say that like to you guys or was that just to us?
CASSIUS WINSTON: I don't know if he said that to us. That's basically what he said you know what I'm saying? You can only say so much. At some point it's just talk. And now it's time to do something about it.

Q. As a kid growing up, as a player dreaming of this kind of moment in Final Fours, what are your Final Four memories that you still go back to that maybe push you as you get ready this week?
CASSIUS WINSTON: I want to say I watched all of them. I remember Michigan State and who did they play? Did they play North Carolina or did they play UConn?

Q. UConn in the semifinals.
CASSIUS WINSTON: Played North Carolina. I remember that one. I remember last year's one. I remember the year before that. You watch all of them. I remember in high school you make sure you see every game. So just you tell yourself you want to be in that moment. That's what you want to try to make it to and have the opportunity to do it it's amazing.

Q. (Off microphone)?
CASSIUS WINSTON: They used to do open practices and stuff like that. I went to the open practice. It was sweet.

Q. What's it going to be like for you at practice when everybody is watching you?
CASSIUS WINSTON: I'll have to tell you when I get there. I don't know yet.

Michigan State will face West Regional Champion Texas Tech in the Final Four on Saturday, April 6 at approximately 8:49 p.m. ET in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at U.S. Bank Stadium. The game will be televised on CBS.

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