Quick Q&A with MSU guard Denzel Valentine
On the verge of another Michigan State-Michigan battle, Spartans guard Denzel Valentine got a chance to talk about getting recruited by the Wolverines and playing at Crisler Center.
The junior is coming off a fairly successful week, capped with his winning shot in the final seconds against Ohio State.
And as big as this game is in Michigan State's run toward a potential NCAA Tournament berth, it's still about the rivalry for Valentine.
Question: Michigan recruited you pretty heavily. How close were you to going to Michigan?
Answer: They treated me well and they attacked me in the recruiting process. They were probably one of my top three, but I couldn't go there. … (Michigan coach John Beilein) is a great coach and I respect their program, but it's a Michigan-Michigan State game.
Q. How would your dad have reacted if you chose Michigan and how does he approach the rivalry?
A. He actually liked how they treated me and he pretty much said it was up to me. It was pretty much my choice really. … He doesn't really talk about it. I am surprised. He just talks about every game the same. (Talking about it) is more like from (Mateen) Cleaves, Day-Day (Draymond Green) or AP (Adreian Payne). Those guys, the recent guys.
Q. What is the environment like at Crisler and how does it compare with other places in the Big Ten?
A. They have a good crowd and they get pretty loud over there. Definitely top three road games for hostile environments. It's fun playing there. I like the gym; I like the environment and everything about it. It's really cool to go out there and play against a hostile crowd like that when everyone is against you. … I would say Minnesota my freshman year was pretty good and Iowa is always good.
Q. You have yet to win a game at Michigan. How much does that weigh on you?
A. It's a tough environment and they always play well when they play us. Me and Matt (Costello) are tied now in our games, so this is a big game. This is a big game. We want to go up in our series so we've got to win down there.
Q. This is a big game for Michigan State's season, how much do you focus on it being a big rival?
A. It's a rivalry game and it really hasn't hit me. It's going to hit me as soon as you get to the arena and see their fans and you get some boos and your adrenaline picks up a little bit. That is always in the back of your mind and I would say that it's a rivalry game at the end of the day and that's a bigger motivation, I think.