© St. Petersburg Times, published March 23, 2003
USF coach Seth Greenberg coached his Bulls against Michigan State and Florida this season. The Spartans defeated USF 65-56, and the Gators posted a 68-52 win. Greenberg spoke with Times TV/radio writer John C. Cotey and broke down today's Gators-Spartans game:
I think this game is a contrast of styles, almost a contrast of leagues. The SEC is a more slashing league, and the Big Ten is more of a physical conference.
Michigan State does a great job keeping you out on the perimeter. They will contain and contest and challenge every shot and are going to play great position defense, and it's hard to screen against them.
Florida is at its best when it's turning people over, getting into the open court and making easy baskets. If Michigan State can get stops, run the break and get into their offense, it's a tremendous advantage. Michigan State wants to take the flow out of the game. If Florida can turn them over, advantage Gators.
The job Tom Izzo has done this year without a true point guard has been near magnificent. There hasn't been one guy, but a bunch of different guys that initiate their offense and play that position by committee. Once they get into their offense, they do a great job of executing. One thing people don't understand is, though they don't play with a point guard, their initial attack is explosive. They run the court as hard as any team in the country and do it consistently 40 minutes.
Florida has a lot of guys that can make plays. I think the key to Florida, its heart and soul, is Justin Hamilton and Matt Bonner. Florida is young, but those guys are seniors, and they add another dimension.
Another key is David Lee's quickness against the size and toughness of Michigan State inside. Lee is the guy Florida will try to get involved. He's a little undersized but extremely explosive.
For Michigan State, (Chris) Hill, (Maurice) Ager, (Kelvin) Torbert, those people have to have good games handling the ball. If they can handle Florida's extended defense, they're in great shape.
Florida will spread the floor and try to drive on Michigan State. They'll try to create offense out of the defense. I wouldn't be shocked to see them go some zone. That would force Michigan State to make shots, and it would help contain the (Spartans') size advantage.
Michigan State is as physical a basketball team as there is in the country. They've got five post players and 25 fouls. They rebound the ball and do a great job getting people off their mark. I thought that was key to the Colorado game, how they took (Stephane) Pelle and (David) Harrison out of the game.
Michigan State built its reputation on defending people and rebounding the basketball and toughness. Florida is built on its style of play, its ability to shoot the basketball and its skills.
Michigan State's ability to handle the extended pressure of Florida will be key and so will Florida's ability to handle the size of Michigan State. Can Florida's post defend Michigan State, or will they have to go to a zone to contain the size and strength of the Spartans?