As an assistant at Michigan State, Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory helped the Spartans and coach Tom Izzo to two Final Fours, including one national championship. Before his hire at Tech, he led Dayton to two appearances in the NCAA tournament and three in in the NIT. Gregory draws from the Spartans’ 2000 national championship in Indianapolis to provide insight into the Final Four.
I think the teams that are successful are the teams whose only worry is their first game and getting ready to play in it. I’ve been impressed with Wichita State’s focus, maybe because they’re not the team everybody thought would be there, but they’ve played with great focus in every game. They’ve played like a team that expected to get to this point.
The media attention and the other distractions are different than the first two weeks, but the teams and the coaches have had two pretty intense weeks regarding that stuff already, so it’s just another level, but because it’s continuous, I don’t think it’s an issue.
When you get to the Final Four, you’ve had such great success during the year that it’s not that you don’t get caught up in the moment, but it’s not until after you play in it that you start to kind of realize what an unbelievable accomplishment you’ve achieved.
It starts to hit you in the locker room afterwards because you don’t leave the arena for probably two hours after the game. We were in Indianapolis, so we had a huge Michigan State following. They had a party for us at the convention center right by the RCA Dome. Then you go back to the hotel, and the celebration doesn’t end until 5, 6 in the morning.
Then, when you get back to campus or town, the airport is packed, the streets are packed, all those things. You remember every detail of the game, but that’s the stuff that, especially for the players, that they remember forever. In a lot of cases, that’s when you start realizing that you’ll never be with this team again and what you accomplished together, the relationships with your teammates and your coaches and the battles that you’ve had.