SPOKANE, Wash.-- Many know Michigan State junior Kalin Lucas, the Spartans leading scorer, as a two-time first-team All-Big Ten point guard who played for a national title last year. Not New Mexico State guard Jahmar Young.
On Tuesday, Young was asked about Lucas and he replied, "Who?" and claimed not to know who Lucas was.
Young figured out who Lucas was after watching film, though. Twice during a press conference Thursday he referred to Lucas as, "the little point guard."
Lucas was peeved about the unlikely ignorance. "I think he was disrespectful for saying that."
Told that Lucas felt disrespected, Young replied: "I'll clear it up as a man: No disrespect."
Hmm. This could be completely meaningless. Or it could be great fun and add some interesting spice when the fifth-seeded Spartans square off with the No. 12 Aggies in the first round of the Midwest Regional.
The tiff produced a mostly amused eye roll from Spartans coach Tom Izzo, whose five Final Fours in 11 years suggest he doesn't get distracted by media tempests over perceived tweaks.
"Trust me, those comments aren't going to win or lose games," he said. "If [Lucas] needs that to be motivated, I say we're in trouble."
Izzo has bigger concerns, such as a team he admitted might be perceived as "dysfunctional." Suspensions, including to guard Chris Allen during the opening round loss to Minnesota in the Big Ten tournament, injuries and sometimes baffling inconsistency have made the Spartans a fashionable pick to go home early.
Maybe. Or maybe not. "Right now, I like where we are," said Izzo, whose team feasted on steaks Wednesday night with former Spartans coach Jud Heathcote.
As for Young, he didn't seem bothered by the persistent inquiries over his perceived diss of Lucas. One could sense that the Aggies leading scorer with 20.9 points per game felt there was a method to his seeming madness.
He's not going to bow down to Lucas. And he doesn't want his teammates to get wide-eyed at facing a perennial power.
"We're not laying down," he said. "We're not bowing down."