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EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Why?
During Adreian Payne's freshman and sophomore seasons at Michigan State, the one-word question almost became a four-letter word. Payne's queries frustrated his coach, Tom Izzo, each beginning with the same three-letter word.
Why? If Payne was expected to do something -- why? If he came out of the game -- why?
"It was really bad," former Michigan State forward Draymond Green said. "I'm not going to sugarcoat it at all. It was awful. At times it was irritating and frustrating."
His frontcourt mate, Derrick Nix, learned to ignore the question. Others considered it a continued misunderstanding of Izzo by Payne and of Payne by Izzo.
This, though, had always been Payne's approach. His coaches at Jefferson Township Junior/Senior High School in Dayton, Ohio, learned to deal with it, even if Payne would sometimes openly question them in games.
Payne began playing basketball in sixth grade, part of the reason for the questioning. He said this week he didn't know who Duke, his Sweet 16 opponent Friday, was as a kid. Basketball didn't interest him, and he didn't watch it.