MSU Spartans
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Women's Basketball
Michigan State 70, Illinois 57



Jan. 2, 2011

Recap |  Box Score

Michigan State Head Coach Suzy Merchant

On Kalisha Keane's knowledge of basketball...
I've never coached a player with that high of a basketball IQ who is a forward. She just has a knack and a feel for the game. She makes other people around her better, she can get shots off, and she is good defensively in terms of getting in the lane.

On Lykendra Johnson's performance...
Lykendra was very big for us defending Karisma Penn. I felt that when Lykendra came out is when Karisma got going. We have changed the way we defend, and Lykendra has a knack for it because it fits her style. She is really good at leverage, understanding passing angles, when to get in front of someone and then if they are walking her up, how to release. She naturally has a good feel for not how to get pined and sealed and how to use her quickness to her advantage.

On how the team has improved...
There were times when we were a 20 turnover team night in and night out. But now we have been able to put some back-to-back games together. There were two areas we wanted to improve on, turnovers and not fouling. I think we have really focused on those because those are two areas where you can beat yourself. We have done a nice job of taking care of the ball and we are playing a very good team game. I don't think we are forcing anything and there is a strong trust we have of our players with extra played 40 minutes of zone. We threw a lot of different looks at them, which I think confused them at times. Our kids had a lot of confidence playing against their defense. We moved the ball, we scored inside, we scored outside, we scored on cuts, and we scored on outside three's. We came at people a lot of different ways.

On deciding to switch or stay on picks...
There were certain actions Illinois did that we didn't want to switch and there persons we didn't want to switch on. As we get deeper in the Big Ten, there are times where you can switch or maybe jam and go underneath. But we need to be able to play differently within the same possession. Teams run that two high-end ball and the guards have to get over it, and this is a situation where we had to fight that. We've worked on those things and I think our kids were really sharp today. Their first possession were Lana Rukavina got the ball wide open was unacceptable though. We knew that play because we had run that over and over at practice, so we knew that was coming. That was disappointing, but after that there were no miscommunications on ball-screen defense.



On how special it is to have to best start in school history...
You can't say that it isn't special considering some of the kids that have played here in the past and what they have accomplished. It says a lot about the players we have now, especially since this team had a big question mark on it by the fans and the administration. To regroup in November and have to move Lykendra to a different position in order to find ways to win, shows a lot about the character of our team.

Illinois Head Coach Jolette Law

Opening statement...
You can't come into the home of the No. 12 team in the country and turn the ball over as much as we did down the stretch. I give a lot of credit to Michigan State. They pushed the ball up the floor and they capitalized on our turnovers. We had 21 turnovers and that is the stat-line that sticks out the most. They scored 25 points off of our unforced turnovers. So I just give a lot of credit to Michigan State. We just have to continue to work and get one step better.

On the play of senior forward Kalisha Keane...
She is a pro; I don't know what else to say. She is an All-American, she is a pro. She plays the game with great intensity, she can shoot the three, put the ball on the floor, and she is physical. She is just like a guard playing in the post. I have the utmost respect for (Kalisha) Keane. I didn't expect her to get 27 (points). She put the team on her back and she carried them today.


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