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Michigan State-66, Minnesota-51

Jan. 3, 2013

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Michigan State head coach Suzy Merchant Quotes

On the MSU’s defense preparing for the Gophers…

I think that just comes with the territory, there’s not going to be much sleeping going on. Number one is enough to give you nightmares and keep you up at night. She can just get it going. I thought we did a nice job in the first half on her, and she scored seven baskets in the second half. She’s worth keeping you up at night though, that’s for sure. I was proud of our group. I thought our fight was good. I liked our second half. We came out of the gates strong offensively the second half, which was fun to see. It took us a while, but we got it going.

On offense in the second half and the bench…

Obviously the bench really came in to play for us, significantly in the first half when Becca (Mills) and (Courtney) Schiff(auer) went down. I really thought Akyah did a nice job in there, playing within composure, hustle plays, good defense, that kind of thing. Jasmine Hines had to play some extended minutes, which normally we’re able to sub her and she’s better when she’s fresh and you saw some mental mistakes on her part. I thought she pushed through some things and those two really helped us, along with Kiana (Johnson). Offensively, I think we struggled in the first half because we were playing kids who hadn’t played extended minutes. Annalise Pickrel was playing some four for us and normally she’s a guard, so we were a little off our mojo because those two kids who had been a big part of our offense were sitting on the bench.

On what was said during the eight-minute time out and the team’s response…

I should bottle that huh? We just really talked about the defensive side of the ball. I thought we were a little lazy on ball screen defense, fouling a little bit in that stretch and not getting defensive rebounds. I thought they got some loose balls. No. 15 was getting to the ball, well not getting it, but getting a tip on it so we talked about tightening up our defensive rebounding. It was only a 30-second time out and I probably had a lot more to say, but didn’t quite get there. That was big, just defensive rebounding and doing a better job offensively and having a vision of the court. That’s one thing we did harp on at half time was I felt like we were very tunnel-visioned in the first half and we just didn’t see where the help was coming from and taking what the defensive gave us. The response was great. The ten-two run I thought we really elevated our game at that time. We try to get people open where maybe we struggle a little bit. I thought Kiana did a really nice job of getting in the teeth of the defense and making decisions to make people better and set them up so that was positive for us.

On what she liked offensively…

I thought down the stretch where they were trying to get in the game with some fouls, it was nice to see Kiana step up and make her free throws certainly. I really like that we were an inside-out attack. We got some nice opportunities where we got the ball to get a guard post-up. I thought we did a nice job with some inside-outs at that time Jasmine Hines was getting some looks and people were digging on her and they were coming at her. I thought she did a nice job of kicking it out and then we were making an extra pass. It was a really balanced attack during that time. It was nice to see because we had been playing that way earlier in the season and then I felt like we had gotten away from making that extra pass. That’s what I liked about our second half offense; I thought we did a nice job getting to the foul line and making that extra pass.

On the ten-two run and the fight in the team…

I felt like the crowd was very significant in that time, too. They were doing a nice job of when there was a defensive stop they would cheer pretty loud and then we would score. I thought they did a really nice job of creating an atmosphere for us. I thought our kids were feeding off that. My thing with them is you never want to have any regrets. We started the game Jan. 3, today and there’s literally 60 days until our last and final home game here for the regular season. What do you want that to look like?  Is it worth fighting for? And if it is, never play on your heels. If you’re going to go down, go down fighting, go down swinging. Never come in tentative and second guessing yourself. I thought we had been doing that as of late, certain players were really not trusting in their talent and it was really nice to see some of those kids be a little more aggressive.



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