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Michigan State 70, Nebraska 57 Post-Game Quotes

Jan. 9, 2014

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Michigan State head coach Suzy Merchant

On the play of Aerial Powers…
I thought Aerial played really hard. I thought she did a great job, especially rebounding for us; that’s kind of her specialty. She’s got the athleticism and the nose for the ball, especially at the defensive end. When she gets it, really good things happen in our transition game. I think she was a big spark and catalyst in that first half.

On the play of Annalise Pickrel…
I wasn’t sure how Annalise would play offensively. She was a good matchup for (Jordan) Hooper, because she’s got some size, she’s got a couple inches on her, she’s quick, she’s athletic, she can defend her on the block and obviously on the perimeter. We knew she’d have to play a lot of minutes and probably guard her the whole time. I was really proud of her. She (Hooper) got 21 points, but she had to shoot it 22 times to get there. That’s as good of defense as I’ve seen Annalise play.

On closing out the first half and starting the second half strong…
Certainly with Nebraska, you know what kind of firepower they have. We always talk about that at halftime; Minnesota was the same way. It’s easy sometimes to kind of take a deep breath and go through the motions a little bit, but I really thought our kids did a nice job of attacking and defending in that first four or five minutes of the second half which helped us get a lead, which was important obviously because we kind of lost it there the last seven, eight minutes of the game. I didn’t think we were as intense and focused as we needed to be.

On Klarissa Bell’s all-around play…
From earlier in the year, first of all, I think she’s playing a little more healthy. There was a real struggle with her where she wasn’t able to practice and question mark if she could even play for a period of time. We really tried to reel her back a little bit and it’s helped. I think she’s feeling healthier and that’s helped her defensively because she obviously can do some things for us defensively. I thought she did a really nice job on (Rachel) Theriot, because that kid is crafty. I think what she’s doing is just playing within the framework of the game. She isn’t over-thinking, over-trying, which I thought she did early in the season. She’s really focusing on defense and rebounding . Any time she’s done that, that’s what’s got her the starting lineup, that’s what’s made her effective. All the other things she’s been able to do and develop have been bonus for us.

On holding Nebraska to 30 percent shooting and being off to a 2-0 start in Big Ten play…
That was something that we’ve really been working on the defensive side of the ball. They’re almost like the complete opposite of what we defended against Minnesota, which was a very big and powerful group in terms of their inside-out attack. This group was very obviously outside-in. To be able to do it on a team that we know shoots the ball extremely well, and can give you mismatch problems, I think says a lot about our team. We’ve really developed and grown and we set goals for ourselves and these kids have really bought into the defensive end of it. To start out 2-0, it’s not a bad feeling. As you know in this business, you’re only as good as your next one. We’ll enjoy this one tonight, but certainly go back to work tomorrow.

On playing Michigan on Sunday…
They’ve got some really talented players. Kim (Barnes Arico) does a great job with them down there. It’s such an active rivalry in all sports. It doesn’t matter if it’s women’s basketball, men’s basketball, football, whatever, I think both teams and programs take a lot of pride in certainly protecting home in that rivalry. It will be a challenge. When you’re on the road, it’s tough, you’re down 10 to start. You really need to focus and do a good job on both ends of the floor, be efficient and we fully expect it to be a battle on Sunday, no doubt about it.



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