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Michigan State 71, Wisconsin 67 Post-Game Quotes

Jan. 30, 2014

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Michigan State head coach Suzy Merchant

On the way MSU was able to respond down the stretch…
We did do a better job executing. We had a couple ridiculous turnovers when we had timeouts and I thought that was one thing that I talked to the team about afterwards. Tori [Jankoska] had one off balance late. I thought Klarissa [Bell] made a poor choice there when they gave it back to them. We had to do a better job with that. We had some big plays. I thought Kiana [Johnson] stepped up for us in that stretch, too. We made some shots and we got some steals and stops. We did a much better job down the stretch than we had been at times.

On Kiana Johnson…
Well, it’s a team sport. We didn’t have her against Ohio State, so some other people stepped up. It’s kind of her turn to give back and I thought she did a good job - four assists, one turnover, and she made her free throws when she needed to. It was good to see her out there and contributing.

On second-half adjustments made during half time…
I was really mad. It’s just inexcusable to have zero offensive rebounds in twenty minutes of play. It’s not like we shot 75 percent from the floor. It is inexcusable and unacceptable - they were well aware of that. Second half, we came out in a zone because we couldn’t guard No. 25. To me, it was getting embarrassing. Enough is enough, I guess. We felt that our bigs should have done a better job with them, but did not. We could have stayed man and tried to double her different ways, but I didn’t feel comfortable with that because we have different people and different rotations. We have some kids who could remember that and some kids who struggle with that. We went zone, trying to pack it in knowing that at times she’ll have to be at different places and it won’t always be a power opportunity on the block. We took our chances. To their credit, Tessa Cichy came in and hit three threes. They haven’t been shooting it all that well from the arc, but you have to give them credit. They had to have someone step up and hit threes and that was her tonight.

On the struggle when players choose to play as individuals rather than as a team...
100 percent accurate. It drives me crazy. We become kind of one hit wonders. We’re jacking the ball up with no rebound coverage. We’re doing well getting the ball inside, but then everyone decides they’re going to become a one-on-one player. That is kind of why I put Kiana [Johnson] in - at least then you got one person that is thinking to run the offense. It’s frustrating and we have to figure that out, because that is exactly what happened to us in the second half against Penn State and Illinois. We were very disconnected and separated. It’s something we have to continue to work on. We’re playing a couple freshman out there, but that’s still no excuse at this time of year - our seniors are doing the same thing. We have to be able to do a better job. For example, we’re getting the ball into Becca Mills and we give the ball to Tori [Jankoska] on the wing to either give it to the strong side or off of the reversal and Tori jacks up a three. Those are unacceptable shots - she can get those shots anytime in the half. I mean, I love your confidence, but right now it’s not working for us, so we have to get the ball inside.

On playing Purdue this coming Sunday…
We’ll be working the next couple days, because we’ve got Purdue coming in here. They’ve got great guard play, they’re solid inside, they play as a team, they run in transition and have multiple defenses. If we play the way we played tonight then we’ll end Sunday in a way we don’t want to, so we’ve got some work to do in the next couple of days. We’ll find out what we’re made of. We have to do a better job and some of our kids need to do a better job. It starts with working harder than the team in front of you. We’ll watch the film and we’ll get better.

On seemingly better play on the road…
I think there are too many distractions at home. I was talking to [Tom] Izzo about it. They have so much going on - this person is coming to the game, that person is coming to the game and this buddy is there. There is stuff going on. I think they also kind of let their guard down. My message to them yesterday was to think about how we are when we go on the road. We know we have to be tougher and more aggressive, because it’s us against the world. Well, that’s what the other team is doing when they come in here. We’ve talked about it because it’s something that seems to be a little bit of a trend around the country. We have to step up, because Purdue is going to be angry and upset. They’re coming on the road and they’re going to have to be a little bit tougher and more aggressive. They’ve got great guard play and are really solid inside play. They play as a team and they’re veterans. Their back court are two seniors who are not only defenders, but scorers. We have to have the same mentality, toughness and focus on the road as we do at home.   



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