MSU Spartans
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Women's Basketball
Michigan State - 61, Michigan - 46
 
 
 

 

 
 

Feb. 4, 2013

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Michigan State head coach Suzy Merchant

On defense and in particular Klarissa Bell on Kate Thompson...
She's a tremendous 3-point shooter and then you throw in the fact that she's 6-4. I think Kim does a really nice job of running her off double stags and flares and those are not easy actions to guard and the more help you need the more things open up for their offense. Working with Klarissa the last couple of days, I said, `Can you play 40 minutes through that stuff?' And she's like, `Coach I've got it.' I think a big reason, at least from a defensive stand point, the reason we won this game is because Klarissa Bell didn't need a whole lot of help coming off and chasing double stags. She was there to deny it or get up underneath her.

On importance continuing the streak against Michigan...
It isn't about tallying things up, it's about this team is different than any other team we've had in the past. For us this is the last chance we're going to have to play Michigan at home with this group of kids. Our focus was don't let Michigan win on the Breslin court, I don't care how many times it's been. I really should thank the media for it; as a coach that's pretty good locker room material. I'm on the receiving end of that and getting them fired up. I wasn't a big fan of all the tweets and the blogs and the articles talking about how many times it has happened and I know you're doing your job and it's a statistic fact that is accurate and I appreciate it. It did make me very nervous just because they have five seniors too that play an extended amount of minutes. It was a bit challenging for us, but I did like our kids' focus. A lot of credit is due to Klarissa just to frustrate Kate Thompson.

On whether this was the dominating win they wanted to carry through the end of the season...
I don't know about dominating anything. I'm happy with a one point victory as long as we're winning it. This league is too tough, just because you're at home doesn't mean you're going to win. Just because you're at home against the team that has one more loss than you, you beat that team, it doesn't matter. It's just like the men's side, it's extremely competitive with very good players and every coach on the sideline knows what they're doing and can coach. In this league people are putting their best product out there and doing an extremely good job of it. I don't really look at it as a dominating win; I just look at it as a victory. We have a tough one coming up with Penn State, obviously they were very aggressive team against us here so it will be a challenge on the road.

On conversation with Jasmine Hines at halftime...
I stayed away from her. I've had a couple conversations with Jasmine Hines lately and she knows where I'm coming from there was no need to reiterate. We made the switch and decided to change some personnel defensively which calmed my nerves a little bit to be honest with you. We put Schiff on Scheffer instead of a true five which would be Jasmine or Becca and that helped a little bit because they're speed and quickness maybe got around Scheffer so she wasn't buried. After last performance Becca and Jas both had four fouls, four minutes into the second half. We have to get better there; I think we made some good strides tonight. There was not a whole lot of conversation that I needed to have with Jas at this point.

On rivalry and where it is at...
I'm a Spartan and they're Wolverines so there's a major, major rivalry and there always will be it doesn't matter. We go down there we'll be feeling a lot of pressure and heat just like they feel. It's anybody's game to be had. I grew up in this great state, I understand what the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry means. Any coach that's going to say it's not a big deal that just doesn't make sense to me because in this state it means something. In every sport; football, basketball, whatever there's not a whole lot of families that like them both in this place. Where I grew up there were a lot more Spartan fans than Wolverine fans. It's good when we win.

On whether the Michigan program is trying to rise to where the Michigan State program is...
I don't know. I think we've had a lot of good battles. Fortunately last year we had a shot at the buzzer to win it at their place. I think they've been highly competitive in games and it's anybody's game. It's been pretty back and forth for the most part. I guess I can't really comment on if they're trying to come up to our level. Kevin did a really good job there, those were some really good players that made a run in the NCAA tournament, and they won a lot of games. I think Kim's doing an amazing job of putting them in a position to be successful. Playing the right kids, I've never seen a coach set that many screens for a shooter. That makes me think I need to be doing that more. I've been really impressed with the tactical things that she has done. She is already made it better and she will continue to do so. I think that rivalry will always be there.

Michigan head coach Kim Barnes Arico

On the outcome of the game ...
Michigan State did a great job on us. They were even able to stop the runs and come away with a victory. So I thought it was a tough and competitive game early and then they made that run at the end of the first half and start of the second half which really opened up the game and we were not able to come back from it.

On the lopsided series...
I think Michigan State is the program that sets the bar, obviously, for the state of Michigan. They have a great fan base. They have a great following. They have a great program. They have a rich tradition and they win. With me coming to Michigan and the players in our program, that's really important to us. We take a lot of pride in our university and in our program and for us to be successful here is really important to us. When I came in, this is the program I look at and the program that has done a tremendous job in our state and that is something we are striving for and achieving to be.

On the rivalry...
When I was hired that was one of the things they told me-make sure not to wear green. At my press conference, everyone spoke about how we have lost to them 11-straight times and this is a really important game for us. For the first day on the job and for people to be making those kind of statements about this game made me appreciate how really important this rivalry is. I think it is something really important to the kids and the kids in the state, the community; just everyone. For our program and the seniors in our program, when they came in to where the program was to where the program is now, we have significantly improved and the culture of the program has dramatically changed. That's thanks in part to the two young ladies sitting next to me (Kate Thompson and Nya Jordan) and the other three seniors in their class. So this program has made tremendous strides, but it is a process, as I am sure it was at Michigan State at one time. We are on the right track and these guys have brought it to a respectable point right now. I know they want to go out and continue with the program moving forward. We have one more shot at Michigan State and I am sure that everyone is going to be excited to have an opportunity to play them at home and an opportunity to get better in practice. It is definitely important to us and a place we are striving to be. They are an excellent program right now and that's where we want to be.

On Michigan State's effectiveness...
The last four minutes of the first half, they kind of were able to drive into the gaps of our zone. Kiana Johnson and Jasmine Thomas did a really nice job of getting into the gaps and they rebound the ball pretty well. They gave themselves a lot of second-chance opportunities and when they were able to rebound the ball on the foul line, they went high-low a lot and they beat us on the high-low. They forced us to come out of the zone, probably a little too late. Matching up with them man-to-man is a really difficult matchup for us, as well. So that is why we tried to give them two different looks. I think we just have to get better defensively, whatever defense we are playing. We need to get better defensively.

On some indecision in the offense...
One of our weaknesses is being able to go off the bats. When things breakdown, a lot of times we are trying to get a ball screen, another opportunity, or another way to go off the bounce. I thought Nya Jordan did a good job of that tonight. I thought she would be able to drive and get people off the bounce, but I thought they were extremely physical. I think Kate Thompson needs to do a better job. I wish I had more time with her. I would buy her ice cream shakes every night to try and put some meat on these bones. I think teams push her up and out of screens and really do not even allow her to use screens. Every shot she has is a contested shot.


 

 

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