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Women's Basketball
Michigan State 70, Ohio State 49 Post-Game Quotes
 
 
 

 

 
 

Feb. 15, 2014

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Michigan State head coach Suzy Merchant

On the game not being satisfying, but how satisfied she is with the win…
I was happy with our defensive effort. I thought that guarding that dribble-drive motion was tough to guard, especially with Ameryst Alston coming at you the way she can with the power behind her drive. It’s something that we’ve been working on, but I liked that our defense was there tonight because that helps ignite the break on the offensive end. We had some sloppy spurts, obviously. I didn’t think we were as powerful in the second half as we were in the first, but we got through it. I was proud of our group, especially on the rebounding side and defensively.

On this being the first regular-season sweep against Ohio State since 1998 and what it says about the team…
I don’t get too involved in history things like that. I just feel like it’s the game in front of you. They’re in a transition situation with Kevin (Mcgruff) coming in. He’s trying to put in a system that works and they’re going to be really good next year just like that. I can see why they’re doing what they’re doing. Tonight just happened to be our night and I thought we did a nice job when we were down there in Columbus. We didn’t really have our point guard, our true point guard and they make you play in space a little bit. We have to kind of spread the floor with their random traps and when you don’t have the head to the monster, a true point guard, it can be difficult sometimes. I give our kids a lot of credit, in both the away contest and at home, that we were able to keep our composure and do a good job.

On if this was one of the times that they didn’t play down to the level of competition…
Ohio State - they’re a scary team. Down there, (Ameryst) Alston can get it going. Cait Craft was in double figure; normally she’s a role player, but against us for whatever reason she’s an All-American, so that was disappointing. I don’t know if you play up or down in this league. The league is as good as it’s been. You watch Ohio State going to Michigan and winning at Michigan, who’s a very good team and having a good year this year. You’re only as good as your next one, as they say. For us, I think it was about recovering from the loss at Nebraska and worrying about ourselves and what we’re trying to do and accomplish. It was nice with that bye [game] to be able to get that rest off and go play again. We need to play after that; we had a bad taste in our mouth.

On if the balanced scoring is something they need to be successful in…
I think most teams are at their best when they’re in those situations, but for us it’s been pretty true. I think what happened, when you look at the Nebraska game, we were taking the first shot available and not the best shot achievable. I think we have to continue to mature and grow when you’re playing three freshmen significant minutes and starting two of them. There is some maturity and growth that has to take place on the court and understanding time, score and possession. For us, I think we always have to continue to pass the ball, work together, have better vision inside and out and I think we did that tonight which was good because that’s what we’ve been working on. If you take away our break, we have to be able to execute in the court-on-court against man or zone. It can’t just be one pass and a shot.

On the way they push the ball…
That was something that we got away from. I shouldn’t say got away from, but something that wasn’t as good as it should be. I think we’ve been pushing it all year, but we’ve been up and down at times. The only way in our system that you can really push the ball and attack people is off a miss. You’ve got to get a stop. We don’t really cram it down peoples’ throats after a make. Hopefully we can build into that and do a little bit more, like the men where they blitz you and get after you on a make. For us, it’s really important off of a miss that we capitalize and put people on their heels and attack. That was an emphasis. We’ve worked on it a lot this week, with both Tori [Jankoska] and KB [Klarissa Bell] pushing it as our point guards and making sure we have good space and are running the rims.

On if she can remember a game where they had 43 defensive rebounds and 57 rebounds total…
I’m proud of the group. I don’t remember that, but I will tell you that we really talked as a coaching group to Becca [Mills] and Jasmine [Hines] both. I know we’ve got everyone across the board rebounding, but those two defensively were not as good at finishing the play and getting defensive rebounds. We needed to get more out of them. They set some goals and it was nice to see 10 defensive rebounds in their minutes that they played combined. They block out guys and they don’t always pursue. This week, we really harped with them and really focused on not only boxing out, but going to get it. Do your job; that’s half your job. The other half is to go get the ball. I thought they did a much better job, personally, and that led to better defensive rebounding numbers.

On if the offensive transition is going to determine the success of this team…
I think everybody would love to push the ball and get easy buckets. For us, I think when we have multiple people bringing it, that’s a hard thing for us to handle in transition. You get mis-matches and things like that. For us, that’s an important part. We’ve really worked it, as well this week, on the court-on-court transition. There will be times when they’ll just run everybody back and sometimes Ohio State was doing that and I think that was part of maybe some of the rebounding numbers. They were getting back in transition sometimes. For us, we have to make sure we can execute, whether it’s against zone or man. I think they did a good job in the second half of keeping us off-balance with that run-and-jump type court-on-court, half court thing. You can’t run an offense against it. You have to space the floor and make good reads. We were ready for it, but we didn’t practice a lot of it and they played a significant amount in the second half. To answer your question, it helps us win games for sure. I think we’re at our best when we’re in that situation. However, we have to be mature enough and focused enough to execute in the court-on-court, which I think we did a decent job of today.

On how they never take for granted the crowd…
No and we had Alumni Day today, so we had 30 alums. We had everybody from the early 60s all the way through to Taylor Alton and Schiff [Courtney Schiffauer]’ as well. It was nice to have a chance to meet with them and have conversations. I talk a lot to our players about that. There was a time when those guys were driving themselves to games and nobody came to the game and they’re playing in the upper level of IM West. Now you get to drive out in a charter bus, on a private plane, in front of that kind of crowd on national television. We have to appreciate where we come from and I think our kids really do. I think we have some humble kids that appreciate what came before them. It was nice to see that crowd. I know our young group really appreciates it too.

On Annalise Pickrel…
It was really nice to see her not do or die by an outside shot. She was back to really willing herself and her team to play at a high level. She did it defensively. She certainly did it offensively, rebounding and she had some great assists that led to some easy little put up layups. It was nice to see her have that energy and enthusiasm out there. We need her. She’s been a great captain and a great leader as seniors go. It was nice to see her come back after the last few games, where she hasn’t been as significant.

On Becca Mills…
She had five blocks. I think that might be a world record for Becca (Mills). I can’t remember the last time she had five. I do think that we have to have a post presence. We’ve been working with her to be more physical. I know she can shoot it and she has a nice face-up game, but I think she’s really been physical in the last couple years and this year in particular. We’re really working with her and Jas [Jasmine Hines] on leverage, trying to get people off balance, up and under. She’s done a really good job the past couple years with her back to the basket, which isn’t natural for her. Now Jas is all power, so we’ve been working on more finesse with her and with Becca it’s been the other way around, trying to get her more power. It makes a difference. When we have someone we can throw it in to, they have to worry about or double. We have some nice inside-out kicking and pitches. That made it easier for our offense.


Ohio State head coach Kevin McGuff

On Ohio State’s overall play…
In general, our effort was really poor. Michigan State played harder and they were the tougher team today, clearly. Specifically, we were really bad on the boards. They were really aggressive, and we didn’t have enough fight and push. We were really bad in executing the transition defense.

On the technical foul that began the game…
We didn’t get the starters in on time. We have an assistant coach who does it and it didn’t get executed correctly. That’s a first.

On Ameryst Alston’s overall play…
She got the ball in good places. We didn’t finish when we got shots. We drove in there to try and draw the foul instead of driving in there to try and score. There’s a difference. Then we got frustrated and quit generating quality looks. It really snowballed from there.

On Lisa Blair’s overall play…
Tonight, she played harder, so I put her in the game. She gave great effort, she was really good defensively and she was good on the glass - areas where we were struggling. Whoever is going to play the hardest is who we’re going to play.

On the officiating…
The outcome wasn’t determined by them [the officials]. If the outcome was determined by Michigan State being better, which it clearly was, then I don’t put too much thought into the referees.

On Michigan State’s overall play…
They played really well. They’re good defensively; they’re physical. The thing about them is that they are one of the more balanced teams on offense. I think that is what separates them from a lot of other people.

On Michigan State’s transition defense…
Well, they get a lot of rebounds. You can’t be a good transition offensive team unless you’re a good rebounding team. That was part of our problem tonight. We didn’t get enough rebounds to where we could get out and run. They really rebound the ball well and they just run hard. I know that sounds simple, but when you get everybody running hard and the other team, i.e. us, isn’t running as hard then they’re going to be an advantage.

On predictability of this game occurring the way it did…
We’re a hard one to predict. We have no margin for error. We don’t have a lot of depth. We don’t have All-Americans everywhere, but we can compete with anybody if we show up and we play really, really, really hard and play with toughness. We didn’t do that tonight.

On changes in the Michigan State team since the first MSU vs. Ohio State match-up this season…
No. They did what they did. They played well and they had great balance in their scoring. They did about what I thought they would do. We just didn’t compete.

On Michigan State’s freshman players…
They’re talented. I think [Tori] Jankoska is really, really talented. She’s having a really special season. She’s going to be fun to watch in the coming years.


 

 

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