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Michigan State - 54, Northwestern - 45

Feb. 20, 2013

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Michigan State head coach Suzy Merchant

On her tenth-straight season with 20 or more victories…
Those are always important numbers and you know how important it is to get there. Hopefully, we continue it because we still have three games to go. But it is definitely a number we aim at for a lot of reasons. It helps your RPI, which is half made up of winning games. It is one that we wanted to hit, but we still have work to do. I was concerned about our situation from suspensions to injuries and other distractions, too. When you have distractions, sometimes the smallest things affect your team. We’ve had a lot of them throughout the year, so I am proud that we are 20-6 with a group that was depleted to start the season. I’m not happy with the way we played today, though. I feel like we got beat by 20 and didn’t play well, which is disappointing.

On the performance and leadership of Jasmine Thomas…
She’s been doing it. I said in the locker room after the game that I would love to go back in time and play with Jasmine Thomas. I would be the first player to chest bump and high five her watching some of the stuff she does out there. I would show definite respect and admiration and try to play to the level she was playing. That was what I was so disappointed about. We need more people jumping into the fray with that determination and commitment to getting the job done. Without Jasmine Thomas, I don’t know where this team would be. We would not have won the game without her. Sometimes you have to check people’s pulses. I’m not built like that, so it’s hard for me to understand kids when they don’t show emotion. I try to have a good balance of understanding that being too high or too low can be a good thing, but a flatline is a problem for me when there is a minute and a half left in the game. I wanted to see more leadership and aggressiveness. It can’t just be Jasmine Thomas and everyone else standing there with no response.

On the play of Annalise Pickerel …
We don’t have a lot of people on our bench that contribute, so we need everyone to step up. Annalise is one that doesn’t tie a lot of emotion to offense which is a good thing, and you just have to let her play through it. She has shown in the last few games that she responds after struggling early. I learned that about her this season and I feel like she doesn’t tie the emotion and drama to making or missing a shot. If she is open, she will take it even if she has missed eight, she will take the ninth. I always feel confident with her in that regard. She has proven that in the past and is why I stayed with her.

On the decision to start Becca Mills and her performance…
We needed size because Northwestern has a strong inside game and we really needed Becca (Mills) and Jasmine (Hines) both. Becca has been playing well, which is why I decided to start her. Jasmine Hines is tough and I didn’t think she played bad tonight, but she is capable of so much more. She gets a few quick fouls sometimes and I don’t have patience for her spin move turnovers.  

On the play of Northwestern having to motivate her team…
Their record doesn’t show it, but Northwestern has put some teams in tough situations. They scared me for a lot of reasons, because I think they are very skilled kids who can shoot it. We dodged a bit of a bullet tonight, because they didn’t shoot as well as they were capable of.

On limiting turnovers…
It’s been refreshing from my perspective, because sometimes silly turnovers seem to be so frustrating. We have done a nice job with them and had games with single digit turnovers. We are playing well together and keeping it as simple as we can. I feel like we have a good balance and our point guards are doing a nice job.



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