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Women's Basketball
Michigan State 76, Indiana 56 Post-Game Quotes



March 2, 2014

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Michigan State head coach Suzy Merchant

On the state of the team heading into tournament season...
I think a lot of people are getting back into transition, so we're trying to work on our court-on-court execution. I think it's a little sloppy at times, but we're working on it.

On whether she could predict this outcome early in the season...
There were times I had some doubts. I mean, we couldn't defend anybody and that took some time to get them to buy in. A key loss (against IPFW) sent them to a place where we decided to be a lot better defensively as a group. We had to work at it obviously. Sometimes you have some setbacks that propel you forward into a better place and I think we were making really good strides along the way; it just didn't always come out in wins and losses. It came together at the right time.

On having the coaching staff be hard on the players...
I'm not a big fan of that. I'm not really built like that. I think this, though, is a team that does better when they work and does better when you push their buttons. You can't do it all the time, but I think they're a team that needed to grind it out and you needed to get into some of them. To hold them accountable for certain things, we started charting everything in practices, everything in games and it really paid off. Defensively, as a coach, I couldn't stand it, so I had to change what I was doing.

On Aerial Powers...
She has points, rebounds, steals and assists. She's a complete player and she does it in multiple positions for us.  I'd vote for her for Freshman of the Year and I hope everybody else does. I don't think that there's been a more impactful freshman out there that's helped a team win a championship than Aerial (Powers).

On the difference in difficulty between this year and the last with the injury problems...
(It's) harder. Last year, when the kids got hurt, they were out for the season. You had what you had. I kind of went through a lot of what (Tom) Izzo is going through where they're in, they're out, this kid doesn't practice, then this kid doesn't practice, that plus we've had some other adversities and challenges. It's just been a long, hard road, but it's obviously all worked out. It was a tough, challenging year, but when we started to click, I felt like we could do some really good things.

This was a challenge - meshing young and old, play-making grey zone kids with more scripted, more deliberate offensive kids, meshing them, getting them to defend. Some of the struggles we've had, injuries and off-court things, have been a challenge, but to their credit, they came together as a group and you have to give Klarissa (Bell) and Annalise (Pickrel) a lot of that credit.

On having balance on the team...
I hope it helps. I think it makes it difficult to play off certain kids. I mean, we can't double our post, because we can shoot it. These guys really commit to inside the paint and we have to knock down shots; we did that at times. We have an inside game. As far as things we have to get better at, there are a few of them, but I think collectively we have a different way to attack everybody that comes at us.

On how far this team can go...
I don't know. I'm just going to enjoy this one right now, but you have the Big Ten Tournament coming up and three games in three days. You want to be in the game the third day and then you're on to the next one for the NCAA. I mean, I'm not a big predictor. We have to do things right, so I never guarantee or look too far ahead, especially in the women's game. I think we're a really talented team that can make some noise, but some of it is going to depend on where we go and what our matchup is.




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