Oct. 30, 2013
Michigan State head coach Suzy Merchant
On Tori Jankoska’s play…
I thought she played well. The thing I liked about it was she was aggressive and played with a mentality that’s a little fearless, which is good. She’s a freshman and she’ll have really good nights and there’ll probably be nights where the ball doesn’t drop for her. I do think she has that ability to extend the defense quite a ways behind the arc and that opens up some things in the middle when we start to get healthy for our inside guys.
On if she planned on playing Jankoska for 32 minutes…
We’re still a little bit beat up. When you look at our bench we have two or three kids that are full-on scholarship kids still - Jasmine’s (Hines) out, Camille’s (Glymph) out, Maddie’s (Williams) out - so you’re looking at some depth there that we didn’t have so it’s nice to see some other kids get minutes. I want to see Tori (Jankoska), Branndais (Agee), and Aerial (Powers) get more minutes because they’re talented freshman and they need to get some experience early on. It’s not going to be that easy; it’s not going to be that easy every night. It’s also about handling adversity for them; it will be interesting to see. Sometimes I thought their body language wasn’t as good as it could be after mistakes.
On if Jankoska has set a precedent for her play…
Already dumping pressure on a freshman huh? That’s awesome for her. What Tori does have is a high IQ and she’s got a high skill set. She’s got to do some things better, especially at the defensive end. You got to guard somebody too; you can’t always outscore them. But I do like her toughness, her feistiness and her competitiveness. That’s always there. She plays with that fearlessness that you like. I mean there were some shots - I could hear the stands go ‘whoa’ - and then the ball goes in. I want her to play that way all the time. She has the green light to extend the defense and the new break that we’ve put in I think showcases some different kid’s talents and abilities, with her being one of them. Do I expect her to score 27 every single night? Probably not. But I do want her to stay aggressive and attacking and be fearless like that.
On what she liked and didn’t like about her team from tonight’s game…
I liked that we had five kids in doubles figures and we were a couple kids away from seven of those kids. I liked that we had 19 assists and we got to the free throw line 25 times. We had a nice combination where we shot a ton of threes as well, but I thought they were open and we had a balanced attack. We really did a nice job of driving and kicking, which we’ve been working on. We knew watching film that these were strong side helpers, so anytime we could get in the paint and get that ball kicked back out, we always take inside-out looks. I liked five doubles figures, I liked 19 assists and I certainly like 25 free throws. What I didn’t like was that our transition defense was brutal. It was absolutely brutal. Ball screen defense has to get better and I don’t think our rotation on drives were there. We had segments in the second half where if our offense wasn’t going, our defense seemed to be lackluster and that’s when your identity defensively has to come up and make a difference for you.