Nov. 3, 2011
Michigan State head coach Suzy Merchant
What are your thoughts on the first game of the year...
I always look at things from the defense side of things and I was pretty disappointed. I know that sounds silly when we turn someone over as many times as we did and with their point production. I just feel like we didn't play very fundamental defense; what we've been talking about. I felt like we just hit screens and that was it. We didn't talk through them; we didn't fight through them. We missed some key help situations, that as you go against better competition you're going to have to be able to handle. This is a higher level and you have to compete at a higher level and do some things better, but it's a starting point.
Some positives were that we only turned it over 10 times. If you want to compare to last year's team, I don't think we've done that too many times against anybody, so I was impressed with them and the poise that we had, especially Kiana Johnson. She had 11 assists and no turnovers in 23 minutes and led our team very well. I thought Jasmine Thomas did a really good job too. They're battling back and forth and we just need to figure out which kid needs to be on the floor longer at this point. So there were some positives and also some things that need to be worked out.
What do you take away from a game like this...
We really didn't know much about them. We knew that they had two really good players in the post that were returning and they had a new coach, so it wasn't like we knew what they were going to do offensively or defensively. Really, it's about building an identity, and that's what we're trying to do. I talk about that from a team's perspective, what kind of team are we going to be? And the second piece is what kind of identity are you going to have as a player? These games are meant for them to perform and the kids that can perform and do it at both ends and be consistent are going to play. There were some kids that performed really well for us. That is what I'm looking for.
After all the practice time, how nice was it to see all of these kids on the court together...
Instead of battling each other and our scout team everyday, it was nice to be able to get the cob webs out on game night. It's always a positive to get these exhibition games going. We're going to play a much better team on Sunday, in terms of their ability to shoot the basketball They have a transfer from Notre Dame in Kellie Watson, who got after us a little bit when she was there, so they are a talented team. It is good to get out there and get the season rolling.
How did you feel overall about the offense and rebounding...
I definitely was disappointed in our defense rebounding in the first half. They had eight offensive rebounds. I know a couplewere long, but I felt like we weren't finishing the job defensively at times. It's hard to tell, but our offensive flow wasn't great. We had a lot of easy buckets in transition, and that is not going to happen night in and night out. We didn't get a chance to execute as well in the quarter court. I tried to slow us down in the last five minutes and run some offense but it was hard, we were getting some steals, and that made it a little difficult. I'm anxious to see on film what our offense really looked like.