Nov. 4, 2012
Michigan State head coach Suzy Merchant
On Jasmine Thomas looking comfortable and going forward ...
We need more people at the guard position as you can see, because I'm playing post players at the guard at this point, but I think J.T. has done a really good job. The thing I liked tonight is that she turned it over a little bit early, and usually her normal behavior has been a little passive and she can't come back from it. She's probably too self-critical of herself, so I really liked her response tonight and thought she did a nice job for us. Will there be a dilemma? I don't know. At this point I'd take a dilemma, because I have no subs. You have five or six kids out; it makes it kind of hard. You're playing people out of positions, and walk-ons and everything else. I was proud of J.T.; I thought she was poised and had a presence, and she played within herself. When the ball got away from her a little bit, she stepped right back up and handled it.
On putting the past week in perspective...
You look at the bench and see five of your top eight or nine kids sitting there, and probably four potential starters when you look at it. But one thing it does is provide an opportunity for other people. And, whether you like it or not, whether it's the combination you want, whether it's the style of play you want to play or not--we have to figure it out and do the best we can. Hopefully we get some of those kids back soon. Right now we don't have a lot of people. It was a rough week--it was probably the roughest week I've had in a long time. I've had an injury, but I've never had a team that's had this many people out that can really play and do some things and bring energy.
Like I said the other day, we started the season with full court pressure and trapping. You know we were deep, athletic, long and could do some things, to now--wow--we don't have any guard play right now in terms of depth. We have guards, but we have to play post at guards. Annalise (Pickrel) is only allowed 20 minutes. I'm probably going to get in trouble because I played her 23. The doctor wouldn't let me play her more than 20 because she's really not 100 percent cleared to play. That says a lot about her. It was a rough week, definitely, but we just have to move forward. I thought the kids did a pretty good job since Saginaw Valley where I wasn't really impressed with how we played, even though we won significantly. I thought our energy level was better today.
On what you learned about you team from the two exhibition games and also about Annalise's performance...
I challenged a few of them, because I always say as a coach, `It's never the opportunity, it's what you do when you get the opportunity.' There are a lot of kids, like Annalise (Pickrel) and KB (Klarissa Bell) and Shif (Courtney Schiffauer), probably those three in particular, since they've been here, and they've played a complimentary role; that would probably be the best way to say it. They were certainly part of it, but there were other kids that were our go-to people, and that whatever we got out of them was bonus. Sometimes they did play a lot of minutes and other times they played a handful.
So, now that transition has happened, whether we liked it or not. It's happened very quickly and unexpectedly, but I challenged them a little bit. Those are three kids that in the past those kids have wanted to play more. They wanted an opportunity to play more. So, I challenged them, saying now if that's the case, you're going to get it. I tell Annalise, `I'd play you 35 minutes in this game if the doctors let me, but they're only going to let me play you 20. Do something now, this is about the opportunity you've been given and making the most of it.' I think they've definitely taken it to heart and I thought there was a few of them that really stepped up.