Nov. 11, 2012
Michigan State head coach Suzy Merchant Quotes
I was concerned a little about how they would handle people who got up into them a little bit. That's the thing that UTA stands out about the most. They're a one pass deny and really aggressive ball pressure team, so for those two traditionally in the last two years, that hasn't been their strong suit. I was anxious to see kind of how we would handle that. I think what ended up happening is we had a nice team approach to it where we would rail drive and skip opposite a lot. We'd get it into the teeth of the defense and we did a nice job of finding Klarissa or finding Annalise on the weak side to set each other up. I was proud of them; I thought they did a really nice job. Not only that, but they had 10 assists and one turnover between them and 60 minutes of play, so that's a pretty good way to start.
On Bell and Pickrel stepping up as leaders...
We just have a core group of kids who have been given the situation to step up. They have to because there's nobody else, so I think they're using that as fuel. To me, I say it all the time, `it's never the opportunity, it's what you do when you get it.' It's the chance, everybody wants to play, everybody wants to be the person and now here it is. Unfortunately, we're in a difficult situation with our depth, but it allows them to step up and see what they're made of a little bit.
On scoring by committee...
I don't know, but we might have to keep doing it here; it just seems to make some sense. We have a couple kids who are 18 and 19 in our guard play so that's pretty significant. I think the more balance you can have, the better; especially when we don't have some of those kids ready that can create their own shot. When I see it, I'm going to have to watch the film, but to me it looked like we had people creating shots for other people. Driving, dumping inside or driving and kicking opposite, setting each other up which we're going to have to do. We don't have a break-you-down, pull up guy. The one that can do it the best is Jasmine Thomas,; she can create her own shot with her jump shot. Other than that, it seems to me that we don't have that go to guy that we just give her the ball, put her on the wing and shoot. We need a little more of a well-rounded approach.
On the personality of the team to penetrate and kick off of transition...
We're not able to extend a whole lot defensively right now, with our depth issue. I do think we're playing pretty good team defense and gap defense; we're where we need to be for the most part. We do want to run. The nice thing is our guard play, if you look at Jasmine, Annalise and Klarissa, those three kids in particular have very high motors in terms of their output. They're not really kids that hit walls like other kids that I've coached. It's kind of like Brittney Thomas and Cetera Washington would hit a wall and you'd have to get her out of there because you know she needed her rest time. The thing about those three is that they're in very good shape and their high engine kids. I think we can ride them for that amount of time. I did try to get them out a little more; JT got five minutes throughout the game, KB got seven minutes. But to be honest, those are the three kids and if they're open in transition that would be best. They can get up and down the floor.
On Cara Miller...
She was really timid and nervous to make a mistake and she was turning the ball over a lot. You know, with her, she wanted to be a Spartan and we believed that over time she'd be almost like a Taylor Alton; just a kid that needed a little time to develop. She has a good work ethic, her big guard body, her ability to knock a shot down and extend the defense. She does some things well, we just thought maybe give her a year or two and now we're looking at a different player; you kind of build yourself into that. We're excited about that opportunity. When I talked to her the other day at practice I said that you can look at it a lot of different ways. In some ways as a coach, I feel like it's very unfair to throw her out there. I don't know if she's quite ready, but we don't have a choice. The choice she can make is to make the most of her opportunity and to be aggressive and air on the side of being aggressive; play good defense and take care of the ball. I said `When you're open knock it down.' That's her thing; she's a really good shooter and those are the three things I told her to focus on. I felt like she did that today. If we can get 10, 12 minutes out of her, just to buy time for other kids and spread her substitution pattern around where it might be KB, or it might be AP, and maybe get JT out of there and have KB run a few minutes at the one. If we can just get her to give us some good, solid minutes I think that's going to be extremely beneficial and very important until we can get some more kids back in the mix. I was proud of her tonight.
On how fun the game was today...
I think we've talked about trying to define ourselves and have more of a personality. What do we have to lose? We've got to be risk takers out there. We've got to know our stuff and be detailed and pay attention. But at the end of the day, we have to feed off each other. I thought that was a big thing that you noticed. We talked about if we need our sixth man which is our home crowd, which is incredible, you've got to win them over. Nobody is going to feel sorry for you because you have four or five kids that could potentially start or be in a rotation. They're here to cheer on their Spartans. Every one of those kids, regardless of their role or what they played in the past, they owe it to the people in the stands to bring energy and fight and I thought that's what we saw.
We need people to know we mean business and (Courtney) Schiff is the one I think that can start that a little bit. She's always been the tough kid. I really liked how she played and how she fought out there. I was a little nervous when she went down, but I was happy to see it was a tweak of an ankle and she was able to get back. The thing I'm disappointed about a little bit was looking at Jasmine [Hines] and Becca, but we've really got to look at that film. I don't feel like we did a good job of getting the ball inside. I think we need more than just getting them five, six or seven touches. I think that's part of the deal for us and we can play inside out, but for whatever reason, I don't know if it was the pressure on the guards, but we couldn't get good angles, couldn't get the ball in there and that's something that has to be evaluated. Jasmine's numbers were 11 and seven in 19 minutes; I didn't think she got enough touches and the same thing with Becca.