Nov. 17, 2011
Michigan State Head Coach Suzy Merchant
On the zone defense...
It's certainly something we thought we could go to, to create some energy. We hadn't showed it this year to this point but it's something that I felt like we could do against Western (Michigan) with their personal it fit. We kind of had a little wind out of our sails with Maddie (Madison Williams). I think our team needed a little bit more energy out there and to play a little harder. It's kind of a license to get some passing lanes and to create some tempo from our offense to our defense.
On if the slow start in the first half is going to be a concern for the rest of the season...
No. I thought we were playing hard. We were getting good opportunities. I thought we took too many 3's early. We have to quit doing that. I guess it doesn't concern me at this point. I thought we were playing hard and we were getting stops. I didn't feel like we were behind the eight ball. We just have to do a better job of not shooting so many three's early on.
On if she has to coach a team to have energy...
I think with the inexperience on this team you have to probably coach it and talk about it a little bit more. As you get a veteran club, they kind of understand the level that you need. We are in a situation where we are playing six games in 12 days. It's insane. We have a one day turn around for our next game and it's on the road. We have a lot going on. It is important to talk about the energy and the focus. Having the opportunity to use our bench the way we did tonight, I thought it certainly helped us bring some more energy. People were excited to get in there and make a difference.
On the loss of Madison Williams and how the team is going to adjust...
I mean first and foremost your heart just breaks for someone like that. She's a great kid and she worked really hard to rehab her way back and then to have this setback. She's a game changer. She's a major, major shot blocker and has some athleticism. You're not going to replace it. Do we play different? I don't know. We play different people. I think our fives are still strong. In the passt we haven't had as many kids there.
I thought Jasmine Hines was a huge bright spot tonight. She's really come in and just sealed and pinned and kept the game simple. Her hands are really unbelievable. I'm trying to balance out Kelsey (Smith) and Jasmine right now at that five spot just to see who gives us more. It just depends. It seems like lately Jasmine's just been producing in the minutes that she's played really, really well.
On how she counsels Madison again through her injury...
That was tough. I think the most remarkable thing is how she handled herself. She went down right away. I think she kind of knew. You kind of know when you've already had one. I think she prepared herself a little bit, she said. She was good. I think she was counseling us more than we were counseling her. She just said, I didn't do it as bad. It will be a quicker rehab. It's not what I wanted but I feel bad for the team. I think Madison's concern is that she's not living up to other people's expectations. She feels bad that she hasn't been able to perform for us as coaches and the fans and her teammates. I think she's a kid that really worries about not meeting other people's expectations which makes you appreciate her.
I'll tell you she doesn't get super emotional much but tonight, she came out and she had her uniform on and was out there for warm-ups. I turn around and I hear the door open to the locker room and she came in and she had tears in her eyes. She was like coach, it's just so hard right now. It's like the second round. I think it hit her a little harder because it was her first game having to sit there on the bench. The biggest thing is just to stay as positive as you can. There is a bigger plan for her. She's going to have an opportunity to pursue a post-graduate degree. She'll be as old as most of the coaching staff by the time she leaves here. Hopefully we can put a little weight on her too in the off season. We're trying to think of things to do to prepare her for next season.
On her bench's play this game...
Certainly I felt good about that. You can't rely on the same people, night and night out. So having the opportunity to go to your bench and have this productivity is certainly positive. It was nice to see Klarissa Bell out there, feeling comfortable and playing her style of game. I thought she did a really nice job for us. We've been shifting her forward and getting her back out there as I mentioned was a nice pick me up. The difference of Becca (Mills) not playing tonight as well as she has done in the past and being able to put Kelsey (Smith) and Jasmine (Hines) in there and moving forward to gain something was positive.