Michigan State 57, Virginia Tech 29
Nov. 18, 2012
Michigan State head coach Suzy Merchant
On defensive play...
I know we spent a lot of time on it. We worked quite a bit on one-on-one and personal accountability. I think any good defense starts there. You have to be able to guard the man in front of you and the less help you need, the better off you are going to be. We don't want to get into complete rotations if we don't have to. I think Klarissa (Bell) has done a really nice job the last two games. She has to guard their best player and their best scorer, and she has done a good job keeping that kid in front of her for having to play 35 to 40 minutes. I think defensively we do a pretty good job at staying in front of our guy. We're not a gambling team; we are up in our gaps. We are playing more of a pack style right now. We are making people shoot outside shots; that is our goal at challenging them. I think we have done a pretty good job of it.
On players' extended minutes...
You worry about that for sure. We don't really have a choice. Those kids are in really good shape too and that's part of it. It's not easy; we try and sub before media timeouts to extend their rest. We use Kara Miller with our guard substitution. We are able to use Mariah (Harris) a little bit. Becca (Mills) got into foul trouble, so that pushed the handle with Jasmine (Thomas) a little bit more. We are just trying to hold it together and I like the group that is out there right now. They're fighting. In some ways, if you know you aren't coming out, you can just play without any worry of making a mistake and maybe that is part of some of the success. You know if you miss a shot or miss a rebound, you're not coming out because there is nobody to get in there, at least at this point. Maybe there is a little care-free mentality that's been a part of it, but I do worry about it.
On the importance of playing in the paint...
We really want to score in the paint. We actually chart our paint touches. Even if we are in a spread offense, we're trying to get a piece of the paint somehow to create offense a little bit through an inside-out attack. It might be through our post, it might be through a drive and a kick. It is important to use because I don't think we are a great jump shooting team. I think we do a nice job of sharing the ball and that could eventually come back and haunt you, too. You want that team approach at the same time. You know who is your go to player and you've got to be able to have that, too. I like the fight in them and do like that we are having that inside-out attack.
On the play of Becca Mills...
Becca's biggest strength is her ability to extend the defense. Even when she is at the five, we try to utilize her that way by bringing her away from the basket more so than rolling her strong. She does have a skill-set down there. We're trying to work with her on being able to score with people banging on her and physical play. She doesn't always like that. She's got to learn to score down there a little bit for us because we need her to. We don't have anybody else. We do try to design some things in the offense that puts her on the perimeter for sure, because that is one of her greatest strengths is being able to play outside-in than inside-out with her size. The thing we haven't done a lot of is play Jasmine (Hines) and Becca together and that will come. Tonight was a decent match up where I felt like we could have done that a little more, but Becca got into foul trouble. We felt really good about rotations and I would like to play the two of them together more if the matchup dictates that.
On thoughts of Jasmine Hines conditioning...
Jasmine has really made some progress in the off season from that regard. The disappointing thing is she ended up pulling her hamstring and she was out the last half of August, all of September, and a little bit of October too when we started practice. A lot of people don't know that, but she was injured as well. She is playing a little of catch up with her conditioning, but I think she is fighting through some of that fatigue. We are trying to use her and Becker in situations where they're not playing 30 minutes. They're kind of more in that split mode, just because of that conditioning piece and trying to make them effective. Jasmine didn't make her free throws tonight, and she can make them. The nice thing is that if you don't make them, you are putting people on the bench, potentially their good players that play good post defense inside. I thought she did a nice job with her physical play inside.
On Klarissa Bell's offensive play...
I think her and Jasmine (Thomas) have done a good job at looking for their offense, because we need them to quite honestly. Some of that has come a little bit from the defense and their ability to defend and get passing lanes and some of it's just from one-on-one match ups. At Eastern Michigan at the half, they were giving her a cushion of about three feet, basically saying they don't think you can shoot it. We talked to her about squaring up and shooting that shot. If people are going to play off you, you can get by them. We were teally trying to get her to jab and `up fake'. When she was struggling in the first half, I talked to her about how she sometimes dribbles too much and tries to create off the dribble and that's not her strength, unless it's a quick grip-and- go versus changing direction. I tried to tell her to catch it and hold it and then try to jab and up fake and make her move from there. I think she is a more powerful player when she is doing that. That is something we tried to work on during the game. I think both Klarissa and Jasmine have been doing a good job at getting some scoring opportunities from both the one and two positions.
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