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Michigan State - 67, Albany - 35

Nov. 21, 2012

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Michigan State head coach Suzy Merchant

On the ability to handle Albany’s pressure…

I was pretty worried about it just because they have so many different variations and forms of it. They can play their two-two-one three different ways; they can two-one-two you; they run and jump you. They can trap from a lot of different angles and places, so I was a little bit worried about it just because it really put a lot of pressure on our guard play. The other thing that we felt like is if we could get through the first round of it, we wanted to attack, because we felt like we could get some good opportunities in transition. I did like that in the first 10 minutes of the game. We really were aggressive against that pressure. I was surprised they stayed with us as long as they did. I thought they would get out of it a little bit sooner; they had done that in the past. As much as we were scoring, I thought they’d get out, but obviously they just settled into the zone most of the game.

On Klarissa Bell’s aggression…

I complimented her in there because I think she’s doing it at both ends of the floor. Sometimes you get a scorer who doesn’t defend very well; we don’t have to hide her. She was guarding their best player and I thought she did a really good job on (Ebone) Henry. That kid’s a really good player and I thought she was really up into her. Every matchup we’ve had, Klarissa has had to guard the best swing guy, in terms of the best scorer. Then she’s turned around, played the other end of the floor and had to be aggressive offensively, not only as a scorer, but she’s doing a good job with assists too. She had five assists as well so she’s creating offense, whether it be her own or somebody else.

On dealing with Albany’s Megan Craig…

We were really disappointed in our post defense in the first half. She’s a big girl and hard to guard. If she gets any piece of the paint, it’s good and I just thought she buried us too deep. She was turning to her favorite shoulder every time and that’s just attention to detail, being more physically and mentally tough defensively. I really liked our attention to detail in the second half and then we were trying to go at her for sure. We didn’t think she was a great shot blocker, which I know sounds weird at six-foot-eight, but her reaction time is not that good so we were trying to get our post to attack more off the dribble, reverses, or up-and-unders to try and create some space and I thought Jasmine Hines did a great job with that.

On the defensive game in the second half…

I’m not sure what was going on there. I felt like we were really concerned with their ability to drive the basketball and then get in foul trouble. Of course watching the men’s game last night and seeing all the fouls called in that game, I was pretty concerned about it coming into this one. For two days straight, all we talked about was how we were going to defend the rail drive, the north and south kind of lane line drive. They’re really good at that and so I thought we did, for the most part, a solid drive of defending. When they couldn’t score that way, whether that be driving a kick and we stayed home on the post instead of strong helping, which everybody does as your rotation, which is what everyone is supposed to do. We just stayed home, because they would just toss it up to the big kid or you’d give up an offensive rebound. I thought it put on a lot of pressure. There were many times where No. 11 (Julie Forster) would try to drive, we’d cut her off, and they’d have nowhere to pass it to in that dribble-drive motion offense. That was a big key for us and I thought our kids did a good job for 40 minutes of that.

On Jasmine Hines season…

I’m ultra-critical of everybody and I think there’s always room for improvement, but I do like Jasmine’s demeanor this year and I think last year she was a little more meek and mild, in some ways, really unsure of herself. I think this year she knows she’s going to play and she needs to go out there and do it. She knows her gifts and she’s doing a really good job. Her hands are unbelievable; she can catch almost every pass you throw in there, so she does a really nice job of that. Then she puts pressure on people because she is so physical, you can get in foul trouble. I wouldn’t give her a whole lot of credit just yet; I’m going to be honest there. I think she has a ways to go, but I think her effort and her focus are there, she just needs more reps. I’ll give you a 50-50 on that one.

On the three-point game…

I wouldn’t say we’re relying on it, but I would say we have kids who can shoot it really well. We do shoot a lot in practice, but against a zone, as long it’s kind of the right three. In the first half we got them off of a lot of driving kicks so we like to play it inside out, those are the kind of threes we really like. Annalise (Pickrel), a couple of hers came that way and (Courtney) Schiffaur’s came that way. Then they mostly settle into the zone and we still felt like we were getting it either short corner, inside, outside, or off of a skip, so we were working the ball from an inside-outside attack. To me, those are always really good threes in those situations. I suppose threes are streaky in some ways, but I do think we have kids who have put a ton of time into that part of their game. I think that’s something that is one of our strengths and we have fours who can shoot threes. As you mentioned, Schiffaur, but Becca (Mills) can, she hasn’t shot it super well to start, but she is a really good shooter. Although she didn’t shoot any tonight,  she is a good shooter from the arc so we feel like we don’t mind a zone.



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