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Indiana 68, Michigan State 63

Dec. 6, 2009

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Head Coach Suzy Merchant

On the difficulty of coming off the North Carolina game...
It's certainly disappointing to start your Big Ten season 0-1, especially at home. We talked a lot about the North Carolina victory and how you have to get rid of it because the most important game we were going to play to this point in the season is our Big Ten opener. Quite honestly, being in the locker room, the players were admitting it. They didn't have the same energy or the same enthusiasm and excitement to play as they did North Carolina, and you just cannot do that. People can come in here and beat you and we can go on the road they can beat you, too. You have to have that same focus, intensity and emotional level. There has to be a commitment to get every rebound and hustle. Give Indiana a lot of credit, in the second half I thought they just outworked and outhustled us. They did everything in the second half that we did to North Carolina for 40 minutes. They got every loose ball and every rebound, and I thought our answer to defense was fouling. We did a much better job of containing dribble drives against North Carolina. We had really open looks in our own gym. I didn't feel like we weren't getting good looks. Our guards got great looks on the perimeter because every time we threw it inside, they would double team. It was easy to get open looks. I'm just not sure our guards were where they needed to be mentally. Some of them really don't want to shoot it, which is a problem, too. You can't just play one end of the floor. You have to be able to put the ball in the net at the other end of the court when you are open.

On the team's intensity ...
We had been playing with some intensity down the stretch here. We haven't had many lulls. From Notre Dame to Western Michigan to the Bahamas, I thought we were very intense. Then we turn around and come back here and have North Carolina. Those were five games in a row where I thought we had some consistency in our effort and our toughness. I sensed it before we even played today. There is only so much a coach can do. The kids have to get fired up and get after loose balls and jump up and get rebounds. There are kids on this team who were great offensive rebounders on Thursday and didn't even get one today, or maybe got one. I thought the difference was defensive rebounding in the second half.

On some of the different line-up combinations...
I was trying to play offense for defense. Cetera [Washington] is more of a defender and so she was out there. We put Mandy [Piechowski] out there and they just put her on the wing and gave it to [Jamie] Braun and that was what they did. You can't let them keep scoring if we're not getting anything out of it at the other end. We did that with Kalisha [Keane], too, when we brought her out because she had four fouls for match-ups with defense so we turned around and put her back in on offense. I thought we had opportunities at the end. Mandy had at least one good look at it, and I thought we had some good offensive rebound put-backs that could have fallen for us, and then maybe we could have fouled and gotten another shot at it.

On the play down in the post...
Certainly I knew with Allyssa [DeHaan] that they were going to be extremely physical with her, like everybody, and double her. That wasn't new to her or us. We've worked on handling post doubles for two days. I think the rebounding effort wasn't there. I felt like their energy level and their performance was where it had been in the last four or five games. In conjunction with that, I thought our guards chased down a lot of rebounds in the North Carolina game and our guards really weren't part of that today. Lykendra [Johnson] had one and Cetera had two in this game for a combination of three. Brittney [Thomas] had three which was good because we need her to be more of a rebounder. I just felt like we weren't chasing down rebounds when it even mattered the most. We got outhustled. They fought harder than we did and we played on our heels. The players talked about it, too. There were two or three people that they were trying to fire up but they were just in their own little world. It makes it kind of tough.

On the mental shift required after the North Carolina game...
I think that's hard. I am glad we are going away from it in the future, because I just think it's really hard to get re-focused on Big Ten play. You only have two-day prep and both of us were just coming off pretty big games. It isn't really about whether the shift is Big Ten or not. This team has to bring it every night mentally, emotionally, detail-wise. It just wasn't there. Even in the first half when we were up ten, I thought we were flat. We need a little more spark. When we play that way, we are a very good team.

On getting her medal before the game...
That was a surprise; I didn't know they were doing that. I didn't get one when we went over there, is kind of the story. They didn't have enough. So that was obviously pretty nice of our administration to do. I was resigning to the fact that I'd have my little certificate and a couple pictures, so that was very nice of them. It's nice to have that for those 30 days away from family and friends.



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