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Michigan State 66, Xavier 53

Dec. 9, 2009

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Michigan State Head Coach Suzy Merchant

On the job Michigan State post players did and attacking the boards...
I definitely did think that was one of the focus points. We really wanted to attack them. We know they're big and strong, but that doesn't mean that we couldn't score in there. We really just wanted to attack them that way. I also thought defensively, early we did some nice things, too. We boxed out which then maybe led to a couple of fouls for over the back, that maybe got them their second foul which then got them out of their flow. I mean, I think it was a collective effort. Our post really boxed out well and our guards were really in the mix, too, coming in and trying to clean anything up behind those big kids, because they are very talented. We expected it to be battle and a war, and I think hopefully for us, it was not so much about Xavier as much as it was about the second half of Indiana, when we didn't clean up the boards. So, we really wanted to get back to a place where we know we can do some things. I thought our kids worked really hard at making it happen.

On if she imagined the Spartans would out rebound Xavier by 24 rebounds...
I didn't think it would be that many. I knew it would be a battle that either team could win, certainly, but we knew that it was a big key for us. We had to win that battle some how, plus five, plus eight, something, but I'm surprised a little bit at the numbers. I thought our kids got after it a little bit harder and really did a nice job at keeping contact on box outs.

On Alyssa DeHaan's performance...
She came out really aggressively. I think she was a big factor for us on Ta'Shia Phillips because a lot of people have to double those kids, because maybe they don't have the size and she's so powerful, so Alyssa could really jump back to that left shoulder and get on that side of her to make her shoot through some obviously pretty long wingspan. I think it really got to her. Some shots she got away from us were pretty deep but other times I thought she really had to work for everything. I thought Alyssa was very, very big for us in both halves.

On the biggest difference between Sunday's game vs. Indiana and tonight...
Effort and details. I think we had more effort tonight, I think we paid more attention to details. We changed some things on how we were defending ball screens with certain kids against Xavier. I thought we had to do that on some shooters, we couldn't continue to do that and let them get away with some things. I thought our kids did a nice job of that. I think that's what it came down to.

I put a sign on their lockers that said `Effort and details beat talent every time.' I believe that. If you have the effort and the detail, it doesn't matter who you are facing. You're going to have an opportunity to come out on top. We really didn't have the effort and the details that we had against North Carolina, obviously against Oklahoma State, and some of the other teams we've played including Xavier.

On the minutes she got out of Taja Wilson...
Taja was big for us. I thought Taja and Jasmine Thomas, both off the bench, were real big sparks for us. Especially defensively I thought Taja came in. 11 (Amber Harris) was really kind of rolling there in the first four or five minutes and got away from us. I think she had their first six or eight points. We just didn't have a good handle on her, and I thought that we needed to get someone in there that had some strength to battle her a little bit. I thought Taja came in and did some really good things. She didn't foul her. I thought she moved her feet well when she was on the perimeter, she boxed out. She had some great rebounds. She was a big part of our success and getting that confidence.

On the difference Jasmine Thomas made in the game attacking the rim...
That's the one thing, she's got that great pull up jumper. She can really elevate over anybody. I thought that there were two or three times she got through traffic and created some things for herself and maybe even other people, foul opportunities. And that's one part of her game. She's just so darn quick that she can just get through anybody's press attack. She's so little when she's going through there too that she's kind of hard to find, quite frankly. We challenged her a little bit to get north and south of the rim and try and get a little bit closer, and not just rely on her pull up jumper. I also thought that three point shot she hit in the second half was a big one, too. I think that was a big shot because things were either way. I thought that was a little big of a dagger in the heart. Honestly, that free throw rebound she got at the end, it probably didn't matter much, but it secured a little momentum to end the game.



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