Dec. 13, 2009
Michigan State Head Coach Suzy Merchant
On her teams' guard play...
We felt going into this game that our guards were going to have to win this game for us offensively based on the style that Florida Gulf Coast plays. They do a great job of taking away your post. Every time you saw us try to go from our wings to our post it was always some kind of a tip or turnover so we knew that we were going to have to open up our backside players. It started out with Brittany, then Cetera hit one, then Alyssa hit one and that's what we needed. We needed to show people that we do have shooters and we can be aggressive. I liked that mentality from our guard play and I think they did a good job of taking care of the ball as well.
On Florida Gulf Coast...
They're making the transition up to Division I. They were 25-6 last year and made it to the second round of the NIT. Karl Smesko does a really good job there. I remember when he was at IPFW and they ran this same system of five out. It's a little bit different because everybody is above the foul line so you can't really establish you help side defense. They bring your bigs away from the basket so it's either a slip and a two-point, a drive and a two-point or a three. There's not a lot of in between and it's really hard to guard. Defensively they do a great job too. They play man and it doesn't matter about their size because they're so good on the help side. The really dare you to hit shots and we knew that we had to do that and I was really pleased with our guards and how they brought that strong mentality out of the gate. What people don't know about them is unfortunate because Karl is a really good coach and you don't win 25 games and go to the postseason by accident.
On what she told her team when Florida Gulf Coast made their run in the second half...
I told them that I was displeased with our intensity defensively. We were jumping back instead of jumping to the ball and every time we did that they would either backcut us or step out and hit a three. We didn't play defense as well as we could have or as well as we played in the first half. In the first half, we were really committed to not letting them get their shots from behind the triple screen and in the second half nobody was moving or talking. I really felt like for us that it was our offense that got us in the flow again by getting our transition game opened up. That usually helps our defensive side of the ball and I think that was the swing that got our lead back up to 20 in the second half.
On her team's hot shooting...
We set a record for three-point shooting. Our best three-point shooter this year statistically had blown her knee out and had surgery on Friday so we were concerned about that going in. We have strength inside and our guards are strong but they were playing inside out and not taking shots along the perimeter. We knew against Florida Gulf Coast that you probably wouldn't get anything in the paint unless it was in transition so we knew our guards had to step up. I was pleased with our mental approach and obviously the physical result of knocking the shots down.