Michigan State-64, IPFW-36
 
 
 

 

 
 

Dec. 16, 2012

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Michigan State head coach Suzy Merchant 

On addition of Kiana Johnson to the line-up…
I was just disappointed in my team today. That’s the first time all year I’ve felt a little disappointed in them, especially that second half. We were fairly sharp in the first half on some certain things, but it was like night and day and we can’t afford that. We don’t have a lot of depth.  We missed way too many lay-ups and free throws and open shots and you just can’t do that kind of thing if you’re going to win ball games. For that team to beat us in the second half is certainly something I’m not proud of and I’m disappointed in my team, that’s for sure.  We need a guard substitution in Branndais [Agee] a little; she was just starting to play. To know that you can sub in a guard now that can play extended minutes is a good thing, and to sub in a guard that I think has been through the war and has the experience and can set other people up I think is good. It was disappointing because I think she set some people up pretty well;  she ended up with six assists, but you know a couple of those guys couldn’t buy baskets. It’s good to have her back. Akyah [Taylor] is a work in progress obviously, she’s just going to have to earn her minutes a little more. Kiana [Johnson] has to earn hers too, but Kiana has been a heck of a player for us already. With Akyah, we’re just trying to build in a little bit and figure out what she can do.

On the bad second half being a result of the perfect first half…
I’d say so, but it’s just frustrating because you have to get better. We came out of timeouts and we didn’t do a very good job of matching up. We came out of timeouts and turned it over; we had nine turnovers in the second half, four the first. It was a little bit frustrating. I don’t allow our team to make excuses; I don’t want other people making excuses for us. I don’t care if we’re up by two or 29, there’s an expectation to perform and we just didn’t meet it.

On how big of a difference Kiana [Johnson] can make…
I think her vision of the floor and her commanding presence is good. I think her and Jasmine Thomas have done a really good job of that over the course of their years here. I think Kiana is more of the commanding point guard, where JT’s play is more of that scoring point guard. I think the one thing Kiana can do is get people the ball at exactly the time that they’re open and not that JT can’t do that, but I think JT has a little bit more of a scoring mentality which is good and she’s been great for us. I think that’s the one thing Kiana brings for us is that leadership and that swag a little bit and the ability to set people up at the right time.

On Courtney Schiffauer…
I’ve been really pleased with Courtney. She’s really playing within herself; she’s not doing too much. I think in the past, she pressed a little bit to perform and now she’s just playing her game, a physical game. In all phases, I think she’s been really good. She’s been really good defensively for us, she’s been boxing out extremely well and getting on the glass on both sides. She’s one of our best charge takers defensively out there. Night in and night out, she’s been a person who’s done a good job mostly as an assist person, especially against a man to man defense. We run a lot of passing opportunities through our four man at the high post and she’s done a good job of reading and setting people up. I’m proud of Schiff(auer). I think she’s come a long way in her four years.  This is her fifth year I guess, but she’s really done a nice job for us. We just need a few more people to play a little bit better for us.

On Becca Mills…
She’s done a nice job. I’ve said this all along, Becca’s really more of a face up than she is a post up, but given the injury to Madison Williams, we really needed her at the five. As coaches, we’re trying to put her in positions where she takes people away from the basket. It was a little harder against this team because she has such a size advantage and they were playing 99 percent zone if not 100 percent zone all the time. We had to put her down in there, but I think she’s done a good job of leverage, getting lower and wider and sealing better. I thought I saw that better tonight. She had a couple back side pin and seals that she hadn’t been having in the past and we worked on that for the late part of this last week. The one thing I like about Becca is she tries everything that you tell her; she’s extremely coachable and if you’re talking to her about coming off a double stag or defensively her foot angles or what have you, she really tries to apply it and takes it to heart. She really tries to make a difference on the court with it. She’s one that is really doing a great job for us. She was amazing in Dayton, had a great game for us and played so hard and did a nice job in the first half for us.

On the Jenison environment and the whole Jenison weekend…
I really enjoyed being a part of the Game of Change and the reunion weekend. We had a function and we had quite a few alumni back too. I appreciated the opportunity to be on the sidelines Friday night. I was extremely intimidated; those are some big guys. George Johnson said “Go down there and sub them,” and I said, “I’m not going down there, you tell them!” So I was a little intimidated; this might be the first time on the sidelines that I wanted no part of substitution or coaching. I’m not telling an NBA All-Star what to do or a seven-foot man, forget it. That was really exciting, just to watch the fans and a couple people that I talked to that night; so many people were really thrilled to be back in Jenison. So many tremendous players like Magic Johnson and Scott Skiles and Steve Smith; I mean you can go on and on. It was really neat to see the genuine, authentic excitement of the fans that were like, ‘we haven’t been back here for a basketball game since we won such and such a game in 1977 or whatever’. It was just really neat to see their excitement to be back in there. I didn’t know what kind of crowd they were going to get on Friday night and I was just blown away with the fan base on Friday and yesterday obviously with the concert and Coach Izzo’s team playing so well. It was really neat to finish it up here. The only thing that I’m not a huge fan of over here is I’m always cold, I’m not a huge fan. Because people come in the doors where you actually play so I’m going to go back to my cozy Breslin Center and not feel too bad about it, but it was a little chilly on the sidelines.

On what she wants to see from her team in Las Vegas before the Big Ten season…
There’s a lot of things honestly that we need to do better. I think there’s some things defensively that we’re good or we’re okay at, but we let slip sometimes. Ball screen defense could be better. We have a tendency to run to the rim when a shot goes up and we don’t tag out the people on the arc and the perimeter and you saw that in the second half. We gave up some offensive rebounds that we shouldn’t have and that was a little disappointing. I think we have to get back to punching the gaps a little more, putting the ball on the floor a little bit, driving and kicking some. It was a little harder tonight because of the zone. I thought we settled for the three some, I thought we got into that rhythm. I’d also like to see our guards step up again and get a little more fight and focus in them. I don’t know if that’s back-to-back games where our guard play hasn’t been as good as it had been prior to the Dayton game. It’s a couple of games where we got a little self-absorption; people trying to think the game a little too much instead of playing and just being instinctive. There’s some things we have to work on, especially ball screen defense and tagging out on the perimeter, our rebounds and tonight we couldn’t guard a drive in the second half and that was disappointing, but we can.

On Kiana’s mood and mindset on her chance to get back into the game…
It was killing her. She’s competitive. There’s kids that play basketball and kids that are ballers and she’s a baller. There’s a difference. It was really hard on her. I was really impressed with her ability to handle it though; it’s not easy to sit there whether your team was struggling or your team was winning because either way you’re not a part of it and she never made it about herself. She was really good at coaching on the sideline and she’d actually come up to me and whisper in my ear a few things like, ‘hey you’ve got a mismatch on Annalise [Pickrel]’. It was fun to watch her go through that process a little bit in her mind as a coach. She was ready and anxious and it was a long nine games. I was proud of the way she carried and handled herself. I think it’s just going to get better and better.  I think it’s just a flow and getting back into game mode a little bit. I think she got a little winded in the first half there; we don’t go up and down too much after all these injuries so we do a lot of walk through stuff. A lot of times I don’t know if we’re in the tip-top shape we were early, but we’re not going to get injured again and I’ll take my chances. I think that was part of it a little bit, but I’m excited. I think she can bring a lot to our team and she’s probably mad at herself, but we’ll get better and she’ll get better.

Senior Forward Courtney  Schiffauer

On playing in Jenison Field House…
It was really cool. It was definitely a different atmosphere, but it was cool to play in front of people who actually played there for real. It was nice to get back and do that for them. I think everyone really had a good time.

On the second straight double-double…
I did not even know I had a double-double. I am just trying to be aggressive and focus on rebounding so layups will just come with that. I am just trying to bring energy and lead the team. 

On the disappointing second half…
We did do better in the first half, but it is on us though to keep the energy up and to keep our flow going. That’s just something we will have to get better at. Personally, I feel we just have to learn to not look at the scoreboard or not care what the score says and just keep playing like it is tied the whole time.

Looking forward…
I think we just have to keep taking one game at a time. We have to work on being aggressive and have our offense flow better. We kind of got stuck on offensive things today. So I think we just need to keep focused and move forward.

Sophomore Forward Becca Mills

On playing in Jenison Field House…
I think it is awesome that they took the time to set up Jenison and have us play in there for all of the people who played before us to show them some love back.

On the disappointing second half…
It was a lack of energy and focus at the end of the game that really got us. She (head coach Suzy Merchant) talked about how it is the first game this season that she thought that we let up against a team. We usually just push through it. This is the first time it happened and we can correct it and learn from it and try not to let it happen again. 

On Big Ten season around the corner…
We need to correct our mistakes, especially in bigger games. We cannot have mental slips like that and lack of focus and energy; that’s one of the main things we need every game.

Sophomore Guard Kiana Johnson

On leading up to the game…
It was rough at first, but I was happy because my team was winning. That’s all I can ask is that my team just continues to win and hold me down, keep supporting me, and I’ll just keep supporting them and try to make them better. This morning when I got up I was a little tired. I woke up at like 7 a.m. and I was going to go back to sleep for like 10 minutes, and I’m like “what am I doing? Its gameday.” Then I just hopped out of bed and was ready.

On how she felt coming back…
I feel like it came right back. While I was on the bench those nine games, I was watching my teammates and learning where their hot spots were, what they like to do when they do it, if the catch one, dribble pull up, or whatever they like. I was just trying to set them up, easy baskets, easy layups for [Jasmine] Hines, Becca [Mills] and [Courtney] Schiffauer. So I felt like I got back into the flow pretty well, but its going to get better. 

On how she’s sees her and Jasmine Thomas on the floor together…
Well we did that last year, one and two, it doesn’t really matter. We can both play the same position. She can be the one, I can be the two, or vice versa. I feel like we match really well. She’s a great defender so I’m trying to step my defense up like hers so that way we can just be a heck of a backcourt.

On Courtney Schiffauer and what she does for the team…
I don’t think the fans really realize how important Schiff (Courtney Schiffauer) really is. She does all the little things, and you can’t win games without the little things. We need more players like her for sure, so I give a lot of props to her. She’s a great leader and I’m proud of her.