Dec. 21, 2009
Michigan State Head Coach Suzy Merchant
On switching between man and zone defenses...
They're a team that you don't want to zone very long. They have a lot of shooters that you want to get at and if you're in a 1-2-2 or a 2-3 matchup then they can really extend you and the two kids inside do a nice job in the short corner and high post so you have to defend them. We felt like what we wanted to do was get them out of a flow a little bit and disrupt what they were doing just long enough to buy some time and put a run together, which we did. They're just scary from the three point line; they shoot 46% percent from three on the season. So, I'm sure it was frustrating at times for fans because they wanted to see people help on dribble drives but that was the game plan. It was similar to the Middle Tennessee State game plan from last season where if you help into the post on the nation's leading scorer they're going to shoot threes all day. We really felt like we were going to pick our poison, we were going to let them go one on one from everywhere. We might have a first line of defense but if she gets to the rim you were on your own and your job was to make it a tough shot and not foul and then grab the rebound. As soon as you start helping, they have a very high basketball IQ and start pitching and then you start getting beat outside and inside and it can really crumble. It's hard for me as a coach defensively to be honest. All season long we've been working really hard on getting in position and working on backside help and for this game it was ok we have a one day prep and everything that you've been practicing on a dribble drive situation this season I'm going to take away from you. But that's the only way that you could play them. It's also tough to prepare your team mentally for that style. We played them once but it's tough for them to understand that this is 15 rounds of a heavyweight fight, it's not going to be a blowout situation. They don't play a style that lets you get away from them because they use shot clock, rebound and get everybody back. They do a nice job with who and what they are and a lot of credit goes to Jim Crowley, he's done great things at St. Bonaventure. We just decided to pick our poison and our kids did a great job of managing that part of the gameplan.
On how pleased she was with the execution of her team...
That was big. We're a team that has been in a lot of different situations. I don't know many Big Ten teams out there who have been tested with the schedule that we've been tested with, in fact I know there's not. Even teams that may not be in ranked the top 25; Florida Gulf Coast was 25-6 and postseason last year, St. Bonaventure came in here undefeated and is an 11-0 team who went to the postseason last year. So, even the games that didn't have high ranked numbers next to the opponents we've played in very challenging situations. I think they've exposed us in areas and we've been able to fix those things earlier than some other teams and that's been a goal of ours. We've had to fight pretty hard for every win and I like it like that. That's the mentality that you should have. It's going to be like that in the Big Ten and NCAA Tournament so you might as well get used to it.
On Alyssa DeHaan's performance...
She made plays. She really was aggressive for us in the second half. In the first half, I think she was struggling a little bit with a bit of a cold and that limited her opportunity to get up and down but Lauren Aitch came in a gave us some solid minutes. Then we went back with Alyssa and she performed. Those two were very big for us there's no question about that.