March 18, 2011
SPARTANS' NCAA TOURNAMENT HISTORY
The Spartans are making their 11th NCAA Tournament appearance, and eighth in the last nine seasons. All-time, Michigan State is 14-10 in the NCAA Tournament. MSU is 8-1 all-time in the first round, having won six in a row, with its last loss coming in 2003. The Spartans have advanced to at least the Sweet 16 in 2006 and 2009, and the National Title game in 2005.
This year marks the third time that Michigan State has been a No. 4 seed, the second best seed in program history, also earning the mark in 1991 and 2006. In 1991, MSU got a first round bye then lost to No. 5-seed Oklahoma State in the second round, while in 2006, the Spartans beat No. 13 seed Milwaukee and No. 5 Kentucky to advance to the Sweet 16, where they lost to No. 1 Duke.
Over the last seven years, Michigan State has posted a 12-6 record in the NCAA Tournament. Its 12 wins are the 11th most in the nation and are the most among Big Ten schools. [Connecticut 24, Tennessee 21, Stanford 21, LSU 18, Baylor 16, Duke 16, North Carolina 15, Rutgers 15, Maryland 14, Oklahoma 13]
MERCHANT'S NCAA TOURNAMENT HISTORY
This is the fourth trip to the NCAA Tournament for head coach Suzy Merchant, posting a 3-3 career record. She guided the Spartans to the Sweet 16 in 2009 and the second round last season, and took Eastern Michigan to the tournament in 2004. Merchant became the first coach in MSU history to take the Spartans to the NCAAs in three of her first four seasons.
SPARTANS VS. THE FIELD OF 64
Michigan State faced eight teams in the 2011 NCAA Tournament bracket, posting a 6-5 record. The Spartans had wins at No. 3 Florida State and No. 6 Penn State, and at home against No. 6 Iowa, No. 9 Purdue, No. 9 Texas and No. 11 Dayton. MSU lost at No. 1 Baylor and No. 6 Iowa, and lost three times to No. 4 Ohio State.
ABOUT NORTHERN IOWA
The Panthers are making their second straight NCAA Tournament appearance, after qualifying for the first time in program history last season. Northern Iowa won its first-ever Missouri Valley Conference regular season title this season, going 17-1 in conference play, and followed it up by winning the MVC Tournament to earn the automatic bid. UNI went 27-5 on the season and are riding a 19-game winning streak entering the NCAA Tournament. Tanya Warren was named MVC Coach of the Year.
Junior Jacqui Kalin was first Panther to be named MVC Player of the Year, after leading UNI in points (15.2) and assists (3.2). Her points are third in the MVC, while she is third in the nation in free throw percentage (91.5%) and fourth in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.7). Joining Kalin on the First-Team All-MVC, senior Lizzie Boeck is second on the team with 13.3 points, sixth in the conference, and leads with 7.7 rebounds, good for fourth in the MVC. Katelin Oney is the MVC leader in 3-point field goal percentage (43.6%).
UNI has been strong defensively, ranking 19th in the nation in scoring defense (54.4), 21st in field goal percentage defense (35.5%) and fifth in 3-point field goal percentage defense (25.6%). They take care of the ball, ranking fifth in the country in turnovers a game (13.7) and are 16th in turnover margin (+4.9). In addition, the Panthers are 12th nationally in free throw percentage (76.3) and 18th in 3-point field goals made (7.3).
AGAINST THE PANTHERS
Michigan State and Northern Iowa meet for the first time.
MSU AND NORTHERN IOWA COMMON OPPONENTS
The two teams had two common opponents this season - Iowa and Milwaukee. MSU split with Iowa, each winning in the last minute on its home floor, while UNI lost at Iowa (75-64). Both the Spartans (55-48) and Panthers (72-58) beat Milwaukee.
PANTHERS VS. THE FIELD OF 64
Northern Iowa faced three NCAA Tournament teams, going 1-2. UNI beat No. 15 South Dakota State, and lost at No. 6 Iowa and to No. 7 Iowa State.
BIG TEN CHAMPS
Michigan State earned its first outright Big Ten regular season title this season. The Spartans (13-3) won the conference by two games over Penn State. MSU shared the Big Ten Regular Season Championship in 1997 and 2005. MSU has won 23 of its last 27 Big Ten regular season games, dating back to last season.
THREE SPARTANS CLAIM MAJOR BIG TEN AWARDS
Michigan State collected three major postseason Big Ten awards this season, as senior Kalisha Keane was named Big Ten Player of the Year, junior Lykendra Johnson was Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and head coach Suzy Merchant was Big Ten Coach of the Year. Keane was also first-team All-Big Ten by both the coaches and media, while Johnson, also a member of the all-defensive team, was first team by the media and second team by the coaches. Senior Brittney Thomas was an honorable mention selection on both lists. Keane was the team's Big Ten Sportsmanship Award recipient.
Keane becomes the first Spartan to be Big Ten Player of the Year, as she earned the honor by the conference coaches. She is also just the fourth consensus first-team All-Big Ten choice for MSU, and combines with Johnson to become the second pair of Spartans to be first team in the same season (Kristen Rasmussen and Maxann Reese in 1999-00).
Johnson is the second straight Spartan to be named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, following Allyssa DeHaan last season. Merchant, who was named Big Ten Coach of the Year by both the media and her coaching peers, is the third Spartan coach to earn this honor, joining Joanne McCallie in 2004-05 and Karen Langeland in 1987-88.
Keane and Thomas earned All-Big Ten recognition for the fourth-straight season, joining Ohio State's Jantel Lavender and Northwestern's Amy Jaeschke as the only Big Ten players to earn all-conference recognition in each of the last four seasons. In MSU history, only three other Spartans were four-time All-Big Ten selections - Lindsay Bowen, Allyssa DeHaan and Liz Shimek. Johnson was named all-conference for the third consecutive season.
Over the past nine seasons, the Spartans have had 35 student-athletes earn All-Big Ten honors. MSU leads the conference over that span, with Ohio State second with 30 honorees. Under Coach Merchant, MSU has had a league-best 15 All-Big Ten selections.
Michigan State posted its eighth-straight 20-win season with its win over Purdue on Feb. 6. The Spartans' 26 wins are already the second most wins in program history (the 2004-05 teams won 33). MSU is one of 13 teams in the nation, and one of two in the Big Ten (Ohio State), to have won at least 20 games in each of the last eight seasons. [Baylor, Bowling Green, Connecticut, Duke, Green Bay, Marist, Middle Tennessee State, Ohio State, Stanford, Temple, Tennessee and Vanderbilt] Chattanooga (17-14) had a string of seven straight seasons snapped this season. Over the span, MSU has 197 wins, second among Big Ten schools to Ohio State's 212.
MSU needed only 23 games to reach 20-wins this season, tied for the fastest to 20 wins in program history (2004-05). All-time it was the Spartans' 12th season of 20 or more wins and Coach Merchant's eighth 20-win season in her career.
The Spartans have won at least 10 Big Ten games for nine straight seasons. It is tied for the longest active streak in the conference with Ohio State. MSU is 106-44 (70.7%) in conference play over the last nine seasons.
In head coach Suzy Merchant's tenure, when two numbers on the scoreboard were achieved it typically has been a sign of a MSU win. When the Spartans have scored at least 70 points, their record is 41-4 (91.1%), including winning their last 24 games, while when they hold opponents to 60 points or less, their record is 72-8 (90.0%).
LEADERS IN CONFERENCE PLAY
Michigan State ended Big Ten play leading the conference in scoring defense, scoring margin, rebound margin, steals, turnovers forced, offensive rebounds and 3-point field goal percentage defense. The Spartans led in scoring defense for the second straight season, the only two times in program history. It is the fifth time that MSU has led in rebound margin, and the second time under Coach Merchant (2008-09). The +9.1 margin is the fourth largest in Big Ten history. Also, it was the sixth time that the Spartans led in steals and the first since 2005-06. In addition, MSU has led in 3-point field goal percentage defense in four of the last five seasons.
Individually, Kalisha Keane became the first Spartan to lead the Big Ten in steals with 2.6 a game. Lykendra Johnson lead the Big Ten in offensive rebounds (4.6) and was second in rebounds (10.8) and steals (2.4). Keane was also sixth in scoring (16.3), while Johnson was one of three to average a double-double in conference play with 13.9 points and 10.8 rebounds. Brittney Thomas was second on free throw percentage at 87.5%.
BOUNCE BACK ABILITY
Michigan State has done a great job of bouncing back after a loss over the last season and a half, winning its last eight games after a defeat. In Coach Merchant's four seasons, the Spartans are 30-9 (76.9%) following a loss.
STEPPING UP THEIR SCORING
Each of Michigan State's starters are all averaging career highs in scoring so far this season. Both seniors Kalisha Keane and Brittney Thomas had set their previous highs as freshmen. Keane is averaging a team-best 15.9 points, topping her freshman total of 12.4, while Thomas is third on the team with 8.9 points, almost two points better than her initial season average of 7.4. Fellow senior Cetera Washington averaged 3.0 points as a freshman and sophomore, and is putting up 5.5 a game this season. Junior Lykendra Johnson (11.9 a game) is more than three points better than her 8.8 point per game average from last year. Junior Taylor Alton, who started her first career game 13 games ago at Indiana, is averaging 5.9 points, more than four times as many as her previous high of 1.4, set as a freshman. Junior Porsche Poole, who started 10 games earlier this season and is typically the first player off the bench, has also shown improvement in each of her three seasons, going from 3.8 to 4.6 to this season's 6.4.
LOCKING DOWN THE PERIMETER
Over the last six games, Michigan State has held teams to 7-of-64 (10.9%) from 3-point range. The Spartans currently lead the Big Ten and are 11th in the nation in 3-point field goal defense, holding teams to 26.9%. MSU has led the Big Ten in conference games in 3-point field goal percentage defense in four of the last five seasons, including this season's 29.5%.
FAILING TO PUT IT IN THE BUCKET
In MSU's five losses this season (three of which were on the road to ranked opponents), the Spartans have had a collective poor shooting effort compared to their normal output. In those five games, Michigan State is shooting only 32.1% from the field and 19.6% from the 3-point line for 55.8 points per game, compared to 43.1% from the field, 34.8% from behind the arc and 69.8 points per game in its 26 wins.
CRASHING THE BOARDS
Michigan State leads the Big Ten in rebound margin and both rebound percentage categories. MSU is +8.5 in rebound margin, which is also 11th in the nation. The +8.5 margin is on pace to top the program single-season record of +7.7 set in 2002-03. The Spartans also lead in both percentage categories by a wide margin, grabbing 72.3% of defensive rebound opportunities and 41.1% of all offensive rebound chances. In all, MSU is tops with 15.6 offensive rebounds a game, which is on pace to break the current MSU single-season record (15.5 in 2005-06).
The Spartans led the Big Ten in conference only games with a +9.1 rebound margin, the fourth largest margin in Big Ten history. MSU has led the conference in rebound margin five times, and twice in the last three seasons (2008-09).
MSU was even on the boards at Minnesota in the regular season finale, snapping a streak of 14 games where the Spartans out-rebounded their opponent. MSU has out-rebounded 22 of its last 24 opponents. The Spartans have controlled the offensive boards over the last 17 games with a 16.0-7.9 edge per game in offensive rebounds, including a 245-105 advantage on second chance points.
CRASHING THE BOARDS - LJ EDITION
Junior Lykendra Johnson led MSU in rebounds in the first 12 Big Ten contest, and 13 times overall in 16 Big Ten games. Johnson finished second in the Big Ten in conference games with 10.8 a game average and is currently fifth overall with 8.9. She also leads the conference in offensive rebounds in overall games (4.0) and led in Big Ten contests (4.6).
Johnson's rebounding production per 40 minutes was even more impressive, leading the conference in Big Ten games with a 14.3 average, and second overall at 13.2 (Penn State's Nikki Greene - 14.1).
Johnson moved into the top-10 on the MSU career rebounding list on Jan. 20 despite being only a junior. She is currently eighth with 726 rebounds. In terms of offensive rebounds, she is at an even quicker pace up the Spartan all-time charts. Since the stat began being recorded in 1986-87, Johnson has the fourth most offensive rebounds all-time (294) and her 3.0 a game average is second to Liz Shimek (3.4). Her 123 offensive rebounds so far this season are second on the MSU single-season list, only eight behind Liz Shimek's record set in 2004-05.
Johnson has three times set her career high this season with 17 rebounds, first at Michigan (Jan. 9), then in the last meeting vs. Minnesota (Jan. 23), and most recently on Thursday vs. Ohio State. The 17 rebounds were the most by a Spartan since Allyssa DeHaan grabbed 18 vs. Cal State Northridge on Dec. 22, 2006. In the Michigan game, she also grabbed 10 offensive rebounds. The 10 offensive boards were the second most in program history (the stat began being recorded in 1986-87) and the most since March 16, 2002.
Senior Kalisha Keane will end her Spartan career as one of the most multi-dimensional players in Big Ten history. During the Big Ten Tournament, Keane became just the ninth player in conference history with 1,500 points, 600 rebounds, 250 assists and 250 steals. Keane joined Iowa's Franthea Price (1987-90), Minnesota's Janel McCarville (2002-05), Ohio State's Tracey Hall (1985-88), Penn State's Tanisha Wright (2002-05), Purdue's Katie Douglas (1998-01), Stephanie White (1996-99) and Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton (2005-09), and Wisconsin's Tamara Moore (1999-01).
Currently, Keane is the only active Big Ten student-athlete to have surpassed 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 200 assists and 200 steals in their career. She is fourth among active conference players in points, seventh in rebounds, fourth in assists and first in steals. Keane and Kristin Haynie are the only two Spartans to have reached those career numbers.
COMPLETE LOCK DOWN
In the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament, Michigan State held Northwestern to 25 points, the sixth fewest points allowed in a single game in MSU history. It was the fewest since Jan. 30, 1975, well before the 3-point line was implemented for the 1987-88 season. The total was also the fewest in the 17-year history of the Big Ten Tournament. The previous record was 37, scored by Michigan against Iowa in 2008.
The 2011 Spartan senior class is already one of the top-5 winnningest classes in MSU history. They currently have 94 wins, the fourth most all-time. The 2008 seniors hold the record with 104, followed by the 2007 class (103) and the 2006 class (96).
Keane has a chance to become Michigan State's all-time leader in games played this week. She is currently tied for fourth with 134 games played, trailing Allyssa DeHaan (136) by two games. Washington is currently tied for sixth all-time with 133 games played
Senior Kalisha Keane was one of 20 student-athletes announced to the final 2011 John R. Wooden Award ballot on Monday. The Wooden Award is the most prestigious individual honor in college basketball. It is bestowed upon the nation's best player who is making progress toward graduation and maintaining a minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA. Keane was one of three Big Ten student-athletes on the list, joining Ohio State's Jantel Lavender and Northwestern's Amy Jaeschke. The 35th annual Wooden Award ceremony, which will include the announcement of the men's and women's Wooden Award winners, will take place April 8. The Wooden Award Men's and Women's All American Teams will be announced the week of the "Elite Eight" round during the NCAA Tournament.
GOING OFF FOR 20
Kalisha Keane had her ninth 20-point game of the season at Illinois on Feb. 20 with 27 points. She has the eighth most 20-point games in a single season at MSU and is sixth in the Big Ten this season. Her 28 points at Wisconsin (Feb. 3) were the most by a Spartan in a Big Ten game since Vnemina Reese scored 28 points at Minnesota on Feb. 24, 2002.
Earlier this season, Keane scored at least 20 points in three straight games - Richmond, Florida State, Texas. She was the first Spartan since Liz Shimek during the 2005-06 season, when she had four consecutive from Feb. 23 - March 18, to accomplish the feat. Keane now has 17 20-point games in her Spartan career.
The success of the Spartans this season has, for the most part, hinged on having junior Lykendra Johnson on the floor. In Big Ten games, MSU was +187 in the 483 minutes she has been on the floor, but -49 in the 162 minutes she was on the bench. It was most evident in the regular season finale at Minnesota, where the Spartans were +29 in her 18 minutes, but -15 in the other 22 minutes. The senior duo of Kalisha Keane (+128) and Brittney Thomas (+127) were the closest to Johnson in plus-minus during conference play.
BIG SHOT KAL
Fellow senior Cetera Washington tabbed Kalisha Keane as "Big Shot Kal" after her heroics earlier this season. Keane, who is seventh in the Big Ten in scoring at 15.9 per game, hit the game-winning 3-pointer with 0.5 seconds left to beat No. 16 Iowa, 63-60 on Jan. 13 and three weeks later forced overtime at Wisconsin (Feb. 3) with a 3-pointer with 12.9 seconds left capping a 16-4 run to close regulation.
FILLING THE STAT SHEET
Junior Lykendra Johnson has been a do-it-all for the Spartans this season, and has increased her production in Big Ten play. In conference games, Johnson and Illinois' Karisma Penn were the only two players to rank among the conference leaders in points, rebounds, steals and blocks. Johnson led MSU in Big Ten games with 10.8 rebounds (second in Big Ten), 2.4 steals (second in the conference), 1.6 blocks (seventh in league), 4.6 offensive rebounds (led the conference) and a 47.0 field goal percentage (ninth in Big Ten). She was one of three Big Ten players to average a double-double, also adding 13.9 points, which was second on the team and 13th in the league. Johnson had seven double-doubles in Big Ten games, tied for the third most in the conference.
Leading the Spartans from the foul line is senior Brittney Thomas, ranking fifth in the conference at 84.7%. Thomas has made 41 of her last 44 (93.2%) over the last 16 games, including a school record 14-of-15 vs. Purdue on Feb. 6. She ended Big Ten play second in the conference at 87.5%.
The current Spartans have combined to go 25-for-27 (92.6%) from the foul line in NCAA games over the last two seasons.
Michigan State leads the Big Ten with 10.3 steals per game, and have three Spartans among the top-11 individually in the conference rankings. Lykendra Johnson paces the Big Ten and is tied for 49th nationally with 2.5 a game. Kalisha Keane is second with 2.4 and Brittney Thomas is tied for 11th with 1.7. MSU is also second in turnover margin (+2.2) and leads the conference turnovers forced (19.6).
MSU wrapped up Big Ten play, leading the conference with 9.3 steals. It was the sixth time that the Spartans led in steals and the first since 2005-06. Individually, Kalisha Keane became the first Spartan to lead the Big Ten in steals with 2.6 a game. Johnson was tied for second at 2.4.
So far this season, three Spartans have grabbed eight or more steals in a game. Lykendra Johnson picked up nine at Florida State, tying for the second most in program history. Johnson grabbed eight at Penn State last Thursday and Thomas also had eight vs. Texas, as both are tied for sixth on the MSU single-game list.
CONNECTING FROM DOWNTOWN
The Spartans have made 207 3-pointers so far this season, setting a new program single-season record. The previous record was 176 set in 2004-05. 12 different Spartans have hit a 3-pointer so far, led by 65 from senior Kalisha Keane, which ranks her fourth in the conference and sixth on the MSU single-season list.
Michigan State tied the school record for 3-pointers in a game with 13 against Iona on Dec. 12. The previous record was set last year against Florida Gulf Coast (Dec. 13). Against Iona, 10 different Spartans hit a 3-pointer, the MSU single game record.
MSU already has seven games this season where it has made 10 or more 3-pointers, setting a new single-season record. Since the line was put in prior to the 1987-88 season, Spartan teams have only made at least 10 3-pointers in a game nine times before this season. The 2000-01 and 2009-10 teams each accomplished the feat twice in a season, while the 1992-93, 1996-97, 1998-99, 2003-04 and 2006-07 teams did it once.
MSU combined for 24 made 3-pointers in back-to-back games against Iona and Dartmouth. The 24 makes are the most in a two-game span in program history, breaking the record set earlier this season on two occasions.
SPARK BEHIND THE ARC
Junior Taylor Alton is ninth in the Big Ten in 3-point field goal percentage at 36.6% (41-of-112). She entered the season making only 19.0% (4-of-21) of her 3-pointers as a freshman and sophomore. Alton, who started her first career game 13 games ago at Indiana (Jan. 20), has hit multiple 3-pointers in 11 games this season, including at least three on six occasions.
AMONG SPARTAN GREATS
Senior Kalisha Keane moved into the top-10 on the Spartan career points list on Dec. 10 and is currently seventh all-time with 1,516. Keane is also second in steals (255), third in 3-point field goals made (177), fourth in games played (134), seventh in minutes played (3,574), ninth in field goals made (546) and free throw percentage (79.4%), 12th in games started (93), 13th in assists (291) and free throws made (247), 14th in 3-point field goal percentage (32.4%), 18th in rebounds (613) and 19th in blocks (43).
Classmate Brittney Thomas moved into the top-5 in career assists at MSU vs. Northwestern (Feb. 17), and is fifth all-time with 394 assists. Her 394 career assists are second among active conference student-athletes, trailing Ohio State's Samantha Prahalis. Thomas is also fourth all-time in 3,952 minutes played, fifth with 120 games started and eighth with 197 steals. Keane and Thomas are the top-two active career steal leaders in the Big Ten with 255 and 197, respectively.
KEANE ADDED TO WADE WATCH LIST
Senior Kalisha Keane was added to the 2010-11 State Farm Wade Watch list, announced by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) on Feb. 2. State Farm and the Wade Trophy Coalition each year present The State Farm Wade Trophy to the nation's most outstanding player, who "not only excels athletically but also serves as a positive role model both on and off the court." The list now consists of 32 players selected on the basis of game and season statistics, leadership, character, effect on their team and overall playing ability. The Wade Watch list will be trimmed to 12 finalists in mid-March.
LET'S PLAY MORE TIME
The Spartans have relished playing extra time over the past eight seasons. On Feb. 3 at Wisconsin, MSU won its 14th straight overtime game, dating back to the 2003-04 season. The streak is the longest such run among Big Ten schools. Surprisingly, only two of the 14 wins have come at home. MSU's last overtime loss came on Feb. 28, 2002 against Ohio State, 89-82, in the Big Ten Tournament.
A WINNING START
Head coach Suzy Merchant, who won the most games by a Spartan coach over their first four seasons, is 94-40 (.701) since her arrival prior to the 2007-08 season. All-time, Merchant is 295-160 (.648) in her 16 years as a head coach, including stops at Eastern Michigan (1998-07) and Saginaw Valley State (1995-98).
ON THIS DATE
Michigan State is 2-1 all-time on March 20, all within the last five years. Last year, MSU beat Bowling Green in the first round. The Spartans beat Kentucky in the 2006 NCAA Second Round in Chicago and lost to Rutgers in the second round the next year in Breslin.