Spartans Return to College Park for NCAA Tournament
March 20, 2013
SPARTANS' NCAA TOURNAMENT HISTORY
MSU is a fifth-seed for the third time (2007, 2010), posting a 2-2 record. As a host in 2007, the Spartans beat No. 12 Delaware 69-58, before losing to No. 4 Rutgers, 70-57. In 2010 in Louisville, MSU knocked off No. 12 Bowling Green, 72-62, but lost to No. 4 Kentucky, 70-52.
MSU is one of 19 schools, including only two in the Big Ten (Iowa) who have qualified for the last five NCAA Tournaments [Baylor, Connecticut, DePaul, Duke, Fresno State, Georgia, Gonzaga, Green Bay, Iowa, Iowa State, Michigan State, Middle Tennessee, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, South Dakota State, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt].
Over the last eight years (2005-present), Michigan State has posted a 12-7 record in the NCAA Tournament. Its 12 wins are the 12th most in the nation and tied with Purdue for the most among Big Ten schools. [Connecticut 32, Stanford 29, Tennessee 27, Baylor 24, Duke 22, North Carolina 20, LSU 19, Maryland 18, Rutgers 16, Oklahoma 16, Texas A&M 15]
MERCHANT'S NCAA TOURNAMENT HISTORY
CURRENT SPARTANS IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
SPARTANS VS. FIELD OF 64
The Big Ten qualified six schools for the NCAAs - Iowa, Michigan, MSU, Nebraska, Penn State and Purdue. It is the second-most teams all-time for the conference (also in 1996, 2002, 2003 and 2004), after sending seven schools last season. Among other conferences, the Big Ten is fourth for most schools, behind the Big East (8), Big 12 (7) and SEC (7).
Marist's success has come on the defensive end, ranking 17th in the nation with 52.2 points allowed. They have held 19 teams to 50 points or fewer. The Red Foxes also rank 11th in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage defense (25.6%) and 24th in field goal percentage defense (35.0%). Marist has a balanced offensive attack with six players averaging over seven points per game, led by Elizabeth Beynnon's 12.2 points. Casey Dulin is the only other Red Fox in double digits with 10.2, also adding a team-best 3.3 assists. Beynnon and Dulin were both Second Team All-MAAC selections. Kristina Danella was named MAAC Sixth Player of the Year, ranking third on the team in points (9.3) and second in rebounds (4.5). Leanne Ockenden was the MAAC Defensive Player of the Year, leading the team with 64 steals and 18 blocks. Marist attempts 21.7 3-pointers per game, making 6.6 per game and shooting 30.4%. The Red Foxes are fifth in the nation in free throw percentage (79.0%).
AGAINST THE RED FOXES
MARIST NCAA TOURNAMENT HISTORY
MSU AND MARIST COMMON OPPONENTS
MARIST VS. FIELD OF 64
MAKE IT 10-STRAIGHT
Entering this season, MSU was one of 13 teams in the nation, and one of two in the Big Ten, to have won at least 20 games in each of the last nine seasons. Of the other 12 schools, Baylor (32 wins), Bowling Green (22), Connecticut (29), Duke (30), Green Bay (29), Marist (26), Middle Tennessee State (25), Stanford (31), Tennessee (24) and Vanderbilt (20) have joined MSU in already reaching that plateau, while Ohio State (18) and Temple (14) have some work to do.
Michigan State needed 26 games this season to get to 20 wins; it tied for the third fastest in school history. The 2004-05 and 2010-11 teams needed only 23 games, while the 1977-78, 1996-97 and 2006-07 squads also reached the number in 26 games. The Spartans' 24 wins are tied for the third-most in program history. The 2004-05 team won 33 games, while the 2010-11 team picked up 27 wins. The 2005-06 and 2006-07 teams also won 24 games.
ANOTHER STREAK EXTENDED
During Coach Merchant's tenure, Michigan State has a 69-33 (67.6%) Big Ten record. The win total is second in the conference over that span (Ohio State-71), while her winning percentage is 12th-best in the 32-year history of the Big Ten Conference. More recently, MSU has won 44 of its last 59 Big Ten regular season games (74.6%).
THIRD OR BETTER
BIG TEN TOURNAMENT WRAP-UP
In the opener vs. Michigan, Klarissa Bell led the Spartans with 20 points, and was instrumental in holding Michigan's leading scorer Kate Thompson to eight points on 3-for-14 shooting and 1-for-10 from behind the arc. Kiana Johnson chipped in seven assists. The Spartans were up five at the half, but used a 16-1 run over a seven minute span in the second half to pull away. MSU was efficient from the field, shooting 51.0%, while dishing out 19 assists on 26 made field goals. The Wolverine shot just 34.6% and were 5-for-23 (21.7%) from 3-point.
The Spartans followed up that solid defensive performance with arguably their greatest defensive games of the season. Michigan State held Penn State to a season-low 46 points, its fewest since Feb. 25, 2010, and a season-low 22.4% from the field, its lowest in over two decades. MSU trailed 16-5 with 12:41 to go in the first half, but held the Nittany Lions without a field goal for the rest of the half, closing on a 12-4 run to get within two (19-17) at the break. In the second half, the Spartans posted separate runs of 15-3 and 10-0 to put the game away. It was the Spartans' first-ever win over the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament and their first win over a top-10 team since Feb. 21, 2010 at No. 9/7 Ohio State. MSU had a season-high 52 rebounds, including a career-high 14 from Jasmine Hines. Offensively, Jasmine Thomas led the way with 19 points, 14 of which were in the second half.
In the championship game, Michigan State got off to a slow start, falling behind 33-10 in the first half. The Spartans would battle back to get within nine with 5:53 to go, but could get no closer. Thomas again led the Spartans with 15 points and seven rebounds.
This season, Klarissa Bell was a third-team All-Big Ten choice by the coaches, while Bell, Jasmine Thomas and Kiana Johnson were honorable mention selections by the media. All three Spartans earned All-Big Ten honors for the first times in their careers. Courtney Schiffauer was MSU's recipient of the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award.
REACHING NO. 700
Merchant has won at least 20 games in nine-straight seasons, not including the shortened 2006-07 season due to her maternity leave. In her career, she has 10 20-win seasons.
Merchant coached her 100th Big Ten game against Northwestern. In conference games, she is 69-33 (67.6%), ranking her 12th in career winning percentage in Big Ten games.
NATIONAL STAT LEADERS
Michigan State has held 17 teams under 50 points, the most in the single season (1973-74 team did it 14 times). The Spartans have also held six opponents below 40 points this season, second all-time behind the 1973-74 team (nine times). Entering this season, the Spartans had only held 32 opponents under 40 points in the first 1,124 games of the program.
Until the first meeting with Penn State (Jan. 6), Michigan State had held each of its opponents below its season average. Nine of those opponents were held to over 20 points lower than their season average. In total, the Spartans have held 28 of its 32 opponents below their scoring average.
LOCKING DOWN THE LEADER
CRASHING THE BOARDS
The Spartans led the Big Ten in conference games this season with a +6.3 margin. MSU has led the league in three of the last five seasons in conference games only. Overall, MSU is second in the Big Ten offensive rebounds with 13.6 per game, but increased its production in conference games with a league-best 14.9 per game. The Spartans ended up leading the Big Ten in conference games in both defensive rebound percentage (74.4%) and offensive rebound percentage (37.7%).
Against Illinois (Jan. 13), Michigan State controlled the boards, 49-22. It was MSU's largest rebound margin since Nov. 12, 2011 against North Carolina A&T (+36), and its largest margin in a Big Ten game since Feb. 3, 2005 vs. Northwestern (+28).
DEFENSE, DEFENSE, DEFENSE
GUARDING THE ARC
LIMITING THE MISTAKES
CLOSING IT OUT
CLUTCH AT THE LINE
BOUNCE BACK ABILITY
Thomas has done just that on both ends of the floor, ranking second on the team with 10.4 points, 3.1 assists (12th in the Big Ten) and 1.8 steals (13th in the conference), while ranking third on the team with 5.3 rebounds. Those numbers earned her honorable mention All-Big Ten honors for the first time in her career. Turnovers had been an issue for Thomas, maintaining a negative assist-to-turnover ratio over her first three seasons (160 assists, 183 turnovers), but this season, she has a 1.3 a:to margin (99:79), which is sixth in the conference. Over her last 10 games, Thomas has 33 assists and has committed 16 turnovers (2.1 assist-to-turnover ratio).
Over the past eight games, Thomas has stepped up as the Spartan offensive leader, averaging 15.3 points, posting double figures in each of those games. She has led the team in scoring five times in the last eight contests, including a career-high 21 points at Michigan. It was the first time in her career that she scored in double figures in more than three-straight Big Ten games. Her current streak of eight-straight double-digit games is tied for the longest in her career, set over the first eight games of this season.
Thomas has been on the floor for 308 of the 320 minutes in the last eight games (38.3 minutes per game). For the season, she is second on the team with 35.1 minutes per game. Her average is seventh on the MSU single-season list, while her 1,122 total minutes are eighth. For her career, Thomas is 20th at MSU with 2,987 minutes played and 11th with 129 games played.
Thomas is shooting 45.5% (76-for-167) from the field in the last 15 games. In her previous nine games, she shot only 20.3% (16-for-79) after starting the year shooting 51.8% (43-for-83) in the first eight games.
STEPPING IT UP
Bell's improved play was recognized by the Big Ten coaches when she was named to the All-Big Ten Third Team, her first career conference recognition. Bell has stepped up as the team's offensive leader this season, leading the team with 11.1 points, ranking 25th in the Big Ten. She also ranks among the conference leaders in minutes (ninth, 35.4) and rebounds (17th, 5.9). She is among the top-3 on the team in points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks and 3-pointers made.
Bell has increased her scoring 7.0 points from last season (4.1 ppg in 2011-12), which is currently the 10th-best improvement in Spartan history and the third-largest increase from last year among Big Ten scorers.
The Spartans' success this season has weighed heavily based upon Bell's play. In Michigan State's 24 wins, she is averaging 12.5 points, 3.0 assists and shooting 45.8% from the field, while in the eight losses, she has scored only 6.8 points, dished out 2.0 assists and shot just 30.3%.
Bell has set career highs in points four times already this season - in each of the first two games, pouring in 19 points vs. UT Arlington and 20 at Eastern Michigan, then posting 21 points at NC State and 25 points vs. Iowa. Her 25 points vs. Iowa were the most by a Spartan since Jan. 29, 2012. In the opener vs. UTA, became the first Spartan in over 11 years (Kristen Rasmussen at Cincinnati on March 18, 2000 - 22 points, eight rebounds, six assists) to reach at least 19 points, eight rebounds and six assists in a game, and also the first MSU player to lead the team in points, rebounds and assists in the same game since Lykendra Johnson vs. Ohio State on Feb. 23, 2011.
EARNING BACK HER STARTING ROLE
Her play in Big Ten games this season increased, finishing eighth in the conference with 4.3 assists and 2.2 steals, while scoring 10.1 points. Her 1.6 assist-to-turnover ratio in conference games, ranked third and her 35.0% 3-point percentage was ninth. Her production earned her honorable mention All-Big Ten honors.
Johnson has led the team in assists in 12 of the last 17 games (4.5 per game), including a season-high nine at Northwestern. In the last 14 games, Johnson is 23-for-56 (41.1%) from the 3-point line, after starting the season 2-for-23 (8.7%) in first nine games.
For her career, Johnson is second in MSU history with a 1.73 assist-to-turnover ratio, sixth in assists per game at 4.1 and fifth in steals per game at 1.9.
DOING ALL THE DIRTY WORK
Schiffauer has posted her first three double-doubles of her career this season. At Dayton, she posted a season-high 12 points and a career-high tying 11 rebounds; vs. IPFW, she tallied 10 points and 10 rebounds; and at Illinois she had 11 points and again tied her career high with 11 rebounds.
PICK AND POP
More importantly, Pickrel has become a threat from behind the 3-point line. She is 59-for-161 (.366) from 3-point so far this season, after making only 19 in her first two seasons (59 games) and shooting 30.2%. Her 1.8 3-pointers a game is ninth in the Big Ten, while her 3-point field goal percentage is also ninth in the conference. Her 59 3-pointers this season are currently tied for ninth in the MSU single-season list, while her 78 career 3-pointers are 15th on the MSU career list.
ADDITIONAL SCORING POP
Again a season-ending injury to Williams increased her playing time this season. So far this season, Hines is averaging 7.7 points and 5.0 rebounds, fourth on the team, in only 17.9 minutes. She also leads the team and is eighth in the conference with 2.5 offensive rebounds per game. Among Big Ten bench players (10 or less starts), Hines is second in the conference in points and leads in rebounds.
ON THIS DATE
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