Women's Basketball Opens Season Friday Against IUPUI
Nov. 8, 2007
No. 17/18 MICHIGAN STATE (0-0) vs. IUPUI (0-0)
IUPUI: Shann Hart (Norfolk State, 1989)
SPARTANS HOST IUPUI IN FIRST ROUND OF THE PRESEASON WNIT
This marks the first time in program history that the Spartans will compete in the Preseason WNIT. The event, which is in its 14th season, features 16 teams from 16 different conferences. The season-opening tournament will feature a new format in 2007, as it moves from single elimination to a three-game guarantee format. Nine of the 16 teams in the tournament are coming off postseason play.
Michigan State will face either Evansville or Marshall in the next round of the tournament Sunday in East Lansing (game time TBA; will be announced Friday night). Evansville hosts Marshall Friday at 6 p.m.
Suzy Merchant BEGINS FIRST SEASON IN EAST LANSING
QUICK LOOK AT THE SPARTANS
A LOOK AT IUPUI
The Jaguars return Mid-Con first-team selection and Defensive Player of the Year Jernisha Cann, who averaged 13.3 points and 9.8 rebounds a game last season. Cann had 17 points and 13 rebounds in the exhibition win.
Head coach Shann Hart, who enters her fourth year at the helm of the program, also added six heralded recruits to a lineup that returns three of five starters for the 2007-08 campaign.
MICHIGAN STATE-IUPUI SERIES HISTORY
YOUNG SPARTANS LOOKING FOR HELP FROM FRESHMEN CLASS
QUICK PROGRAM NOTES
A LOOK AT THE PRESEASON WNIT FORMAT
Of the four quarterfinal teams, two teams will be selected to host one of the other quarterfinal-round losers in a single game at separate sites. This game provides the third game for each of these schools. This round will be called Consolation Round Three.
The 2007 event will start the first Friday of the regular season, Nov. 9. The quarterfinals will be Nov. 11-13, with the semifinals occurring Nov. 14-15. The tournament championship is set for Sunday, Nov. 18. The consolation bracket quads will be played Nov. 16-17. Quarterfinal-round losers will play their final game Nov. 16 or Nov. 17, at separate sites.
A Look at the Complete Field for the Preseason WNIT (2006-07 Record)
Delaware (26-6) Delaware State (21-13) East Tennessee State (20-12) Evansville (19-12) IUPUI (14-16) LSU (30-8) Marshall (15-15) Maryland (28-6) Miami-OH (12-18) Michigan State (24-9) Notre Dame (20-12) Princeton (13-15) Radford (20-11) Samford (18-13) TCU (21-11) Western Kentucky (23-9)
JUNIOR FORWARD Aisha Jefferson OUT FOR THE SEASON WITH KNEE INJURY
"Aisha will not be playing for us this year, which is pretty tough to handle," said Merchant, "but at the same time, it means that some freshmen are going to be getting some key minutes for us. (Aisha) does a lot for us not only talent-wise, but emotionally, she's our leader. It certainly is tough news to hear. Aisha is more than a player. To me, to the program and to the fans, she is what Michigan State women's basketball is all about. However, I do think we have some kids that can step up and will step up."
Jefferson, who earned All-Big Ten Freshman honors in 2005-06, improved her numbers as a sophomore, ranking third on the team with 10.4 ppg and 5.6 rpg to garner honorable mention all-conference accolades. She played in 67 games her first two seasons, including 44 starts, and averaged 8.5 ppg and 5.3 rpg. She scored in double-figures 20 times last season and collected four double-doubles. A natural leader, Jefferson was one of three captains named by Merchant at the beginning of the season.
"Aisha took the news hard, really hard," Merchant said. "I think that she was in the best shape of her life. She told me that she was the healthiest she's been in a long time. When I went out to see her (after the injury), she just told me, `Coach, it's done. My knee is gone.' It didn't look good when she did it. She's down, but she is a vivacious person that will energize us in a different role this year."
SPARTANS BIT WITH INJURY BUG
During the first exhibition against Grand Valley State, sophomore center Allyssa DeHaan exited the game in the first half with a sprained left ankle. DeHaan did not play in the second exhibition against Lake Superior State, but is expected to be back for Friday's opener.
During fall workouts, freshman forward Taja Wilson suffered a stress reaction, but has been practicing full strength since mid-October.
Over the summer, junior guard Mia Johnson, a returning starter, tore the ACL in her right knee. She is expected to be back in the lineup by the start of Big Ten season.
Laura Hall, an experienced center who earned three letters, elected not to play her senior season due to a lingering foot injury.
Last year, Lauren Aitch had to sit out the entire season with torn ACL, but she is healthy this season and expected to make an impact in the Spartan starting lineup.
SPARTANS RANKED 17TH IN PRESEASON ASSOCIATED PRESS POLL, 18TH IN PRESEASON USA TODAY/ESPN COACHES POLL
MSU is one of three Big Ten teams ranked in the Coaches' poll, along with No. 16 Ohio State and No. 20 Purdue. Oklahoma, who visits the Breslin Center on Dec. 16, is ranked sixth, while possible Preseason WNIT opponents Maryland (No. 4) and LSU (No. 5) are also ranked in the top 10.
The Spartans have been ranked in every USA Today/ESPN Top 25 Coaches' Poll for the last three seasons, dating back to the 2004-05 preseason poll.
Michigan State's first-ever preseason ranking arrived in 2004-05, as the Spartans began the year No. 16 in the coaches' poll before finishing a program-record second in the final poll. The Spartans were ranked 11th in the 2005-06 preseason poll and 17th last season.
In the AP poll, MSU is one just two Big Ten teams ranked, along with No. 16 Ohio State.
MSU is ranked in every major preseason poll, including CSTV.com (No. 16), Lindy's (No. 17), The Sporting News (No. 19) and Athlon Sports (No. 23).
SPARTANS PICKED SECOND BY MEDIA, FOURTH BY COACHES IN BIG TEN PRESEASON POLL
DeHaan had one of the most dominant freshman seasons in league history. She set the new standard for blocks with a Big Ten-record 145, a total that was the highest for a freshman in NCAA history. A consensus selection for Big Ten Freshman of the Year, DeHaan was also named second-team All-Big Ten for averaging 12.6 points per game and a team-best 7.5 rebounds per game. DeHaan gained valuable experience over the summer while playing for Team USA at the FIBA U19 World Championships in Bratislava, Slovakia, where she led the team and ranked second among all players in blocks.
BIG TEN PRESEASON COACHES POLL
BIG TEN PRESEASON MEDIA POLL
PRESEASON ALL-BIG TEN COACHES TEAM
PRESEASON ALL-BIG TEN MEDIA TEAM
Allyssa DeHaan NAMED PRESEASON WOODEN AWARD CANDIDATE
MERCHANT NAMES CAPTAINS
FANS KEEP ON COMING
The attendance for Sunday's exhibition game against Lake Superior State was 5,018, the second-highest exhibition crowd in school history. The Spartans averaged 4,885 fans in the two exhibition games, the highest exhibition average in program history.
For the first time in school history, Michigan State hosted the NCAA Tournament First and Second Rounds at the Breslin Center in 2007. Thanks to the nation's second-largest crowd during the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament's Second Round, East Lansing led all eight First- and Second-Round sites with a total 21,340 fans passing through the turnstiles during the three sessions of the four-day event. The Breslin Center crowd of 8,056 on March 20 was the second largest in the country.
MICHIGAN STATE IN SEASON OPENERS
MSU COACHING DEBUTS
Here's how Michigan State's four previous head coaches fared in their first game:
Mikki Baile - Jan. 30, 1973 at Eastern Michigan (L, 38-31)
SECOND EXHIBITION RECAP: MICHIGAN STATE 71, LAKE SUPERIOR STATE 52
The game was tied at halftime at 26, but for the second straight game, the Spartans dominated the second half. In Thursday's win over Grand Valley State, the Spartans outscored GVSU 42-17 in the second half. On Sunday, MSU outscored the Lakers by 19 points in the second half, 45-26, en route to the victory.
The Spartans shot 58 percent from the floor in the second half while limiting the Lakers to 26 percent shooting. Overall, the Spartans forced 21 turnovers and held LSSU to 30 percent shooting for the game.
Davidson's career high in a regular-season game is nine points, but Sunday she more than doubled that effort with 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting. She was 4-for-4 from 3-point range and 3-of-5 from the free-throw line.
Keane was 8-for-12 from the field, including one 3-pointer, and 4-of-6 from the line in scoring 21 points.
Lauren Aitch nearly collected a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds on 5-for-11 shooting. In two exhibition games, Aitch averaged 10 rebounds.
FIRST EXHIBITION RECAP: MICHIGAN STATE 72, GRAND VALLEY STATE 42
MSU freshmen Kalisha Keane and Cetera Washington added 12 and nine points, respectively, in their Spartan debuts. Sophomore Lauren Aitch grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds. Grand Valley State was led by Taylor Silas' 14 points.
Jefferson set the tone early, scoring five points in the first two minutes to help MSU to an early 7-0 lead. Michigan State, ranked 18th in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll, would lead by as many as nine in the opening minutes before Grand Valley State pulled to within 17-15 at the nine-minute mark.
Lay-ups by Keane and Jefferson would put Michigan State up 30-20 with 2:09 remaining in the first stanza before the Lakers scored five straight points to pull within 30-25 at intermission.
MSU would pull away early in the second half, as lay-ups by Jefferson and Washington gave the Spartans a 41-25 lead with 14:37 remaining. Michigan State took a 20-point lead a minute later and would lead by as many as 26 when a three-point play by freshman Taja Wilson gave the Spartans a 59-33 lead with 7:14 remaining.
The Spartans clamped down on defense in the second half, holding the Lakers to 17 points on 24 percent shooting. MSU shot 59 percent in the second half and scored 26 points in the paint.
Jefferson finished 10-for-16 from the field and made all four of her free throws. She grabbed six rebounds and had six steals.
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