Nov. 9, 2012
ABOUT UT ARLINGTON
The Mavericks opened the 2012-13 season on Friday with a 80-47 loss at George Washington. Aron Garcia and Laila Suleiman led UTA with eight points apiece, while Garcia added 11 rebounds. UT Arlington went 7-21 last season, but return four starters and 11 of 12 letterwinners. Junior Desherra Nwanguma, who averaged 5.6 points and 5.3 rebounds a year ago, paced the team in its exhibition opener with 16 points and 18 rebounds.
AGAINST THE MAVERICKS
Michigan State leads the all-time series, 1-0 against UT Arlington. The two schools met on Nov. 19, 2006 at the Breslin Center, a 65-49 Spartan victory.
All-time, the Spartans are 26-14 in season openers, but 18-2 when the opener is in East Lansing. MSU has won its last 11 times when the season opener was at home. Coach Merchant is 3-2 in season openers at MSU, and has won nine of her last 11, including her time at Eastern Michigan.
Redshirt senior Courtney Schiffauer will be playing in her fifth season opener. Schiffauer tallied 21 points in each of her first two openers, but has been held to four points in a combined 18 minutes the last two seasons. Fellow senior Jasmine Thomas played only three minutes in her freshman debut, but the last two years have combined to average 9.5 points, 2.5 assists and 3.0 steals in only 19.0 minutes a game. Junior Annalise Pickrel has been effective in her first two season debuts, averaging 7.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 blocks in only 16.0 minutes.
In debuts last season against Villanova, Jasmine Hines went 5-for-7 from the field for 13 points in only 15 minutes, tying for the ninth most points in a Spartan freshman debut. Meanwhile, Becca Mills posted team-highs with 12 points and nine rebounds; her 12 points were the 11th most and her nine rebounds were the fifth most in a freshman debut.
IN HOME OPENERS
All-time, the Spartans are 32-8 in home openers , and have won 12 of their last 13. Michigan State is 4-1 under head coach Suzy Merchant in its first game at Breslin Center. Coach Merchant has won 10 of her last 11 home openers dating back to her time at Eastern Michigan.
The Spartans' opener on Nov. 11, ties the second earliest calendar start (which also happened last season). The 2007-08 season began on Nov. 9.
IN THE MONTH OF NOVEMBER
The Spartans are 87-34 (71.9%) all-time in the month of November. Under Coach Merchant, Michigan State is 26-7 (78.8%) in November, with four of the seven losses coming against top-10 opponents. Also, MSU is 13-1 (92.9%) at Breslin Center in November under Merchant and 46-9 (83.6%) all-time in the opening month at Breslin.
Michigan State took care of both Saginaw Valley State (74-35) and Grand Valley State (83-36) in its exhibition schedule. The Spartans shot 47.6% from the field, while holding their opponents to 24.5%. MSU held a +16.5 edge in the glass, while forcing 21.0 turnovers a game. Senior Jasmine Thomas led the way with 15.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 3.5 steals per game. Thomas was one of five Spartans who averaged double digit points in the two games, joining sophomore Jasmine Hines (15.0), sophomore Becca Mills (12.0), junior Annalise Pickrel (10.5) and junior Klarissa Bell (10.0). Senior Courtney Schiffauer averaged 9.5 points. Hines, Mills and Schiffauer led the team in the boards with 8.5 rebounds per game.
11-STRAIGHT POSTSEASON APPEARANCES
The Spartans qualified for their 11th-straight postseason, advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth consecutive season. MSU made its 12th NCAA appearance overall, and its ninth in the last 10 seasons.
MSU is one of three Big Ten schools (along with Iowa and Ohio State), and one of 22 teams nationally, to have appeared in the last four NCAA Tournaments.
NINE CONSECUTIVE 20-WIN SEASONS
MSU posted its ninth-straight 20-win season in 2011-12, going 20-12. MSU is 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. [Baylor, Bowling Green, Connecticut, Duke, Green Bay, Marist, Middle Tennessee State, Ohio State, Stanford, Temple, Tennessee and Vanderbilt]
In Coach Merchant's five seasons at MSU, the Spartans have gone 115-53 (.685). The 115 wins are the second most in the conference during that span, while the total is also the sixth-most by a Big Ten coach all-time in their first five seasons at the helm. In addition, her winning percentage is the 10th-best among Big Ten coaches all-time.
10 FOR 10
After going 11-5 in the conference last season, the Spartans have now won at least 10 Big Ten games in 10-straight seasons. It is tied for the longest active streak in the conference with Ohio State. MSU is 117-49 (70.5%) in conference play over the last 10 seasons, trailing only OSU in winning percentage.
During Coach Merchant's tenure, Michigan State has a 59-27 (.686) Big Ten record. The win total is second in the conference over that span, while the winning percentage is 10th best in the 31-year history of the Big Ten Conference. More recently, MSU has won 34 of its last 43 Big Ten regular season games (79.1%) over the past three seasons.
SECOND OR BETTER
Michigan State finished the Big Ten season tied for second with a 11-5 record last year. The Spartans have finished second or better in each of the last four seasons - winning the title in 2010-11, and placing second in 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2011-12.
DEFENSE, DEFENSE, DEFENSE
For the third straight season, Michigan State led the Big Ten in conference games in points allowed. Always a point of emphasis for Coach Merchant, the Spartans allowed only 60.6 points in last season's 16 Big Ten games.
The 2012-13 basketball season is the Spartans' 24th inside the Breslin Center. MSU has an all-time record of 238-82 (.744) at Breslin and have been even more dominant of late in its cozy confines, having won 32 of its last 36 games (.889).
FANS CONTINUE TO PACK THE BRESLIN
The Spartans broke their single-season attendance record for the second straight season last year, cementing themselves as one of the top programs in the country in regard to fan support. Last season marked the eighth straight season that the Spartans had been among the nation's top 15 in attendance, averaging 7,505 fans per game, which ranked eighth in the nation and second in the Big Ten. It was MSU's highest national ranking.
In head coach Suzy Merchant's five seasons at Michigan State, a total of 17 Spartans have earned All-Big Ten honors, leading the conference in that span. In addition, MSU has had five major award winners, four Big Ten All-Freshman team recipients and four Big Ten All-Defensive team honorees.
In terms of years of experience, Michigan State enters the 2012-13 season as the 18th youngest team in the nation. The Spartans have 15 eligible players on their roster with a total of 17 years of playing experience (1.133 years per player). Of the 15 players, 10 are either freshmen or sophomores.
The 2012-13 Spartans will have some large shoes to fill with the graduation of three starters for the second-straight season. They return 58.5% of minutes, and despite losing three starters, return five players who started a game last year. In terms of production, 51% of the points return, to go along with 61% of rebounds, 61% of assists, 55% of steals and 47% of blocks. They will need someone to step up from behind the arc, as only 42% of the 3-point field goals from last year return.
Those numbers however do not account for the loss of four potential starters for all or part of the 2012-13 season. Redshirt sophomore center Madison Williams (torn left ACL) and freshman guard Aerial Powers (torn left Achilles tendon) are out for the season, while freshman guard Branndais Agee (stress fracture in left foot) is out for the first couple weeks of the season. In addition, starting point guard from last season, Kiana Johnson, and redshirt freshman Akyah Taylor, are sitting out the first nine games of 2012-13 due to a NCAA suspension.
The Spartans will have three captains again this season, as seniors Courtney Schiffauer and Jasmine Thomas, and junior Klarissa Bell will hold the honor in 2012-13. Schiffauer was also a tri-captain last season.
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 51-4 (92.7%), including winning their last 34 games, while when they hold opponents to 60 points or less, their record is 88-8 (91.7%).
CRASHING THE BOARDS
Michigan State led the Big Ten for the third time in four seasons in rebound margin (+6.3), which was 22nd in the nation. The Spartans have been top-40 in the country in rebound margin each of the last four seasons, getting as low as ninth nationally in 2010-11. MSU has out-rebounded 48 of its last 58 opponents dating back two seasons.
CLOSING IT OUT
The Spartans have been extremely effective closing out games over the last couple years, winning 56 of their last 57 games when leading with five minutes left, including an 18-1 mark last season. In Coach Merchant's tenure, Michigan State is 98-5 (95.1%) when holding a lead with five minutes left.
GETTING TO THE LINE
A common theme between Michigan State's wins and losses last season was its ability to get to the free throw line. In the wins, MSU has shot 395 free throws (19.8 a game), in comparison to 13.5 a game in the losses (162 total). In its 20 wins, MSU is +66 in free throw attempts (+3.3 a game), while -98 (-8.2) in the 12 losses.
The Spartans have been 43-5 over the last three seasons when attempting more free throws than their opponent, including a 12-3 mark last season.
Sophomore Jasmine Hines came to East Lansing as Michigan's high school career points and rebounds record holder. Thrust into a large role than expected as a freshman due to Madison Williams' season-ending injury, Hines was productive when she was on the floor. In only 10.3 minutes per game, she averaged 5.1 points and 2.5 rebounds, while shooting a team-best 54.2%. If you pro-rated her production over 40 minutes, she would have averaged 19.8 points and 9.7 rebounds.
Again a season-ending injury to Williams will increase her playing time this season. In the two exhibition games, Hines was second on the team with 15.0 points and tied for the team lead with 8.5 rebounds in 22.5 minutes off the bench. She shot 61.1% from the field and went to the free throw line 13 times.
Entering the Penn State game (Jan. 29), Klarissa Bell had played only 7.1 minutes a game, averaging 1.8 points and 1.4 rebounds, but in an effort to shake up the team, Coach Merchant inserted Bell into the starting lineup for the first time in her career. She responded to average 8.2 points and 4.2 rebounds in 30.8 minutes over the last 11 games of the season. During that stretch, Bell shot 50.7% from the field and was 40.0% from 3-point range.
BOUNCE BACK ABILITY
In Coach Merchant's five seasons, the Spartans are 38-13 (74.5%) following a loss.
ON THIS DATE
Michigan State is 0-1 all-time on Nov. 11, losing to Villanova last season.