Spartans Open with Robert Morris
The MSU women's basketball team begins the year with the Colonials Saturday.
|Michigan State (0-0, 0-0 B1G) vs. Robert Morris (0-0, 0-0 NEC)|
|Date||Saturday, Nov. 11|
|Time||4 p.m. ET|
|Location||East Lansing, Mich. | Breslin Center | Bag Policy|
|Tickets||Click To Purchase|
|Radio||Spartan Sports Network | WJIM-AM 1240|
|Game Notes||Michigan State | Robert Morris|
|Statistics||Michigan State | Robert Morris|
|Promotions||SAAC Food Drive|
|Social Media||@MSU_WBasketball | Facebook | Instagram|
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State opens the 2017-18 season at home against Robert Morris on Saturday, Nov. 11 at 4 p. m. The game will be streamed on BTN Plus. This only the second meeting between the teams.
• The Spartans finished the 2016-17 season with a 21-12 record, including going 9-7 in Big Ten action. Michigan State advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 13th time in the last 15 seasons. MSU said goodbye to all-time leading scorer and All-American Tori Jankoska. All-Big Ten honorees Branndais Agee, Taryn McCutcheon and Taya Reimer all return for the Spartans for the 2017-18 season.
• Robert Morris and Michigan State are meeting for only the second time. The Spartans captured the only other meeting In the only other meeting, Michigan State defeated Robert Morris, 68-35, in East Lansing on Nov. 25, 2012.
• Michigan State opens the season receiving votes on both the USA Today Coaches poll and the Associated Press poll.
• In Coach Merchant’s 10 seasons, Michigan State has now earned 35 All-Big Ten selections, as senior Tori Jankoska was named unanimous first-team All-Big Ten by both the coaches and the media. Redshirt senior Branndais Agee, graduate student Taya Reimer and freshman Taryn McCutcheon were all named to the honorable mention team. In every season under Coach Merchant, MSU has had at least two players earn All-Big Ten honors. Coach Merchant has also coached the only Big Ten Player of the Year honoree as Kalisha Keane collected the accolade in 2010-11.
• All-time, the Spartans are 30-15 in season openers, but 22-2 when the opener is in East Lansing. Coach Merchant is 7-3 in season openers at MSU, and has won 13 of her last 16, including her time at Eastern Michigan.
Highlighting the Spartans’ ledger this season is 15 home games, including seven non-conference contests as well as eight Big Ten Conference match-ups.
Another focal showpiece of MSU’s 2017-18 schedule is playing in the inaugural PK80 Invitational to celebrate Phil Knight’s 80th birthday, where Michigan State will take on UConn at Matthew Knight Arena, hosted by the University of Oregon. The Michigan State men’s team will also be playing in the PK80 Invitational, with the men’s action being held in Portland.
Once again, the Big Ten will have a 16-game women’s basketball conference schedule format this season after all 14 teams played 18 games the previous two seasons. Michigan State will play in-state rival Michigan, along with Indiana and Maryland in home-and-home contests, while hosting Rutgers, Northwestern, Iowa, Maryland, Nebraska and Wisconsin. The Spartans will play road games at Minnesota, Illinois, Ohio State, Penn State and Purdue.
LOOK WHO’S BACK
Despite losing Michigan State all-leading scorer Tori Jankoska, the Spartans have many pieces from last year’s team returning, including starters Branndais Agee, Taya Reimer, Taryn McCutcheon and Victoria Gaines. Over 66 percent of the Spartan offense is back, including four of the top five scorers.
The Spartans and the Colonials have met only one other time during the storied histories of the two programs. In the only other meeting, Michigan State defeated Robert Morris, 68-35, in East Lansing on Nov. 25, 2012. In that game, MSU improved to 5-0 behind a 14-point performance from Jasmine Thomas.
SCOUTING THE COLONIALS
This is the season opener for both the Spartans and the Colonials. Robert Morris finished the 2016-
17 season with a 22-11 overall record and a 14-4 mark in the Northeast Conference. The Colonials
were picked to finish second in the NEC preseason coaches’ poll. This is the sixth time in the last seven seasons that Robert Morris has been picked to finish in the top two of the conference. In 2016-17, Robert Morris fell to Notre Dame in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Megan Smith returns for Robert Morris, starting 31 games last year. She was second on the team in scoring, averaging 10.7 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. She is 117 points shy of becoming the 23rd Colonial to reach 1,000 in a career.
AGEE NAMED TO WATCH LIST
Michigan State redshirt-senior Branndais Agee was named to the watch list for the inaugural Cheryl Miller Award, which will be awarded to the top small forward women’s basketball; it was announced by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.
She is one of five players from the Big Ten to be named to the watch list along with Indiana’s Amanda Cahill, Maryland’s Brianna Fraser, Ohio State’s Stephanie Mavunga and Wisconsin’s Cayla McMorris. Agee has already garnered preseason All-Big Ten honors by the coaches. Last season, Agee earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors along with fellow senior Taya Reimer and sophomore Taryn McCutcheon. During the 2016-17 season, Agee was second on the team in scoring and rebounding with 10.0 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.
IN THE MONTH OF NOVEMBER
The Spartans are 111-37 (75.0%) all-time in the month of November. Under Coach Merchant, Michigan State is 51-9 (85.0%) in November, with six of the nine losses coming against top-10 opponents. The Spartans have won 26 of their last 29 in the month.
The Michigan State Athletics Department officially opened the Gilbert Pavilion and the Tom Izzo Hall of History on Friday afternoon in a ceremony at the Breslin Center.
The project was funded by private donations, including large contributions from Dan & Jennifer Gilbert and from Bob & Julie Skandalaris, with the gifts designated to the Breslin Center addition.
The addition features the Tom Izzo Hall of History, the Draymond Green Strength and Conditioning Center, a new ticket box office, a championship display, a recruiting lounge, alumni locker room and interactive areas that enhance the fan experience for the more than 500,000 people attending events each year.
The Spartans welcome two freshmen this season in forward Sidney Cooks and guard Claire Hendrickson. Cooks is a McDonald’s All-American from Kenosha, Wisconsin. Hendrickson, a native of Wyoming, Michigan, will miss the 2017-18 season after tearing her ACL in the first practice of the season. After sitting out last season after transferring from South Carolina, the redshirt-sophomore Shay Colley is able to take the court this season with the Spartans. She earned a gold medal this summer with the Canadian National Team at the FIBA Americas Women’s Championships in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
FANS CONTINUE TO PACK THE BRESLIN
Michigan State women’s basketball continues to pack the Breslin Center, finishing the 2016-17 season ninth in the nation and first in the Big Ten home attendance. The Spartans averaged 6,011 fans in 14 home games this season. MSU had a total of 84,152 fans pass through the gates. This is the 13th-straight season that the Spartans have been ranked in the top 15 nationally in attendance. MSU has had a total attendance of at least 80,000 since 2005-06.
AGEE EARNS PRESEASON HONOR
The Big Ten Conference released the Preseason Coaches and Media Polls, in addition to the 10-member preseason All-Big Ten team on Monday. Michigan State redshirt-senior guard Branndais Agee was named to the Preseason All-Big Ten team by the coaches.
Reigning Big Ten co-champion Ohio State, which was the No. 1 pick in both the coaches and the media poll. Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell was named Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year in both polls.
Last season, Agee earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors along with fellow senior Taya Reimer and sophomore Taryn McCutcheon. During the 2016-17 season, Agee was second on the team in scoring and rebounding with 10.0 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.
The Spartans ended 2016-17 with a 21-12 overall record, advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the eighth time in the last nine seasons. The Spartans bring back four starters from last season’s squad in Agee, Reimer, McCutcheon and redshirt-sophomore Victoria Gaines.
Michigan State will continue the homestand on Monday, Nov. 13 hosting in-state foe Oakland at 7 p.m. The game will be streamed on BTN Plus.
MEET THE 2018-19 SIGNEES
Michigan State women’s basketball head coach Suzy Merchant announced the signing of three National Letters of Intent on Wednesday, including Nia Clouden (Owing Mills, Maryland/St. Frances), Tory Ozment (Buford, Georgia/Buford) and Kayla Belles (Ithaca, Michigan/Ithaca).
Clouden is a 5-8 point guard who plays for head coach Jerome Shelton at St. Frances Academy. She is currently ranked No. 43 overall and No. 13 at her position by ESPN HoopGurlz. Last March, Clouden was named Maryland Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year, becoming the third Baltimore-area player to win the award in 11 years. She was also the USA Today Maryland Player of the Year last season. She is a two-time captain, who averaged 14.2 points and 4.7 assists per game as a junior. Last season, the Panthers captured their second-straight IAAM Championship. St. Frances also advanced to the semifinals of the Dick’s Sporting Goods High School Nationals, falling in overtime. Clouden has also earned first-team Baltimore Sun honor in both 2016 and 2017.
Ozment is a 6-1 guard/forward who plays for head coach Gene Durden at Buford High School. Durden has captured five state championships during time at Buford. She is currently ranked No. 14 at her position by ESPN HoopGurlz. Last season, Ozment was named the AAAAA State Player of the Year as well as being named to the Georgia Athletic Coaches Associations All-State squad. Ozment earned Atlanta Tipoff Club and Atlanta Journal Constitution All-Metro team. Last season, she averaged 13.4 points and 3.8 assists per game, leading Buford on a run to the Class AAAAA State Championship. As a sophomore, she guided Buford to the AAAA Final Four, averaging 11.1 points and 3.5 assists per game.
Belles is a 6-3 forward who plays for head coach Ty Warczinksy at Ithaca High School. As a junior, Belles averaged 19.4 points, 12.2 rebounds, 3.4 blocked shots and 2.6 steals per game, earning Associated Press Class B all-state honors. She led the Yellowjackets to three-straight Tri-Valley Conference West Division titles, which included a run to the Class C Final Four during her sophomore campaign. She garnered first-team all-state honors three-straight seasons, averaging a double-double the last two seasons. She is a multi-sport athlete, who earned all-state honors in both basketball and volleyball. Belles will miss her senior year of high school after tearing her ACL over the summer.