Season Opens For No. 10 Spartans on Friday Night in Dayton

Nov. 12, 2009

No. 10 Michigan State Spartans (0-0) at
Dayton Flyers (0-0)

Date: Friday, Nov. 13
Time: 7 p.m. ET
Location: Dayton, Ohio
Arena: UD Arena
TV: none
Radio: WVFN 730 AM - tape delayed (Rick Berkey - play-by-play)
Internet: Live stats and audio at; Live video at

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Head Coach Suzy Merchant
Aisha Jefferson | Brittney Thomas

Dayton Daily News: Jefferson's long road leads back to UD Arena

The Flyers return all five starters and their top seven scorers from last year's 21-14 team. Dayton made its third-ever postseason, advancing to the second round of the WNIT. They were picked to finish in a tie for third in the Atlantic 10 preseason poll, and had two players selected to the preseason second team - junior Kristin Daugherty and sophomore Justine Raterman. Raterman led the team in scoring (13.1) and rebounding (8.5), while hitting 39.5% of her 3-point field goal attempts. Daugherty was second on the team with 12.7 points, also adding 4.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. The Flyers are led by seventh-year head coach Jim Jabir, who enters the season with a 90-95 record at UD and a career mark of 310-318 in 22 seasons.



Michigan State leads the all-time series against the Flyers, 6-2. The two schools have split the four meetings in Dayton, with UD winning the last game 61-57 on Dec. 17, 2000.

Michigan State has won its last 10 season openers - all of which at the Breslin Center - including a 116-50 win over Niagara last season. In those 10 games, MSU has averaged a 26.0 point margin of victory. All-time, Spartans are 25-12 in season openers.

Coach Merchant has won her last eight season openers dating back to her time at Eastern Michigan.

The last time that MSU opened the season on the road was the 1993-94 season, when the Spartans dropped a 60-51 contest at Illinois State (11/26/93). Michigan State is 7-3 all-time when the season opener is a road game, including a 74-71 win over Dayton to begin the 1984-85 season.

• Nine players who started a game, including seven who started at least 10
• 12 of 13 letterwinners
• Top-six scorers (93.3% of last year's point total)
• Top-eight rebounders (95.0% of last year's rebounds total)
• 97.9% of last year's blocks, 91.1% of steals and 89.3% of assists
• Five All-Big Ten performers (DeHaan, Jefferson, Johnson, Keane, Thomas)

The Spartans were picked 10th in both national preseason polls - The Associated Press and the USA Today/ESPN Coaches'. It is the fifth time in the last six years, that the Spartans enter the season ranked in both national polls. Also, it is the highest preseason ranking in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' poll (previously 11th to begin 2005-06) and ties the previous high AP mark, set at the beginning of the 2005-06 season.

Michigan State was picked second by both the coaches and media in the Big Ten Preseason Polls, released at the conference's media day. Ohio State topped both polls. In addition, senior Allyssa DeHaan was chosen to the five-player All-Big Ten Preseason Team by both parties.

Following OSU and MSU in the coaches poll was Minnesota, Purdue, Iowa, Illinois, Penn State, Northwestern, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan. In the media poll, Purdue was picked third, followed by Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Penn State, Indiana, Northwestern and Michigan.

Joining DeHaan on the preseason teams was Preseason Big Ten Player of the Year Jantel Lavender of Ohio State, her teammate Samantha Prahalis, Penn State's Tyra Grant and Illinois' Jenna Smith.

Head coach Suzy Merchant named seniors Lauren Aitch, Allyssa DeHaan, Aisha Jefferson and Mandy Piechowski as the captains for the 2009-10 season. Jefferson was selected a captain for the third-straight season and Piechowski for her second consecutive campaign, while both Aitch and DeHaan are first time captains. It is the fifth time in program history that MSU has had four captains.

The Spartans will face one of the most difficult non-conference schedules in the country this season. Three of the 12 possible opponents are currently ranked in the top-15 in both national polls - No. 4/7 Notre Dame, No. 5/5 North Carolina and No. 11/15 Xavier - and in all nine of the 12 possible teams qualified for postseason play last season.

Michigan State is only one of six programs to face at least three of the top-15 teams in the preseason national polls in non-conference action, joining Connecticut, Stanford, Duke, Tennessee and Middle Tennessee. Of the six, only MSU and Tennessee will welcome three to its home arena. In addition, this season could mark the first time in MSU history that three ranked non-conference opponents have played the Spartans in East Lansing.

The Big Ten campaign as always will also be no slouch. Ohio State is No. 3 in both national polls, while Purdue is No. 23 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll and received votes in the AP poll. In all seven conference schools advanced to postseason play last season.

Senior Allyssa DeHaan enters her senior season on pace to break the NCAA Division I blocked shots record. Currently, in eighth all-time with 402 blocks, she needs only 79 rejections to surpass the record held by Sandora Irvin of TCU (2001-05). DeHaan is also third on the NCAA list with a 3.90 blocks per game average.

DeHaan became the Big Ten's all-time blocked shots leader during MSU's Big Ten Tournament game against Wisconsin on March, 6, 2009. She surpassed Ohio State's Jessica Davenport (384) for the record. In addition, in last season's win over Stony Brook (Nov. 16, 2008), she became the fastest in conference history to reach the 300-block plateau, needing only 72 games.

Senior Allyssa DeHaan is one of only five Spartans to rank in the top-10 in both career points and rebounds. She is currently ninth all-time with 1,298 points and seventh with 726 rebounds.

APPROACHING 1,000 Redshirt senior Aisha Jefferson is approaching a historic milestone, needing only 65 points to become the 20th Spartan to reach 1,000 career points. Jefferson is currently 28th all-time with 935 points. In addition, she is also climbing the career rebounds list, sitting in a tie for 20th with 526.