Nov. 16, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. -
Playing its second ranked opponent in the opening three games of the season, the No. 19/20 Michigan State women's basketball team hosts No. 23/21 Dayton (2-1) on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. The Spartans (1-1) will be the just the fourth team in the nation to have played two ranked teams so far this season. MSU is coming off a 102-54 win over Canisius on Thursday, scoring the eighth-most points in program history.
The Flyers, who are 2-1 on the season, enter the weekend ranked No. 21 in the USA Today Coaches' poll and No. 23 by the Associated Press. Dayton is coming off a 94-80 win over Akron on Friday night, following an opening 89-54 win over UC Riverside and a 97-93 overtime loss at Iowa. The five Dayton starters are all averaging over 14 points per game, led by 18.3 points from Amber Deane. Deane played at the same high school as current Spartans Madison Williams and Aerial Powers. As a team, the Flyers are averaging 92.0 points.
Last season, Dayton went 28-3 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Second Round after winning the Atlantic 10 regular season title. The Flyers averaged 75.9 ppg, which was sixth in NCAA. Dayton was ranked nationally preseason for the first time in program history, beginning the year No. 14 in the AP and No. 16 in the USA Today polls. The Flyers were also picked to finish first in the Atlantic 10 again this season.
AGAINST THE FLYERS
Michigan State leads the all-time series against Dayton, 7-4. The Spartans are 4-0 at home against the Flyers, Last season on Dec. 8, the No. 18-ranked Flyers topped MSU 60-53 in UD Arena, but the Spartans won the last meeting (74-62) in Breslin Center on Nov. 15, 2010.
Five Spartans have seen action against Dayton. Klarissa Bell and Annalise Pickrel played in each of the last two meetings. Bell scored 12 points last season, but was held scoreless as a freshman. Pickrel tallied nine points as a freshman, but was limited to two points and only three shots in 32 minutes last year. Becca Mills was the Spartan star in last year's meeting, leading the team with 18 points, while adding seven rebounds in 30 minutes. Branndais Agee and Mariah Harris played limited roles in last year's game, as Agee had four rebounds in 22 minutes and Harris played the final two minutes. It turned out to be Agee's last game of the season.
LAST MEETING (No. 18 Dayton 60, MSU 53 - Dec. 8, 2012 - Dayton, Ohio)
- Dayton gave the Spartans their first loss of the 2012-13 season after opening 8-0.
- Becca Mills scored a season-high 18 points. Courtney Schiffauer posted a double-double (12 points and 11 rebounds)
- The Spartans shot a season-low 29.7%, including a 2-for-15 (13.3%) effort from the 3-point line.
- Dayton ended last season sixth in the nation averaging 75.9 points, but were held to 60 points by MSU, its third lowest total on the year.
AGAINST THE NATION'S BEST
Under Coach Merchant, Michigan State is 17-25 against ranked teams, including a 5-9 record against top-10 teams. When MSU is also ranked, the Spartans are 7-12 in matchups with fellow ranked teams.
At Breslin Center, the Spartans are 38-34 (.528) against ranked teams, but have lost their last two opportunities, both last season. The last non-conference ranked team to come to Breslin was No. 9 Miami on Dec. 1, 2011.
Michigan State will be one of four teams in the nation to play two ranked teams in the first two weeks (on or before Nov. 17), joining Alabama, Connecticut and UCLA.
QUICK HITTERS FROM THURSDAY (No. 19/20 MICHIGAN STATE 102, CANISIUS)
- The Spartans are now 34-8 all-time in home openers, having won 14 of their last 15. Under Coach Merchant, MSU is 6-1 in Breslin Center openers.
- Michigan State scored 100 points for the 12th time in program history and for the first time since Nov. 12, 2011 against North Carolina A&T (113). The total ties for the eighth-most points in program history.
- MSU scored 61 first-half points, setting a record for the most scored in any half in Breslin Center history. It was the most points in a half by MSU since also scoring 61 in the second half vs. North Carolina A&T on Nov. 12, 2011.
- The Spartans made 12 3-pointers, going 12-for-23 (52.2%), tying for the third-most 3-pointers in a MSU single-game.
- MSU shot 63.8% from the field, the highest field goal pct. since shooting 64.9% vs. Florida Gulf Coast on Dec. 13, 2009.
- Michigan State won its 40th-straight game when scoring at least 70 points.
- The Spartans had five players reach double-figure points for the first time since Dec. 1 of last season vs. Milwaukee.
- The Michigan State freshman trio of Branndais Agee, Tori Jankoska and Aerial Powers combined for 51 points, 20 rebounds, five steals and three blocks in 71 minutes. They were 19-for-29 (65.5%) from the field, 5-for-9 (55.6%) from the 3-point line and 7-for-9 (77.8%) from the free throw line.
- Powers scored a game-high 19 points in 23 minutes, while Jankoska had 17 points and Agee had 14 points off the bench.
- Annalise Pickrel tied her career high in assists with five, which was set on Monday. She was also perfect from the field, going 5-for-5 and hitting all three 3-pointers.
- Anna Morrissey entered the game with eight career points in 21 career minutes in her two seasons at MSU, but played nine minutes tonight and totaled seven points, going 3-for-3.
- Former MSU letterwinner and GA Cetera Washington returned to MSU for the first time as an assistant coach at Canisius. - It was the first meeting ever between the two schools.
IN HOME OPENERS
All-time, the Spartans are now 34-8 in home openers, and have won 14 of their last 15. Michigan State is 6-1 under head coach Suzy Merchant in its first game at Breslin Center. Coach Merchant has won 12 of her last 13 home openers dating back to her time at Eastern Michigan.
With Monday's loss to Notre Dame, the Spartans are now 27-15 in season openers, and hold a 7-5 record when starting the season with a road contest. Coach Merchant is now 4-3 in season openers at MSU, but has won 10 of her last 13, including her time at Eastern Michigan. It was just the second time since 1993 that the Spartans open the season with a road game (2009).
IN THE MONTH OF NOVEMBER
The Spartans are 94-35 (72.9%) all-time in the month of November. Under Coach Merchant, Michigan State is 33-8 (80.5%) in November, with five of the eight losses coming against top-10 opponents. The Spartans had an eight-game winning streak in November snapped with Monday's loss at Notre Dame. At home, the Spartans are 23-1 in November under Coach Merchant.
Michigan State opened the season No. 18 nationally in the preseason USA Today coaches poll and No. 20 in the preseason Associated Press poll. It is MSU's highest preseason ranking since beginning the 2009-10 season at No. 10 in both rankings. The Spartans are currently No. 19 in the AP and No. 20 USA Today polls.
Six of MSU's 2013-14 opponents were also ranked in the preseason - Notre Dame (6/7), Nebraska (17/12), Penn State (13/15), Dayton (14/16), Purdue (18/23), Oklahoma State (21/24). In addition, Florida State, Iowa and Minnesota were receiving votes in one of the two polls.
PRESEASON BIG TEN OUTLOOK
Michigan State was selected third in both the coaches and media preseason Big Ten polls, released prior to Big Ten Basketball Media Day on Oct. 31. Nebraska was selected as the preseason favorite by both, with Penn State holding the second spot.
Senior Klarissa Bell, a third-team All-Big Ten selection last season, was named to the five-member preseason All-Big Ten team, as voted by the coaches. She is the first Spartan named to the team since Lykendra Johnson in 2011. Bell was joined on the team by preseason Big Ten Player of the Year Maggie Lucas of Penn State, Minnesota's Rachel Banham, Nebraska's Jordan Hooper and Purdue's Courtney Moses.
- Michigan State went 2-0 in its exhibition games with wins over Ferris State, 100-52, and Grand Valley State, 91-47.
- The Spartans were efficient offensively, averaging 95.5 points per game, while shooting 53.0% from the field and 48.6% (18-for-37) from the 3-point arc. MSU also averaged 22.0 assists per game, while committing only 13.5 turnovers.
- Six Spartans averaged double-figure points over the two games, led by 20.0 points per game from freshman Tori Jankoska. Senior Annalise Pickrel and redshirt freshman Aerial Powers poured in 15.0 per game, while junior Becca Mills (13.0), senior Klarissa Bell (10.5) and junior Kiana Johnson (10.0) rounded out the six.
- Jankoska was 6-for-13 (46.2%) and Pickrel was 4-for-6 (66.7%) from behind the arc.
- Mills and Powers paced MSU with 7.0 rebounds per game, as the Spartans outrebounded their opponents, 48.5-28.5.
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 58-4 (93.5%), including winning their last 40 games, while when they hold opponents to 60 points or less, their record is 111-10 (91.7%).
Seniors Klarissa Bell and Annalise Pickrel will have the honor of captains for the 2013-14 season. Bell will hold the position for the second-straight season.
Last season, Michigan State went 25-9 marking the 10th-straight season that the Spartans have won at least 20 games. The streak is the longest active streak in the Big Ten (Penn State is second with three-in-a-row). Entering this season, MSU is one of 11 teams in the nation to have won at least 20 games in each of the last 10 seasons - Baylor, Bowling Green, Connecticut, Duke, Green Bay, Marist, Middle Tennessee State, Stanford, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.
The Spartans' 25 wins were the third-most in program history (2004-05 - 33 wins, 2010-11 - 27 wins).
ANOTHER STREAK EXTENDED
The Spartans finished the Big Ten season at 10-6 and in a tie for third place last season. Michigan State has now won at least 10 Big Ten games in 11-straight seasons. It is the longest active streak in the Big Ten (with Penn State second at three). MSU is 127-55 (69.8%) in conference play over the last 11 seasons, trailing only Ohio State (136-46; 74.7%) in wins.
The Spartans have now finished third or better in the conference in each of the last five seasons - winning the title in 2010-11, and placing second in 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2011-12. In all, MSU has finished no worse than third place in eight of the last nine years.
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%).
FIVE CONSECUTIVE INVITATIONS TO THE BIG DANCE
Michigan State made its fifth-straight NCAA Tournament appearance in 2012-13, and its 10th in the last 11 years. Overall, the Spartans qualified for their 12th straight postseason. The five appearances in a row tie the longest stretch in program history. MSU has won at least one game in eight of its last nine NCAA Tournament trips.
MSU is one of 19 schools in the country (and one of only two in the Big Ten) to make the NCAA Tournament the last five seasons - 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.
In Coach Merchant's first six-plus seasons at MSU, the Spartans have gone 141-63 (69.1%). Her winning percentage is the 10th-best all-time among Big Ten coaches, and second among active conference coaches. Entering the year, her 140 wins were the fourth-most by a Big Ten coach in their first six seasons. During her span, the 141 wins are second among Big Ten schools, trailing only Ohio State (152). 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.
In conference games, she is 69-33 (67.6%), ranking her 12th all-time in career winning percentage in Big Ten games and second among active coaches. During her Spartan career, her 69 conference wins are second to only Ohio State (71).
Last season was Suzy Merchant's sixth trip to the NCAA Tournament, posting a 5-6 record. She has guided the Spartans to the last five tournaments, advancing to the Sweet 16 in 2009 and the second round in 2010, 2011 and 2013. Merchant ties Joanne P. McCallie for the most NCAA appearances as a MSU head coach (five). Over the last five NCAA Tournaments, her five wins are second among Big Ten schools (Purdue has six). Merchant also took Eastern Michigan to the tournament in 2004.
In head coach Suzy Merchant's first six seasons at Michigan State, a total of 20 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.
Last 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.
BIG TEN LEADERS
Michigan State led the Big Ten in scoring defense (52.1 points allowed), rebound margin (+6.9) and 3-point field goal percentage defense (28.2%) last season, and were second in field goal percentage defense (36.6%), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.0), fewest turnovers (14.0) and offensive rebounds (13.2). Among NCAA leaders, MSU was 13th in points allowed and 21st in rebound margin.
The Spartans' 52.1 points per game allowed last season led the Big Ten and was 13th in the nation. The mark was the third lowest in program history, and the lowest since the first two seasons of Spartan women's basketball - 1973-74 (38.4) and 1972-73 (38.9).
Michigan State held 18 teams under 50 points, the most in the single season (1973-74 team did it 14 times). The Spartans also held six opponents below 40 points last season, second all-time behind the 1973-74 team (nine times). Entering last season, the Spartans had only held 32 opponents under 40 points in the first 1,124 games of the program.
In total, the Spartans held 30 of their 34 opponents below their scoring average last season.
Last season, Michigan State finished second in the Big Ten in points allowed in conference games with 58.8 points. The Spartans had previously led the Big Ten in conference games in points allowed for the last three seasons.
CRASHING THE BOARDS
Michigan State led the Big Ten in rebounds margin for the third-straight season, and for the fourth time in the last five years, last season. The Spartans have been top-40 in the country in rebound margin each of the last six seasons, getting as low as ninth nationally in 2010-11.
MSU has out-rebounded 77 of its last 93 opponents (82.8%).
The Spartans led the Big Ten in conference games last season with a +6.3 margin. MSU has led the league in three of the last five seasons in conference games only.
RINGING THE BELL FOR THE LAST TIME
Patience and progression have been two common words to describe Klarissa Bell's playing career at Michigan State. Growing up in East Lansing and being named Michigan's Miss Basketball as a high school senior, she came to MSU with high expectations. However, through her first 48 games as a Spartan, she struggled to find a role and a spot on the floor. Bell averaged just 2.2 points, 1.8 rebounds and 0.6 assists in 10.2 minutes during that time. However, Merchant inserted her into the starting lineup on Jan. 29, 2012 vs. Penn State and she has started every game since.
As a starter, Bell has helped Michigan State to a 34-13 record, while averaging 9.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 34.0 minutes.
Each season, Bell has seen progression in her stat lines, including averaging career highs of 10.5 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.6 blocks as a junior. Her points and rebounds led the team, while her blocks were second, and her assists and steals were third. Because of a shortened bench, Bell was relied upon to play extended minutes, ranking fourth on the MSU single-season list in minutes (1,196) and sixth in minutes per game (35.2). Her play earned her third-team All-Big Ten honors, and placed her on the coaches' preseason All-Big Ten team.
The Spartans' success last season was weighed heavily based upon Bell's play. In Michigan State's 25 wins, she averaged 12.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists and shot 45.1% from the field, while in the nine losses, she scored only 6.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists and shot just 29.5%.
PICK AND POP
Senior Annalise Pickrel made a huge breakthrough last year in her junior season. After averaging 3.3 and 2.5 points in her first two seasons, Pickrel increased her scoring output to 9.3 points per game, which tied for third on the team. Her +6.8 point increase ranked third in the Big Ten last season.
Pickrel has begun her senior season on a high note, building off her success last season. Through two games, she leads the team with 9.5 rebounds and 5.0 assists, in addition to averaging 12.0 points and 1.0 blocks in 33.5 minutes. Pickrel is shooting 52.6% from the field and 57.1% from the 3-point line (4-for-7). Among Big Ten players, Pickrel is second in assist-to-turnover ratio, fifth in assists, sixth in rebounds, sixth in 3-point field goals, eighth in minutes and 3-point field goal percentage, and 12th in blocks.
In the season opener at No. 6 Notre Dame, Pickrel posted her first career double-double (11 points and 12 rebounds), while also setting career highs with 12 rebounds and five assists, both team highs. With her stat line, Pickrel became the first Spartan since Kalisha Keane on Dec. 8, 2007 vs. Indiana State to tally at least 10 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in a game.
Her greatest asset last season was her production from the 3-point line. Leading the team in both categories, Pickrel ranked ninth in the Big Ten in 3-point field goal percentage (36.7%) and 3-point field goals made per game (1.8) last season. Pickrel made a career-high 65 3-pointers, which is the seventh most in a Spartan single season. Entering the year, she was just 19-for-63 (30.2%) from the 3-point arc in her first two seasons at MSU.
Pickrel is currently 12th in Spartan history with 88 3-point field goals made, while ranking fourth with a career 35.6% 3-point field goal percentage.
TAKING CARE OF THE ROCK
Junior Kiana Johnson has orchestrated the Spartan offense through her first three seasons in green and white. Johnson has led MSU in assists in each of her first two seasons, and ranks sixth on the Spartan career list with 4.1 assists per game. She has been equally careful with the ball, posting a career assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.79 (240:134), which is second in the MSU record books.
An honorable mention All-Big Ten choice last season, Johnson has also been effective scoring the ball, averaging 9.3 points as a sophomore, tying for third on the team. She led MSU in free throw percentage (81.6%) and was second in 3-point field goal percentage (33.0%).
Defensively, Johnson led MSU with 1.9 steals last season, and currently is seventh on the MSU career steals list at 1.8.
HOLDING DOWN THE POST
Early in the 2013-14 season, junior Becca Mills is going to be asked to fill a lot of minutes in the post due to some early season injuries. Head coach Suzy Merchant has praised Mills' offseason work ethic and early season effort. In her first two seasons, Mills has totaled 552 points (8.2 points per game), so she is accustomed to shouldering the expectations. Over her final 11 games last season, she scored in double figures in seven games and averaged 9.7 points.
Mills has opened the 2013-14 season with back-to-back double-figure scoring games, and is second on the team with 13.0 points per game. She is also averaging 6.5 rebounds and is shooting 52.6% from the field. Mills had a team-high 15 points at No. 6 Notre Dame in the opener, while adding nine rebounds, in a career-best 39 minutes.
Freshman Tori Jankoska came to Michigan State with a laundry list of high school accolades, highlighted by being named a PARADE High School All-American, Michigan's Miss Basketball and Michigan's Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year. She shattered Freeland's career scoring record, totaling 2,333 points, while averaging 24.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 3.6 steals in her career. As a senior, she averaged 30.9 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 4.8 steals.
Jankoska has not seemed to be overwhelmed with the transition to collegiate basketball. Through two games, she leads the team with 15.5 points in 23.5 minutes off the bench, while also adding 3.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 3.0 steals. Jankoska is second in the conference in 3-pointers per game, third in steals, and 15th in both points and 3-point field goal percentage.
She has scored in double figures in each of her first two games, becoming the first Spartan freshman to do so since Becca Mills to begin the 2011-12 season. In her official Spartan debut, she scored 14 points, 10 of which were in the second half, at Notre Dame. Her point total tied for the eighth most in a Spartan freshman debut.
DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK(S)
Redshirt freshmen Branndais Agee and Aerial Powers return from season-ending injuries. Agee, a high school All-American, played in only five games last season, averaging 2.8 points and 3.6 rebounds in 13.2 minutes, before tearing her right ACL. Powers, who was a top-100 recruit and a two-time Michigan AP Class B Player of the Year, missed the entire season after tearing the Achilles tendon in her left ankle during preseason practice.
Both players are expected to be major contributors this season and both had their best games as Spartans on Thursday night vs. Canisius. Powers scored a game-high 19 points in 23 minutes, going 7-for-11 from the field and 4-for-4 from the line, while Agee had 14 points and eight rebounds in 22 minutes off the bench.
Powers' presence on the floor has been an important part of the Spartans' success this season. MSU is +47 with her in the game, while the Spartans are -18 with her sitting on the bench through the first two games.
Michigan State welcomes back five of its top-six scorers from last season, including leading scorer and rebounder Klarissa Bell. In all, the Spartans return 71.6% of their scoring, 69.1% of their rebounds, 59.5% of their assists, 61.5% of their assists and 76.3% of their blocks from last year's squad. MSU's 71.6% scoring return is fourth in the conference, trailing Wisconsin (88.9%), Minnesota (80.5%) and Nebraska (73.4%).
CLOSING IT OUT
The Spartans have been extremely effective closing out games over the last couple years, winning 82 of their last 83 games (98.8%) when leading with five minutes left, including a 25-0 record in 2012-13. In Coach Merchant's tenure, Michigan State is 124-5 (96.1%) when holding a lead with five minutes left.
BOUNCE BACK ABILITY
In Coach Merchant's seven seasons, the Spartans are 47-14 (77.0%) following a loss, including a 8-1 record last season.
The 2013-14 basketball season is the Spartans' 25th inside the Breslin Center. MSU has an all-time record of 251-84 (.749) at Breslin and have been even more dominant of late in its cozy confines, having won 45 of its last 51 games (.881).
FANS CONTINUE TO PACK THE BRESLIN
The Spartans ended their home schedule last season ranked 10th in the nation and second in the Big Ten with 6,352 fans per game. It marked the ninth-straight season that the Spartans have been among the nation's top-15 in attendance, and the third consecutive year their have been in the top-10.
ON THIS DATE
Michigan State is 4-0 all-time on Nov. 17, all at Breslin Center. The last game came in 2011, a 80-45 victory over Western Michigan.
SUZY MERCHANT RADIO SHOW
The Suzy Merchant Radio Show will begin on Tuesday, Dec. 3. The show, typically held on Wednesdays if no conflicts, is held 12-1 p.m. at Reno's East on Abbott Road. It can be heard locally on WVFN 730AM or at SpartanSportsNetwork.com. This season shows will be Dec. 3 (Tues.), Dec 11, Jan. 2 (Thurs.), Jan. 8, Jan. 15, Jan. 22, Jan. 29, Feb. 4 (Tues.), Feb. 12, Feb. 19, Feb. 26 and March 4 (Tues.).