Nov. 16, 1999
East Lansing, Mich. - The Michigan State women's basketball team opens the 1999-2000 regular season by hosting the 12th Annual Felpausch/MSU Classic, Nov. 19-20 at the Breslin Center (15,138).
The Spartans will play Appalachian State in the first round on Friday, Nov. 19 at 8 p.m. Alabama and St. John's will meet in the other contest at 6 p.m.
On Saturday, Nov. 20, the Spartans will play either Alabama or St. John's at 8 p.m., while Appalachian State will play at 6 p.m.
The tournament is a consolation/championship, but MSU will play the second game on Saturday regardless of Friday?s outcome to avoid a conflict with the Spartans' football game that day against Penn State.
ON THE AIR
Both games this weekend will be carried live on WJIM Radio (1240 AM). Mike Vander Woude will call the action, while former Spartan star Paula Sanders will provide the analysis.
Friday's games mark the season-openers for all four teams in the tournament.
The Spartans are 15-12 all-time in season-opening games, including a 3-2 mark in the last five seasons.
MSU has opened the year at home nine times and has a record of 7-2 in season-opening home games.
Last year, the Spartans dropped their season and home opener to Butler, 70-62.
ABOUT THE SPARTANS
MSU returns 12 players, nine letterwinners and four starters from last season's team that posted a 17-14 overall record and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Women's National Invitational Tournament.
The Spartans will be led by seniors Maxann Reese and Kristen Rasmussen.
Reese, a First-Team All-Big Ten selection last year, is the second-leading returning scorer in the league after averaging 17.6 points per game as a junior.
Rasmussen is the leading returning rebounder and shot blocker in the Big Ten. A Second-Team All-Big Ten selection last year, she averaged 15.2 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game.
ABOUT THE MOUNTAINEERS
Appalachian State, a member of the Southern Conference, returns nine letterwinners and four starters from last season's 14-15 squad.
The Mountaineers won the 1999 Southern Conference Tournament to earn a trip to the NCAA Tournament where they lost in the first round to Tennessee (113-54).
Senior guard Noel Dolan, a native of Gull Lake, Mich., is the top returning scorer for ASU after averaging 10.2 points per game last year.
Senior forward Tiffany Chappell, a Southern Conference All-Tournament selection, averaged 9.7 points and 4.6 boards per game for the Mountaineers last year.
ASU lost a pair of close exhibition games last week, dropping an 85-82 decision to CBK Cassovia and suffered a 99-94 loss to the Asheville Rage.
ABOUT THE CRIMSON TIDE
Alabama returns six letterwinners and just two starters from last season's 20-11 team that advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to North Carolina, 70-56.
The biggest loss for the Tide was the graduation of All-American Dominique Canty, who averaged 19.7 points per game last year. Canty is currently a member of the Detroit Shock. Sophomore guards Nicole Carruth and Shondra Johnson are the only returning starters for 'Bama. Carruth averaged 4.1 points a year ago, while Johnson contributed 8.4 per contest.
Alabama has a pair of exhibition wins under its belt after defeating the Mississippi All-Stars (94-82) and Slovan Bratislava (76-67).
ABOUT THE RED STORM
St. John's returns nine letterwinners and four starters from last season's team that posted a 13-18 overall record and finished eighth in the Big East with a 7-11 mark.
Junior guard Latasha Thompson averaged 9.1 points and 2.4 rebounds per game, while 6-4 sophomore center Tynisha Myles contributed 7.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per contest.
The Red Storm dropped a 75-68 exhibition game to the New York Gazelles on Nov. 7 and suffered a tough 64-62 loss to the Austrailian Institute of Sport on Nov. 12.
IN THE POLLS
Michigan State received 14 votes in the USA Today/ESPN preseason top 25 poll. Alabama received 43 votes in the poll and five in the Associated Press preseason poll.
Michigan State coach Karen Langeland begins her 24th season at the helm of the Spartan program.
A native of Grand Rapids, Langeland has a career coaching mark of 357-278.
Langeland, who is the dean of Big Ten Conference women's basketball coaches, has guided the Spartans to three postseason appearances in the last four years, including a quarterfinal appearance in the WNIT last season.
Barbie Breedlove is in her third year at Appalachian State where she has a school and career coaching record of 23-32.
Alabama coach Rick Moody is in his 11th year of leading the Crimson Tide and has posted a career mark of 219-92.
Darcel Estep is in her first year at St. John's after spending the previous three seasons at Morgan State where she compiled a record of 35-49.
MSU has never faced any of the teams in this year's Felpausch/MSU Classic.
St. John's makes its second Felpausch Classic appearance after playing in the tourney in 1997. The Red Storm lost to Michigan (72-55) in the first round and Fresno State (60-49) in the consolation game.
Seniors Maxann Reese and Kristen Rasmussen have been selected as team co-captains for 1999-2000. Reese and Rasmussen were tri-captains last year along with the graduated Pernille Dalgaard.
Rasmussen joins Brenda Jezowski and Christine Powers as the only players in Spartan history to serve as team captain three times. Rasmussen was also a co-captain as a sophomore in 1997-98 with Jamie Wesley.
Guard Vnemina Reese and forward Nikki Davis are making successful comebacks from reconstructive surgery. The duo suffered anterior cruciate ligament tears within four days of each other last season and underwent reconstructive surgery on the same day (Jan. 5).
Both players returned to the court over the summer and are expected to be 100 percent for the start of the regular season.
AT THE POINT
Redshirt freshman Vnemina Reese is expected to start at the point this weekend with junior Christie Pung seeing action off the bench.
Reese started six games at the point before missing the remainder of her rookie season with a knee injury.
She averaged 5.7 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game prior to the injury.
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
Recker, a native of Auburn, Ind., is a 5-10 perimeter player who provides MSU will another outside threat.
The Spartans got an early start on their 1999-2000 season with a 10-day trip to British Columbia, Canada in August.
MSU practiced for 10 days prior to departing for Canada and posted a 5-0 record during its tour.
There are a couple of changes in the Big Ten schedule this season that should have a positive impact on all of the conference teams.
The league will play its Big Ten games on Thursday and Sunday instead of the Friday/Sunday format of past years. The change will give teams two days to prepare for its next opponent instead of just one day.
The Big Ten Tournament has also made a minor change with first round games beginning on Thursday and the title contest being played on Sunday. In the past, the tournament started on Friday and concluded on Monday.
All of MSU's weekday home games will begin at 7 p.m., this season.
The Big Ten coaches picked MSU to tie with Michigan for fifth place in the league in a preseason poll released at the conference media day on Oct. 31.
Penn State is the favorite to win the league crown followed by Illinois, Wisconsin and Purdue.
Michigan State has won the Felpausch/MSU Classic six times and has appeared in the championship game in 10 of the previous 11 tournaments.
The Spartans lost an 89-72 decision to Michigan in the championship game of the last tourney in 1997.
THE QUEST BEGINS
Senior Maxann Reese begins the season 576 points shy of breaking Kisha Kelley's all-time scoring record of 1,668.
Reese, who scored an MSU single-season record 546 points last season, would need to average close to 20 points per game to top Kelley's career mark.
Senior Kristen Rasmussen has recorded a double-double in three-straight games heading into Friday's contest with Appalachian State.
Rasmussen posted 12 double-doubles last year and has a total of 23 in her career.
AT THE BRESLIN CENTER
The Spartans have had a winning record at home 25 times in 27 years of play.
MSU has an all-time record of 211-100 (.678) at home and a mark of 86-42 (.672) in 10 years at the Breslin Center.
SPARTANS DROP EXHIBITION GAME
MSU dropped an 84-74 decision to Soproni Postas in an exhibition game at the Breslin Center on Nov. 13. With the win, the Hungarian team improved to 8-1 on its nine-game tour of the United States.
?That was a very good foreign team, probably one of the best that we have played in the last 10 years,? MSU coach Karen Langeland said. ?They tested us in a lot of different ways. We have a lot of good tape to watch and a lot of situations to learn from. I am happy that we have four days of practice before our first official game.?
The game was close for most of the first half and Soproni Postas went into the intermission with a slim 35-33 advantage. Senior forward Kristen Rasmussen's layup at the 13:42 mark of the second half tied the contest at 46, but the Hungarians went on an 18-2 run to take its biggest lead of the game at 64-48 with 9:33 to go.
Senior Maxann Reese hit back-to-back three-pointers during a 17-5 Spartan run as MSU cut the deficit to four at 69-65 with 5:10 left in the game. Krisztina Szemeredi answered by scoring nine of her game-high 31 points down the stretch to put the game out of reach.
Rasmussen paced the Spartans with 23 points and 12 rebounds, while Reese finished the contest with 16 points. Junior Becky Cummings contributed 15 points and seven rebounds, while rookie Maria Recker came off the bench to score eight points.
?Maria is a shooter and she did what I expected her to do on offense,? Langeland said. ?What I didn't expect, was for her to play as well as she did on defense.?
SPARTANS SIGN FORWARD FROM CONNECTICUT
Michigan State signed Anne Peck to a national letter of intent during the early signing period.
The 6-2 forward from Madison, Conn., was an Honorable Mention USA Today All-American in 1999 after averaging 22.8 points and 12.6 rebounds per game as a junior.
Heading into her senior year at Daniel Hand High School, Peck has career averages of 18.1 points, 10.9 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game. She has scored 1,316 points and collected 747 rebounds during her career.
An all-league, all-area and all-state performer, Peck averaged 26.8 points and 13.6 rebounds per game during the state playoffs last season. She was selected to the Women's Basketball Coaches Association Super Select Camp and has been a member of Connecticut's AAU state championship team for four years.