Nov. 18, 2011
ABOUT FLORIDA GULF COAST
The Eagles (1-1) are hosting their first game of the season, opening up with a loss at Seton Hall (57-51) and a win at Florida International (80-72). Nicoya Jackson, who was named Atlantic Sun Player of the Week, led FGCU with 18.5 points and 7.0 assists in the first two games. Sarah Hansen is averaging a double-double with 12.5 points and a team-best 10.0 rebounds. FGCU has made 22 3-pointers in its first two games, led by eight from Jackson and six from Kelsey Jacobson.
FGCU returnd four starters and eight letterwinners from last year's team that went 28-4 overall and won the Atlantic Sun with a 17-3 conference record. The Eagles went 18-1 at the Alico Arena last season. Florida Gulf Coast started its basktball program for the 2002-03 season and began play in Division I in 2007-08.
AGAINST THE EAGLES
Michigan State beat Florida Gulf Coast 94-71 in their lone meeting during the 2009-10 season. Six Spartans scored in double figures in the Dec. 13, 2009 meeting at Breslin Center, led by 15 points from Jasmine Thomas. MSU shot 64.9% from the field and 68.4% from behind the arc.
IN THE SUNSHINE STATE
MSU is making its eighth trip to the state, having posted an 9-4 record in their previous journeys, including a 3-0 record last season. Last year, the Spartans won two games at the UCF Thanksgiving Classic, before upsetting No. 15 Florida State, 72-64 on Dec. 1. Prior to last year, MSU last played in the state on Dec. 10, 2005, when it visited South Florida and came home with an 81-66 victory. The previous four trips were in-season tournaments in Miami during the 1984-85, 1990-91, 1999-00 and 2000-01 seasons.
In the season opening loss, Michigan State allowed Villanova to shoot 43.8% from the field, including 52.6% (10-of-19) from 3-point range. In the three wins since then, the Spartans have held their opponents to 29.4% shooting from the field and 26.9% from behind the arc (only 4.7 makes per game). They have also forced 24.0 turnovers a game in those three games, after forcing only 12 in the opener.
Freshman Jasmine Hines came to East Lansing as Michigan's high school career points and rebounds record holder. It was thought she would need some time to adjust to the collegiate game, but through the first couple weeks of the season that hasn't been the case. Hines is second on the team with 10.3 points, despite playing only 11.0 minutes a game. She has shot 76.5% (13-of-17) from the field, which is fourth in the conference, and grabbed 4.3 rebounds. If you pro-rate her production over 40 minutes, she would be averaging 37.5 points and 15.6 rebounds.
CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARDS
Senior Lykendra Johnson entered the season with the reputation as one of the best rebounders in the nation, and she has lived up to that billing early in the 2011-12 campaign. After just three rebounds in the opener, Johnson has exploded for 35 rebounds in the last three games, including a career-high 20 in Tuesday's win over IPFW. Those 20 rebounds were the seventh most ever by a Spartan and the most since Kristen Rasmussen grabbed 20 on Dec. 30, 1997. They are also the most in the Big Ten since Penn State's Nikki Greene had 20 on Jan. 23, 2011.
Johnson is now tied for third in the Big Ten with a team-best 9.5 per game, after finishing fifth in the conference last year (8.9).
Johnson moved into the top-10 on the MSU career rebounding list last season and is currently eighth with 782 rebounds. In terms of offensive rebounds, she is at an even quicker pace up the Spartan all-time charts. Since the stat began being recorded in 1986-87, Johnson has the third most offensive rebounds all-time (316) and her 3.1 a game average is second to Liz Shimek (3.4).
INJURY BUG STRIKES AGAIN
Redshirt freshman Madison Williams will miss the rest of the 2011-12 season, after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her left knee in Tuesday's game vs. IPFW. A date for surgery has yet to be determined. The typical recovery time is 4-6 months.
The 6-7 center missed all of last season after tearing her right ACL in the Green & White scrimmage on Oct. 31, 2010. Williams had appeared in the first three games, playing only 25 minutes. She was averaging 3.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks, while shooting 50.0% from the field.
Williams entered Michigan State with a laundry list of high school accolades. She was just the second McDonald's All-American in program history, in addition to being named an USA Today All-American, the 2010 Gatorade Michigan Player of the Year, the Associated Press Class B Co-Player of the Year and a four-time all-state selection. She led Detroit Country Day to a 100-4 record in her four seasons, highlighted by two Class B state titles and a runner-up finish as a senior. In her senior season, she averaged 12.5 points, 11 rebounds and nine blocks.
MILLS NAMED BIG TEN FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK
Becca Mills was named the initial Big Ten Freshman of the Week on Monday. Mills averaged 12.0 points and 9.0 rebounds, earning all-tournament honors at the Iona Tip-Off Tournament. Starting the first two games, she shot 56.3% from the field and went 2-of-4 from behind the arc.
In her debut, Mills battled foul trouble throughout limiting her to 22 minutes, but totaled 12 points and nine rebounds, both team highs, going 5-of-8 from the field. Her 12 points are the 11th most by a Spartan in their debut, while her nine rebounds were fifth best. While playing 16 minutes vs. North Carolina A&T on Saturday, she posted another 12-point, 9-rebound effort, also adding a block and a steal.
Mills becomes the first Spartan to earn his honor in the two-plus seasons that award has been given out.
CRASHING THE BOARDS
The Spartans are off to a positive start on the boards early in the 2011-12 season. Through the first four games, MSU leads the Big Ten in rebound margin (+16.8), including a +65 margin combind in its last three contests. Two Spartans rank among the top-10 in the conference individually with senior Lykendra Johnson tied for third with 9.5 a game and freshman Becca Mills is tied for seventh with 8.5. Mills is also fifth with 3.5 offensive boards a game, and Johnson is tied for 10th with 3.0.
Last season, Michigan State led the Big Ten in rebound margin, offensive rebounds and both rebound percentage categories. MSU was +8-4 in rebound margin, which was also ninth in the nation and broke the school's single-season record. The Spartans also topped the league with 15.5 offensive rebounds a game, which tied the previous single-season record (2005-06).
MSU has out-rebounded 27 of its last 30 opponents dating back to last season.
STREAKING FROM THE LINE
Senior Porsche Poole had her consecutive free throw streak of 21-straight snapped on Thursday when she missed her first attempt against Western Michigan. The stretch was tied for the ninth longest in MSU history. She made her next seven attempts in the game, and has made 28 of her last 29 (96.6%) from the charity stripe.
SPLASH IN THE POOLE
Senior Porsche Poole had a career game last Saturday vs. North Carolina A&T. Poole set career highs with 24 points (scoring 20 in the first half), six assists and five steals. She went 10-11 from the field, marking the second-best shooting effort in Spartan history. Poole again led MSU in scoring on Thursday against Western Michigan, scoring 18 points and dishing out five assists.
In her career, Poole's offensive success has been a great indicator for a Spartan win. When she has led the team in scoring, MSU is 9-0, while the Spartans are 17-2 when she scores in double-figures.
Poole has increased her scoring average in each of her seasons at MSU, averaging 3.8 as a freshman, 4.6 as a sophomore and 6.1 last season. Through four games this season, she leads the team with 13.3 points per game.
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 43-4 (91.5%), including winning their last 26 games, while when they hold opponents to 60 points or less, their record is 75-8 (90.4%).
AMONG SPARTAN GREATS
Lykendra Johnson enters her senior season among the program's leaders in many statistical categories, and has a chance to finish among the elite players in MSU history. Currently she is third all-time at MSU in offensive rebounds (316), fourth in blocks (109), eighth in rebounds (782), 15th in free throws made (234), 16th with 174 steals and 17th with 48 3-point field goals. Johnson needs only 66 points to become the 22nd 1,000-point scorer in MSU history.
A WINNING START
Head coach Suzy Merchant, who won the most games by a Spartan coach over their first four seasons, is 98-42 (.700) since her arrival prior to the 2007-08 season. All-time, Merchant is 299-162 (.649) in her 17 years as a head coach, including stops at Eastern Michigan (1998-07) and Saginaw Valley State (1995-98).
ON THIS DATE
Michigan State is 3-2 all-time on November 19. The Spartans had won its first three games on this date before losing to No. 5 Notre Dame in 2009 and No. 2 Baylor last season.