Dec. 13, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. -
With final exams for the semester complete, the Michigan State women's basketball team returns to the court on Sunday, hosting Oakland at 2 p.m. The Spartans are looking to snap their three-game losing streak. Prior to the game, the Spartan athletic department will hold its annual "Bust the Bus".
BUST THE BUS
During Sunday's game day, the Michigan State athletic department will be holding its "Bust the Bus" event. Fans are encouraged to bring a toy to help benefit the less fortunate children during the holiday season, with all donations going directly to Toys for Tots. Each toy donation will be good for four general admission tickets to either Sunday's game or the Dec. 29 game against Colgate. The bus will be parked on the sidewalk between Gates B and C from 12-3 p.m.
The Grizzlies are 2-6 on the season, but have won two of their last three games. Oakland is led by sophomore Olivia Nash, who has posted team-bests of 13.3 points and 9.1 rebounds. The Grizzlies have recorded a double-double in six of their first eight games, as Nash has four and Kim Bee two. Oakland has struggled offensively this season, averaging 60.9 points, while shooting 35.0% from the field, 29.4% from the 3-point line and 55.3% from the free throw stripe.
Oakland graduate Jeff Tungate begins his first season as head coach, after spending the past six seasons as the Grizzlies' men's associate head coach.
AGAINST THE GRIZZLIES
Michigan State leads the all-time series against Oakland, 9-4, including a 5-2 mark in East Lansing. The Spartans have won five-in-a-row, including each of the last two seasons. The Spartans have won the last two seasons by an average margin of 28.5 points per game.
Klarissa Bell is averaging 10.5 points, including a team-high 16 points last season, in just 24.5 minutes in her two games against Oakland. Bell is 9-for-14 (64.3%) from the field. Despite playing only 12.5 minutes in the two games against the Grizzlies, Jasmine Hines is 7-for-8 (87.5%) from the field and averaging 7.0 points. Becca Mills has also been effective in limited minutes vs. OU, posting 9.0 points and 6.5 rebounds in 21.0 minutes, while shooting 8-for-15 (53.3%).
AGAINST IN-STATE SCHOOLS
Michigan State has had great success against other collegiate programs in the state of Michigan over the past 11 seasons. Since the beginning of the 2002-03 season, the Spartans are 39-2 (.951) against in-state rivals, including a 24-2 (.923) mark under Coach Merchant. All-time, Michigan State is 172-57 (.751) against other Michigan schools.
LAST MEETING (MSU 75, OAKLAND 43 - Dec. 5, 2012 - Rochester, Mich.)
- Klarissa Bell led the way with 16 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two blocks, while Annalise Pickrel poured in 14 points.
- The Spartans opened with a 7-2 lead in the first four minutes and never trailed in the game.
- Michigan State maintained a double-digit lead for the entire second half, but put the game away in the final 10 minutes. With 10:20 left, MSU ran off 10-unanswered points to go up 60-36, and extended that run to 18-2 over an eight minute span.
- The Spartans shot a season-high 56.9% from the field, including a 72.0% mark in the second half.
- MSU also controlled the glass with a +23 edge in rebounding (43-20), and was +24 (38-14) in points in the paint.
- The 32 point margin of victory was the largest in the series between the two schools.
- Oakland set a single-game home attendance record with 2,635 fans.
QUICK HITTERS FROM SATURDAY (VIRGINIA TECH 72, rv/No. 25 MICHIGAN STATE 66)
- Becca Mills led the Spartans with her first double-double of her career with game-highs of 19 points and 10 rebounds off the bench.
- Virginia Tech scored the first 10 points of the afternoon and would grow its lead to 13 (19-6) with 11 minutes until halftime. The Spartans would run off the next 10 points and extend their run to 19-3, to take a 25-22 lead with 4:32 on the clock. However, the Hokies took the momentum into the break, closing the half on a 16-6 run.
- The Hokies maintained their lead and increased it up to 12 points (55-43) with 9:35 left. After a Spartan timeout, MSU scored 12 unanswered points to even the score at 55 with 6:40 to go. The game would be tied on two other occasions down the stretch, including as late as 4:07, but Virginia Tech posted a 10-1 run late to put away the Spartans.
- Branndais Agee made her first career start, scoring 11 points.
- For the second-straight game, the Spartans played without starting point guard Kiana Johnson (infection).
- Michigan State out-rebounded Virginia Tech 42-37. The Hokies entered the day with a +12.6 rebound margin for the season.
- Cara Miller scored a career-high seven points and tied for career high with 19 minutes. Her two 3-pointers made, also was a career high.
- Annalise Pickrel played all 40 minutes for the third-straight game.
DOUBLING IT UP
On Saturday at Virginia Tech, junior Becca Mills became the fifth different Spartan this season to post a double-double. MSU is the only school in the Big Ten with five different players with a double-double (three schools have had three different players). In Michigan State history, it is the first time that a team has had five different double-doubles.
For the year, MSU has six total double-doubles. All of last year, the Spartans only had four.
Getting to the free throw line this season has been integral in the success of the team. The Spartans are 5-0 this season when going to the line more than their opponents, while losing all four games when the opponent has more attempts. In the five wins, Michigan State is averaging 26.0 free throw attempts and putting the opponent to the line 16.4 times, while in the losses, MSU is only attempting 9.8 per game and allowing 20.8.
COMFORTABLE AT HOME
Michigan State's offensive numbers at home and away have been drastically different. In the five home games, the Spartans are averaging 87.0 points, while shooting 49.7% from the field and 40.4% from 3-point, where they made 8.0 per game. However, on the road, MSU is scoring only 65.0 points, and shooting 39.4% from the field and 25.3% from behind the arc, with 5.5 3-pointers per game. In addition, their rebound margin at home is +10.4, while +1.0 on the road, and their assist-to-turnover ratio is 1.2 (18.6-15.6) at Breslin and 0.76 (13.5-17.8) on the road.
Individually, redshirt freshman Aerial Powers leads the team in Breslin Center scoring with 16.8 points and rebounding with 8.4, but has posted only 9.0 points and 5.3 rebounds outside of East Lansing.
Michigan State has had to rely heavily on the production of three freshman early on in the 2013-14 season. Branndais Agee, Tori Jankoska and Aerial Powers have all started at least one game and all have played a prominent role this year. The trio has combined to produce 43.0% of the Spartan offense, as Powers (13.3 points) and Jankoska (12.9) rank second and third on the team. The percentage is the highest in head coach Suzy Merchant's seven seasons. In the Big Ten, the percentage is third this season, trailing Indiana (52.8%) and Northwestern (50.0%).
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 38-16 record, while averaging 9.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 33.8 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.
This season, Bell is fifth on the team with 8.7 points, but is second in and assists (3.4) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.6), and fourth in both rebounds (5.2) and steals (1.2).
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%. So far this season, the trend has continues, as in the five wins, Bell is averaging 9.8 points and 4.2 assists, while shooting 47.2%, and in the four losses, she is averaging 7.3 points and 2.5 assists, while shooting 29.7%.
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 nine games, she leads the team with 14.2 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.0 blocks, in addition to averaging 2.6 assists (third on the team) in a team-high 33.6 minutes. Pickrel is shooting 51.1% from the field, 44.1% from the 3-point line (15-for-34) and 85.0% (17-for-20) from the free throw line. Among Big Ten players, Pickrel ranks among the top-15 in the Big Ten in eight different categories, including sixth in 3-point field goal percentage, 10th in rebounds and minutes, 12th in field goal percentage, 13th in offensive rebounds, and 14th in points, blocks and 3-pointers.
Pickrel has played 40 minutes in each of the last three games.
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 that year, she was just 19-for-63 (30.2%) from the 3-point arc in her first two seasons at MSU.
Pickrel is currently 11th in Spartan history with 99 3-point field goals made, while ranking fourth with a career 36.1% 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 fifth on the Spartan career list with 4.3 assists per game. She has been equally careful with the ball, posting a career assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.95 (273:140), which is second in the MSU record books. So far in 2013-14, Johnson is fourth in the Big Ten, 40th in the nation and leads the team with 5.7 assists per game, and leads the conference and is third in the country with a 4.44 assist-to-turnover ratio.
She has led MSU in assists in her last four games, totaling 30 assists to only four turnovers. In her last game, Johnson dished out a career-high 11 assists vs. IPFW. The total ties for the eighth-most in a single game, and was the most by a Spartan since Donita Johnson vs. Indiana on Feb. 5, 1999. Johnson missed the Spartans' last two games, where the team has totaled 39 turnovers and just 23 assists.
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.
Mills has been up-and-down so far this season, having gone two games in double-figures, two games below, two games in double-figures and two games below over the first eight games, before exploding for 19 points and 10 rebounds off the bench on Saturday at Virginia Tech. It was Mills' first career double-double. For the season, she is fourth on the team with 10.4 points and third with 6.4 rebounds in 28.0 minutes.
Freshman Tori Jankoska has made a quick impression on the 2013-14 Spartan season. She came off the bench for the first seven games, before entering the starting lineup last Wednesday for the injured Kiana Johnson. Jankoska is third on the team and 23rd in the Big Ten with 12.9 points, having scored in double-figures in six of the nine games. Jankoska was the first Spartan freshman ever to begin her MSU career with four-straight double-figure scoring games.
Jankoska has been a tremendous threat from behind the arc, ranking eighth in the Big Ten in 3-pointers per game (1.9). She has also been effective from the free throw line, ranking second on the team with a 80.6% clip.
At Temple, Jankoska gathered her first career double-double with team-highs of 19 points and 11 rebounds, a season high. She also went 10-for-12 from the free throw line, the most free throws made by a Spartan since Feb. 6, 2011 (Brittney Thomas vs. Purdue).
Against Dayton, Jankoska and redshirt freshman Aerial Powers each scored 24 points. It was the most points scored by a Spartan freshman since Kalisha Keane scored 24 points in the WNIT Championship game vs. Marquette on April 5, 2008.
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.
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, but Powers has been the first to make an immediate impact. She is second on the team with 13.3 points, which is 21st in the Big Ten, and is tied for the team lead with 7.0 rebounds, which is 10th in the conference, and leads with 2.1 steals, which is eighth. She is also is averaging 2.1 assists in just 24.1 minutes. Powers is also seventh in the Big Ten in field goal percentage (52.6%).
Powers had her best statistical output of the season vs. IPFW, posting her first career double-double with game-highs of 28 points and 14 rebounds. Her points were the most by a Spartan freshman since Nov. 29, 2006 (and the second-most all-time by a freshman) and her rebounds were the most by a MSU freshman since Jan. 22, 2009. Powers followed it up with another double-double at Florida State with 19 points and 10 rebounds. She became the first Spartan since Courtney Schiffauer on Dec. 8 and 16 last season to record back-to-back double-doubles, and the first MSU freshman to do so since Lykendra Johnson on Feb. 8 and 12 in 2009.
Agee, who made her first career start on Saturday at Virginia Tech, has been up-and-down so far this season. Against Detroit, she became the first Spartan freshman to post a double-double since Lykendra Johnson at Indiana on Feb. 12, 2009. Agee led MSU with 17 points and 11 rebounds, both career highs, in a career-high 23 minutes. For the season, Agee is averaging 6.8 points and 4.3 rebounds in only 13.9 minutes. She also leads the team with a 54.3% field goal percentage.
Junior Jasmine Hines came to East Lansing as Michigan's high school career points and rebounds record holder, but her minutes have been limited over her first two seasons at Michigan State. However in those minutes, her production has been effective, averaging 6.2 points and 3.6 rebounds in only 14.0 minutes. Hines has led MSU in field goal percentage in each of her first two seasons.
Hines returned to the lineup for the first time this season on Wednesday at Florida State, after missing the first seven games due to a concussion.
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 62-5 (92.5%), but on Sunday had a 44-game winning streak snapped when reaching that number. Also, when they hold opponents to 60 points or less, their record is 112-11 (91.1%).
CLOSING IT OUT
The Spartans have been extremely effective closing out games over the last couple years, winning 85 of their last 86 games (98.8%) when leading with five minutes left, including winning 36 games in a row. In Coach Merchant's tenure, Michigan State is 127-5 (96.2%) when holding a lead with five minutes left.
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 145-66 (68.7%). 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 145 wins are second among Big Ten schools, trailing only Ohio State (155). 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.
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 83 of its last 100 opponents (83.0%). After getting out-rebounded by 23 in its opener at Notre Dame, Michigan State has a +9.9 rebound margin in its last eight games. For the season, the Spartans are +6.2 on the glass to rank fourth in the Big Ten.
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.
The 2013-14 basketball season is the Spartans' 25th inside the Breslin Center. MSU has an all-time record of 254-85 (.749) at Breslin and have been even more dominant of late in its cozy confines, having won 48 of its last 55 games (.873).
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.
MORE TIME, MORE SUCCESS
Michigan State is 18-2 in overtime games over the last 11 seasons in overtime games. The Spartans had won 15 straight before a loss to Illinois on Jan. 26, 2012.
ON THIS DATE
Michigan State is 4-4 all-time on Dec. 15. The Spartans have not played on this date since 2001 and just once since 1991.