March 21, 2009

 

Head Coach Rick Insell

Opening Statement…
We are excited about being here, and we are ready to get started.

On how Alysha Clark fulfills her role on the team…
Our offense is what we call our system, and Alysha is that system in a position that Amber Holt was in last year and Chrissy Givens before that.  She does a good job by catching the basketball well and scoring.  She also does a good job of getting the ball back out to her teammates.  We are very proud to have Alysha, but we are more than just Alysha Clark and I think she will tell you that also.

On their potential to break up the rematch between Joanne P. McCallie and Michigan State…
We have not even talked about that to be honest with you.  We don’t think about all that because our focus is taking care of Middle Tennessee State University and we will let everyone else take care of themselves as well.  We want to come in and play our game, and be worried about what we are going to do and we know what we have to do both defensively and offensively, and we are not going to change.  Michigan State is great team, has a lot of size, is well coached, and fundamentally sound.  We have looked at a lot of film on them, and I am sure they have looked at a lot of film as us so it’s going to be a great game.

On the status of Emily Queen and Brandi Brown…
Emily is about 95 percent right now.  She was probably 80 to 85 percent in the conference tournament and after she came back from spring break she has been looking good.  She has had some of her best practices recently, and before she got hurt she had started 22 or 23 games for us.  Brandi Brown is a unique person because she is a tough match up.  She can play in the post, even though she doesn’t like to, but she can play the post as well as anyone.  She is 6’ 3” but she can also go out and shoot from about 26 or 27 feet and is pretty accurate.  She is very intelligent as well, with an unreal basketball IQ.  She is also a great passer and goes along with the uniqueness of our team that includes Chelsea (Lymon), Emily (Queen), Alysha (Clark), Ann Marie Lanning, the other young ladies we have on this team. Everyone plays a role on this team, and everyone knows what their role is.

Junior forward Alysha Clark

On the challenges Michigan State poses…
We’ve definitely noticed their size. Their guards are bigger than our guards, and then of course in the post. I don’t think it will be a problem for us, though, because all year we’ve been playing against opponents that are bigger than us at that position, so we don’t really approach it any differently than we have all season.

On Michigan State’s junior center Allyssa DeHaan…
She definitely has size. The post player from Arizona who is 6’7” and Kelley Cain from Tennessee who is 6’6” and of course the Paris twins down in Oklahoma, they all have their own strengths and their own weaknesses. Playing against the different types of taller girls has helped me throughout the season, and our team especially, to know what type of big girl is down in the post.

On positional match-ups against Michigan State…
I definitely think speed is one of my strengths and that’s what I have to use against taller players, because obviously I can’t shoot over them. As Coach was talking about Brandi [Brown], she is one of the best shooters in the country and I would put money on her everyday because that’s how much confidence I have in her and we know what she can do. He was saying how our team is so unique, because we may not have the tallest players, but against bigger teams if you go back and look at stats, we get off as many shots as we do when we are playing against teams our size. That obviously says something and I think that is credit to our IQ as a team. We have to be smarter than other teams because we are not as big or fast, but I think an IQ can hurt more than athleticism.

Junior forward Jackie Pickel

On MTSU’s strengths compared to Michigan State’s strengths…
I think we can use their big size to our advantage if we play well on defense. We have to be smart especially as guards because they are going to post us up. We’re known for our press defense and running the ball and we’re not going to change anything. We are going to play our game and I think maybe that can be our advantage.

On the team’s press and fast break…
One of the things Coach Insell always likes to say to us is that we need to be the team that goes to them, we don’t need to let them come to us. We have to put pressure on them and make the tempo go for our advantage. Everybody is more athletic than us and everybody is taller than us, so if we just stand back and let them play their game, that is going to be more to their advantage and our disadvantage. We have to use our press and really just pressure them and see what happens from there.

On the importance of junior guard Chelsia Lymon…
She is very important. On defense, she is usually at the top of the press and she gets us going with her pressure. And then on offense, there might be some that can match up with her in the country, but I don’t think there is any better point guard in the country. For our team, she is probably the most important. She is the head of the snake on offense and defense.


On the team’s ability to shoot the 3-pointer…
I think first of all, our confidence in the three comes from practices all year long. If we have an inch of an opening, we better put the ball up or we’re going to get yelled at. I think that puts confidence in every one of our players. Everybody on our team can shoot the three at any time and we all have the green light. I think that works well to our advantage. Against a team like Michigan State who can defend the three well, it’s hard to match up against a team like us because you have Alysha [Clark] on the inside and if you double up on her, we’re a very good passing team, so if she passes it out to us we’re very good at making the extra pass and we just have to use that to our advantage and put the ball up.

Head Coach Suzy Merchant

Opening Statement…
We are really excited to be here, certainly to be one in the field of 64. It is a really exciting time: March Madness, March Magic, whatever you want to call it. I think everyone has the hopes and dreams to survive and advance and keep playing another day, and that is where I feel we are at, along with the other three teams. I think we are really excited to be hosting here at Michigan State and we are ready to play; I think everyone on this team is just ready to play.

On Middle Tennessee State Forward Alysha Clark…
She has great footwork, as with any great scorer it starts with their feet and she does an amazing job of staying low, staying wide, getting people on either hip and holding her position. And then she is just a tremendous finisher, she has an array of moves. As for her height, people may talk about her having a lack of height in the post, but she certainly makes up for that with the ability to keep her feet to the ball, keep her defender off, she can score facing up or on a dribble drive attack and she is a great offensive rebounder. The third thing is that she is great at getting fouled; she is just a tough matchup. She has been proving that all year against every team that they have stepped on the floor with, she has been proving that she can score against anybody.

On Middle Tennessee State forward Brandi Brown…
She is their best percentage 3-point shooter and she had taken close to 200 3’s; they are second in the nation for a reason and that is because all four kids can shoot it. Their swing guys can really put the ball in the basket from the arc and their point guard does a great job of shooting. I think the final attack that you brought up is Brandi Brown as a four-man; a lot of people have the traditional post game where they don’t shoot the ball that much or that frequently from that position. They do an amazing job of spacing the floor and that makes it difficult to for the post players to get put and guard that shot.

On Middle Tennessee State point guard Chelsia Lymon…
She’s one of those kids that the more film you watch, you appreciate her with every possession. She may be silent offensively for five minutes and then the next thing you know she scores three buckets. She gets the defensive stops when they need it and she has a calming presence on that team, she never gets rattled. They have great composure and I think that it starts at the point guard position. She does an amazing job for them, you mentioned her as Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year, she has the ability to pick your pocket. There is a reason that they turn people over, they are on top of the nation in turning people over and a lot of that has to do with her.

On how Michigan State plans to guard Alysha Clark…
I think that we have a different plan depending on how things go and what kind of lineups we have in. Certainly, she is extremely talented and we have some thoughts on how to guard her, but I am not sure that she is completely stoppable. She is extremely talented and I am sure that she will cause problems for us no matter what we decide to do.

On who will guard Alysha Clark…
We haven’t really gone through matchups yet to be honest with you. We have talked a little bit and we have some things that we can do, but I just think that right now we need to just take care of their entire team. The focus can’t just be on one player because they are so talented all around her. You can’t make the mistake of focusing on just her. Middle Tennessee State is very talented and she is very talented, but she is not the end-all be-all, she has great players around her and I think that is the biggest challenge, certainly bigger than who is going to defend her.

On the defense of Middle Tennessee State…
They do a great job in a lot of different ways with their pressure. It starts in the quarter-court, or their man-to-man, or their denial. They guard the post, get great pressure and get great backside help and that is their foundation. From there they can extend from there with their half court trap or their full court 2-2-1. You’re right, they have a lot of different looks, and you’re right, that has been a little bit of our Achilles heel, especially since we lost Brittney Thomas, but I feel like that we have proven that we can do it, especially when we put our mind to it. We proved it by beating some of the teams that we have beat: Purdue, Ohio State and obviously Iowa. I know we can do it. It is a matter of doing if for forty minutes and never letting our guards down. This is a team that gets a lot of points off of their defense and we can’t let that happen.

On treating these types of tournament games as road games…
 That is what we have done, we put them up in a hotel last night. It is a special time of year. Whether you are home or not, it is a different situation and it is special. It is important that we stay connected as a team. We had film and a team meal as we would on the road and the kids got to watch our men play last night. There is nothing wrong with putting them together. If we weren’t hosting, that is what we would be doing, so we want to keep it consistent with what we would like to be doing in the future here. So yeah, we definitely put them in a hotel.

Junior center Allyssa DeHaan
On the team’s journey since Head Coach Susie Merchant has taken over…
I can’t believe it’s already been two years and I think we’ve come a long way, especially with what we were given and the cards we were dealt. Coach Merchant came into that situation and I think she’s done a great job bringing our program up this far. We’re just excited for right now, this is what we work for the whole season. It’s March, it’s magic and I think she’s done a good job.

Senoir guard Mia Johnson

On playing in the NCAA tournament…
It’s great and really exciting, we’ve been going hard, we’re in good position and we’re just really excited to go out and play tomorrow.

On the perimeter play matchup between the two teams…
They’ve shot a lot, like over 800, three point shots

On the potential matchup between Michigan State and Duke…
Right now we’re just focusing on Middle Tennessee