March 23, 2009

 

MICHIGAN STATE QUOTES


Head Coach Suzy Merchant

Opening Statement…
We’re excited to continue in the ‘survive and advance mode.’ Obviously we have a big challenge with Duke ahead of us but I know we’re looking forward to it and I’m sure they are as well. Both are probably trying to figure out what the best way to attack each other is and leave it up to Tuesday night at 7 p.m.

On how she deals with the team in concern to facing former head coach Joanne P. McCallie…
The reality of it is, it is what it is and I think you just embrace it. I think she did a an amazing job here at Michigan State and a lot of these kids came to Michigan State for obvious reasons that she had put together a very good program and they had achieved at a high level. I’m not one that you try to shy away from that. I think that we should really embrace what she did. I’m excited that I have the opportunity to put my own stamp on things like she did from Coach Langeland. You can’t really get caught up in that. I think the media really likes it and that’s ok, it’s a great story but the task at hand is still what we need to focus on. I think as a coach, no matter who you’re playing or what you’re doing, if you go beyond the realm of things you can’t control, you start to lose control. Our biggest thing is we just want to put the best game plan that we can together against an extremely talented, top to bottom, team and she’s done a great job at Duke. We want to represent Michigan State well and like Lauren [Aitch] said, you just want to keep it up to the court and keep the coaches out of it. We don’t play the game, the kids do. I really think that Tuesday will be a good game for everybody and you just embrace what she did. She did a great job here.

On if she’s asked her athletes about Coach McCallie’s defensive system…
They actually don’t play that zone as much as they play man. What they do is pressure. They do have their one 1-2-2 matchup and they do play it. I think their most aggressive style of defense proven all year has been their man-to-man. Their zone is aggressive too, but I really feel like when you look at it what gets you is their pressure in the backcourt, their 2-2-1, their athleticism, their length, their ability to cover a lot of ground. The court-to-court, it starts there and you can build back. I think the thing that makes them pretty special is their ability to extend the floor 94 feet for as long as they want, as deep as they can go and then fall back into either thing is very effective. Their man is very intimidating in terms of how they pressure the ball and deny, and their zone is very intimidating in different ways too. I say intimidating in the sense that obviously they can cover a lot of ground and they have length, height and that kind of thing. To me, we have to attack it both ways. Their man is as equally impressive as their zone.

On Coach McCallie’s defensive system, and the recent play of Cetera Washington…
I think there are similar styles from watching film in the past here at Michigan State to Duke. Obviously I think their pressure is there, they have their 1-2-2 match up. I think the biggest difference is here they didn’t play man-to-man, their [Duke] they play man-to-man. I think that’s a difference and it’s a big difference. They do it extremely well. They can really lock you up on the perimeter, they can take out your inside game, and they’ve got a great shot blocker in Chante Black if you get to the rim. They can double, they can not double you, they can hedge ball screens, and they can trap ball screens. The biggest difference is they do play man-to-man out of that pressure. To answer your question about Cetera [Washington], I think she’s been someone that’s been giving us good minutes down the stretch. I was really impressed with her offensive ability to make things happen for us. She’s always a spark defensively, but I thought she really came through for us on the offensive end with some rebound put backs, assists and did a nice job of taking the ball to the hole. I thought in particular, she always gives us a spark, but her spark offensively I thought was the difference for us in the Middle Tennessee game.

On Chante Black and her match up with Allyssa DeHaan…
Chante Black is a very talented post player. She’s got very good hands, feet, she’s explosive. She can go over both shoulders. On one side of the ball you look at kid’s tendencies, and she’s so talented that she doesn’t really have a tendency. I think that’s probably one of her special attributes. She doesn’t have a pet thing you can take away from her because she can go over each shoulder, she’s got an up and under, she’s got a jumper and she can get to the rim. I think the other piece, that’s equally important with the two [Chante Black and Allyssa DeHaan] of them going against each other is the rebounding. I don’t know how much people talk about Duke’s rebounding, but Duke’s rebounding is special. It’s as good as I’ve seen in the country in terms of not only how they go, how many go, but how talented they are and explosive and powerful they are. I think that starts with Chante [Black] and I think it goes into a lot of their other players, from their swingman to their foreman and even their point guard can get into the action.

On if Coach McCallie knowning most of the team gives them an advantage…
Sure, they probably have a little bit of an edge with some our kids strengths and weaknesses. I would think that’s just a natural thing. If you’ve coached someone for a year or two years, you know what shoulder they like, what they don’t like defensively, maybe what they do well but you have to take away. So there’s probably an advantage there, but hopefully the biggest thing for us is having our keys that we have to play the best game possible to give ourselves a chance to win. You can’t really get caught up in what are they going to do to me or how are they going to do it. You have to prepare for what you see on film and they have a lot different looks. That’s the thing that also makes them special besides their man and zone. They can double, they can change their ball screen defense, they can pressure you 94 feet, they can do it court-to-court, they can do it half court, they can do it not at all, they can do it with one guy. To answer your question, I’ sure it has some advantage to them, definitely, coming into this game that they know that. You can’t really get caught up in that, you have to prepare your team the best way you can.

On the trips she made to keep the commitments Coach McCallie had received…
I made a few of them, that’s for sure. I had a lot of miles on my car when I first got the job. Re-recruitment, that’s a nice way of saying, ‘here I am, please come, beg, beg, beg. Don’t leave me now, I just got here.’ I think every coach goes through that. There are changes, there are personality changes in the coaching staffs that’s good, bad or indifferent. I think that as a coach, you only get the chance to make that first impression one time and I wanted to make the best one I could. I really wanted them to give me a chance. That was my whole goal. Just give me a shot. You signed with Michigan State, but I’m telling you that I can do the job and believe me. That’s a hard thing to do when you’re 18 year old and you don’t know someone. I felt that if I could get in front of them, if they would just let me get in front of them, that I could talk to them, I could convince them to keep their commitment. Obviously it’s been pretty successful so far and they all stayed, so that’s a good thing.

On preparing for a tough Duke team…
You can’t simulate it, you just can’t. You watch it on film, you saw it live. What you can’t simulate is their size, quickness, and strength. I think we did play a team that pressed but it wasn’t anything like what we’re going to see in the second round. It’s just a different level of intensity. The ability to put their head on the ball and man you up in their zone principles, in their zone traps – full court or court-to-court, is special. They have several McDonald’s high school All-Americans that can really lock you up. You can feel them coming out you. It’s something you have to talk about, it’s a mental thing. But the one thing I do feel we have an advantage, not an advantage, but if we have any kind of blessing in the situation, is that for five days we knew that Middle Tennessee was going to press us full-court, half court. At least it’s been in our heads to take care of the basketball against pressure. Again, I can’t simulate what Duke’s going to do in an hour and a half practice and an hour shoot around.

On facing a No. 1 seed…
I think certainly just like they are going to take the court to win, that’s the way we’ve done it all year. You just want to take the court to put out your best performance in and give yourself the opportunity to win. I realize we’re a nine seed and their a one seed and their supposed to win the game. I get that, but I also feel that’s why we play the game. Anything can happen, and our team is going to be prepared. It’s going to be a matter of will and certainly their talent is top to bottom and pretty special. To me, that’s what they call this March Madness, that madness kind of takes place and we’re hoping that it happens to Michigan State.



On having home court advantage and if she’s looking to this as a signature win for her…
Any time you have the opportunity to play a No. 1 seed and you’re lower seed, I think it is a signature win. Certainly against a program like Duke. They have a long history of success, with Gail Goestenkors obviously starting it there at Duke and doing an amazing job by getting them into Final Fours and thirty plus win seasons. I think there’s a long history there and then Joanne has come in and done a great job too to keep that where it needs to be. Yeah, it would be a great signature win and something you’d love to have happen. The home court is certainly exciting for us. It doesn’t guarantee victory, obviously, but I wish that was the case and I’d take it. But it’s probably not. Out fans are wonderful. We wouldn’t be hosting this and first and second round if we had an empty gym. It’s a tribute to this community and how they feel about our program and our kids.

On MSU’s ability to contain Alysha Clark of Middle Tennessee and transferring that to Duke…
I’m going to have to beg to differ with you about the one-player team. She [Alysha Clark] was good, but I thought we did a good job on the other four. But this is a different task so I’ll agree with you on that. They are extremely balanced. I think not only balanced, but I think what happens is they can score so many different ways. It’s one thing to have balance on your team, but I think what sets them apart from other people is their scoring comes from so many places. From transition, from turnovers, from offensive rebound put backs, from the foul line. I didn’t say one thing about a player or the offense they run yet. That’s what I’m talking about, their ability to do some things offensively is pretty amazing. From just the detailed things, not just a play or a screen, or a double stagger for [Abby] Waner, or a cross screen for Chante Black. I’m just talking about the intangible things that they create that ignite their ability to score. In their last five games, they are averaging over 80 points per game. They can score and they score a lot of different ways. You have to be on guard for everything for 40 minutes.

Sophomore Forward Kalisha Keane

On Duke’s balanced team…
I don’t think they got the number one seed by accident. I think they are a really talented team from top to bottom. From balance, to opposition to scoring wise, we are just going to try and go out there and do our best job defensively to slow them up and contain them.

On being re-recruited by Suzy Merchant…
It’s actually a funny story. Coach came up to my school to meet my family and we were phone tagging because she was walking around campus trying to find me. We met and went to dinner and I knew that Michigan State was the institution I wanted to be at. I didn’t only come here for the coaching staff, I came here for numerous other reasons; my teammates, the education I would receive and the proximity that it would be to home and I felt comfortable with Coach Merchant as a coach and that is why I decided to stay.


Sophomore Forward Cetera Washington

On preparation regarding Abby Waner starting…
We are preparing for her to play. Obviously she didn’t play the other day, but we have to prepare for the unexpected. We’ve prepared for her in the starting lineup.


Junior Center Lauren Aitch

On how to attack Duke having previously played for Coach Joanne P. McCallie’s system…
It’s definitely an advantage for us. We are looking forward to playing a really good team and trying to excel with our own hard work.

On Duke’s defense...
It’s definitely a defense that is very active and we are looking to attack it, get to the middle and get to the paint because that is definitely where it breaks down. It’s a defense that she created and it is something that they’re using, but they also play a lot of man too, so we are prepared for both of those.

On having played previously for Coach Joanne P. McCallie…
Coming to State, I am from this area, I’ve been around it for a long time and my dad played here. Coming into this game we are playing against the team and not Coach P. The team we are playing is very talented and we are going to be ready for them.

On Coach P saying goodbye…
Of course everyone was talking about it. When she talked to us it was in closed doors and we understood and it was her decision and that is what she had to do and we understand that.

On having played previously for Coach Al Brown…
It was a good experience and he is an intelligent man and a good coach. I don’t know how to put it, but we are just focusing on Duke right now.


DUKE QUOTES

Head Coach Joanne P. McCallie

Opening statement…
We have been working hard since the last game, looking at film and trying to get better from that experience. We are looking to try and play 40 minutes. We have made a lot of progress since we played last and we have been working on some things and we are just trying to get better. We are really excited to play.

On playing man-to-man defense more since arriving at Duke…
I think I just had an opportunity to grow more as a coach. I think that my personality is very man-to-manish and I think that depth is a really issue; we played the National Championship, as I think you know, in 2005, but we only had six players playing a lot of minutes, six-and-a-half to seven players, and I don’t think that you can play man with those kind of numbers, it’s just not possible in terms of making a run. Coaching USA Basketball has also played a big part in it as well, I mean we did play a lot of matchup on the international level, but it taught me how to play 12 players and how to do that effectively. Coaching USA Basketball I was able to figure that out; it is not something that is predicated as much on ability as it is on depth. Our defensive system is predicated on being hard to prepare for, it takes nine to 10 players to do that effectively and depth is a huge key to that and developing our depth is a huge key. I look at myself as a multiple defensive coach, I take great pride in that and this group has probably played man about 80-percent of the year.

On how coaching at Michigan State has helped her prepare a scouting report on the team…
I think that our scouting is so thorough, if you know anything about Al Brown, we have the most thorough scouting you could even half in terms of our short scout and our full scout. So I guess to answer your question, I feel like I know every team like I know Michigan State if that makes sense to you. It is technically no different in terms of understanding whether they go right or if they go left; the only thing different is that here I may have more information on them, like I know their family or I know their favorite ice cream or something like that. But when it comes to the game of basketball, there is really no difference. Maybe I won’t have to read as much while scouting this team; on my scouting report, I am always reading a lot and seeing how players have changed and grown, but (preparing for MSU) is really no different than what I normally do.

On the emotion involved in playing against players that she recruited…
I think it is a great story; the emotions are all positive. Look at women’s basketball; look at the crowd that was here for the first round. I am proud of them and I am proud of what has been accomplished here. I am also really proud of my Duke team; we have had a very interesting year. I think initially you need to get your feet wet, and that’s what I thought that the first game was for us. Frankly this is game two for us and there are a lot of things that we didn’t do well in game one, and that is what our focus needs to be on. Getting better positioning on defense, being more alert to the ball; there are a lot of things that we need to do better, so that is where my focus is.

On how much she expects Abby Waner to play on Tuesday after coming off of a knee injury…
I can’t really say, we just need to play it by ear. She is tough, she has rehabbed hard and it is great to see how hard she has rehabbed. We need to warm up and we need to get out there and get a feel, then I will know and I can gauge it. I really can’t say minute-wise. She can normally play upwards of around 32 minutes for us, so she won’t have more than that. She is such a competitor, so I am not going to rule anything out, so we will have to see tomorrow.


On preparing for a team that turns the ball over a lot…
It’s more just preparing what we do well. When we do press, our pressure was set plays yesterday, so it is more about us. You wouldn’t be in this tournament if you didn’t deserve to be, so everyone is really good, that’s clear. So it doesn’t matter who we are playing tomorrow, but with that said, we need to move, we need to close traps better. If we are going to press, we need to be more effective, more urgent. There were loose balls on the floor that we didn’t get to. There were things that happened that we had not been working toward all year, and that comes from our focus. We have taken that Austin Peay film apart, the coaches and the players; you take that film and you break it down. We won by a lot, if you are excited to be in the tournament, you don’t care about that, you don’t care about margins; you care about preparing your team to be the very best. They knew they weren’t the best, they were running the film session today, and answering questions on why we didn’t do some of the things that we needed to do. It was mainly in the first half, we sleep walked through that first half and you can’t do that. This is a tournament of champions and champions don’t do that; so we are going to 40 minutes and we are going to try to rebound better and that is against anybody, that is not just against Michigan State.


On why she feels people booed her during their first-round game…
I can’t explain other (people’s) actions, but maybe that is their way of showing feelings; there is really nothing to boo. But if you want to boo, that’s okay, we’ve been booed a lot, Duke gets booed a lot. I have been booed directly by the Maryland fans and the reason I know this is because there was a level of boos towards our players, then when I walked out, there was a much higher level of boos. It wasn’t the first time and it probably won’t be the last time, but I am not sure that it has any relevance.

On whether it was different to be booed at Michigan State, a school that she coached at…
I don’t know. I just know that there are a lot of good people here and I have a lot of good friends here. I guess someone in the stands is yelling at them to not boo. Maybe there are some arguments, to boo or not to boo, either way it is okay.

On preparing for a team like Michigan State…
They are a very interesting team because of their consistency problem. Aisha Jefferson played the best game of the year, to my knowledge, last game; brilliant game. But then you look at other games and you just aren’t sure.  To me, it is figuring out what they execute and if we can do to do a better job to prevent what they execute. But the potential is there. Like Allyssa DeHaan, there are so many different things that she can do, so we have to do a lot to hopefully be prepared and ready and hopefully dictate the action. If we don’t we will just have to go at them and play a little harder. I don’t know if that really answers your question.

On what her plans are if Abby Waner cannot play or is limited tomorrow…
We can’t replace Abby, her experience and her shooting ability, things of that nature. But just like we did last game, we would turn to someone like Karima Christmas, Keturah Jackson or Shay Selby and some of the freshmen. Hopefully Abby will be well enough to go, that would be great for her and great for our team.

On how Chante Black will match up against Allyssa DeHaan…
That’s an excellent challenge for her. Like you said, Chante has dominant height and she is able to use her quickness and athletic aggressiveness to be very potent. But No. 41 is better than a lot of people that she has faced; she has that turnaround shot that is difficult to block and I think Chante needs to go through many different experiences to prepare her for her future. She is a fifth-year senior, very experienced and obviously has great experience and beyond, so this will just be one more experience for her.

On how she helped build Michigan State’s women’s basketball program…
I guess you want to usually think things like that, but it usually doesn’t feel that way. All I can say is that I am very proud of what we did here in those seven years. We recruited Michigan kids to Michigan State and having the success that we had, getting the attendance to where we did, it was an awesome experience. Seven years is a long time and a long commitment and one that I am very proud of and one that I have learned a great deal from. I think that is also sends the message to follow your dreams. Michigan State was a big part of my dream and that was an important piece. My next step is to get this (Duke) program where we would like it to go. You know I thought that Abby (Waner) did a great job of answering that question about playing on someone else’s floor. We need to go through that, that is good for us and it will make us better. If we want to do something special, those are the things we need to do.

On being tired of the side stories that surround tomorrow’s game…
I am really excited for the game. Everyone here has been really great and made it easy for me. I think just like any other game, yes, I am very excited and focused for game two and all that it will bring to our program.
 

Senior Center Chantae Black

On Coach McCallie returning to play against MSU...
We try to see this as the next game towards a potential championship. We are just facing it as game two. We are not focusing on who the opponent is. We’re just trying to play our game and play good basketball.

Senior Forward Carrem Gay

On Coach McCallie giving tips about guarding Alyssa DeHaan…
No, I don’t have any “sneaky” insights on how to defend her. I’m just going to go out there and play my game and defend her the way we’ve been defending all year.

On the one-seeded teams...
From the beginning of the season they say rankings don’t matter. It’s about playing your game and coming to play every game and that is our motto and we want to come every game and play the 40 minutes and that is what we are focusing on.

Senior Guard Abby Waner

On participating in practice and her knee…
I did (practice). It feels great. I practiced today and I will be good to go tomorrow along with the team.

On the Michigan State team…
They’re a really strong team and they crash the boards hard so we know that we have to be able to match their physical play. That is the biggest key as it will be for any team in the tournament that dominates the boards.

On Coach McCallie returning to play against Michigan State…
I think there was a great crowd here the other night and we look forward to playing in a great atmosphere and I think that is what playing at Michigan State on their home court is all about.

On if it is unfair regarding a No. 1 seed playing on another team’s home court…
No. In the tournament you can play anywhere, that is what we always say. If you want to be a champion you should be able to play on any court with any crowd against any team. If you are able to say that we’re a one-seed and we are complaining about playing on someone’s home court, than why are you a one-seed? I think you should be good enough to be able to play anywhere.

On defending Michigan State in particular…
I don’t think there is anything in particular against Michigan State, but it is definitely a staple of our defense to exploit our quickness and out athleticism. We have some incredible athletes on this team and it would be a shame if we didn’t use it. I think ACC tends to be a little more up and down and if we can get a team to play up and down with us we could fully use our athleticism and our quick ball pressure-in-your-face type defense. It’s not just with Michigan State - that is something we try to do in the season.

On having all 12 players stepping up instead of 11…
I think that the first round is always a great chance to use different kinds of combinations. You never know what’s going to happen in a tournament. People can get in foul trouble, people can get hurt and I was really impressed with our freshman and the way they played yesterday. You can’t be intimidated by the tournament. It’s another game; game two is what we are playing tomorrow. With that being said it is always good to get everyone on the floor.

How she feels on a scale of 1 to 10…
I’m an English major, so (I feel) good. I wouldn’t play if I wasn’t 100%, so on a scale of 1 to 10, 10. I’m good to go.