Column: Suzy Merchant should have given her team a chance to play in WNIT
I for one can say for everyone that this season has had its ups and downs. Whether or not it’s considered to be a disappointing campaign, there was an out that would have made everyone feel better.
First, let’s be honest, your six-year streak of NCAA postseason berths EMCwas coming to an end. Blame it on injuries that plagued the bench and being forced to shell out eight players EMCto do battle with full rosters on game day.
It also didn’t help that your freshman guard, Jasmine Lumpkin, left the team to be close to her family.EMC
But even after losing five straight games to open up Big Ten play,EMC a 29-point loss to Maryland,EMC failing to beat Michigan in the regular seasonEMC and picking up a mere two wins over opponents ranked in the top 25,EMC there was still light at the end of a long tunnel.
That light being the Women’s National Invitational Tournament.EMC
You’re familiar with this bracket. You competed in it the first year you arrived in East Lansing, taking MSU all the way to the championship round.EMC
So what’s different this time around? The press release you sent out Monday might say one thing to you, I think you’re scared.
“Michigan State head coach Suzy Merchant and the Spartan women’s basketball team have decided to forgo any postseason this season due to the welfare of the student-athletes.”EMC
Really? The welfare of the student-athletes? Last time I checked, you didn’t seem timid to send out the likes of Aerial Powers and Tori Jankoska EMCfor 35-38 minutes a game to remain competitive against much more talented programs.
And now when an opportunity comes to play in the WNIT once again, when you know that there’s a strong possibility that MSU will get home court advantage, due to the name recognition and attendance at Breslin Center, you announce that the year is over.
So what’s the main reason as to why you decided to forgo the 2014-15 season? Is your ego so big that you’d rather forget that this year ever happened, rather than swallow your dignity and play in a less renowned tournament and accept the fact that your impressive NCAA tournament streak has been terminated?
We don’t know if it was you or your players who decided to forgo the postseason, but think about it from the senior’s perspective. Did it cross your mind as to how the likes of Becca Mills, Anna Morrissey and Madison Williams EMCwould feel about their final year ending so abruptly?
Did you think about how the die-hard MSU fans who made the trek to the arena in the freezing cold and harsh conditions would feel about not having the chance to watch their favorite program compete for another few weeks, despite knowing that the product on the court was substandard in comparison to the last few years?
Instead of going forward in thinking about the well-being of next year’s team, you should have thought more of the players who had to overcome an abundance of adversity to build a path that could lead to a postseason berth.
I’m not sure what game you saw in the second round of the conference tournament last week when your team exacted revenge on the Wolverines by 20 points,EMC before playing a hard-fought game with the Terrapins in the quarterfinals.
That was a sign of a team ready to compete for a trophy, a team with a chip on their shoulder, ready to convince critics that they are a formidable basketball team.
But you took that away in a blink of an eye.
I hope the rest of the team agrees with your rash decision.