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Spartans continue to flash depth in exhibition games

November 8, 2009

MSU women’s basketball head coach Suzy Merchant has a wealth of depth at her disposal, but after two exhibition wins, it’s still up in the air how she’s going to use it.

Thursday’s game against Wayne State saw Merchant play 12 players at least 10 minutes.

Sunday against Grand Valley State, it was the same thing. Every player who played more than two minutes had a field goal and seven Spartans scored at least eight points.

The rotation appears to be up in the air heading into Friday’s season opener at Dayton, Merchant said.

“Sometimes, it’s the flow of the game a little bit,” Merchant said.

“But, certainly, I believe in our depth, so we’re going to reach down and get kids minutes that need them and rest kids so that we can come out and be fresh.”

No matter who’s in the game, MSU’s depth allows it to play a high-tempo, all-out defense.

“It allows the kids to go out there and empty out, really give everything they have for three or four minutes and then someone can sub in,” Merchant said.

Outside of how the players are used during the game, both junior forward Kalisha Keane and sophomore forward Courtney Schiffauer said the team’s depth is helping it get better each practice.

“Competition breeds greatness,” Keane said. “So in practice when we’re going at each other hard every day, you can never take any plays off, so it forces you to play hard.”

Schiffauer said each practice is a battle.

“Every day I think we improve,” Schiffauer said. “That’s what really makes the team a better team — that you know when you go to practice you’re going to get better because everybody on the team wants to and it really makes it a lot more fun, too, when we’re going at each other trying to make each other better.”

For starters

Keane started in place of senior forward Aisha Jefferson, scoring 15 points with four rebounds, three assists and three steals.

Merchant said the team doesn’t care who starts and the starting lineup could be determined by matchups or performance.

“I really felt Kal was doing it in practice and felt like she had earned it from the Wayne State game, so we made the adjustment,” Merchant said.

“I thought Aisha came in and did a nice job, too. The good thing is that I don’t feel like there are going to be any issues that come from making changes there because they’ve really committed to making sure whatever we do is about team.”

Jefferson had eight points in 12 minutes off the bench.

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