Creating a new identity is what senior guard Brittney Thomas and the No. 25 MSU women’s basketball team believe will be the key to a successful season.
That new identity is a complete effort from every player. The Spartans (1-0) hope to use that identity when they look for revenge against Dayton at 7 p.m. Monday at Breslin Center. The Flyers (0-1) beat MSU by three points last season.
“What are we going to be known for?” Thomas said Saturday. “We keep saying it, but we’re going to have to walk the walk. We’re trying to teach the players that haven’t got as many minutes and the freshmen how tough it gets when every game matters.”
With the loss of freshman center Madison Williams on Oct. 31 to a torn anterior cruciate ligament, the Spartans are left with only one true center on the roster, redshirt freshman Kelsey Smith.
Knowing rebounding would be tough without a truly big player, the team didn’t panic, Thomas said. Instead they decided to fight harder.
“We don’t have anybody really small, which is good,” Thomas said. “Coach keeps saying rebounding doesn’t matter how tall you are. We want to be that nitty-gritty, hustle all the time (team).”
In Saturday’s 90-62 win against IPFW, the Spartans showed a complete team effort.
They had 48 points off the bench and five players finished with double-digit point totals.
Head coach Suzy Merchant said after the game that a balanced attack is one of her main goals for the team.
“We have shooters (and) we have kids who can post up at the guard positions,” Merchant said. “I still feel like we are struggling a little bit to get the flow and we turned it over too much tonight.”
Turning over an old leaf
Last season, the Spartans averaged 17.4 turnovers per game, a statistic Merchant said was unacceptable.
The team, however, turned the ball over 22 times against IPFW and the head coach said her team played as though confused at times.
Although the team concentrated on pushing the ball forward and playing an up-tempo game, Merchant said that was no excuse for so many turnovers.
“I think you can still fast break and be in a disciplined situation,” she said. “It doesn’t prevent you from running hard and having good spacing, and that was some of our turnovers from bad choices.”
Early in the first half, junior forward Lykendra Johnson found herself in some foul trouble and was limited for most of the game.
Both Smith and freshman guard Annalise Pickrel also fouled out in the closing minutes of the game against the Mastodons.
“We can’t foul and expect to beat teams who actually have great post players,” senior forward Cetera Washington said. “We can’t do that. I think we’ll learn from our mistakes and we’ll have players who are just straight up and down.”
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