Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Merchant not concerned for MSU women's basketball after loss

February 11, 2014

Saturday’s 76-56 loss to No. 21 Nebraska wasn’t the result head coach Suzy Merchant wanted. But she’s not hitting the panic button yet.

At her weekly press conference Tuesday, Merchant addressed the No. 25 women’s basketball team’s tendency to play one-on-one basketball during tough situations.

During the pivotal first half against Nebraska that saw the Huskers go on a 34-6 run, the Spartans (16-8 overall, 8-3 Big Ten) didn’t look much like a team. Or at least a cohesive one.

As Nebraska went on that huge run in the first half, MSU players looked for their own shot instead of feeding the post or attacking the rim.

Similar to previous losses, no one stepped up and took command of the offense as the game slipped away.

MSU did not attempt a free throw in the first half and made two of its nine 3-point attempts in that span, which ultimately did them in.

“I do think sometimes we have a mentality of, it’s not a selfish thing, but they’re out for themselves,” Merchant said. “I think sometimes, when we hit adversity, there’s so many people that want to be the one who steps up.”

It was a similar story two weeks ago when the Spartans let Illinois and Penn State steal wins at Breslin Center because of a lack of cohesiveness on both ends of the floor.

Prior to Saturday, it seemed as though MSU was beginning to figure things out.

Now, it appears there still is some work to do as far as getting players to consistently perform as a unit.

“We can’t just do it with one guy with the ball in her hands, and sometimes we’ll revert back to that,” Merchant said. “Something we have to continue to build and work on is make sure that we’re playing together, not so much individualized.”

Despite the loss, Merchant pointed out that the past week still was one of progress for the team.

Looking past the 14-minute stretch against Nebraska where the Spartans could not score a bucket, they upset then-No. 19 Purdue at Breslin Center on Feb. 2, and took down Illinois on the road last Thursday.

In the second half against Nebraska, they played the Huskers to a tie, as each team scored 26 points in the final 20-minute stretch.

“I think we’re in a position now where we can roll up our sleeves and go back to work, catch our breath a little bit,” Merchant said. “But certainly get better at some things and have a better understanding of what’s going on.

“We’re still in the hunt, we’re where we need to be. We just gotta continue to do better at some things and have a little more consistency.”

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