The MSU starting five of women’s basketball had a statistically impressive exhibition opener against Grand Valley State Sunday, but a few concerns were highlighted as well.
Three Spartans recorded double-doubles in the season opener, as sophomore guard Tori Jankoska scored 15 points and gathered 11 rebounds, redshirt sophomore forward Aerial Powers scored 20 points and 10 rebounds, and senior forward Becca Mills scored 11 points and 11 rebounds.
“Tori really moving to the true point guard position, I mean she’s really embracing that and doing a nice job,” head coach Suzy Merchant said. “The nice thing too about her is she is a nice defensive rebounding guard, which helps our transition game a little bit.”
Powers was the game’s leading scorer, but she stuffed the stat sheet with her 10 rebounds and five assists.
“In practice, (Merchant) makes us do a certain amount of passes before we can score, so I guess that’s where the assists come in,” Powers said. “I’m looking for my teammates a little bit more. With the rebounds, it’s just effort and hustling and boxing out.”
Powers shot 7-17 from the field, and she admitted that she “definitely needs to shoot better.”
In the post for the Spartans, Mills and senior center Jasmine Hines combined for 23 points and 14 rebounds. Hines scored her 12 points in just 20 minutes of game time.
“I do think they’re a nice combination when they play together,” Merchant said. “We can play each one of them singly as a five, or we can put them together in the 4-5 combination and they know each other well, give us a little bit more size and presence.”
Despite the numbers, Merchant believes that both Hines and Mills “should have been more dominant.” Hines pulled in just three rebounds, and the two also missed a couple easy shots in the paint.
Mills believes that the two could work off of each other as the season goes on and establish a solid presence around the rim.
“I think that with me and her together, I’m more finesse-y,” Mills said. “We balance each other really well, and I think we a have a dual post attack. This year we can really be great inside together. Tonight we didn’t show that as well as we should have.”
A glance at the stat sheet will show that all five Spartan starters scored in double digits. The drop off, however, was in bench production.
MSU managed only two points and one assist from its bench.
“Our bench did not do a very good job of coming in and giving us a lot of positive things,” Merchant said. “I kind of felt like they were just out there, and we need more out of them. To me, it’s good to see five people in double figures obviously, but I think the other side of that is that those guys gotta come along and do a better job of attacking a little bit more.”
Although it was just an exhibition contest, Merchant understands that some of these issues will need to be addressed, as the competition only gets better from here on out.
“You’re never gonna be the team you want to be this time of year, but we better get there in a hurry with the schedule that we have,” Merchant said.