Thursday, April 15, 2021

Despite hard season, head coach Suzy Merchant not losing faith

January 21, 2015
<p>Head coach Suzy Merchant talks with senior forwar Becca Mills before a timeout Jan. 8, 2015, during the game against Nebraska at Breslin Center. The Spartans were defeated by the Huskers, 71-67. Erin Hampton/The State News</p>

Head coach Suzy Merchant talks with senior forwar Becca Mills before a timeout Jan. 8, 2015, during the game against Nebraska at Breslin Center. The Spartans were defeated by the Huskers, 71-67. Erin Hampton/The State News

Photo by Erin Hampton | The State News

There’s never been a more frustrating season for Suzy Merchant.

“I don’t know what to say in the locker room, it’s hard,” the women’s basketball head coach said.

Merchant was won 10 or more conference games in every one of her previous seven seasons at MSU, but this is the first time she has had this many girls unable to play.

Five of her players are either injured or have the flu, and freshman Jasmine Lumpkin decided to leave the team.

“I know we’re limited, I get that,” Merchant said. “We’re trying to find ways to help our team get in the game right now … it is what it is.”

The Spartans, whose overall record is 9-9 (1-6 in the Big Ten), have been fighting to win in every single game, never thinking they can’t do it, but always lack in some aspect and can’t outscore their opponents.

After each game, when they head back to the locker room, redshirt sophomore Aerial Powers said that the team talks alone before the coach comes in.

“We know what happened and we know what we did wrong, so she just says that,” Powers said.

Following MSU’s 52-50 loss against Iowa — a team that averages about 80 points per game —, Merchant said she was at a loss for words in the locker room.

“We make more baskets than they do, we make more threes than they do, we get more rebounds than they do, but offensively we struggle,” she said.

Since the team already knows what Merchant will tell them before she enters the locker room at the end of the game, the players have in mind what they need to improve on, senior Becca Mills said.

“(A) main focus is getting more people in the mix offensively, stepping up and (being) consistent throughout the game. That’s a big point,” Mills said.

Merchant said she gives her team a lot of credit for what they’ve been going through — all the ineligible players — and still playing with all their strength in every game.

“I don’t like losing. I’m frustrated with all the things that have been happening, I’m not annoyed by it,” Merchant said.

Merchant also said she is proud of her team, because they keep fighting.

“That locker room and those kids … They never quit,” she said. “We’re going to be alright. We have to do things and get better, just like every other team.”

Just like Merchant is proud of her team, the team is proud of its coach.

“Coach can’t catch a break,” sophomore Tori Jankoska said. “She’ll never take her foot off the gas. She’s built for adversity and she helps us with that.”

With 11 games remaining in the season, MSU has to win 10 to keep Merchant’s Big Ten streak going, and she has not given up on her Spartans.

“They never lost faith,” Merchant said.

MSU will travel to College Park, Md. and play against Maryland on Thursday at 7 p.m. as part of the last 11 games in the 2014-15 season before the Big Ten Tournament.

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