Michigan State women's basketball junior guard Nia Clouden was named to both the coaches and media Preseason All-Big Ten team last Wednesday as part of Big Ten Women’s Basketball Media Week.
Michigan State women's basketball head coach Suzy Merchant met with the media virtually Friday along with the 13 other Big Ten coaches to discuss the upcoming season.
“She’s [Clouden] just a tremendous point guard. Somebody that really creates for other people at the same time, has sort of learned to be a different kind of scorer for us too and a little bit more of a presence on the court every possession,” Merchant said. “So, she is certainly someone we are going to look at this season to build our team around and has done a really great job in the offseason committing to her game to get better.”
As a sophomore, Clouden saw her role increase, especially after some of her teammates suffered injuries. She increased her scoring from 12 to 14.5 points per game while also picking it up on the other end of the floor, racking in an additional 13 steals as compared to her freshman season. Clouden led the team in both points per game and total steals (52).
Shooting efficiency is still a work in progress, but Merchant said that has been a point of emphasis during the offseason, especially from the three-point. Last year, Clouden shot 27.4 percent from beyond the arc on 117 attempts, the second most on the team, while finishing third on the team in makes.
“The three ball is something that she’s been kind of up and down with her consistency and so I think that’s something this offseason that she has been able to really dive into," Merchant said. "She’s shooting the ball better than she ever has before from the arc. I think that’s the piece for the next level for her."
In terms of national recognition, Merchant said that Clouden deserves some more credit than she is receiving.
“I am not sure why sometimes when I see some of these watchlists why she’s not on there. I certainly think she is worthy of that,” Merchant said.
If Clouden is able to improve her shooting this season, she should be in store for a big season and with that, the national attention should follow.
Elsewhere in the Big Ten, three different players received Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year awards. Michigan forward Naz Hillmon and Rutgers guard Arella Guirantes were named co-recipients by the coaches while Northwestern guard Lindsey Pulliam took home the honors from the media.
Indiana was voted as the top team in the Big Ten by both the coaches and media. The poll only went through the top five and Michigan State was not included.
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