Saturday, November 28, 2020

Clouden and Cook of MSU women's hoops address challenges of preparing for a season with an unknown beginning

November 20, 2020
<p>Nia Clouden (24) laughs after getting fouled during the game against Ohio State Jan. 16, 2019 at Breslin Center.</p>

Nia Clouden (24) laughs after getting fouled during the game against Ohio State Jan. 16, 2019 at Breslin Center.

Photo by Alyte Katilius | The State News

The Michigan State men’s basketball team received the news they have been waiting for all semester yesterday with the full announcement of their regular season schedule. For the women’s basketball team, they are hoping to receive the same news sometime soon about what their schedule will look like for the 2020-2021 season.

Junior guard Nia Clouden and redshirt senior forward Mardrekia Cook said Thursday that not yet having a set schedule has been a different experience for the team. 

“We’re just practicing not really knowing exactly what we are preparing for,” Clouden said. “But, we are trying to find joy and energy in that anyway with our team practicing, being able to go hard and stuff like that.”

Cook felt similarly.

“It’s definitely a lot sometimes because it kind of feels like we’ve just been practicing and preparing for so long without any games,” Cook said.

Not knowing who or when you are playing games can be frustrating from both a mental standpoint and a preparation standpoint. To help out, the team has been conducting live scrimmages against each other or their scout team. They also bring in referees to help best simulate an actual game day preparation. 

“I think that has given us a game day feel and taking us out of that practice zone and putting us more in game day preparation and I think that’s more fun than just your day to day practices,” Cook said.

Last week, Clouden was named to both the coaches and media Preseason All-Big Ten Teams, an honor that she said is motivating for her. 

“It was really nice to hear. But at the end of the day it is just preseason so it motivates me to put the work in and play well to actually be able to make the first team,” Clouden said.

This year’s team has a lot of new faces, some of whom have stood out to others in practice. One in particular that Clouden mentioned was redshirt junior forward Alisia Smith

Smith is an East Lansing native who transferred to the Spartans this year after starting 20 games for Penn State last year while averaging 6.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. 

“She’s been a really nice addition," Clouden said. "She runs the floor really good as a big. She’s fast, I think she is faster than me."

Cook doubled-down on Clouden’s take on Smith saying that Smith’s outreach has stood out to her and that she has already brought a lot to the program.

Perhaps unusually, the 2020 Spartans only have one freshman on the roster, Kendall Bostic. Cook gave her props for the work she has done being the only freshman on the team.

“I think the pressure of being the only freshman is hard but she has done a tremendous job of catching on to everything,” Cook said.

Bostic is a 6-foot-2-inch forward from Kokomo, Indiana. She was a four-star recruit in high school and ranked 65th in the country by ESPN

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