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Know Thy Enemy: Spartans travel to Piscataway to take on Rutgers Scarlet Knights

January 30, 2022
<p>Then-sophomore guard Nia Clouden (24) pushes past a defender during the women&#x27;s basketball game against Rutgers at the Breslin Center on Feb. 13, 2020.</p>

Then-sophomore guard Nia Clouden (24) pushes past a defender during the women's basketball game against Rutgers at the Breslin Center on Feb. 13, 2020.

Photo by Connor Desilets | The State News

Know Thy Enemy is a Q&A where the perspective changes from the eyes of The State News to the eyes of the student newspaper of Michigan States opponent. This week, The State News womens basketball beat writer Jenna Malinowski spoke with Dylan McCoy of The Daily Targum ahead of Sunday’s Rutgers and MSU game.

Michigan State women’s basketball is looking to continue their three-game winning streak when they take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in Piscataway, New Jersey, on Sunday. The Spartans, who are 11-8 overall and 5-3 in conference play this season, will use this matchup as an opportunity to move up in the Big Ten standings.

Although MSU has struggled in road games this season, Rutgers has struggled to get victories at home or on the road. The Scarlet Knights are 7-14 overall and 0-9 in Big Ten play so far.

This week, The State News women’s basketball reporter Jenna Malinowski spoke with Dylan McCoy of the Daily Targum to get some insight into this Rutgers team ahead of Sunday’s matchup with the Spartans.

Q: I see Rutgers women’s basketball hasn’t been doing so well in the Big Ten. What do you think has been their problem this year?

A: Well, one of their biggest problems was obviously their head coach, C. Vivian Stringer. She and her daughter are both very immunocompromised, and she chose to not coach this season. Assistant head coach Timothy Eatman has taken over, and I think that’s one part of it. Another part of it is their biggest producers from last season — Arella Guirantes went to the WNBA; Diamond Johnson transferred to North Carolina State. It’s a lot of players having to step up.

Rutgers got a few transfers; Osh Brown has been probably the best part of this team. She leads the program in points and rebounds per game right now, but other than that, offensively, this team has just not really meshed as well as they can. ... They’re the best defensive team in the conference in terms of scoring average, but they’re also one of the worst offensive teams.

Q: Since they’re more of a defensive team, what do you think their plan is to shut down Nia Clouden and Matilda Ekh on Sunday?

A: I think you could see a lot of full-court press and a lot of traps. One area where Rutgers has actually succeeded this year is they cause a lot of turnovers. They are a team where you really do have to watch the ball and be very mindful of where it goes because, obviously, when you got someone locked into the corner or locked into the backcourt, it just makes it all the more difficult to set up an offense. So, if Rutgers is gonna get their first Big Ten win against Michigan State, they’re just gonna have to play really aggressive defense and kinda go for broke because not going for broke hasn’t worked for them so far.

Q: Who’s Rutgers’ best player right now, and who’s somebody the Spartans should look out for?

A: Right now, their best player is definitely Osh Brown. Osh Brown is the Division I career leader in rebounds, double-doubles. She’s a senior transfer from Ball State, and she has just come in, and she’s really been the best player. ... She’s someone who was a center type of player at Ball State, and she’s kind of playing a three type of role, but she’s still rebounding very well.

Someone else that Michigan State should watch out for is Tyia Singleton. Tyia Singleton plays more of a power forward, center type of role. She’s had two or three double-doubles in the past four games. She’s really been stepping up.

In the backcourt, Lasha Petree, in their last game, went for 18 against Ohio State. She’s someone who, if she gets hot, she will call for the ball and have the chance to take over a game, so I think those are the three players that are gonna make the biggest impact in this game.

Q: What’s your score prediction for Sunday, and why?

A: I’d love to pick Rutgers, but I’ll go 65-58 for Michigan State. I just think Michigan State’s really talented. I do think (Rutgers is) gonna make it a game, but I just think Michigan State’s a little too talented, and Rutgers still has some soul searching to do. They have to figure out their identity as a team and what is gonna get them a win, and unfortunately, I don’t think it’s gonna be against Michigan State.

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