Monday, November 28, 2022

Suzy Merchant reflects on goals for nearing 2022-23 season

October 12, 2022
Head Coach Suzy Merchant goes over a play during a timeout of an intense fourth quarter against Penn State at the Breslin Center on Feb. 21, 2022.
Head Coach Suzy Merchant goes over a play during a timeout of an intense fourth quarter against Penn State at the Breslin Center on Feb. 21, 2022. —
Photo by Audrey Richardson | The State News

Michigan State women’s basketball Head Coach Suzy Merchant took the stand in Minneapolis Wednesday to discuss her team on day two of Big Ten basketball media days.

She started off by thanking Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren for his support of women’s basketball, emphasizing the fact that this year is the 50th anniversary of the anti-sex discrimination amendment, Title IX.

Merchant brought four of her players to media day: sophomore guard DeeDee Hagemann, senior center Taiyier Parks, sophomore guard/forward Matilda Ekh and graduate student guard Kamaria McDaniel, who transferred in from Baylor this offseason. 

She mentioned the fact that Hagemann and Ekh made the Big Ten All-Freshman team last season and that Parks is her anchor inside. 

“All those kids that are here with me today will be very impactful for us this year,” Merchant said. 

Last year, the Spartans lost three starters at the perimeter position due to injury, most notably redshirt junior Julia Ayrault, but they are all back for this season and Merchant could not be happier.

“The best news for us is we're healthy,” Merchant said.

The team also added two other impact transfers this offseason in addition to McDaniel. 

Junior guard Gabby Elliot came in from Clemson and graduate student guard Stephanie Visscher was brought in from Stephen F. Austin University. 

Elliot, a Detroit native, made the ACC All-Freshman team and is known as a stat sheet stuffer, averaging just over 13 points and five rebounds a game in her first season with the Tigers. 

Visscher, who is originally from Sweden like Ekh, was a three-time WAC All-Defensive Team honoree as well as starting all 33 games last season while leading them in points with just over 14 a game. 

Merchant believes that these transfers are the right fit for her program. 

“The three impact transfers that we have really done a great job at their previous institutions, and all have a connection to Michigan State,” Merchant said. “Two are Detroiters and one is connected to Matilda, so they were the right transfers. We just didn't take transfers. We took a few kids that we feel like really fit Michigan State.”

Last season, MSU finished 15-15, missing out on an NCAA Tournament appearance. This season, the team has a whole new look and there is a buzz around the Breslin Center with about three weeks left before exhibition play kicks off. 

“With what we have coming back we're very excited about the season ahead,” Merchant said. 

The Spartans will officially start their season against Saginaw Valley State at home on Oct. 30 at 3 p.m.

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