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Dean Lockwood and Suzy Merchant work together to check in on players following Monday’s shooting

February 17, 2023
<p>Michigan State Women's Basketball head coach Suzy Merchant draws up a play during a timeout of a game against Georgia Tech, held at the Breslin Center on Dec. 1, 2022. The Spartans fell to the Yellow Jackets 63-66.&nbsp;</p>

Michigan State Women's Basketball head coach Suzy Merchant draws up a play during a timeout of a game against Georgia Tech, held at the Breslin Center on Dec. 1, 2022. The Spartans fell to the Yellow Jackets 63-66. 

Photo by Jack Patton | The State News

MSU women’s basketball acting coach Dean Lockwood is working with coach Suzy Merchant to make sure players are healing following Monday’s shooting

“Monday was obviously a day full of calls, texts, Zoom calls, FaceTimes,” Lockwood said. “So we were checking in constantly with all our team, our managers, our scout team, our staff, anybody affiliated with our program. We had reached out to to make sure number one, their safety, and then just how they were doing throughout that time, and then in the aftermath as well.” 

Lockwood and staff were reaching out to the team and others as soon as they heard the news. They divvied up who to contact and Merchant was involved as well. Check-ins continued throughout the night until everything was settled

Merchant reached out to all of the moms of the players, called them one-by-one and just took time with them, Lockwood said. They’ve also circled back and checked in with players several times since then.  

“Some players they just process it different,” he said. “They take it different, some have been more outward with their emotions, some have not, but the ones that we are aware of that and maybe have struggled a little bit more. We've circled back with her several times to talk to and just kind of make sure that we're circling up, figuratively speaking, and surrounding them with love.”

Players have had access to mental health professionals on campus, Dr. Molly McQuery and her team has been incredible with her accessibility to all of the players, Lockwood said. It’s been a step-by-step process

Lockwood has been encouraging players to deal with it and process as they need to. Some players want to get back right away while others need more time. All of which, he said, is okay.

“There's no blueprint for this,” Lockwood said. “There's no formula. So we've been just taking it a step at a time, a day at a time, and getting through it.”

He said going to college this shouldn’t be a concern for young people. Safety shouldn’t be a concern. For some, it's their first encounter with this type of a scenario with this level of violence unfolding in what should be a safe environment

“You know it’s just been a very sad and tragic time,” he said. “Our hearts are broken for Arielle, Alexandria, Brian and their families, can’t imagine, can’t even begin to grasp the struggle for them.”

Lockwood said he’s been very proud of the players. They’ve been very honest.

“I've been we've been very proud of them because they've continued to process it again in their own ways, but they've continued to move forward,” he said. “And again, we we just encourage them to take their time to handle it. You know how they need to handle it, that we're here for them.”

The team had practice yesterday and today and almost everyone was back for that. It wasn’t mandatory but a lot of players wanted to return

Players were also asked if they were ready to play. And most are

“I just think healing is important,” Lockwood said. “And I think moving forward is important and showing unity and showing strength is important. And that's what I hope."

During tomorrow’s game the team will have special shirts that they are going to wear, Lockwood said

He said at the game they still have a job to do. When the ball goes up, the number eight ranked team in the country will be there hitting on all cylinders

So far the team has one to two players who have opted out of playing in Saturday’s game against Maryland. There may be more players tomorrow who sit out

“We've told them there's no right or wrong, you're not going to be judged this is not gonna be held against you,” Lockwood said. “It is how you feel and how you're processing this.”

The seven scholarship players needed to play will participate so there is enough for the game to go on

The players have chosen to opt out because they don’t feel ready yet and that could be indefinite, Lockwood said

“We're just going to take that one day at a time and allow them the space that they need to heal,” Lockwood said.

He said he hopes playing in the Breslin brings the community together in a sense and is part of the healing

“There's no magic, there's no one of that, there's no words that are going to just make everything good again, it's going to take time and again we just want to represent the Spartan nation as best we can," Lockwood said. "In doing so, with the unity and a respect and honoring these people that have been impacted by this.”

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