Merchant Gets Ready for New Season


MSU head coach Suzy Merchant conducts 2021 summer practice/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

Manit Patel, General Assignment Reporter

EAST LANSING — Michigan State women’s basketball Head Coach Suzy Merchant was all smiles as she stepped up to the podium on Wednesday for her inaugural press conference. She opened things up by giving a rundown of the offseason and talking about what the Spartans are bringing back which includes 84% of their total scoring from last year, their top seven players from last season and the centerpiece in All Big-Ten guard Nia Clouden. 

Amongst all the returning firepower, freshman guard Deedee Hagemann, who was the 19th ranked freshman in the country according to ESPN and Miss Basketball in the state of Michigan, was the gem of a talented recruiting class brought to town by  Merchant.

When asked about Hagemann, Merchant left nothing but a glowing review.“She just exudes personality, brings an expectation and is a winner,” Merchant said. “I always tell people you lead by personality or position in sports, and she does both.” 

Merchant also touched on Hagemann’s energy in practice. ”I love the passion she plays with, pointing at people, chest-bumping; she cares more about the assist than she does about scoring for herself.”

While the situation regarding the less than adequate weight room facilities at last season’s NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament may have blown over by now, Merchant was asked for her thoughts regarding the matter. ”It’s unfortunate that it took Sedona Price (an Oregon women’s basketball player who brought the matter to light by posting a video on Tik Tok that soon went viral) to get that kind of outcry and response.”

However, Merchant was quick to move on from that situation and provided the media with a few promising anecdotes about Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren and newly hired Michigan State Athletic Director Alan Haller. After the NCAA tournament had concluded, Warren gathered all the Big Ten women’s basketball head coaches on a Zoom call. After hearing feedback and discussion amongst the coaches, Warren created an administrative position to oversee only women’s basketball throughout the conference. Haller, who was promoted Sep. 1 to become the new Athletic Director at Michigan State, Merchant said she received a call from one person within the Michigan State athletics administration. Alan Haller. Merchant added that he not only was the only administrator to call, but he got on a plane and flew down to San Antonio and watched the Spartans play in their NCAA tournament game. 

Last season was an unusual experience and difficult challenge for teams across the country, but Merchant looks at the effects of an abnormal year in a different light. ”It didn’t feel like a throw-away year, instead it kind of took us off the normal hamster wheel and slowed things down for us,” said Merchant.  “I looked at Covid year as an opportunity to grow, and give the kids opportunities they hadn’t been able to before.”

The Spartans are talented, experienced and ready to make a run. Their regular season opens on Tuesday, Nov. 9 when they host Morehead State.