Women’s Basketball: Injury Free and Ready For Results

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Photo: Zane D'Souza/ Impact

Zane D'Souza

Injuries.

It is something all teams never want, and do everything to prevent. For the Michigan State women’s basketball team, healthy players was not part of the equation last year.

It was a trial for the team as they were barely able to keep more than five scholarship players healthy at one time. The lack of depth led to the team’s leading scorers, Aerial Powers and Tori Jankoska, to each play over 1,000 minutes. With healthy bodies, the team can finally make use of all the talent it has.

Head coach Suzy Merchant expanded on this in her press conference Wednesday.

“I think we’re definitely looking forward to having a healthy roster. I think it starts there, and that is  exciting,” Merchant said. “We returned 80 percent of our offense, over 60 percent of our rebounding.”

The return of so much offensive power will aid the Spartans this year in Big Ten play. In the Big Ten preseason poll the Spartans grabbed the No.3 spot.

This season the team added eight new players; a mix of freshman and two transfers. Though the Spartans have seven other players with experience, the team will need to acclimate the new players too.  

“There’s a big learning curve I would say, a lot of defensive principles, but we have been taking it slow with them,” senior Cara Miller said. “We have thrown them into the fire a little bit, but we have also been looking out, and directing traffic a little bit to help them.”

One key newcomer for the team will be transfer Morgan Green from Chabot College. Green averaged 22.1 points per game at Chabot, and  hopes to continue the high scoring, although she expects her scoring to take a hit with the offense running through Powers and Jankoska. This addition will  take some pressure off the rest of the team, and give Jankoska a much needed breather from having to run point guard last year.

“It’s great having somebody get in there and create open shots for me instead of having to create them on my own,” Jankoska said. “It helps set me up a little more and get me a little freed up from the ball.”

As much talk as there is on how the team will readjust to overcoming injuries and adding in new players, one thing that was apparent at media day was how close the team is.

Walking into Breslin one could  hear the sounds of laughter coming from a team that has spent a summer working together, and has high expectations. The Spartan women know that following Merchant, and playing together, will lead them to success.

“We go hard in practice every day,” Powers said. “The chemistry is building everyday and getting better.”

Freshman Kalabrya Gondrezick left nothing to the imagination in summing up the team’s goals.

“Winning the Big Ten and hopefully making the Final Four.”