#20 Michigan State Women's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

Michigan State Spartans

Overall Rank: #20
Conference Rank: #3 Big Ten
#20 Michigan State Women's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview
Michigan State Team Page


Michigan State had some struggles last year. Injuries and an ensuing lack of depth led to quite a few problems in Big Ten play. The Spartans finished just 7-11 in the conference and had some tough outings against the better teams in the Big Ten. There are some losses for Coach Suzy Merchant to deal with, but there should be more depth this year.

2014-15 Record: 16-15, 7-11
2014-15 Postseason: None
Coach: Suzy Merchant
Coach Record: 179-87 at Michigan State, 380-207 overall

Aerial Powers, a 6-0 forward, has All-American potential after averaging 21.9 points and 12.1 rebounds during her sophomore season. She is a nightmare to guard since Powers is equally comfortable stepping out and shooting a three as she is banging away in the paint. The frontcourt also returns Jasmine Hines, who missed nearly all of last season with an injury. Two years ago the 6-3 center was a great player off of the bench and she was on her way to doing the same last year before the injury. Michigan State also adds a couple top recruits that will add options in the frontcourt. Victoria Gaines should make a big impact right away and Jenna Allen is widely regarded as a top recruit as well. Wing Lexi Gussert had a very promising freshman campaign and earned 11 starts on the year. She is a capable slasher and a good shooter too. Kennedy Johnson is another promising sophomore who will provide quality depth at the five spot.

The backcourt returns a star in Tori Jankoska. The junior guard averaged 17.5 points and 3.9 assists last season and has already become a leader for the Spartans. Jankoska is a great outside shooter and connected on 68 three-pointers during the 2014-2015 campaign. The backcourt could use another scorer and there are not too many options. Incoming freshman Kalabrya Gondrezick is a very good point guard and should see some playing time, but probably not enough to keep Jankoska off of the ball. Cara Miller is a big, versatile and experienced guard, but she is not much of a scoring threat.  

Final Projection:
If the Spartans can find a third scorer to compliment Powers and Jankoska, this will be a very, very dangerous team. In fact, even with just Powers and Jankoska this will be a tough team to beat. This is a squad that will be strong on the glass and should play solid defense. Coach Merchant is not going to have a team that scores 80 points per game, but they do need to be much more efficient offensively. Shooting 40.2 percent from the floor and 30.6 percent from beyond the arc, while committing 17.5 turnovers per game is not going to cut it no matter how good the defense could be.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Tori Jankoska, Junior, Guard, 17.5 points per game
Cara Miller, Senior, Guard, 3.0 points per game
Lexi Gussert, Sophomore, Forward, 4.8 points per game
Aerial Powers, Junior, Forward, 21.9 points per game
Victoria Gaines, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 68.0 (98th in nation, 9th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 64.5 (178, 6)
Field-Goal Percentage: 40.2 (152, 11)
Field-Goal Defense: 38.8 (134, 6)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.3 (86, 6)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 30.6 (194, 11)
Free-Throw Percentage: 72.0 (77, 8)
Rebound Margin: 6.7 (26, 2)
Assists Per Game: 14.1 (95, 13)
Turnovers Per Game: 17.5 (254, 13)

Madness 2015 Women’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#39 Victoria Gaines
#73 Kalabrya Gondrezick
#89 Jenna Allen


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