#16 Michigan State Women's Basketball 2019-2020 Preview

Michigan State Spartans
Overall Rank: #16
Conference Rank: #2 Big Ten
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Michigan State won 21 games last season, including signature wins over Oregon and Maryland enroute to another trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Spartans are one of the better teams in the country at sharing the basketball and it results in a pretty entertaining brand of offensive basketball to watch.
2018-19 Record: 21-12, 9-9
2018-19 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Suzy Merchant
Coach Record: 265-134 at Michigan State, 466-254 overall
Key Departed Players (starters in bold)
Jenna Allen, Center, 12.5 ppg
Sidney Cooks, Forward, 9.5 ppg
Key Returning Players (starters in bold)
Shay Colley, Redshirt Senior, Guard, 14.1 ppg
Nia Clouden, Sophomore, Guard, 12.0 ppg
Taryn McCutcheon, Senior, Guard, 9.6 ppg
Victoria Gaines, Redshirt Senior, Forward, 6.4 ppg
Mardrekia Cook, Redshirt Junior, Forward, 6.1 ppg
Tory Ozment, Sophomore, Guard/Forward, 5.1 ppg
Nia Hollie, Senior, Forward, 3.5 ppg
Kayla Belles, Sophomore, Forward, 2.8 ppg
Claire Hendrickson, Redshirt Sophomore, 1.6 ppg
Key New Players
Alyza Winston, Freshman, Guard
Taiyier Parks, Freshman, Forward
Moira Joiner, Freshman, Guard
Julia Ayrault, Freshman, Guard
Cydni Dodd, Freshman, Center
Four starters return for head coach Suzy Merchant, led by a very talented backcourt trio of players. Shay Colley is a redshirt senior who averaged 14.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game last season. Colley has the potential to average 18-20 points per game if she can boost her field percentage north of 40 percent. Nia Clouden and Taryn McCutcheon are two solid outside shooters that will stretch opposing defenses and open things for up for the post players. Victoria Gaines is efficient with her shot selection as she made 48.4 percent of her shots from the floor last season and her experience will be invaluable down low in the post. Michigan State was excellent at home in 2018-19 as they went 15-1 but they did struggle in true road games where they were 3-9 away from East Lansing. Trips to Notre Dame and Florida State will test the Spartans right away along with neutral site games against LSU, Syracuse and West Virginia. A good goal for Michigan State in those five games will be to get to at least 3-2. The conference schedule does start off with three out of four away from home but its manageable as they play Maryland just once. The key will be taking a step forward defensively and improving the scoring and field goal percentage defense. If that happens, the Spartans will be a threat to get to the Sweet 16 and beyond.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 75.1 (31st in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 68.6 (285, 11)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.9 (39, 4)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.1 (279, 13)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.0 (84, 2)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.5 (23, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.6 (112, 7)
Rebound Margin: 2.4 (109, 7)
Assists Per Game: 18.0 (9, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 14.1 (82, 5)
Madness 2019 Women’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#83 Julia Ayrault
#96 Cydni Dodd
#108 Moira Joiner
#110 Alyza Winston
#130 Taiyier Parks