Welcome to the twelfth opponent profile for the 2003-2004 season. Each profile will include information about the opponent’s women’s basketball team and a player or coach on the team. Links to web pages will follow each section. Look for a profile on each opponent 1-2 days before the tip-off.
Michigan State enters the January 8 game with a 10-2 record overall, 0-1 in the Big Ten after a close loss at Penn State on Sunday. To date, the Spartans have a perfect record at home, winning games against Davidson, Temple, Notre Dame, Eastern Michigan, Cincinnati, and Indiana by an average score of 72.8 - 52.8. The Spartans are currently ranked #23 in the nation in both the ESPN/USAToday Coaches Poll and AP Poll.
Since Coach Joanne P. McCallie took over the Michigan State program, the Spartans have steadily improved their overall record from 10-18 in 2000-2001, to 19-13 in 2001-2002, to 17-12 last year. Also in 2002-2003, the Spartans earned their first berth into the NCAA tournament since 1997. The squad developed a reputation during McCallie’s first year in East Lansing for being strong defensively and efficient offensively. That reputation has grown this year as the Spartans currently rank first in the Big Ten in scoring defense (53.2 points per game allowed), field goal percentage defense (35.4%), rebounding margin (+10.2 per game), steals (10.5 per game), third in scoring margin (+13.8), field goal percentage offense (45.2%), turnover margin (+.92 per game), and defensive rebounds (25.5 per game), fourth in free throw percentage (73.9%), and fifth in offensive rebounds (13.42 per game), 3-point percentage offense (36.3%).
The Spartan squad, while young with 7 freshmen and sophomores on a 12-player team, are deep, balanced, and diverse in their talents. Nine players have played in all twelve of the team’s games, averaging no less than 9 and no more than 32 minutes per game. Eight of those nine players average between 3 and 12 points per game, and grab at least 2.7 rebounds per game. While sophomore Lindsay Bowen is the team’s primary outside shooting threat, six other Spartans have made 3-pointers this season. To top it off, only one of the nine players who have appeared in all 12 games shoots less than 40% from the floor this season.
Defensively, Michigan State forces its opponents into almost 18 turnovers per game. Only one team, UCLA, has out-rebounded the Spartans this year, and no team has shot higher than 50% from the field against the Spartan defense. In fact, only two Big Ten teams shot higher than 50% against the Spartans last season: Ohio State, which did it twice, and Illinois.
Sophomore Liz Shimek was named co-Big Ten Freshman of the Year last year with teammate Lindsay Bowen. After winning the title of Ms. Basketball for the state of Michigan in 2001-2002, Liz shone her first year at East Lansing, grabbing the second-most rebounds (263) and scoring the fifth-most points (302) by a freshman in school history. Her freshman year, Liz was second in the Big Ten in rebounds (9.1 per game overall), offensive rebounds (3.28), and defensive rebounds (5.79). She also ranked 29th in scoring, at 10.4 points per game.
This year, Liz is showing her versatility and consistency, again ranking first in offensive rebounds (3.75), second in total rebounds (9.0), fifth in defensive rebounds (5.25), ninth in blocks (1.0), thirteenth in steals (1.67), and twenty-seventh in scoring (11.1).
Liz Shimek’s bio page on the official Michigan State athletics website can be found at http://msuspartans.ocsn.com/sports/w-baskbl/mtt/shimek_liz00.html
A new feature of this year’s Big Ten opponents’ profiles is a questionnaire, answered by one member of the opposing squad. Liz Shimek was kind enough to answer the nine-item questionnaire, and her responses follow. Thanks to Michigan State University SID contact Brad Gust for his work in making this possible.
Liz Shimek, Michigan State, sophomore forward/guard
1) What is the oldest memory you have of yourself with a basketball?
I was in 3rd grade and playing a game of Around the World against my brother. We played on a slab of cement with a hoop connected to a silo on our farm.
2) Why did you choose to play at Michigan State University?
The campus is beautiful, the facilities are awesome, the coaching staff is outstanding and the academic support for athletes is phenomenal (Clara Bell Smith Center).
3) Aside from playing basketball, how have you become a part of the East Lansing, Michigan, community?
As a team, we do a lot of community service things like going to elementary schools, reading and talking to kids about a variety of things, attending important community events, and doing many other things to get involved in the community so we are known as normal people, not as just women basketball players.
4) What was the most difficult basketball skill for you to master?
I would say for most people it would be shooting because of every little detail that must be perfected before becoming a pro. No matter how much I shoot, there will always be room for improvement. As a kid growing up, it was always stressed as the most difficult part of basketball that can only be perfected with repetition. To this day, shooting a basketball for anyone takes a lot of hand-eye coordination by putting the right amount of force, the right touch, and the perfect spin to make it go through the hoop.
5) Aside from games on the court, what is the best experience you’ve had as a result of playing collegiate basketball (visiting non-U.S. countries, meeting state and national leaders, etc.)?
As a result of playing collegiate basketball, the best experience I have had along with the rest of my teammates is the opportunity to travel nationwide. We visit a lot of different states and learn the different ways people live life. We had the privilege this past Christmas to travel to California to play UCLA and Pepperdine. While visiting, I realized how grateful we are to live everyday like we do. There are so many people out in the world that are less fortunate than us and it gives a different perspective on life.
6) Do women collegiate athletes get the attention they deserve from the national media?
For the universities that are constantly in the Final Four or have a tradition of being top notch, the attention from the media is pretty well distributed, but I think that there will always be room for improvement as far as the complete picture of women’s athletics.
7) What was the biggest challenge going from high school basketball to collegiate basketball?
The pace of the game is so much faster and intense. It’s not about who is the most athletic in college, it’s about who is the smarter player and who uses their strengths the best.
8) What accomplishments do you believe signify that a team has achieved success?
When a team sits in the locker room after a game knowing that each and every one of them gave all they could and left it all on the court.
9) What two adjectives come to mind when you think of Purdue women’s basketball?
A Boilermaker/Spartan game always seems to be a close battle, with the Spartans winning at East Lansing last year, 67-62, thanks to Liz Shimek’s 9 rebounds, 3 blocks, and career-high 19 points. The Boilermakers shot 40% from the field in the game and were out-rebounded by Michigan State, 35-33. At West Lafayette, the Boilermakers won a close game, 65-60.
Both teams are similar in that they play tough defense, have deep benches, and are balanced offensively. Purdue is slightly older than Michigan State, but it was the Spartan sophomores who really came up big last season at East Lansing, so don’t expect jitters from the squad. Coach Joanne P. McCallie has instilled a personality in this team, which is going to rise in national prominence the next few years. Nothing would be sweeter for the Spartans than to upset the highly ranked Boilermakers two years in a row.