Suzy Merchant Takes Over As MSU Head Coach

"This is home. Home is where my heart is. This is where I want to be. I don't think there's a greater gift than being named the coach at Michigan State and staying here hopefully as long as they'll have me. --New MSU head basketball coach Suzy Merchant.

EAST LANSING - A breath of fresh air blew through the doors at Michigan State yesterday when former Eastern Michigan head coach Suzy Merchant was introduced as the new head coach of Michigan State University.

Merchant set the faithful's minds at ease when she let them know she views Michigan State as her final destination in her career, not a stepping stone.

"The nice thing is that I'm home. I have no intention of going anywhere. Michigan State is a part of my history and tradition. We grew up pretty modestly. I can tell you that one of the trips we used to make every year was to come down to see Scott Skiles play. It's probably dating me a little bit. I came to every possible Karen Langeland camp ever hoping she would recruit me. I know I couldn't shoot. I apologize. I could really defend. This has been part of my life and who I am. I certainly appreciate that opportunity."

When redirected Merchant repeated her commitment to the Spartans.

"This is home. Home is where my heart is. This is where I want to be. I don't think there's a greater gift than being named the coach at Michigan State and staying here hopefully as long as they'll have me," she said.

Merchant first job will be salvaging the recruiting class brought in by former head coach Joanne P. McCallie. Merchant said she's already contacted many of those players and feels good about her chances of keeping them.

"I actually made calls on my way over here between Ypsilanti and Lansing. I know they're in school right now so that made it hard," said Merchant.

"That's obviously the highest priority. They have done a great job. This next class, I've seen four of the five kids play, know all five. [I'm] very excited about this class [and] feel blessed I have a chance to convince them to stay a Michigan State Spartan. I believe I can. I think they'll be here in the fall."

The fiery redhead showed a disarming demeanor that quickly charmed those in attendance including many in the media. Now she has to show she can deliver the goods. At Eastern she compiled a 147-91 (.618) record and became the winningest coach in EMU history. He career record, including her three years at Saginaw Valley State University is 201-120.

With the resources of Michigan State at her disposal, Merchant believes she can guide State to equal if not greater success than it had under McCallie.

"Women's basketball has gone to the next level at Michigan State," said Merchant. A great foundation has been laid, not only in terms of winning but also in terms of the great fan base that has been built.

"There's a lot of talent returning for next year's team, and I know that an outstanding recruiting class is on its way. I know that expectations will be high, and I welcome the challenge of taking this program to new heights."


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