ROSEMONT, Ill. — Meet the new Suzy Merchant, same as the old Suzy Merchant.
Mostly. Give or take.
“I mean, a little,” the Michigan State Spartans women’s basketball coach said Tuesday at the Big Ten headquarters in suburban Chicago. “I tried to have a little bit more balance and try not to go crazy now — as crazy — and have a little more breaks. As much as I can.
“Just — it’s kind of silly to say in this profession — but if you have like an afternoon where you don’t have anything, try to take a few minutes.”
The 47-year-old Merchant, who has piloted the Spartans to two league titles in 10 seasons in East Lansing, scared the #GoGreen faithful — to say nothing of her friends, players, staff, peers and family— after a series of heart-related scares this past winter.
“I’ve worked myself to near death,” she said. “Heartbeat and whatever. But it’s good.
“I feel a lot better.”
She’s trying to work out more and stress out less. But the calendar for a coach never rests, even in the spring: Merchant was at the Big Ten’s offices this week for the league’s annual women’s basketball spring meetings, held in conjunction with the athletic directors’ spring huddle.
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“The main [discussion] things are, really, it’s like Groundhog Day — scheduling and officiating,” she said. “I feel like I’ve been here before.”
One of the points on the table was NCAA Tournament resumes — or, league-wide, the lack thereof. The Big Ten got four teams into the Big Dance this past March, down from five schools in 2016 and seven in 2015.
“There’s some disappointment in some of the teams [not] getting to the NCAA Tournament and maybe some underseeding,” she said. “That seems to be an issue for the Big Ten.”
Another issue: Transfers.
“How do you manage it? Everybody has them, in every sport,” Merchant said. “Certainly in men’s and women’s basketball [it] seems to be pretty prevalent. Football as well. So we talked about that. With no solutions. So I don’t know.”