East Lansing — Michigan State is looking to build off a successful 2015-16 basketball season — the women reached Big Ten tournament championship game and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, finishing 25-9.
But the Spartans will have to do it without All-American small forward Aerial Powers (21.8 points, 9.2 rebounds), who left for the WNBA after her junior year.
No problem since coach Suzy Merchant reloaded with 6-foot-4 transfer Taya Reimer, who will be eligible to play after graduating from Notre Dame.
Reimer is a third-team All-American according to The Sporting News, and the No. 1 power forward in the country coming out of high school. She averaged 10.2 points and 6.1 rebounds two years ago, missing the majority of last season with an Achilles injury.
“She’s healthy now and she’s experienced, very skilled and can play inside and outside and she’s a really good leader,” Merchant said.
“And, she knows what it takes (to get to the national championship game).”
Notre Dame lost to Connecticut on the 2014-15 title game.
But there’s more to the Spartans.
Take the return of Tori Jankoska (15.1 points, 5.4 rebounds) and Brandi Agee (11.7 points, 5.1 rebounds).
“Tori and Brandi are great players, so we have a lot coming back,” Merchant said. “Jenna (Allen, 6-3 center) had a great freshman year and she looks really good.
“We have a point guard in Morgan (Green) back from last year and she started almost half the games. We have a lot of veterans, but we have some new kids, too, so it will be interesting to see kind of how we come together.”
Green will be challenged by freshman Taryn McCutcheon (East Lansing) for minutes at point guard and the Spartans also added South Carolina transfer Shay Colley.
There’s also 6-0 freshman forward Mardrekia Cook (Muskegon).
“She knows what her strengths are and she uses them to the best of her ability,” Merchant said.
Michigan State is ranked No. 20 nationally by The Sporting News. Reimer and Michigan State host Notre Dame on Dec. 20.