Eastern Michigan faces former coach Suzy Merchant in AnnMarie Gilbert's return to MSU
Coach Swap. A new reality show based on Eastern Michigan’s visit to Michigan State.
Maybe Hollywood producers won't buy that pitch, but the women's basketball game between the two schools on Saturday should be interesting nonetheless.
Eastern Michigan coach AnnMarie Gilbert returns to the Breslin Center for the first time as a head coach after spending five years as an assistant to former Spartans coach Joanne P. McCallie.
McCallie, of course, left East Lansing for Duke and was replaced by former Eastern Michigan coach Suzy Merchant. The 3 p.m. Saturday game is the first time Merchant will face the Eagles since leaving Ypsilanti in 2007.
Merchant is 100-44 at Michigan State and won the school's first outright Big Ten title last season. The Spartans (5-3) lost 76-60 to No. 9-ranked Miami (Fla.) on Thursday night.
At Eastern Michigan, Merchant led the Eagles to a 147-91 (.618) record, three 20-win seasons, three postseason appearances and two MAC West Division titles.
Gilbert is 76-56 (.576) in her fifth season at Eastern Michigan.
In Gilbert's five years as an assistant coach at Michigan State, the Spartans made five consecutive NCAA Tournaments appearances and and played in the 2005 national championship game.
The game will be played on the 11-year anniversary of Eastern Michigan’s only win over the Spartans. The Merchant-led Eagles beat MSU 66-59 on Dec. 3, 2000, at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids. Michigan State holds an 11-1 record in the series, which hasn’t been played since 2003-04.
There’s more to celebrate than the reunion for EMU players. It’s also the last of five straight road games for the 5-1 Eagles.