EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State women’s basketball head coach Suzy Merchant will coach the United States in the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru. The competition will take place July 31-Aug. 4.
“First off I would say it’s extremely humbling,” Merchant said. “I don’t think there’s a prouder moment in your profession than to be able to represent your country and have the opportunity to win a gold medal. I feel very blessed and honored to have this opportunity.”
Merchant will be joined by Mississippi State head coach Vic Schaefer and Buffalo head coach Felisha Legette-Jack as assistant coaches. Leggette-Jack was formerly an assistant coach at Michigan State from 2000-02. She was also a head coach at Indiana from 2006-12. Schaefer is also familiar with the Spartans, as the teams met in the second round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament.
Merchant has previous experience on the USA Basketball coaching staff. In her last stint with USA Basketball, she was assistant coach in 2009, as USA went undefeated with a 7-0 record and took home the World University Games gold medal. In the championship game, the U.S. topped Russia, 83-64.
Trials to select the 12-member team will be held May 16-20 at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Training camp will follow July 15-30.
Athletes eligible for this team must be U.S. citizens who currently are enrolled as a full-time collegiate student with remaining eligibility for the 2019-2020 school year.
The USA Basketball Women’s Junior National Team Committee, chaired by George Washington head coach Jennifer Rizzotti, is responsible for selecting the U.S. coaching staff, which is approved by the USA Basketball Board of Directors and pending approval by the United States Olympic Committee.
During Merchant’s 12-year tenure, the Spartans have captured Big Ten Conference regular season titles twice, in 2011-12 and 2013-14. She holds a 465-253 (.648) career record, has led the Spartans to eight NCAA Tournament appearances in her first 11 seasons.
The 2018-19 Spartans’ are currently 20-11 record. Michigan State season so far has been highlighted by four wins over ranked opponents in Oregon, Iowa, Minnesota and Maryland. The Spartans also set a school record with 15 home wins this season.