Guevara, Hudson respect Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant


Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant has a 264-133 overall record for the Spartans from 2007-19. (Photo Credit: Aaron Doster / USA TODAY Sports)

From 1987-91, Suzy Merchant could be found walking the halls of Central Michigan University, making plays on the basketball court at Rose Arena and beginning to find a love for coaching.

Immediately after her graduation from Central Michigan, Merchant accepted an assistant coaching position at Oakland University to begin her legacy developing players.

Fast forward 28 years following Merchant's departure from Mount Pleasant, and she's set to take on the Chippewas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at 1 p.m. March 23.

For 12th-year CMU coach Sue Guevara, it's all respect for what Merchant has done while leading the Spartans.

"She's done a great job with the players she has there," Guevara said. "They play hard, defend, get after you and are physical."

Guevara has ties back to Michigan State, as she was an assistant coach for 10 years, from 1986-96 under Karen Langeland.

But that was the past. This is now.

“That was so long ago, but I do tell people, I grew up at Michigan State,” Guevara said. “I spent 10 years there and absolutely loved it there. I was with really good people."

Interestingly enough, Merchant set the CMU program record for all-time assists with 463 during her four years as a Chippewa. It was the same achievement senior guard Presley Hudson broke on Nov. 12 against South Dakota State.

After Hudson dismantled the record, Merchant reached out to congratulate her.

"She said that she was proud of that," Hudson said. "It's kind of cool. Just another team we get to battle against. I have a lot of respect for her. She's a great coach."

Throughout her 12 years for the Spartans, Merchant has accumulated a 264-133 overall record, making nine appearances (2009-14, 2016-17, 2019) in the NCAA Tournament. Her deepest run, like Guevara, was to the Sweet 16 in the 2009 tournament.

"It's a different style of basketball, but we've played against that style," Guevara said.

Senior guard Presley Hudson drives to the bucket against Eastern Michigan on March 13 in Quicken Loans Arena.

On the 2018-19 season, Hudson averages 20.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game. She's made 38.4 percent from downtown and has a 170-to-99 assist-to-turnover ratio. Right alongside her is fellow senior forward Reyna Frost.

Frost averages 21.7 points and 13.5 rebounds per game, also shooting 42.2 percent from 3-point range. She was named to the Mid-American Conference All-Tournament Team, despite CMU's early exit.

Playing a key role for the Chippewas for the last four years, Frost said she wasn't shocked that her team got an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

"We got into the tournament because our coaches scheduled a tough nonconference that got us the bid," Frost said. "It helped our underclassmen because they know they can play against those opponents."

The winner of CMU-MSU will face either No. 1 Notre Dame or No. 16 Bethune-Cookman University on March 25. Back on Nov. 11, 2016, when Hudson and Frost were sophomores, the Chippewas lost to Notre Dame early in the regular season, 107-47.

"I haven't even thought about Notre Dame yet," Frost said. "We have to get through MSU first."