â€śHe came here last year and watched my team lose and he told me he went to mass before he came,â€ť Merchant said. â€śâ€¦I told him to make sure he does that again. It means a lot. Heâ€™s a special guy. Heâ€™s a long time teacher in the catholic school systems and heâ€™s the matriarch of our family and we donâ€™t get to see him much. Itâ€™s been fun to have him out here.
â€śâ€¦ When he gets a team to watch our team play it means that much more so I didnâ€™t want to leave her without him seeing my team win one game.â€ť
Phillips, who lives in the Christian Brothers home in nearby Beltsville, Md., said he enjoyed a rare opportunity to watch Merchant coach her team in person.
â€śItâ€™s great,â€ť said Phillips, who plans to be in attendance when MSU faces host Maryland at 7 p.m. Monday. â€śI watch her on TV but I donâ€™t get a chance to see her much (in person).â€ť
Phillips said heâ€™s proud of the success Merchant has had in her coaching career. Merchant has guided her teams to 20 wins in each of the last nine seasons. MSUâ€™s 25 wins this season are the third most in a season in school history.
â€śIâ€™m very proud,â€ť Phillips said. â€śIâ€™m proud as can be. â€¦Itâ€™s a family pride.â€ť
ROAD TRIP: MSU team manager John Medici was so excited about MSU getting into the NCAA tournament that he made the trip to College Park, Md., to support the team.
â€śI wanted to be here to see it in person,â€ť said Medici, who made the drive with MSU junior transfer guard Camille Glymph on Friday.
Medici has made road trips to a few of MSUâ€™s away contests this season and has enjoyed his time in the program as a team manager this season.
â€śIâ€™m impressed with how amazingly tough these girls are, like Courtney Schiffauer or a J.T. (Jasmine Thomas),â€ť Medici said.
Medici was planning to start driving back to East Lansing on Saturday night because of a class Monday and will miss that night’s game against No. 4 seed Maryland.