Lexi Gussert to lead MSU women’s basketball
MSU Women's Basketball
IRON MOUNTAIN — Former Forest Park star Lexi Gussert will serve as a team captain this season for the Michigan State women’s basketball team.
Spartans head coach Suzy Merchant said Gussert’s leadership qualities and love for Michigan State rank with past greats Tori Jankoska and Aerial Powers.
“The thing about Lexi is there’s nobody that loves being a Spartan more than her,” Merchant said during the annual media session at the Breslin Center. “That fit Tori and Aerial, too. I think when you had a leader that believed it the way they did, that enthusiasm permeates for everybody.
“She’s a very engaging kid. She can reach everybody in her own way. I’m excited about her, the way she’s kind of carried herself in terms of being a vocal leader, and obviously the basketball piece, too.”
The daughter of Scott and Kathy Gussert is entering her senior season with the Spartans.
“I think, this is all me being humble about it, but I can really talk to them and get things out of girls,” Gussert said of her captain’s role. “It’s a gift that I got from my parents growing up. Just talking to people and getting the best out of them that they don’t necessarily see in themselves.”
A 6-foot guard and forward, Gussert has appeared in 88 games for the Spartans during her career. She averages 3.6 points and 2.0 rebounds per game.
“I’ve really seen Lexi step up the most,” Merchant said. “Although maybe her stats don’t really show that she’s been a prolific player for us, she’s an incredibly important piece to this whole season.
“She’s coming off a great summer. I think I saw at Midnight Madness, she was knocking down things. We’re trying to put her in a role where less is more.”
The Big Ten Conference pre-season poll didn’t have Michigan State listed among the top three teams. That won’t derail the Spartans.
“The goal every year is to win a national championship and the Big Ten,” said Gussert, named Miss Basketball of Michigan high schools in 2014. “Really, those (rankings) aren’t a big deal to us, but it’s just going to fuel the fire.
“At Michigan State, we’re kind of used to stuff like that in all aspects and in all sports. People are always counting us out. That just adds the fuel to that fire, and I think that we’re really going to surprise people.”
Four starters back along with key additions have Merchant and Gussert excited about the season.
“I think we’re big, we’re fast, we’re strong, we’re athletic, we’re deep,” Merchant said. “Those are all great qualities to have in a team. We’re really excited about what we have coming back, what we have coming in. I think this team top to bottom is as deep and athletic and good and talented as we’ve ever had.”
Gussert sees a “balanced group.”
“It’s probably the deepest we’ve ever been,” she said. “I remember being a freshman and only having like six of us on scholarship playing, so being able to have a bunch of girls like this, it’s been incredible. Not only that, but having talented girls that are going to make the season very special.”
Gussert, recipient of a Big Ten sportsmanship award last season, has set goals on and off the court.
“Honestly, I want to succeed just as badly as I want everyone else to succeed,” she said. “I want a Big Ten championship, I want some rings.
“Personally, I want to be a better leader. I want to be more of an impact on the floor defensively and offensively. I think that if I can do that and help lead the way, not only vocally but by example, I think we will be very successful.”