Michigan State's Merchant returns from medical leave

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) Suzy Merchant's time away from the court helped her gain some valuable perspective.

''Everybody always says if you don't have your health, you don't have anything,'' said Merchant, the Michigan State women's basketball coach. ''I think as coaches, we go to exhaustion. When I'm getting lectured from (Tom) Izzo about stuff like that, I'm like, `Have you looked in the mirror lately? Have you seen yourself?'

''I just think as coaches sometimes we get on the treadmill and go a hundred miles an hour and forget about some of the small things.''

Merchant returned from a medical leave of absence to coach Sunday's game against No. 3 Maryland. The Spartans lost 89-72 , but she said afterward she's been feeling better over the past week. It was her first game back since she coached at Rutgers on Jan. 14.

Merchant fainted during a home game against Illinois on Jan. 1 and was later taken to a hospital for tests and kept overnight as a precaution. She did not coach on Jan. 4 at Purdue before returning for the next three games.

She felt similar symptoms after the game at Rutgers and stayed in New Jersey for tests at a hospital.

Merchant said she's on medication to keep her blood pressure up and had a heart monitor implanted.

''It's like the size of a paper clip and it's, like, in my skin. Every night it downloads all my cardiac, EKG and all that stuff,'' she said. ''I have a little button I'm supposed to push, like anytime I have any kind of arrhythmia, which I have sometimes. I think I had a few of them during the game to be honest with you - a couple of those calls made my heart kind of increase its activity.''

Merchant is in her 10th season at Michigan State. Maryland coach Brenda Frese said it was good to see her back on the sideline.

''We're close friends,'' Frese said. ''It goes back to when we were both coaches in the MAC - she was at Eastern Michigan and I was at Ball State. We spent a lot of MAC meetings, Big Ten meetings together. ... Just so relieved and happy for her and for her family and her team for her to be back and doing what she loves.''

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Follow Noah Trister at www.Twitter.com/noahtrister

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