INDIANAPOLIS, April 2 -- The amount of food Kristin Haynie devours each day would make an offensive lineman swoon. For breakfast, she will have eggs, French toast, pancakes, bacon and hash browns. Between breakfast and lunch, she will nosh on fruit and an energy drink or an energy bar. Lunch is usually a sub or turkey sandwich with fruit and yogurt. If she doesn't feast on breakfast again for dinner -- which she likes to do -- Haynie ends her eating spree with a steak or a piece of chicken.
This smorgasbord is necessary for Haynie, Michigan State's 5-foot-8 senior point guard, to maintain her energy level. After years of battling fatigue, Haynie is finally healthy enough to lead the Spartans (32-3), and she has taken them all the way to the Final Four where they play Tennessee (30-4) on Sunday.
Michigan State guard Kristin Haynie's change in diet helped her and the Spartans advance to the Final Four.
(Dave Kaup - Reuters)
_____Matchup: Shimek vs. Ely_____
Ely, a 6-foot-2 senior forward, has been on a mission to end her career where she started it. The 2001 Indiana Miss Basketball from Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis received the "big sunglasses" award, handed out by the team to the player showing the most focus, after her 23-point performance against Texas Tech in the region semifinals. That focus hasn't wavered.
"I think we won't get caught up in the experience," Ely said. "We can focus on our goal, which is winning the national championship."
Ely has come on strong lately since she moved from playing small to power forward and is averaging 15 points and 7.5 rebounds in the NCAA tournament. She is not easy to contain, but Michigan State will want to remember how Rutgers flustered her in the region final and held her to nine points.
Shimek, a 6-1 junior forward, has been Michigan State's most steady performer. She leads the team in scoring and rebounding,, averaging 15 points and 9.1 rebounds. After surpassing 1,000 career points earlier this season, she is on pace to become the first woman in school history to score 1,000 points and grab 1,000 rebounds.
Shimek is a tenacious rebounder. Michigan's Miss Basketball in 2001 owns the state high school record for career rebounds (1,533) and set the season record at Michigan State with 319. Almost 40 percent of her rebounds come on the offensive end. Tennessee needs to limit her second chances.
Kristin Haynie and Lindsay Bowen don't have the Final Four experience that Shanna Zolman and Loree Moore have, but that hasn't stopped them from leading Michigan State on its remarkable run. Haynie, who had a triple-double against Vanderbilt, has come into her own this tournament. Bowen seems to come up with the big basket when her team needs it most. Zolman's three-point shooting could be effective against Michigan State's matchup zone defense. Tennessee relies heavily on Moore's poise and veteran savvy and can get out of sync when she is on the bench.
If Tennessee allows Kelli Roehrig to get in position underneath the basket, catch the ball and turn her left shoulder, it could be a long night for the Lady Vols. Roehrig has been a force inside for Michigan State, scoring in double figures in 10 straight games. Nicky Anosike, one of Tennessee's gifted freshmen, must use her quickness to elude Roehrig. Anosike is developing into a consistent force underneath the basket for the Lady Vols, scoring in double figures her last three games. With Shyra Ely and Liz Shimek battling for rebounds, whoever gains the advantage could determine the outcome.
Three of the Lady Vols starters are averaging more than 31 minutes per game in the NCAA tournament, while three of the Spartans are averaging more than 34 minutes per game. The Lady Vols might turn to Brittany Jackson to open up the middle with her outside shooting -- she makes 36.5 percent of her three-point shots -- if Shanna Zolman's shot isn't falling. Tye'sha Fluker will team with Nicky Anosike trying to wear down Kelli Roehrig.
Joanne P. McCallie, in her fifth season, has done a remarkable job with the Michigan State program after a successful stint at Maine, where she led the Black Bears to six consecutive NCAA tournaments. The Spartans, who hadn't gotten past the second round until this season, are making their first Final Four appearance. Pat Summitt recently passed former North Carolina men's coach Dean Smith for most career victories. She has Tennessee in its fourth consecutive Final Four and 16th overall and is 89-17 in NCAA tournament games. The Lady Vols are 11-4 in national semifinal games.
Haynie contracted mononucleosis her freshman year and thought its lingering effects were what caused her to feel so tired her sophomore and junior years. It wasn't until she went to a Michigan State dietician that she learned that she wasn't absorbing enough nutrients from the food she was eating.
"We just figured out I needed to intake more calories at the end of last season," Haynie said. "The first month or so was really hard eating all that food. You have to eat three or four meals a day. . . . It's definitely a lot easier now to maintain 4,000 calories."
Haynie's inability to digest her food fully stemmed from her health problems as a child. When she was in fourth and fifth grade, she had a hereditary condition, which caused her to develop polyps in her intestines, diagnosed.
"I kept getting colonoscopies every month for two years," Haynie said. "It was really bad. I was sick all the time."
Doctors, fearing the polyps would become cancerous, decided to remove her large intestine when she was 11 years old.
"It was scary, but I was just so sick I was like do whatever you guys have to do to make me feel better," Haynie said.
In addition to her high-calorie diet, Haynie consumes an energy drink before games and during halftime to keep up her stamina. The nutritional overload appears to be working. Haynie has blossomed this season into a dynamic leader on the court.
"She's gotten healthy now first of all, because we've had two years of bad health," Michigan State Coach Joanne P. McCallie said. "Everything about her game -- her ball-handling, her anticipation, her passing, her ability to run the fast break, her three-point shooting, her assist-to-turnover ratio -- I don't think there's an area of her game that hasn't taken leaps and bounds."
Haynie is averaging 10.8 points per game -- her highest scoring average at Michigan State. Her assists (5.1 per game) and rebounds (6.7 per game) are also up. And this season, she became Michigan State's career leader in assists (562) and steals (337).
"What a great point guard," Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt said. "She can put it on the floor. She can catch and shoot. I think the thing that I've been so impressed with is that she makes great decisions. . . . I told our basketball team I think she will be one of the best point guards they have faced this season, and obviously we have faced a lot of good ones."
When she arrived at Michigan State four years ago, Haynie was content to blend in and let others take control. But at the urging of her teammates and coaches, she has become more assertive. She exudes confidence. This is her team now.
"Throughout the year, I have just been more vocal," Haynie said. "Growing up, I was a shy, quiet little girl. . . . Coach [McCallie], all the coaches, were telling me you have to be more vocal, you have to be more vocal if you want the team to be successful."
Haynie's teammates have responded to her newfound boldness.
"Kristin, she's a lot of fun to play with," teammate Liz Shimek said. "She's a hustler. She's determined. She's everywhere."
It's amazing how a few cheeseburgers and chocolate shakes can transform a player. Haynie, who says she once was a really picky eater, realizes that she won't be able to eat as much as she does now forever.
"You have to take the opportunity when you can," she said. "It's not always you can eat 4,000 calories. I'm sure in a couple years I won't be able to eat all that and not gain any weight. You have to make fun out of it."