Schaefer readies for SEC home opener

Vic Schaefer, head coach of seventh-ranked Mississippi State, speaks about the Bulldogs’ SEC home opener against Auburn on Thursday.

Opening statement…

“We are excited to be home and to have a chance to play in front of our crowd. We have a tough, formidable opponent in Auburn, who is coming off a tremendous win against a top-10 team in Kentucky. They play extremely hard. They have a tremendous guard who is one of four players that turned us down in my four years here. She’s leading the league in scoring. They are well-coached and well-disciplined. We will still have to be ready to play like we do every day in this league. We are still young at certain spots on the floor, but we are playing hard defensively. I’m pleased with that. We have had two good wins since (last home game). I was extremely proud of how business-like our girls took the last two games. Their approach was outstanding and their preparation was good. Their work ethic and focus was good.”

On his team’s response after the Southeastern Louisiana game…

“My paranoia is that because they are young we will have a roller-coaster all year. After our game against Southeastern Louisiana we had practice the next morning from 8 to 9:10 and then got on the plane to Jacksonville. We then got off the plane and went straight to a two-hour practice. We knew we didn’t play well against Southeastern Louisiana. My kids knew that the competition was going to increase considerably. They were really focused against South Florida, especially on defense. At Florida, we stayed on the offensive for three quarters. I was proud that we forced 32 turnovers in the SEC, something that is very hard to do. I’m proud of their approach to the past two ballgames. I’m eager to see how we play in our home conference opener.”

On Morgan William’s performance while recovering from injury…

“I think she is playing well at whatever percentage she is at. I showed her stats from this time last year. She is averaging about four or five points a game and this time last year she was averaging 12 or 13. She has really stepped up since then. She is shooting extremely well. She’s shooting well from the free-throw line. She has a lot of confidence right now. It is important that we find other options besides [Victoria Vivians]. That’s what was so encouraging about the Florida game. [Vivians] went 4-20 and we scored 76 points. We had some other kids step up and play well.”

On Teaira McCowan’s development…

“In the South Florida game, we dominated inside in the first half. She has to realize that just being 6-foot-7 will not guarantee you a rebound in the SEC. We are still teaching her to jump higher. Our focal point today was rebounding and putting a body on somebody. If you don’t put a body on somebody in this league, it’s difficult. We found that out against Florida.”

On rebounding and boxing-out against Florida…

“It’s nice to have a player that does what you want to do. (Former MSU center) Martha Alwal had a great nose for the ball. It’s just that youth piece, and the discipline that it takes at this level every play. That is very difficult in this league. At this level, there is a discipline that it takes to win consistently. You have to win play by play, possession by possession.”

On his team’s youth and its development…

“Something that gets lost in the equation is that [Breanna Richardson], [Ketara Chapel], [Dominique Dillingham] and [Sherise Williams] have been here a while. They know what we do and how we do it. Those kids are pretty solid every day in practice and in games, especially in how hard they play the game. Our kids do see that. Ketara comes in every day with a smile on her face and has a good work ethic, and that is contagious. Blair [Schaefer] is the same way. She comes in every day and works hard. She may make some mistakes, but she is working hard. We have a lot of that. Those freshmen see that and they get it.”

On Morgan William stepping up against Florida by getting to the free throw line more…

“(Earlier in the year), I took it as her not being aggressive enough. I’ve talked to [Vivians] about getting to the line more. She got to the line 10 times against Florida. She needs to get to the line 8-10 times a game and stop settling. She’s trying to buy into that. That will make it more difficult to guard us. Both kids are great in the open floor and make great decisions in the open floor. We need to get them there and allow them to either finish at the rim or go to the free-throw line. Morgan wants the ball in her hands when the game is on the line. She wants to go to the free-throw line, and I want her to, also.”

 

I have covered Mississippi State in some capacity since 2004 and joined the Daily Journal staff in 2013. I enjoy short walks on the beach, performing concerts in my car and watching professional wrestling.

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