Schaefer sizes up top-ranked UConn

No. 5 seed Mississippi State will get its shot to snap top-ranked Connecticut’s 71-game winning streak. The Huskies have won three straight national championships as well. Head coach Vic Schaefer sizes up his Bulldogs’ Sweet 16 opponent on Saturday in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Opening Statement

“The Sweet 16. What a great opportunity. I am excited for our players and our university. Obviously we are going to play a really good team. We are looking forward to playing well and competing at the highest level.”

On how this will test MSU’s toughness…

“Obviously it’s not their home court, but it will certainly be their home state and their home crowd. Any time you play on the road and have people hollering against you, it can test you. We are playing against a great team that lives off of great runs. The test is to try to eliminate certain things (UConn) wants to try to do. We need to realize that we aren’t going to eliminate all of their runs and that we have to make runs. When you are playing UConn, you have to realize that there is a reason why they have won as many games as they have in a row.  At the same time, we have to realize that we are here for a reason and that we are pretty good too. So we have to go in and be who we are, execute, and put ourselves in a position to be successful while also keeping ourselves out of situations that can hinder us from being successful. That is as important as anything.”

On UConn’s defense…

“They are really good. They have really good helpline defense and their rotation is really good. They have a player on their team that has blocked 404 shots. When you have a rim protector like that, it’s important. She impacts the game. She has blocked 404 shots, but she probably has altered 404 more shots if not more. All their guards are big guards. I think they all impact the game defensively. They probably don’t get as much credit as they do offensively, but they are really good defensively.”

On overcoming the mental hurdles of playing UConn…

“You have to go in with the mindset of it’s a basketball game. We’ve played in 35 games already, and we play in a really good league against some really good teams. That prepares you for this game. (UConn) has separated itself from everyone else in the country in terms of their win streak and what they have accomplished. For us, we are going against a really good basketball team, and we have played some really good teams. We talk about many of the same things we talk about when playing those teams: limit turnovers, not having turnovers in the wrong spot on the floor and playing good transition defense. All those things are things you had to deal with throughout the year. This team just happens to do it probably a little better.”

On this being a measuring stick for the program…

“We are playing No. 1, so however you want to measure us against No. 1 you’re going to get that opportunity Saturday. They have four senior All-Americans that are really good players.”

On having the experience of playing in the SEC…

“I believe that our conference gets you ready for this situation. We are playing a formidable opponent and a Hall of Fame coach. We just have to go try to be us. Try to be comfortable in the way we play. We will be in front of a bunch of people screaming against us, but it’s not the first time we have been in that environment against a really good team.”

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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