By Logan Lowery
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Vic Schaefer’s first season in Starkville was a year of peaks and valleys after inheriting an inexperienced roster.
Mississippi State went 13-17 overall and finished 12th in the SEC. Along the way Schaefer lost four games by 43 points or more but also had a 50-38 home upset over No. 11 Georgia.
“I think our kids saw that night what it takes to beat a quality team,” Schaefer said. “We beat several quality opponents last year. There were stretches where we did it and certainly some stretches where we got beat by 50 on the road. That certainly wasn’t any fun either, but I think that’s part of the growing pains that you have when you inherit one starter.”
The Bulldogs relied heavily on 6-foot- 5 center Martha Alwal and wing Kendra Grant, both of whom were sophomores last season. They accounted for 23.9 of MSU’s 55.2 point average a year ago.
Alwal won the Gillom Trophy for 2012-13 and led the SEC with 16 double-doubles including 10 in league play. She led the team with 12.1 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.6 blocks understands she will again be an integral cog for MSU.
“I can’t take plays off,” Alwal said. “If we want to get anywhere … I have to go hard every single time.”
One of the needs Schaefer wanted to address in his initial recruiting class was size. Three of Schaefer’s five signee’s stand 6-foot-1 or taller including 6-foot-5 Nigerian center Chinwe Okorie.
“I don’t know if we can score or guard anybody but when we get off the bus at least we look like an SEC team right now,” Schaefer said. “That was really something we felt like we had to address. Our frames had to change and with the five that we recruited, there’s no question they have SEC frames.”
The Bulldogs 2013 signing class was ranked 35th nationally by Dan Olsen’s Collegiate Girls Basketball Report – fifth-best inside the conference.
“From a recruiting standpoint we addressed needs and our skill set is going to be better,” Schaefer said. “But we are going to be younger.”
Schaefer said that a pair of true freshmen – Breanna Richardson and Katara Chapel – are potential starters.