The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Women’s basketball team warms up for new season

Olivia Zeringue
women’s basketball team warms up for new season

Head coach Vic Schaefer’s planning, plus his team’s talent and smooth cooperation, lifted the Mississippi State University Bulldogs to a program-best 34-5 season record last year. This culminated in the first Final Four and national championship appearance in school history.

However, there is still not a national championship banner in Humphrey Coliseum.

The season opener for the 2017-2018 season is quickly approaching for the Bulldogs, and this goal remains unreached. There is a pressure for the team to reinvent themselves but also maintain their grit and fearlessness.

“Last year’s done,” coach Schaefer said. “That’s over. Those four seniors aren’t here anymore, and somebody will have to step up.”

The seniors he is referring to are Dominique Dillingham, Chinwe Okorie, Breanna Richardson and Ketera Chapel. 

They were the winningest class of seniors at MSU, collecting 111 wins. This leaves the remaining Bulldogs a lot to make up for in the terms of performances and leadership.

Coach Schaefer will not have to look far for new leadership, however. He is entering his sixth season at MSU with a trio familiar to his team blueprint.

Blair Schaefer, Victoria Vivians and Morgan William are the new senior class that will lead their additional 12 teammates in the hunt for a national championship. 

“We had four great seniors before us,” Vivians said. “I feel like we have to do the same thing they did but a little bit better, because we didn’t really reach the goal that we wanted last year. We have to lead by example and be more positive so our younger girls can follow years after us.”

Vivians will be held at a high standard for the guards, with William by her side. The two players combined averaged 27.1 points per game last season.

They are the only returning starters from the historic winning class and will be asked to help the younger players adjust to their new roles.

William was named team captain for the season, which she said will push her to grow in ways she never before imagined.

“I’m trying to grow in different spots—leadership and communication,” William said. “I need to improve every day as a team leader. I can’t have room for errors or a bad attitude because people are watching me.”

Coach Schaefer and the ten returning Bulldogs have welcomed their newcomers with open arms. With strong leadership and a solid support system, they should not have trouble finding their identity.

Blair Schaefer also sees the importance of building chemistry before attacking their goals this season.

“I think they’ve gelled tremendously well,” Blair Schaefer said. “I definitely think our chemistry is growing. It’s a process, but we’re doing great.”

The Bulldogs 2017-2018 roster consists of six guards. This is the first time coach Schaefer will have such depth and talent at guard, as freshmen Nyah Tate and Myah Taylor begin their journey in college basketball. 

In the backcourt, the Bulldogs add Australian freshman Chloe Bibby at the forward position.

Bibby’s challenge will be transitioning from international-style basketball to college basketball. Previously, Bibby represented the Australian national U-18 team, where she won gold at the 2016 FIBA Oceania U-18 Championship in Fiji.

“She looks good and runs the floor well,” coach Schaefer said. “You are going to find that she’s a really skilled basketball player. The only thing young about her is her classification. She’s played a lot of competitive basketball. It shows.”

The goal remains the same for the Bulldogs this season: win the minute, win the hour and win the day.

“We’ve got large guard combinations,” coach Schaefer said. “These kids know that I don’t have a starting five. I want to see who wants to come to the top. Sometimes it’s not those first five.”

The Mississippi State Bulldogs will have their first practice of the season on Oct. 1.

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Women’s basketball team warms up for new season