Rivalries are filled with perfunctory hand shakes and obligatory remarks that praise the opponent at the beginning of post-game news conferences.
The hand shakes between coaches usually are the shortest and the comments typically have the most bubbling in between the lines when coaches are trying to establish dominance early in their tenures.
STARKVILLE -- The historic step the NCAA took last week isn't going to alter the course of the Mississippi State athletic department.
That's the sentiment MSU Director of Athletics Scott Stricklin shared earlier this week when he was asked about the 79-1 vote last week that paved the way to grant cost-of-attendance stipends to student-athletes in the Power Five conferences and any other Division I schools that choose to do so.
STARKVILLE -- "Playing with a purpose" is a perfect phrase for Mississippi State women's basketball coach Vic Schaefer to use to describe his team's next game.
Not only does that phrase highlight how No. 18 MSU will have to play at 8 tonight (SEC Network) against Ole Miss, but it also epitomizes how the Rebels are playing in their second year under coach Matt Insell.
You undoubtedly have heard before that location often is the most important aspect in the survival of a business.
The same adage holds true in sports. After all, that's why the saying, "right place at the right time" has become cliche.
That saying probably is most appropriate for soccer, where a well-timed run can give a player a chance to pounce on a rebound, or a service hit with the right touch can set up a team to cash in.
When those elements happen on the same play, beautiful things are the result.
No, this isn't a trivia test to see who can remember what famous science fiction actor's voice was used in one of the catchiest pop music songs in 1988.
Instead, it's an introduction to one of the nation's most athletic and underappreciated players who just so happens to play in the Southeastern Conference.
Size has a lot to do with the determining positions for players in youth sports.
In basketball, the taller boys and girls usually play center or forward to maximize their ability to get rebounds and to play closer to the basket so they can use their height to shoot over players.
The Mississippi State women's basketball team faces its biggest stretch of the season in the next seven days.
At 19-2 and 4-2 in the Southeastern Conference, MSU slipped three spots to No. 18 in this week's The Associated Press Top 25. The USA Today Top 25, which is voted on by the coaches, comes out today. MSU was ranked No. 18 in that poll last week and likely will slip a few spots following a 71-69 double-overtime loss to LSU on Thursday.
STARKVILLE -- Kendra Grant is playing with an urgency that shows she understands she could have only 11 games left in her college career.
The Mississippi State women's basketball team needed its senior guard to play with that attacking mind-set on offense. On an afternoon where little came easily, Grant poured in a game- and season-high 17 points Sunday to lead No. 15 MSU to a 66-50 victory against Alabama in a Southeastern Conference game before a crowd of 4,557 at Humphrey Coliseum.
Vic Schaefer believes his players understand what it takes to win in the Southeastern Conference.
His Mississippi State women's basketball team showed it had the fortitude to battle through adversity and tough defenses to win its first three SEC games for the first time in program history. Those victories helped propel MSU to an 18-0 start and a spot at No. 14 in The Associated Press Top 25.
STARKVILLE -- One more play.
With a four-point lead and 1 minute, 57 seconds remaining in double overtime, the Mississippi State women's basketball team was again on the cusp of beating LSU for a pivotal Southeastern Conference home victory. All it needed was to get one more rebound, or one to make one more free throw, or to execute one more time against the press or in its half-court offense to get over the proverbial hump.
Instead, LSU trumped No. 15 MSU and made two plays in a 45-second span that sent it on its way to a 71-69 victory before a season-high crowd of 4,727 at Humphrey Coliseum.
The talk always fascinated Mary Grace Caldwell. She just wasn't sure she believed it.
"You will be one of the few that plays college golf," Caldwell recalls friends and coaches telling her.
Caldwell didn't take those words to heart because she believes there always is room for improvement in your sport. It wasn't until last season, when Caldwell was part of the New Hope High School girls golf team' Class II state championship squad that she embraced the notion that she could take her game to the next level.
Three hats, one mantra: Hard work.
Even though Sam Taylor (Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College), Josh Stillman (Northeast Mississippi C.C.), and Payton Lane (Mississippi Delta C.C.) donned different caps Thursday that signified the next steps in their baseball careers, the New Hope High School standouts acknowledged they shared a bond that helped them realize their opportunities. That hard work has been on display the past two years as part of New Hope High's back-to-back Class 5A state championships. All three don't plan on changing anything this season and later this year when they realize their opportunities to play college baseball.
STARKVILLE -- Mallory Eubanks' exploits as a high school player attracted plenty of attention from college coaches.
But Eubanks, who was named NSCAA Kentucky High School Player of the Year as a senior, didn't feel she had made a name for herself at the national level as she prepared for her freshman season at Mississippi State.
That could be changing very soon.
STARKVILLE -- Morgan William sat silently and shook her head.
The Mississippi State 5-foot-5 point guard was affirming coach Vic Schaefer's assessment of her performance Sunday in a 78-62 loss at Vanderbilt. Even though William agreed with Schaefer that she didn't play well, she didn't like doing it.
STARKVILLE -- People skills can help you earn a college scholarship.
Michael Sullivan's parents didn't use that language in raising their son to be a "people person," but they hoped their son wouldn't hesitate when he saw an opportunity to meet someone, especially a coach who could help him take the next step in his soccer career.
It just so happens Sullivan had an interesting ice-breaker to start a memorable conversation nearly two years ago with a "stranger."
STARKVILLE -- David McFatrich knows how to build a winning program.
When Steven McRoberts hired McFatrich as an assistant volleyball coach at Central Arkansas in 2007, McFatrich knew a foundation needed to be laid to help the Sugar Bears become competitive in the Southland Conference and relevant on the national scene.
If you're a sports fan, you know sometimes there are moments when you want to mute the television and just watch a game.
STARKVILLE -- A year ago, the Mississippi State women's basketball team relied on newcomer Savannah Carter for a spark.
STARKVILLE -- Stat stuffers don't care how their lines in the final boxscore look.
After all, if players who fill numerous columns with crooked numbers are doing their jobs, their team's total in bold at the bottom of the page is going to be bigger than the opponent's.
Dominique Dillingham's numbers Thursday were far from the biggest on the final statistics for the No. 14 Mississippi State women's basketball team's 72-57 victory against Arkansas. But none of the 3,556 in attendance at Humphrey Coliseum would deny Dillingham had perhaps the biggest impact in helping MSU push its season-opening winning streak to 18. In the process, MSU made another piece of history in opening Southeastern Conference play 3-0 for the first time.
Commitment means something to Bob and Carol Schwanebeck.
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