November 4, 2013 3:02:37 PM
STARKVILLE -- It's finally here.
Vic Schaefer has been looking forward to this day ever since March 6, 2013, when he walked off the court at The Arena at Gwinnett Center with a "sour taste" in his mouth following a 63-36 loss to Alabama in the first round of the Southeastern Conference.
Armed with a team Schaefer has said physically looked prepared to compete in the big, bad SEC, MSU will take on Shorter at 7 tonight in an exhibition game at Humphrey Coliseum. It will be the team's only exhibition game before it opens the season at 5 p.m. Friday at Houston.
"I am excited about the opportunity to go play somebody else," Schaefer said Sunday night before his team's practice. "There will be a lot of energy on our team with five new kids."
Only four of those newcomers -- Breanna Richardson, Ketara Chapel, Savannah Carter, and Dominique Dillingham -- likely will play. Chinwe Okorie, a 6-foot-5 freshman center, has a foot injury and won't play, according to Schaefer. Redshirt junior forward Carnecia Williams, who had offseason knee surgery, also won't play tonight.
Prior to practice, Schaefer said he was informed Chapel, a 6-1 freshman forward, was sick, so he was unsure if she would be able to start or if she would be in the lineup. Chapel was dressed out and seen walking through the halls at Humphrey Coliseum following the MSU men's basketball team's exhibition game against Auburn University at Montgomery.
If she is healthy, Chapel could be one of three newcomers in the starting lineup. Schaefer said several times in the preseason he liked the progress of Chapel, a player he called the team's best rebounder from the high post, and Richardson, a 6-1 freshman forward, at the three and four positions, or small and power forward. Those two could draw starting assignments tonight with junior guard Kendra Grant, junior center Martha Alwal, or Carter, a junior college transfer from Trinity Valley (Texas) Community College.
Schaefer said senior Katia May and junior Jerica James are still in competition for the starting point guard role.
Coming off a 13-17 finish (5-11 SEC) in his inaugural season at MSU, Schaefer also is excited to build momentum behind a record-setting number of season-ticket sales. He hopes the infusion of a talented recruiting class this season and a promising group in the Class of 2014 are just the first two steps the program will take in its climb up the SEC ladder.
"I am proud of our season-ticket holders and proud of the fact we have been able to (set the record)," Schaefer said. "Is it the number we ultimately want? No, but it is a step for our program. I think people are excited about women's basketball and excited about the brand we're trying to bring here. We appreciate everybody has given, and it is not a finished product. It also is not too late because we can push that number even higher."
Admission to the game is free, and fans are encouraged to bring cans of food as the Mississippi State M-Club begins its annual Thanksgiving food drive.
The contest will be streamed to HailStateTV subscribers at www.hailstate.com/hstvlive.
MSU will play host to Jackson State at 7 p.m. Nov. 13 in its home opener.
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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