STARKVILLE -- You'll have to excuse Vic Schaefer for being a few minutes late to his scheduled media conference Saturday.
STARKVILLE -- Vic Schaefer was waiting for the question.
STARKVILLE -- There aren't many things that can stop or keep Blair Schaefer down.
STARKVILLE -- The plan was working.
STARKVILLE -- Vic Schaefer has a warning for up-tempo teams looking to overwhelm his Mississippi State women's basketball team with that style in the NCAA tournament.
STARKVILLE -- Tonya Warren pulled Madison Weekly, Angie Davison, and Hannah Schonhardt to her side.
STARKVILLE -- Blair Schaefer saved her best game of the season for the sport's biggest stage. Schaefer scored her team's first 11 points en route to a career-high 21-point effort Friday afternoon to lead the second-seeded Mississippi State women's basketball team to a 110-69 victory against 15th-seeded Troy before a crowd of 5,572 at Humphrey Coliseum.
STARKVILLE -- The plan was working. For the first 10 minutes, Chanda Rigby's plan for the Troy women's basketball team to attempt a shot every seven seconds had it right there with Mississippi State. The 15th-seeded Trojans were pushing tempo and beating the second-seeded Bulldogs down the court. They looked everything like a team that was eighth in the nation in scoring (82.9 points per game) and second in rebounds per game (50.22). But things went horribly wrong in the second quarter.
STARKVILLE -- Tonya Warren pulled Madison Weekly, Angie Davison, and Hannah Schonhardt to her side. The four of them stood on the sideline of Humphrey Coliseum shortly after the Northern Iowa women's basketball team's 88-67 loss to DePaul in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Warren wanted to make sure her seniors, who had just played their final game, knew how much they meant to her and the program.
STARKVILLE -- DePaul women's basketball coach Doug Bruno brags about giving his players, "the greenest green light in America." Bruno doesn't want his players to hesitate shooting, but sometimes coaches have to be a little more emphatic in driving their point home. That is what Bruno has had to do with sophomore guard Tanita Allen. In fact, Bruno has encouraged Allen to shoot the ball more without seeing a breakthrough.
STARKVILLE -- Maryann Baker knows a "grinder" when she sees one. As a player at Texas A&M, Baker earned a reputation as a blue-collar worker who grew from a member of the scout team to a standout defensive player who helped the Aggies win a national championship in 2011.
Kids will make do with what they have, even if it means building a track in the backyard and racing whatever will go. John Johnson Jr., who is originally from Starkville and moved to Ethelsville, Alabama, was a teenager when he and friend Daniel Brasfield turned an old field into a ring for their four-wheelers. They didn't have tractors to aid in the construction, but they had imagination and an itch to race.
Vic Schaefer knows how to work a court. Whether it is standing still with arms folded tightly across his chest or dancing on the sideline in front of the Mississippi State bench, Schaefer knows how to get his message across and to energize his players and his fans. Schaefer also knows how to work a room.
Doug Bruno likes selling tickets. But as much as the DePaul women's basketball coach believes -- like Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer -- that offense sells tickets, defense wins games, and defensive rebounding wins championships, he understands there is more to the discussion when it comes to helping the sport grow.
STARKVILLE -- The so-called Cannizaro Effect -- an homage to Mississippi State baseball coach Andy Cannizaro's offensive-minded approach in its first year at MSU -- refers partly to the fact the Bulldogs have 40 stolen bases in 18 games this season after swiping 51 bases last season.
STARKVILLE -- After a disappointing season, a veteran coach always looks for a sign the next season will be different. Mississippi State softball coach Vann Stuedeman received that sign last Friday when her team opened Southeastern Conference play with a 5-2 victory against then-No. 6 Texas A&M in College Station, Texas.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Junior Ashley Williams had 19 points and 12 rebounds Thursday night to lead the Alabama women's basketball team to an 81-57 victory against Mercer in the first round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament at Coleman Coliseum. With the win, the Crimson Tide (20-13) secured its first 20-win season since the 1998-99 campaign.
STARKVILLE -- Merit from this season aside, history wasn't on Northern Iowa's side. Before this season, the Missouri Valley Conference earned more than one bid to the NCAA women's basketball tournament 10 times and hadn't accomplished the feat in the last three seasons. Forgetting that UNI had two top-25 Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) wins and eight top-100 RPI opponents, it had to question its postseason fate after losing to Drake in overtime on Sunday in the championship game of the league tournament.
STARKVILLE -- The reigning Big East Conference Player of the Year described herself as a role player. Her head coach saw right through it.
STARKVILLE -- Breaking records has become the norm in the Troy University women's basketball program. The Trojans have won 20 or more games in three-consecutive seasons for the first time in program history. They also have led the Sun Belt Conference in scoring each of the last five seasons.
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