Schaefer's toughness making difference for MSU

MSU's Blair Schaefer, left, drives against Ole Miss.
Staff Writer

Several years ago following a tremendous prep career at Starkville High School, Blair Schaefer might have been an afterthought in what she might add to the Mississippi State women’s basketball program.

Schaefer was, of course, head coach Vic’s daughter and her knowledge of the game was as impressive as any of her peers. However, she didn’t carry the same high-profile status as some of her classmates in that top 25 recruiting class.

Four years later, Blair is every bit as important to the team’s offensive and defensive plan as any other player. That includes All-Southeastern Conference players like Victoria Vivians and Teaira McCowan.

“Right now Blair is the glue to our team,” Vic said. “I think she’s the toughest kid and our best help defender. She’s making great decisions with the ball and not turning it over. She’s solid.”

Blair is currently averaging a team-high 30 minutes a game. It isn’t because dad is doing her a favor. No, she’s earned it. Countless crashes to the floor over the years have proven that she can take a lick and still tick. Her 3-point shooting is a valuable asset as she leads the squad with 45 this year and puts in 9.3 points per contest.

The most important stat to Vic is how she takes care of the basketball. Blair has turned the basketball over just 20 times this season which is the same amount of turnovers that Morgan William has as the team’s starting point guard.

In many ways, Blair has become this year’s Dominique Dillingham and added an even better offensive piece.

“Dominique Dillingham was a kid that I couldn’t pull off the floor and Blair is kind of that player now,” Vic said. “She’s doing everything you want her to do and the offense can flow through her. I’m really proud of her.”
Against Ole Miss on Thursday night, Blair was playing some of her best basketball. The senior guard got the crowd going early with two 3-pointers and a charge on the defensive end that helped them out to a 12-0 lead before the Rebels could blink.

In 38 minutes, Blair helped knock off the rival for the eighth-straight time with her 14 points and four rebounds. The six assists stood out the most and she had her seventh game this season without a turnover.

Her play on the dribble drive opened up a big night for McCowan, who had 25 points, mostly on relatively wide-open lay ins.

“Our guards created a lot of layups for her,” Vic said. “Our guards are doing a great job of creating some nice, easy baskets for her.”

For Blair, having a 6-7 presence in the paint is what opens up the entire offense. It allows for her to knock down open looks from 3 but also to pass to a free teammate.

With McCowan playing at the top of her game, Blair said that’s made the Bulldogs a much better team in 2018.

“It’s awesome," Blair said. "You can play through her, (or) you can play to her. She can do a lot of things and a lot of teams don’t have that. It’s great having someone that can block shots and help you on defense when you might not be quick enough. We all have a sense of awareness of where each other might be on the floor.”