Striving for perfection: Schaefer coaches MSU hard every day

Coach Vic Schaefer calls a timeout
Staff Writer

Mississippi State women’s basketball coach Vic Schaefer is always working toward perfection.
Even though he knows that may never come with his Bulldogs, Schaefer believes it’s worth striving for each and every day.
That’s why he doesn’t want his players to settle for anything other than their best effort.
“It’s hard for me not to not coach every possession of every game – no matter what the score – because I am coaching for perfection. Will we obtain it? No, but I want to get as close to it as we can.
“I think my girls know that about me. They understand it. They don’t fight me on it and realize it. They’ve learned to embrace it. It probably wasn’t easy when they first get around me. For instance, if you are suppose to beat somebody 60 in a non-conference game, you need to beat them 60 and not slop around and beat them 30. I think our kids have come to understand that about me.”
When MSU has a bad possession or two in a game, junior point guard Morgan William knows what’s coming.
Schaefer is going to call a timeout and let the Bulldogs know he is not happy about the way things are going.
“Later on in the season, bad possessions are going to hurt us against better teams so every possession matters and he wants us to get used to it now,” William said. “He’s our leader and we follow him. When things are not going the right way, you guys see how he acts. He’ll call timeout and straighten us up.”
It’s an approach that has worked well for MSU as the program has improved each season under Schaefer.
The Bulldogs, who moved up to No. 3 in the latest Associated Press poll, take records of 25-1 overall and 11-1 in the Southeastern Conference into Thursday’s home game against Georgia. The 11 conference wins already matches the best in school history and has MSU at the top of the league standings.
With a chance at the SEC regular season championship within grasp, Schaefer said now is not the time for him or the Bulldogs to let up.
“We’re chasing something pretty big, but you can’t get caught ahead of yourself one day, two days or two games,” Schaefer said. “You’ve got to stay in the moment. I’ve said this so many times that success is fleeting. You’ve got to embrace the grind and embrace the process.”
Schaefer takes his responsibility as a coach seriously, but part of that is knowing how one player is going to respond over another.
With a team filled with different personalities and characters, Schaefer has learned how to handle that.
“Not everybody responds the same,” Schaefer said. “You’ve got to know that the button with this one is not the same button as the one over here and you have to punch a different one. That’s the challenge in coaching, but that’s what makes good coaches. They understand that different people respond to different things different ways. That’s the challenge that we have every day and the challenge for me. I didn’t use to be that way. I’ve learned over the years that you’ve got to adapt and got to change because kids are different. That’s a good thing.”
MSU has been winning lately and winning big.
Even after Sunday’s 66-44 handling of rival Ole Miss, Schaefer is going to keep impressing upon his Bulldogs to keep the foot on the gas pedal.
He cares enough about his job and the players to keep pushing forward.
“I think our kids have learned through the course of time to understand me and it’s not personal,” Schaefer said. “In fact, that’s how much I care about them. I do want them to be perfect and do want them to try and play that perfect game.
“It’s probably not going to happen, but the fact we care enough about them is why we want them to try and be perfect and when they leave here to be that perfect citizen and perfect business women in the community that does a great job and represents not only Mississippi State, but their family. It all goes hand in hand.”