Martha Alwal is one of the players valuable to the success of the Mississippi State women's basketball team. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
There are four players that Mississippi State women's basketball coach Vic Schaefer has challenged to give their best effort every night in order for the team to be successful on the court.
On Thursday afternoon before the Bulldogs defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide 75-51, Schaefer had a meeting with Martha Alwal, Carnecia Williams, Kendra Grant and Katia May.
Schaefer wanted to get that particular quartet together to let them know how much he was depending on them as leaders.
"I had a little heart to heart with those four," Schaefer said. "Those four have got to finish out every day and bring it. There are no more days off. There's no more bad days. Those four have got to show responsibility and be accountable for this team to be successful.
"I just want those kids to know that I'm leaning on them and I'm counting on them."
The meeting made an impression on Williams as she went out and finished one point off her career high with 25 points against Alabama.
Williams has a bad knee that causes quite a bit of pain at times, but she took the words of Schaefer and the other assistant coaches to heart and was determined to push on.
"(Schaefer) was basically telling us that he needed us to show up and we need to build off each other and play hard," Williams said. "I think we did that as a team (against Alabama)."
Schaefer said the importance of Alwal, Williams, Grant and May are evident by looking at the statistics and results.
The ingredients Schaefer looks to for MSU to have a chance to win is to have all four players play well, to score, play good defense and have good point guard play.
"(Schaefer) said, for us to do well, that three out of four of us or all four of us need to play well every single night," Alwal said. "We took that under consideration and we came out and played (against Alabama)."
Alwal apparently took that message to heart because she responded for 15 points and 18 rebounds for her 14th double-double of the season. She was held scoreless and had only one rebound in the previous game against LSU.
The Alabama game was a chance for Alwal to "redeem herself" from a bad outing and Schaefer was pleased with her effort. Alwal also had eight blocked shots against the Crimson Tide.
"She was very active and very aggressive," Schaefer said. "She was a good helper. Again, I wish I could get the kid to take a charge, but I'll take her eight blocks and another four or five that she altered. I think that's the big thing she presents right now."
Since Schaefer has been with the Bulldogs, he has taught accountability to the team.
MSU has won its fourth Southeastern Conference game of the season along with improving to 12-14 overall.
Schaefer is excited about the future, not only the next year or two down the line, but the rest of this season.
"I'm really excited for those kids," Schaefer said. "We've got three games left and I'm excited to see what they can do against some good teams in the SEC. We've got some challenges in front of us, but I'm awfully proud of this group. They have really weathered some storms and some tough games. I'm really proud of them, but we just need to keep getting better. That's all I've said all year long. At the end of the year, when the last game is played, let's see where we are, but let's keep getting better. Let's not look ahead. The next one is South Carolina at South Carolina and let's go play."
The Gamecocks host the Bulldogs Sunday at 2 p.m.
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