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Lady Bulldogs having better season

January 26, 2012

MSU guard Diamber Johnson, front, gets hit with a double-team from Auburn in the last game. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)

It's a different position from where the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs were in last season.

After 19 games in 2011, MSU had an 8-11 record and had not won a Southeastern Conference game.

The Lady Bulldogs have a much better resume this season with a 13-6 overall mark and are 3-3 in the league.

MSU senior point guard Diamber Johnson has noticed the difference.

"Instead of talking about mistakes, we're actually fixing them," Johnson said. "We understand the game a little more than we did last year. Even though we have freshmen and there is some stuff we have to get together, we are working on the game and doing extra stuff outside of practice. Our whole mindset is different. We are seeing something we actually want and we're doing the little stuff it takes to get there."

There are more challenges ahead for the Lady Bulldogs, starting with tonight's game against the Arkansas Lady Razorbacks. The tip from Humphrey Coliseum is set for 7 p.m.

MSU women's coach Sharon Fanning-Otis always sees areas where her team can improve, but likes the way things are coming together.

"You have to believe in yourself and they are beginning to do that," Fanning-Otis said. "They are growing as a team."

Fanning-Otis said the Lady Bulldogs must continue with a "maturity and expectation" and be ready to practice hard every day.

That starts with Johnson and Fanning-Otis sees her becoming a better leader.

"She's communicating better and being a better teacher on the floor relative where people should be," Fanning-Otis said. "They are learning to talk to each other better and understanding to just not yell something at each other, but communicate points that will make them better and get in a position on offense or defense. The better position you have on everything, the better execution you will have on offense or defense."

Johnson leads MSU and the SEC with 17.9 points per game.

When it comes to playing Arkansas (14-5, 3-4), Fanning-Otis knows the Lady Bulldogs will see a physical and quick team led by guard C'eira Ricketts with 10.8 points per game.

The Lady Razorbacks also have the reigning Southeastern Conference Player of the Week in Sarah Watkins.

"Their guard is a bigger guard, but she is as quick rim to rim as anyone in this league," Fanning-Otis said. "They shoot inside, outside and have a post player that's very versatile. They have athletes and push the ball so we're going to have to play great basketball."

As MSU moves from playing Ole Miss and Auburn last week to Arkansas and South Carolina this week, Fanning-Otis said the matchups are different and they had better be ready.

"Every game is an adjustment and you have to take what this team does well, make sure you know how to guard it, keep doing what you do well, know how to make the little tweaks and adjust to what they do to you," Fanning-Otis said. "The energy is the main thing we're concerned about. If you have great teamwork, great energy and learn how to play the game together, you'll find a way to win ballgames."

MSU looks to do that as it works on extending a two-game winning streak.
There is no television planned for tonight's matchup, but radio broadcast of the game can be found on WKBB-FM 100.9 and WXWX-FM 96.3.

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