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Lady Bulldogs must believe going into SEC road basketball game

February 9, 2012

Mississippi State women's coach Sharon Fanning-Otis has tried to emphasize toughness to her squad. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)

Mississippi State women's basketball coach Sharon Fanning-Otis wants her team to believe.

She wants the Lady Bulldogs to have the confidence they can achieve success on the court.

Fanning-Otis saw the surprise in some of the MSU player's eyes when South Carolina defeated Tennessee 64-60 last week. Some were also shocked to find out that Kentucky had lost its first game in the Southeastern Conference 61-51 to LSU on Sunday.

Fanning-Otis doesn't want her squad to be at awe when they see those kind of results happen in the league and said the Lady Bulldogs can do something special if it put its trust in the plan.

"You've got to be ready on game day," Fanning-Otis said. "Anybody can beat anybody, anywhere. It's your mindset, your belief and your expectation. If your thoughts are on the wrong thing for one second, it throws your whole team off and it does for yourself. It means you can't be the best you can be and the team can't be.

"You've got to be playing one play ahead and put yourself in a position that I know I can do this with my defense and rebounding and then I'm going to take a great shot, be patient and make the extra pass. If you adhere to those principles, you'll find a way to win games. That's what we've got to keep emphasizing, teaching and letting them know that we can find ways to win, let's get the next game."

The next game is at LSU tonight and MSU (13-10 overall, 3-7 SEC) is trying to end a four-game losing streak.

Fanning-Otis wants to see complete focus in the outing that begins at 6 p.m.

"I know that we are emphasizing the right things, but we've got to have the energy for 40 minutes because 39 doesn't count, and 36, 37, 38 or catching up and tying doesn't count," Fanning-Otis said. "It's what you are going to do under adverse situations when things don't go your way. How are you going to sprint the floor and take away the layup? How are you going to respond?

"The toughness part of that is what we've got to continue to emphasize and continue to get better with. If we do, we'll win these basketball games, but it's a matter of everybody on that team expecting and what the self-talk is at that point of adversity. If you pout for a second or if you let down, the other team has got something. If you lose that focus for a 5-second period, that's enough time for the other team to go down and score."

The Lady Tigers defeated the Lady Bulldogs 53-48 in the first conference matchup back on Jan. 5.

MSU senior point guard Diamber Johnson hopes the squad has learned enough from that loss to pull out a victory in Baton Rouge, La.

"We most definitely know what hurt us in that game and we know one of key players that hurt us," said Johnson, who only needs 11 more points to join the 1,000-point club at the school. "We need a better mindset of what we need to work on, take advantage of it and steal us a win."

Johnson, who averages 16.4 points per game, has come off the bench in the last two games for the Lady Bulldogs as Fanning-Otis seeks to find the right combinations to make things work for the best.

If Fanning-Otis sticks with the lineup she has used the last two games, senior Porsha Porter, freshman Kendra Grant and sophomore Candace Foster start at guards, while senior Ashley Brown starts at forward and senior Catina Bett starts at center.

Fanning-Otis said the main problem MSU seems to have is in the area of communication.

Bett knows the team also must improve in that area.

"We just all have to be on the same page as far as offense and defense," Bett said.

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