MSU women make basketball trip to Cancun

MSU coach Vic Schaefer
Staff Writer

It has been another good start of the season for the Mississippi State women’s basketball team.
The Bulldogs have won their first three games to be ranked No. 7 by The Associated Press Top 25 and No. 3 in the USA Today/Coaches poll.
As good as things have been in Starkville, MSU has faced some adversity.

First, Jacaira "Iggy" Allen was injured in the preseason, while Ameshya Williams has not been a part of the team the last two games for an undisclosed reason.

MSU head coach Vic Schaefer doesn’t expect to have Williams moving forward and looks forward to seeing how the Bulldogs respond to the situation.

“You can’t sit around and have a pity party,” Schaefer said. “This is a chance to respond when nobody thinks you can. To me, this is what it’s about. Life isn't perfect. It’s not a great deal. At the end of the day, my team is the important people to me. If you are not in my locker room, I can’t do anything for you.

“We’re different so we’ve got to coach better and teach better. That’s what I told my staff. We’ve got to get a couple of kids ready that we’re thinking wasn’t going to have to get ready and the rest of us have to get better. It has allowed us to fully invest in the lineup we’re starting with. I think our kids are getting more and more comfortable with it.”

MSU has taken a trip out of the country for Thanksgiving and will play in the Cancun Challenge in Mexico the next three days. The Bulldogs play No. 24 Arizona State first Thursday at 12:30 p.m.

Since the size of the Bulldogs has taken a hit with the loss of Allen and Williams, they.have gone more to a four-guard lineup.

Seniors Roshunda Johnson, Blair Schaefer, Victoria Vivians and Morgan William started in the perimeter for MSU against Southern Mississippi with junior Teaira McCowan at center.  

The Bulldogs already knew guard play was going to be important after losing talented forwards Breanna Richardson and Ketara Chapel and center Chinwe Okorie. Now without Allen and Williams, the role of the guards has increased even more.

“We figured out not only how to fill the roles (last year’s seniors) brought to us, but add on to what we brought personally last year,” Blair Schaefer a former Starkville High School player, said. “I think some of the chemistry we are having now carried over. When you play with someone for so long, you know what they can do. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of our team helps too.”

Johnson and Vivians lead MSU in scoring by averaging 18.7 points per game.

After getting a career-high 29 points in a 91-56 victory over the Golden Eagles, Johnson still doesn’t think she has arrived.

“I feel like I still have a lot to work on,” Johnson said. “Coach (Schaefer) said before the game that I had to have a good defensive game and I feel like my defense led to my offense.”

Now the Bulldogs turn to a tough stretch in Cancun. After taking on nationally-ranked Arizona State today, they play Columbia on Friday and Green Bay on Saturday at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya.

Coach Schaefer feels much better about that type of schedule knowing that his veteran group of guards will be by his side.

“I love my senior guards,” coach Schaefer said. “These four seniors are playing really well. It’s early and we’re fixing to go on the road to play some good teams, but I feel a whole lot better getting on the airplane (and) knowing they are going to be on there with me.”