Coming off their most successful run in the program, Mississippi State University women’s basketball officially kicked off the season on Sunday with their first practice of the 2017-18 season.
Senior guard Morgan William talked about facing high expectations and continuing to work hard in the midst of the program’s newfound success.
“We know where we were last year but we know we have to be better this year,” William said. “With the first practice coming up Sunday we know how much harder we have to work this year. It is on this year’s seniors to be able to live up to the example of last year’s senior class and push everyone.”
Head coach Vic Schaefer commented about not becoming complacent with success.
“What we have been preaching to our kids is that last year is over. We lost four senior players from last year and they’re not coming back,” Schaefer said. “This senior class will be remembered for what they accomplish this year, not what they did their junior year. This senior class actually has a chance to surpass last year’s senior class and they’re hungry to do that.”
The past four seasons were the best run in school history as the Bulldogs have accumulated a record of 111-33 during that time period. MSU has won 20 or more games each year in that same stretch, for the first time in program history.
Schaefer talked about the program being firmly established at this point and not being solely a product of last season’s tournament run.
“We’ve changed the perception of how people see this program yearly, it did not just happen with one game last year,” Schaefer said. “I think now quite frankly, Mississippi State women’s basketball is a household name. We’ve won 111 games in the last four years. I welcome anyone to do some research and tell me how many programs have won 111 games in four years.”
The underclassmen are expected to take on a bigger role this season is six-foot-seven junior center Teaira McCowan, who figures to take over the starting spot vacated by Chinwe Okorie. She played meaningful minutes last season and, despite coming off the bench, she led the team in rebounding, with 7.1 rebounds per game. She also finished third in scoring, with 8.7 points per game.
McCowan spent the summer working on her game and talked about her experience with Team USA.
“One of the main things we worked on this summer was footwork and finishing through contact,” McCowan said. “I learned from working with Team USA that I have to be more versatile and be more mobile.”
Senior guard Victoria Vivians also participated with Team USA over the summer. She was MSU’s best player last season, leading the Bulldogs in points, with 16.2 per game, and assists, with 4.2 per game. She is also stepping onto a different kind of court, as she is running for homecoming queen.
Schaefer said he was impressed with Vivians during USA basketball.
“Victoria just had a presence, she looked like she belonged,” Schaefer said. “She seemed to understand defense more than anybody there and she just made shots, and I thought she competed at a real high level which is what I wanted to see. You’re looking out there at 40 of the top 23 and under players in the country, and you’re saying to yourself, that’s my kid and she belongs.”
Fans can catch the first glimpse of the men and women’s basketball team during Maroon Madness. Maroon Madness is scheduled to take place on Oct. 13 at 8:30 p.m. at Humprey Coliseum