The heart of a champion beats within the Mississippi State University's women's basketball team.
Schaefer recognized one player who puts in the time to improve and who showcases what a champion does.
“The game honors toughness,” Schaefer said. “Mental toughness, physical toughness, the game will honor that. Chloe (Bibby) is always in the gym, that is why she is shooting the ball so well. She has prepared herself for these moments.”
Chloe Bibby is a sophomore from Warracknabeal, Australia, and has currently averaged 12.4 points a game. She has also shot 58.8 percent from the three-point range. Schaefer believes her success is a result from the amount of time she spends working in the gym trying to improve.
“She (Bibby) is in there more than anyone else,” Schaefer said. “She is there early everyday. From my perspective as a coach, the game is rewarding her because she is putting in the time. She is confident, and she has a presence about her.”
While Bibby has improved her shooting, Schaefer still wants his players to impress him in one area. He wants them to make good decisions to pass the ball, and also play a hard defensive game with a lot of hustle.
“Impress me by how hard you are playing defensively,” Schaefer said. “Kids want to impress you by scoring, so they end up taking bad shots, forcing shots, or they turn the ball over–that doesn’t impress me.”
Oftentimes, when Schaefer is not impressed, the most common way to see his frustration is when he takes off his jacket on the bench. Early in the season, he took it off as MSU had a 40-point lead on Furman, a game they would win pretty easily. Schaefer said he does takes off his jacket because he coaches his players hard.
“I got to get those kids ready for whenever that time comes, I got to get them ready,” Schaefer said. “So do I sit over there on my hands and let them make mistakes, or do I coach those kids as hard as I’ve coached them like that one (pointing at McCowan) since freshman year? I think I coach them.”
His hard style of coaching, and his drive to always improve his team are the reasons why MSU made it to back-to-back national title appearances. While they have yet to win the championship, Schaefer is always preparing the team for the moment, and sometimes it means winning games in different ways.
Another aspect of Schaefer’s coaching is how he holds his players to a high standard in the way they play. He does so because there will be bigger games ahead in the season, and he is always wanting their best.
“I let them know that we are going to be in bigger ball games, so this is important,” Schaefer said. “I don’t think you just sit over there on your hands and go, 'It’s okay, we are up 40.' I don’t think you do that—you hold kids accountable.”
Schaefer demands the best from his players, but he also coaches like the team is losing, so they have a sense of urgency to win the game. While Schaefer may not ever coach his team to have a shutout victory, he still wants the team to play a tough defense, to hold the opponent to low scoring.
“I coach every possession like we are down,” Schaefer said. “I want us to win, I want to win a game and hold somebody scoreless. It isn’t going to happen, and I get that, but that is my goal. I don’t want anybody to score.”
MSU is 8-0 after winning big over the University of Texas by a final score of 67-49. MSU will play No. 25-ranked Marquette at home at 7:00 p.m. Dec. 6, before going back on the road and playing at the University of Southern Mississippi on Dec. 14.