In­side

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS - JEREMY MUCK

Mis­sis­sippi State women’s basketball Coach Vic Schae­fer vis­ited the Down­town Tip Off Club in North Lit­tle Rock on Mon­day with a lit­tle heartache.

The heartache, he told the crowd at the Wyn­d­ham River­front Ho­tel, came from Mis­sis­sippi State’s 82-64 loss to Ten­nessee on Sun­day in Starkville, Miss.

“In front of 10,500 peo­ple, we got our tail handed to us on na­tional TV,” Schae­fer said. “But if you would have told me in Oc­to­ber, ‘Hey Vic, you’re go­ing to be 27-3, you’re go­ing to play for the SEC cham­pi­onship in your last game of the year,’ I would have said, ‘I’ll see you in March.’ I would have taken it.

“You’re never out of the range of hav­ing heartache. No mat­ter how good things are go­ing, there can be heartache. We got a lit­tle heartache right now. Now it’s about how are we go­ing to re­spond? As a Chris­tian man, I got to be­lieve there may be some­thing big­ger down the line. That’s the way I choose to look at it.”

Schae­fer, 55, is fa­mil­iar with the state of Arkansas.

In 1997-2003, Schae­fer was an as­sis­tant coach for the women’s basketball team at the Univer­sity of Arkansas at Fayet­teville un­der Coach Gary Blair. When Blair left Arkansas in 2003 for Texas A&M, Schae­fer fol­lowed and the Ag­gies won the na­tional cham­pi­onship in 2011.

One year later, Schae­fer took the head coach­ing po­si­tion at Mis­sis­sippi State. He is 117-49 in five sea­sons, lead­ing the Bull­dogs to two NCAA Tour­na­ment ap­pear­ances the past two sea­sons, in­clud­ing a trip to the Sweet 16 a year ago. Mis­sis­sippi State is 27-3 this sea­son, in­clud­ing a 13-2 record in the SEC.

When Blair was hired at Texas A&M, it was bit­ter­sweet for Schae­fer and his fam­ily de­spite be­ing able to coach at his alma mater.

“I didn’t want to leave Arkansas,” Schae­fer said. “They didn’t give me the job. Holly [his wife] thought we were go­ing to get the job. She was so dis­traught when we didn’t get the job I had to hide the matches from here be­cause I thought she was go­ing to burn the whole place down.”

Schae­fer’s ties to Arkansas have been ben­e­fi­cial in re­cruit­ing. The Bull­dogs have two Arkansas na­tives in the pro­gram — ju­nior guard Roshunda John­son (Lit­tle Rock Parkview) and for­mer Ra­zor­backs guard Jor­dan Dan­berry (Con­way), a sopho­more who trans­ferred to Mis­sis­sippi State ear­lier this year. Dan­berry will be eli­gi­ble for the Bull­dogs for the 2018 spring se­mes­ter.

Next sea­son, Lit­tle Rock Cen­tral guard Bre’Am­ber Scott will head to Starkville. Scott is av­er­ag­ing 20 points per game this sea­son for Cen­tral, which is a No. 2 seed in this week’s Class 7A state tour­na­ment.

“She’s per­fect for us at State,” Schae­fer said of Scott. “She’s a tough, phys­i­cal and ag­gres­sive basketball player. She’s a beau­ti­ful young lady. She does a great job in the class­room. She’s go­ing to be very spe­cial for us at State, so we’re very ex­cited about her join­ing our pro­gram.”

Re­cruit­ing Arkansas is im­por­tant for Schae­fer and the Bull­dogs, he said.

“We’re al­ways go­ing to re­cruit this state. Al­ways,” Schae­fer said. “We speak at clin­ics here ev­ery sum­mer. There’s a lot of great high school coaches in this state. This state and Texas have the best high school coaches in the coun­try. You need to know that. They pre­pare kids for the next level.”

Schae­fer

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