Im­prove­ment of McCowan im­por­tant for MSU in paint

Starkville Daily News - - ATHLETICS - By DANNY P. SMITH sports@starkvilledai­lynews.com

Teaira McCowan may not have Chinwe Oko­rie in the post any­more to make her bet­ter.

That doesn’t mean the im­prove­ment stops there for McCowan with the Mis­sis­sippi State women’s bas­ket­ball team.

The 6-7 ju­nior is mak­ing sure she is tak­ing the nec­es­sary steps to re­main a force at cen­ter with the Bull­dogs for the up­com­ing sea­son and do it more con­sis­tently.

Oko­rie was a big help, but there are still team­mates around McCowan that are mak­ing sure she gets the com­pe­ti­tion needed in prac­tice.

“I get pushed ev­ery day by Chloe (Bibby) and Ameshya (Wil­liams),” McCowan said. “Ameshya and Zion (Camp­bell) are there, so they pick up the slack from where Chinwe was.”

Down the stretch of the 2016-17 sea­son and in MSU’s post­sea­son run, McCowan had mo­ments of very strong play.

In the third round of the NCAA Tour­na­ment game against Washington, McCowan showed what she could do with a dou­ble-dou­ble of 26 points and 12 re­bounds. She hit 12 of 18 field goal at­tempts and both free-throw at­tempts as the Bull­dogs de­feated the Huskies 75-64.

“When we were dy­ing on the vine, it was good just know­ing my team­mates would come to me for help when­ever we needed a bucket,” McCowan said.

For the sea­son with the Bull­dogs, McCowan av­er­aged 8.7 points and 7.1 re­bounds per game.

MSU coach Vic Schae­fer said the key now for McCowan will be to re­main fo­cused on be­ing the best player she can be.

He knows there will be some­what of an ad­just­ment for her now that Oko­rie is gone, but Schae­fer has chal­lenged her to find other ways to get mo­ti­vated.

“She’s re­ally im­por­tant to what we do,” Schae­fer said. “She looks great. I think the big­gest thing for her is un­der­stand­ing what she brings to the ta­ble and the im­por­tance that she brings that ev­ery day. No days off. The im­por­tance is we have to have her and me teach­ing her how to stay out of foul trou­ble.”

McCowan said the fo­cus in the off­sea­son has been on foot­work and fin­ish­ing plays through con­tact.

Dur­ing the sum­mer, McCowan and team­mate Vic­to­ria Vi­vians par­tic­i­pated in the USA Team camp. It made both play­ers bet­ter and made them anx­ious for the sea­son.

“It was a good ex­pe­ri­ence with me know­ing I’ve got to be more ver­sa­tile than just be­ing a five player,” McCowan said of her ex­pe­ri­ence. I have to have more mo­bil­ity with my game.”

Camp­bell, a 6-3 red­shirt sopho­more, is the only other true cen­ter listed on the Bull­dog ros­ter. It is an­tic­i­pated that Bibby and Wil­liams will also pro­vide some backup at that po­si­tion.

Cleve­land, SDN) (Photo by Ja­son

Mis­sis­sippi State cen­ter Teaira McCowan (15) looks to get in po­si­tion against DePaul dur­ing last sea­son’s NCAA Tour­na­ment.

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