No. 6 MSU has plenty to work on as it prepares for Virginia


Adam Minichino



STARKVILLE -- Vic Schaefer loves watching replays of games to pick up teaching points. 


The Mississippi State women's basketball coach enjoys his studies so much he often says "the film doesn't lie" when he sits with players to highlight areas of improvement. 


After only one exhibition game and one regular-season game, Schaefer already has plenty of "film" to analyze because he believes MSU has a long way to go to get to where he will be pleased. 


Schaefer and the Bulldogs won't have enough time to review all of the video before their next game against Virginia at 6 p.m. Friday. But rest assured Schaefer will talk to each player to make sure they understand what he expects. 


Before Schaefer gets to do that, No. 6 MSU will take a step up tonight when it takes on a Virginia team that is also receiving votes in The Associated Press poll in its season opener on its home court (John Paul Jones Arena) in Charlottesville, Virginia.  


"To me, we really have a long way to go defensively," Schaefer said Tuesday after a season-opening 88-53 victory against Southeast Missouri. "We only forced seven turnovers in the second half after (forcing) 13 in the first. Fifteen turnovers for us is still way too many for me. I want that down in the 12 range." 


Schaefer also mentioned his team's defense on out-of-bounds plays and the fact the Bulldogs surrendered 12 offensive rebounds and committed way too many fouls as areas of concern on a night he was pleased the team had six players shoot 50 percent or better from the field. 


"It is going to be like this for a while," Schaefer said. "We'll just keep competing every day and working on things. Some of our issues are just understanding how hard we have to play at Mississippi State." 


Led by first-year head coach Tina Thompson, Virginia, which is a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, returns three starters -- juniors Dominique Toussaint, Jocelyn Willoughby, and Felicia Aiyeotan -- from last season's team that advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament. Toussaint had 17 points, while Aiyeotan, a 6-foot-9 center, had four points and seven rebounds in MSU's 68-53 victory on Nov. 10, 2017, in Starkville. 


Thompson, who is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, leads a team that advanced to the second round of the 2018 NCAA tournament. She is a two-time Olympic Games Gold Medalist (2004, 2008) and was the No. 1 pick in the inaugural 1997 WNBA draft. She helped lead the Houston Comets to the first four WNBA championships (1997-2000). The nine-time WNBA All-Star was named one of the WNBA Top 15 Players of all time in 2011 and was also inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in June.  


Last season, Victoria Vivians led MSU with 22 points against Virginia. The Bulldogs return only 22 of the points they scored in that game. Center Teaira McCowan was 3-for-10 from the field (seven points) and had 10 rebounds. Chloe Bibby had 13 points. 


NOTE: The game will stream on ACC Network Extra, which is available to authenticated subscribers of ESPN3 through WatchESPN and the ESPN app. 


Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor


Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.


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