January 9, 2019 11:25:40 AM
STARKVILLE -- Don't consider Jordan Danberry to be the most improved player on the Mississippi State women's basketball team.
A year ago, Danberry was easing into the rotation with a backcourt that included All-American Victoria Vivians, Morgan William, Blair Schaefer, Roshunda Johnson, and Jazzmun Holmes. Danberry showed flashed of what she could do by averaging 2.8 points in 9.6 minutes per game.
This season, Danberry is in the running for most impactful player thanks to a fast start that has her third on the team in scoring at 13.3 points per game and shooting 53.3 percent from the field.
On Tuesday, Danberry was recognized for her strong play when she was named co-Southeastern Conference Player of the Week after helping to lead No. 7 MSU to victories against Arkansas and Kentucky to open league play.
"Jordan is playing at a very high level," Schaefer said. "I compare her and Roshunda's stats this time last year. She is averaging two-and-a-half more points. She is shooting it at 53 (percent) vs. 41. She gets 3.6 rebounds (per game). Ro stretched it and shot the three a little bit more, but she just had a great week."
Danberry earned her first weekly conference award by averaging 21.5 points and six rebounds last week. She also had nine assists. Danberry has scored in double figures in 10 consecutive games.
The senior from Conway, Arkansas, who started her career at Arkansas, had one of her best moments as a collegian Thursday when she scored a career-high 26 points against the Razorbacks. She finished one rebound shy of a double-double with a career-best nine. The performance came in front of family and friends who saw her go 11-for-21 from the field.
Against Kentucky, Danberry had 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting. She also had five assists.
Schaefer said Danberry continues to "put in the time" in the gym to work on her game and is reaping the rewards of greater confidence and comfortability in her second active season with the program.
"She works hard in practice," Schaefer said. "She has had a great attitude in practice. She is really playing with a lot of energy every day. She is really fun to coach. I have really enjoyed her time here."
MSU preparing for Georgia
Schaefer had to catch himself Tuesday at MSU's first media availability of the week when he talked about his team's matchup against Georgia at 8 p.m. Thursday (SEC Network).
In his opening remarks, Schaefer referenced MSU's 86-62 victory against Georgia on Dec. 31, 2017, in Athens Georgia, in the SEC opener for both teams. He praised his team's energy and the efforts of center Teaira McCowan in saying that game was the best one of his teams had played against Georgia in a long.
When asked how that game compared to a 50-38 victory his team earned against then-No. 11 Georgia on Feb. 28, 2013, his first season at MSU, Schaefer clarified his remarks and highlighted his squad's defensive effort in what was his first signature win in Starkville.
"Defensively, obviously, that was a much better game," Schaefer said. "They were ranked No. 11 in the country and we were ranked No. 311 at the time. That was one of the five we won the first year we weren't supposed to win. We held them to five baskets in the second half that night. From a defensive standpoint (that was the best game we have played against Georgia), but (the win in 1017) was the best we have certainly played in Stegeman."
Bibby finding ways to contribute
One "bad" game doesn't make a slump, but shooters know when their shots aren't right.
To that end, sophomore Chloe Bibby took it upon herself to remedy an otherwise "off" shooting effort against Kentucky on Sunday to find other ways to score. Despite going 1-for-7 from 3-point range, Bibby scored 18 points in MSU's 86-71 victory against then-No. 16 Kentucky at Humphrey Coliseum. Bibby was second on the team in scoring behind Anriel Howard's 21 points thanks to a 7-for-8 showing at the free-throw line.
Bibby said she recognized she wasn't having as much success from behind the arc against the Wildcats, so she decided to put the basketball on the floor and create. The decision reflects the growing confidence and maturation in the Australian's game in her second year playing college basketball in the United States.
"At the moment, my shot is not falling, so I need to fin other ways to help the team," Bibby said, "get on the board or do whatever I can, so I need to get in the gym and be more consistent shooting the ball."
Schaefer praised Bibby for her work ethic and her willingness to get in the gym to work on her game. He also said she has limited her turnovers and been a consistent producer.
"She commands your respect," Schaefer said. "People are going to go out there and guard her on the perimeter. I love the fact she is smart enough to know you know what, if my shot is not falling and they are still coming out here to chase me, I am going to take them off the bounce because that is what you do."
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.