Bulldogs get a visit from hall of famer

Hall of fame coach Van Chancellor stopped by Vic Schaefer's practice at Mississippi State on Tuesday. (Bill Simmonds/ Special to the Daily Journal)

Hall of fame coach Van Chancellor stopped by Vic Schaefer’s practice at Mississippi State on Tuesday. (Bill Simmonds/ Special to the Daily Journal)

STARKVILLE – The Mississippi State women’s basketball team had a special visitor at Tuesday afternoon’s practice.

Hall of fame coach Van Chancellor, a Louisville native and Bulldog alum, stopped by to visit with Vic Schaefer and his squad as they continue preparations for the upcoming season. Chancellor guided Ole Miss and LSU to a combined 17 NCAA Tournaments, won the first four WNBA world titles with Houston Comets and an  Olympic gold medal in 2004.

Here is a transcript of what both Schaefer and Chancellor had to say about the visit…

Vic Schaefer

On having Van Chancellor on campus today:

“It’s a real honor. You’re talking about a half of fame coach, a legend, someone who’s had success at the highest level. It’s really an honor for us to have him here. He’s a Mississippi State graduate, I think that gets lost in translation sometimes. He’s had a lot of success. He is a dear friend and a dear coaching colleague. He’s someone that I haven’t had to coach against a lot, and I’m probably luck for that.”

“He was going to come in this past weekend for the LSU game. He coached at LSU. He didn’t make it to the game, but he’s back in Louisville for some personal business and he called today and wanted to come by for practice. Certainly, we are glad he’s here.”

On how Coach Chancellor influenced his career:

“He allowed me to come down when I was at Arkansas from 1997-2003. He let me come down and watch practice be involved with and a lot of thing they were doing in the preseason with the (Houston) Comets. I got to watch Cynthia Cooper, Tina Thompson, and Sheryl Swoopes practice and play and I got to get close to them. Being around them for three or four days, you can’t do anything but get better. Getting to be around his staff as a young coach and watching those guys be professionals really was a blessing for me early in my young career. I really was fortunate to have that opportunity.”

On how the team reacted to Coach Chancellor’s visit:

“They were excited to hear that a hall of famer was coming, but a lot of them weren’t even born in back those days. For them, it was a great chance to get to know who he is and know that he’s from this great state and learn about the success he’s had. I think it really had an impact on them.”

On his relationship with Coach Chancellor:

“He’s a hall of fame coach, but he’s also one of my dearest friends and a hall of fame man. His wife is a tremendous woman. Both of them are tremendous Christian people. I try to surround myself with successful people, just like I try to do that for our players with our staff. I think it’s a great opportunity to make an impact on them.

“He’s coached for so long, and anytime I can be in his ear, I’m going to do it. He’s always going to be close to the game. He’s never going to be too far. It’s a blessing to have him as a friend and a colleague and as someone I can lean on when I need to.”

Van Chancellor

On Vic Schaefer as MSU’s head coach:

“Mississippi State has a guy that is very loyal. He is going to work hard and recruit well, and he is going to have a very disciplined team. They are going to have a great defense. The biggest thing is that they are going to graduate, and Vic is going to care about them as human beings. They are going to have good people playing basketball, the kind you would have home for dinner.”

On his visit with the team:

“I was in Louisville, Mississippi, which is where my brother lives. I’ve known Vic Schaefer forever. Vic and I stayed friends, and Vic is my old golfing buddy. He’s carried me to more victories in golf than the players did when I was coaching the Houston Comets. I just called him this morning and told him I was going to ride over and visit. I just spoke with his team. It felt like I was home. I used to live in a trailer park about two miles from this very spot when I went to school here. I cruised through Starkville in a remembering type of situation.”

On his best memories as a student at MSU:

“My greatest memory was Bailey Howell playing here at Mississippi State and Coach Babe McCarthy. I was on a coaches panel at the Hall of Fame and I told them that Bailey Howell and Babe McCarthy influenced my basketball more than anybody I know of. I just enjoyed going to college. I had been raised on a farm, and I no longer had to work on that farm. I thought going to college was the easiest thing I had ever done in my life.”

On how the game has changed since he first started coaching:

“When I first started coaching, we played three on one end of the court and three on the other end. Girls were not as athletic as they are today. You’ve got 6-3 point guards, you’ve got kids that can jump and women that can dunk. I watched Mississippi State full court press today, and in the past you didn’t do that. You’ve got kids that can get up and down the court. It’s evolved about as much as the game could possibly evolve.”

On his impressions of MSU as a team:

“They’ve got a lot of young players, but defensively they reminded me of the Texas A&M team that won the national championship. They pressure the full court. I think defensively, if you can keep the score in the low 60’s, I think you’ve got a chance to win. I think that’s what Mississippi State will do. Every time you play great defense, you’re going to be in the game. This year, because they are so young, you hope they can score enough points. Maybe defensively they can create some points by pressing and getting easy shots.”

On the fact that he attended MSU and coached at Ole Miss:

“A man can have two loyalties. I’ve got two children and I love both of them. I’m very loyal to Mississippi State and I’m very loyal to Ole Miss. I spent some great years there, but it’s good to be back here and to be around some great Mississippi State people.”

On the strength of the SEC in women’s basketball:

“This league has always been a premier league. It’s been a premier league because of the great players and outstanding coaches. This league is really strong once again and it’s always going to be really strong. Right now, Tennessee is really good and they will always be really good because of the things they have going for them. Kentucky is better. Texas A&M is better. The difference between this league and other leagues is that there are no easy wins in the Southeastern Conference.”

On the possibility of returning to coaching:

“Absolutely, positively not. I might like to run practice for about twenty minutes, but I don’t want to get up in the morning and recruit anybody. I like to get up in the morning and decide ‘Am I going to play this golf course or this golf course today?’ I have always heard about how nice the golf course is here. I’m going to play it in the next six months. A lot of people want to play The Masters, I want to play the course right here.”

 

I have covered Mississippi State in some capacity since 2004 and joined the Daily Journal staff in 2013. I enjoy short walks on the beach, performing concerts in my car and watching professional wrestling.

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