STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State women’s basketball had a very special guest for Tuesday’s practice, hall of fame coach Van Chancellor.
A good friend of MSU head coach Vic Schaefer, Chancellor, a Mississippi State graduate, was back in his hometown of Louisville and decided to stop by and watch the Bulldogs’ Tuesday workout.
“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,” Schaefer said. “He’s a Mississippi State graduate, and 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.”
For Schaefer, Chancellor has not only been a good friend, but a constant influence whose wisdom he tries to impart on his programs.
“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,” Schaefer said of Chancellor. “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,” Schaefer added. “It’s a blessing to have him as a friend and a colleague and as someone I can lean on when I need to.”
Chancellor spent the afternoon watching the Bulldogs practice, and he took a few moments during the workout to share some of his coaching stories and wisdom with the team.
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame inductee came away impressed with what he saw from the 2013-14 Bulldogs.
“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,” Chancellor said. “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.”
Chancellor noted that Mississippi State has a head coach in Schaefer that will establish a program that will be successful both on and off the court.
“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.”
Chancellor would know what it takes to build a successful program. In addition to a successful college run that saw him win four SEC Coach of the Year titles, he won WNBA Coach of the Year three times while leading the Houston Comets to the league’s first four championships.
He also put together an incredible tenure as head coach of the United States National Team, going 38-0 with the squad and capturing the gold medal at the 2004 Olympics.Fans can get a first look at this year’s Bulldogs during Friday’s Maroon Madness, which begins at 6 p.m. in The Junction. In addition to meeting the men’s and women’s squads, fans can receive a free T-shirt and pizza while enjoying the festivities.