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Schaefer, a veteran coach of 31 seasons, came to Starkville with the blueprints to crafting Mississippi State into a championship program. In just his third season he added a major building block as the Bulldogs enjoyed a record-setting 2014-15 campaign that earned him SEC Coach of the Year honors from the Associated Press, co-Coach of the Year accolades from his league peers and Naismith National Coach of the Year semifinalist honors.
He guided MSU to its first NCAA Tournament since 2010 while setting school records for overall wins (27) and league victories (11). State also matched its highest-ever SEC finish (3rd place) while breaking into the national polls for the first time since 2010. Mississippi State stayed in the polls for 17-straight weeks, the second-longest tenure in program history, en route to finishing a program-best No. 12 in the final AP poll.
The 2014-15 season also saw the Bulldogs set a school record with 18-straight wins to open the year, and they were the first Division I men’s or women’s program to 22 wins while being one of the final three undefeated women’s teams in the nation.
The Bulldogs, who opened the year winning the Preseason WNIT, were thrilling to watch on offense, but they also continued to play the stellar defense that has given Schaefer the moniker the “Secretary of Defense,” topping the SEC in turnover margin, ranking second in 3-point defense and blocked shots, and finishing in the Top 6 in scoring defense and field goal defense.
While known for stifling defense, his 2013-14 squad also had a tremendous offensive season, setting program records for points scored (2,551) and rebounds (1,410) en route to finishing 22-14 and advancing to the quarterfinals of the WNIT.
His first Bulldog squad topped the SEC in 3-point defense and blocked shots as part of a campaign that was highlighted by big league victories against in-state rival Ole Miss, Arkansas and Missouri before capping the year with a thrilling 50-38 upset of No. 11 Georgia.
In his first three thrilling seasons in Starkville, the Bulldogs have garnered numerous postseason laurels, including in-state talent Victoria Vivians who claimed AP All-America Honorable Mention honors along with second team All-SEC (AP and Coaches) honors and league All-Freshman Team laurels. Vivians also became the first freshman, and fourth Bulldog, to hoist the CSpire Gillom Trophy as Mississippi’s top female college basketball player.
Under Schaefer’s watch, Martha Alwal also claimed the award as part of a career that saw her earn All-SEC honors three-straight years, including SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year following the 2013-14 season. Schaefer was instrumental in developing Alwal into a player who finished her career one of just three players in SEC history to record 1,000-career points, 900-career rebounds and 300-career blocks.
The quick success the Bulldogs have enjoyed can be attributed to Schaefer’s ability to develop talent while also recruiting some of the nation’s top-ranked recruiting classes. His first MSU signing class ranked 35th nationally, and he followed it with a group that ranked in the Top 20 nationally and included a Parade All-American in Vivians. He added a second-straight Parade All-American in April with the addition of Texas center Teaira McCowan.
When on the recruiting trail, Schaefer, who has been part of inking 10 Top-20 signing classes, stresses the importance of keeping the state’s best players at home. He did just that with the additions of Vivians (Carthage) and his daughter Blair, an all-state standout at Starkville High School. Most recently he added another all-state talent in Jazzmun Holmes (Gulfport) and JUCO All-American Jazmine Spears of New Albany.
The blueprint in place in Starkville is the same he has been part of during 15 seasons on the staffs at Texas A&M and Arkansas. Over that time, Schaefer, who has been part of 475 wins in his 28-year collegiate career, helped his squads to the postseason 16 of the last 18 years while averaging 22 wins a year.
The “Secretary of Defense” helped Arkansas and Texas A&M to 11 NCAA Tournament appearances. In his first season in Fayetteville, the Razorbacks advanced to the Final Four before making three more trips to the second round. With his alma mater, he won a national championship while helping the program to a pair of Sweet 16 appearances, an Elite Eight showing, two trips to the second round and a first-round berth.
In his nine years as associate head coach to friend and mentor Gary Blair at Texas A&M, his teams consistently were atop the Big 12 in turnovers caused, steals, turnover margin and assist-to-turnover ratio.
In 2011, his smothering defense topped the nation in turnover margin en route to guiding the Aggies to the NCAA national championship in the program’s first trip to the Women’s Final Four. That squad also earned Texas A&M’s first No. 1 national ranking while finishing the season with a 33-5 record, the most wins in school history.
The following season his final Texas A&M squad finished first in the Big 12 in turnover margin en route to advancing to a fifth-straight conference tournament title game and the Sweet 16 in the team’s seventh-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.
Schaefer was also part of Texas A&M squads that won two Big 12 Tournament titles (2010 & 2008) and the conference regular season title in 2007. In addition to the 2011 national championship, Schaefer helped coach the Aggies to the 2009 Sweet 16 and the 2008 Elite Eight.
Schaefer, BasketballScoop.com’s 2009 Assistant Coach of the Year, was instrumental in the Aggies finishing among the country’s Top 10 signing classes four-straight years. His final class rated No. 2 nationally, and he helped land the nation’s top class during the 2011 national championship run. The Aggies’ 2010 signing class ranked No. 5 nationally and tops in the Big 12. A year earlier he helped ink the Big 12’s No. 2 class and the sixth-best in the country.
In 2007, Schaefer earned the opportunity to coach the United States William Jones Cup Team, leading that squad to a bronze medal in Taipei, Taiwan. He also joined with Athletes in Action to coach some of the top women’s college players in the nation. The only associate head coach to be named head coach of the USA Jones Cup Team, Schaefer guided Team USA to a 4-2 record in pool play with wins against Japan, New Zealand, Korea and Chinese Taipei.
That international experience came after Schaefer helped lead the 2005-06 Aggies to a third-place Big 12 finish, the program’s highest at the time, and the first round of the NCAA Tournament. A year earlier he helped Texas A&M advance to the WNIT Elite Eight, the first postseason appearance under Blair and Schaefer.
Schaefer accompanied Blair to his alma mater following a six-year stint as associate head coach at Arkansas from 1997-2003. During that run he helped the Razorbacks to four NCAA Tournament appearances, including a Final Four berth in his inaugural season. The following year Arkansas went on to claim the WNIT national championship. While in Fayetteville he helped tutor Shameka Christon, who would go on to earn SEC Player of the Year and First Team All-SEC honors.
Schaefer went to Arkansas after serving as head women’s coach at Sam Houston State from 1990-97. In his next-to-last season there, he was tabbed the Southland Conference Coach of the Year after leading the Bearkats to their most wins in a decade (18). During his tenure at SHS, he tutored either the SLC’s Freshman or Newcomer of the Year in three of his final four seasons. In his first year at the school (1990-91), he coached Sierena Autman to Southland Conference Player of the Year accolades.
A native of Austin, Texas, Schaefer served as a men’s assistant coach at Sam Houston State (1987-89) between stints as the assistant boys basketball coach and head tennis coach at Houston’s Milby High School. As a player, Schaefer was an all-state performer at Houston Lutheran High School before going on to play two seasons at Alvin Community College.
Always striving to continue honing his craft, Schaefer was invited to attend the Center for Coaching Excellence, a prestigious leadership program hosted by Columbia University, following his first season in Starkville.
Schaefer is a dedicated family man. He is married to the former Holly Davis, who played basketball at Arkansas State and later served as an assistant coach at UT Arlington. The couple has 20-year-old twins, Blair Nicole and Charles Logan.