It's a new edition of 3 Cheers. It's my regular profile of unique athletes, coaches and teams. Vic Schaefer has taken the Mississippi State women's basketball program to new heights. One of the biggest stars for State so far in the 2017 Big Dance is Vic's daughter.
Blair Schaefer is playing the best basketball of her Bulldog career. 21 points Friday followed by 18 on Sunday has MSU in OKC. The rise of number 1 is no surprise to her number 1 fan: Dad.
"There's no moment too big for her. I've spent so much time in the gym with her throughout her career. It's one thing to just be on the team because, it's another when you're an important piece," Vic said.
Blair added "it's definitely very unique. You have to have a really good relationship with each other if it's going to work, and you also have to have a team that's going to be really good about the situation."
This dynamic on the sidelines can be traced way back to when Vic was an assistant under Gary Blair at Texas A&M.
"When she was in 7th grade, we had just got back from being in the NCAA Tournament when I was at my former university. Holly (Vic's wife) said we've got to take Blair to an AAU tournament that next weekend. I'm telling you, she had 10 turnovers in the first half. And I'm supposed to be there enjoying myself, having a little break. And it's about to drive me nuts. And she comes out of the locker room at halftime, and she's looking at me and I told her to come over there. And she's over there whimpering, tears in her eyes. And I said, hold on, just a second. We're going to do this one of two ways: Either I'll talk to you like I talk to Sydney (Carter) and Sydney (Colson), those are my two point guards that played for me at A&M, who I coached extremely hard and to this day are two of the toughest kids that I've ever coached, they call me dad. Either I'll talk to you like I talk to Sydney and Sydney, or I'll talk to you like Dad and we'll move on from here. I said either way, you call it. She whimpered and said, you can talk to me like Sydney. I said stop turning that dadgum thing over. So from there, we just moved on. So she gets it. She's smart enough to know that when she makes mistakes, I don't have to tell her."
Nine years later, father and daughter are a part of a historic run in MSU hoops.
Blair said "I just feel like being surrounded by great teammates and a great coaching staff who understands that whenever I am on the court, it is completely player and coach, it's not daughter and father. And we're good at separating that. But at the end of the day, it's very cool to be able to see him coaching a great team and being so successful. And knowing that I'm a part of that, I'm a part of a successful team. I'm a part of just this journey together and not many daughters get to go through with their dad."
Mississippi State will play either Oklahoma or Washington in Oklahoma City. The Sweet 16 matchup will be played Friday. If MSU advances, they'll play in the Elite 8 on Sunday.
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