When the Texas A&M women’s basketball team defeated Notre Dame 76-70 to win the 2011 national championship the Aggies’ defense was under the direction of A&M associate head coach Vic Schaefer.
Schaefer, now head coach at Mississippi State, plays Notre Dame for the national title Sunday night. Schaefer and Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw were reminded of that meeting at Saturday’s press conference.
Q. Coach, a long time ago, 2011, you guys haven't faced Mississippi State, but you did face a Vic Schaefer defense in a championship game back in 2011 with Texas A&M. What are the things that are just characteristic about defenses he coaches that make it tough?
MUFFET McGRAW: He's got just a great mind for defensive philosophy. He, obviously, is great at practice, getting his team to do exactly what he wants them to do. They are pressure all the time. They take a lot of pride in their defense. That's probably the thing that he instills in them is how much pride they take in their defense. I think they're known for it.
He is somebody that I have great respect for, and I know that he's done a great job at Mississippi State to bring that program to where it is now from where they were when he got there. Two years in a row in the Final Four is not easy, and he's really done a fabulous job.
Q. If you go back to 2011 when you were at A&M, you were designing the defense to go against Muffet. I know Mississippi State hasn't played Notre Dame, but you've played her in a championship game. Could you talk about, even though the personnel is entirely different, what are the things about Notre Dame that are still the same, and how difficult is it to scheme against them?
COACH SCHAEFER: You know, they're so -- to me they just have so many weapons offensively and they have so many ways they can score. They're smart. I'll tell you what they do well, they pass interiorly well -- in the lane, 10 feet, five feet -- they're just really good, they're smart and heady, even I think their leadership really stands out especially when you go through what they've gone through.
They have tremendous leadership, and that starts at the top, it starts on the bench with that coaching staff. I think you just admire that. I think from the standpoint of maturity, leadership, I think they all have a presence. And that's what their program is about, that's what our program is about; we want our kids to have a presence.
I think offensively they're multidimensional. You just can't really help [indiscernible] -- so you've got to win some one-on-one battles.