Wednesday is an important sports night on the Coast.
If South Mississippi wants to be taken seriously as one of the better athletic regions in the state, Wednesday is a perfect night to put your money where your mouth is when No. 10 Mississippi State (2-0) faces Tulane (1-0) at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum.
Head coach Vic Schaefer is doing a solid for his two Coast products, Jazzmun Holmes and Ameshya Williams. But, as he told reporters Monday, the game is more than just about helping his South Mississippians return home. MSU draws several thousand a night back in Starkville — and not just on school day games, but mid-week contests against Norfolk State and Auburn alike. If the Coast wants to host more premier athletic events in the future, it’ll need to show out at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
“In days before, there was a lot of excitement and people were excited about us coming down there. Every high school kid gets in free, so hopefully we will have a big turnout with kids as well. I think it could be a great environment, and I am hoping that we will get that,” Schaefer said. “Our team deserves that; these girls deserve it. I am giving up a home game here in Starkville where we would probably have five or six thousand on Wednesday night to go down there and play.”
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Schaefer said the game came about in part because of his appreciation for both MSU’s summer tour circuit on the Coast and also spending part of his time off down here fishing. And, of course, there’s Holmes and Williams, who have seen significant playing time in MSU’s first two games.
“I think it’s really special. Those kids, to be able to go home and play in front of their family and friends and let them see how much they have changed and improved and all that, I think it’s really special,” Schaefer said. “We always try to do this with our kids, take them back home.”
Holmes saw significant playing time as a freshman last year as an understudy. Although she’ll likely play a reserve role once again, she has shown in the early going that she can be counted on.
In 35 minutes off the bench this season against Maine and Villanova, Holmes has accounted for 14 points with nine assists, two rebounds and one block.
“So far it has been a lot. Just her whole demeanor, how she carries herself on the floor,” Schaefer said, asked about the maturation of the former Harrison Central standout. “I think she’s playing with a whole lot of confidence, which I need her to play with that confidence.
“She is running our basketball team when she’s in there. She’s also creating her own shot when she needs to as well as create for others.”
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Williams has played in both of MSU’s lopsided wins and will likely provide important minutes inside for the Bulldogs this season.
In 13 minutes, the 6-foot-2 freshman has registered eight points and five rebounds. She also registered a steal.
“She’s now getting a little more comfortable. I think she’s going to be fine and certainly I’ve been pleased with what she brings to the table. There’s no doubt,” Schaefer said. “She’s a tremendous athletic kid that plays really hard and loves to play — and plays with a smile on her face.”
Fans in attendance Wednesday will also see three of the nation’s top players in All-SEC selections Victoria Vivians, Dominique Dillingham and Morgan William.
The Bulldog trio played major roles in getting MSU all the way to the Sweet 16 a year ago and they’re once again off to strong starts. Vivians is second on the team with 30 points, while William has a team-best 10 assists to go along with 19 points. Dillingham has scored 18 points with five rebounds.
Tickets are still on sale for the game and cost $10 for reserved seats and $5 for general admission. Youth high school age and under are free. Tickets can be purchased at ticketmaster.com, by calling 1-800-745-3000, or at the Coliseum box office.
Who: No. 10 Mississippi State women vs. Tulane
Where: Mississippi Coast Coliseum
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday
Tickets: Ticketmaster.com, 1-800-745-3000, Coliseum box office