Head coach Vic Schaefer said he still does not know how the COVID-19 pandemic will impact his inaugural season at the helm of the Texas women’s basketball program. The only semblance of certainty as of now is that his Longhorns will tip off in less than a month against SMU.
Since he was hired April 5, Schaefer has attempted to instill in Austin the winning culture he developed over nine years as the head coach at Mississippi State. In his first teleconference of the season, Schaefer said the new coaching staff is bonding with the team despite undergoing an offseason marred by a global pandemic.
“My staff and I, we are all about people and relationships. What’s really hard is that I can’t even have my team over to eat dinner,” Schaefer said. “My team is going, ‘Hey Coach, we heard you can grill; when are we coming to eat?’ and I’m telling them, ‘I can’t get an approval.’ … That’s how you develop chemistry — being able to sit down and have a meal together and talk about something other than basketball.”
Keeping continuity among his staff was an important factor that led to his decision to take the job at Texas, Schaefer said.
“That’s my family. They don’t work for me; they work with me,” Schaefer said. “When you are taking over a program and you are trying to instill your values, if the players are hearing the same thing from all four coaches, you really can’t put a value on it.”
One of Schaefer’s core principles is maximum effort, and in the preseason practices, the coach said a few players are already standing out in that category.
“There’s two kids that got a motor, and that motor is infectious,” Schaefer said. “(Junior center) Charli Collier, whether we are in an individual workout and there is no one in the gym but her and me … and (sophomore guard) Celeste Taylor. But those kids go really hard every day. When you’ve got that going on, it spreads to the rest of your team.”
Collier, a 2020 first team All-Big 12 performer, is looking to take the next step as one of only six upperclassmen on the team. The biggest improvement she will need to make is in limiting her time in foul trouble, as she averaged 2.86 fouls per game last season.
“Right now, because of our depth, I don’t need her (Collier) sitting on the bench with me too many minutes a game because she’s in foul trouble,” Schaefer said. “She’s going to have to be a good helper for us. It comes with the territory, and it comes with the position that she’s in.”
Despite an unpredictable offseason that left his team behind the eight ball in terms of developing relationships, Schaefer said he is confident the success his staff has previously had will translate to Texas.
“We have four national championship rings and 17 Final Four rings up and down our hallway in the office. That’s winners,” Schaefer said. “I’m smart enough to know I can’t do it by myself. I’ve surrounded myself with winners and people who are highly motivated. That’s who we are, and whether it’s a pandemic or not, we only know one way to do things.”