Mississippi State women's basketball coach Vic Schaefer said his team continues to take "baby steps" this season as it learns to grow and improve.
Those next steps take place in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico, at the Hardwood Tournament of Hope.
The Lady Bulldogs (2-1) play Winthrop to open the event on Tuesday (3:30 p.m.), then will meet either Oregon State or UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday (1 p.m. or 3:30 p.m.), and finish with a game on Thursday.
After three games in the comfort of Humphrey Coliseum, Schaefer is anxious to see how MSU handles the setting in another country.
"These kids have earned it and I'm excited to have the opportunity to take them to a different culture," Schaefer said. "One thing I learned from coach (Gary) Blair was that you let them enjoy it and experience the culture when you go somewhere different. You don't want to just keep them locked up in a hotel, go practice and go play."
The holiday tournament sends the Lady Bulldogs away for competition during Thanksgiving week.
Even though the players sacrifice time away from family during this time, Schaefer looks at it a little differently.
He has already grown close to his squad and looks forward to sharing the experience of a trip together.
"I like Thanksgiving with the turkey and everything about it," Schaefer said. "With these kids, it will be our family and it will be fun. Yeah, it's a business trip, no doubt about it, but we'll be gone for five days and play three great games. It will be good to see us compete in that environment. I know my staff and I are looking forward to spending some time with them away from Starkville."
MSU looks to build on last Friday's 57-55 home victory over Louisiana Tech.
It was a situation where the Lady Bulldogs trailed at halftime 33-23, but battled back to win.
Schaefer liked the fight MSU showed against Tech. He knows there are going to be some rough spots in the road during the season, but looks forward to continuing the process.
"It's going to be hard for us to score on some nights," Schaefer said. "That's just the way it is, but on any night, if we can lock down and guard like we did (against Louisiana Tech), you'll have a chance.
"It's going to be a continuous teaching tool for us and we're talking about kids who haven't played a lot. We've got to celebrate the little victories right now."
The Lady Bulldogs started a lineup of Sherise Williams and Carnecia Williams at forwards with Darriel Gaynor, Kendra Grant and Jerica James against the Lady Techsters.
"For me, it's going to be a great trip and I'm very excited about that," Gaynor said of the opportunity to go to Mexico.
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