Mississippi State junior guard Candace Foster looks to drive into the lane with the basketball. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
Mississippi State junior guard Candace Foster had an expected reaction when she learned that women's basketball coach Vic Schaefer was pleased with her effort on the court.
"Praise the Lord," Foster said.
For anyone who knows Foster, those words are not surprising coming from her.
Schaefer said Foster relies on her faith and is the reason why she plays with the "toughness" that she does.
"You talk about a tough, aggressive, (and) physical kid," Schaefer said. "(She) has a great frame (and) plays with a passion. She plays with God in her heart. She's a good Christian kid.
"She's everything I want in a basketball player. She needs a better jump shot, but I play her because of the other things. At the end of the day, that's more important than her skill set right now. That's what she brings to my team and I've got to have that with this team."
Foster isn't going to score a great amount of points. She didn't score at all for the Bulldogs in her freshman season, had only two points last season and has 17 points so far this season.
Instead of spending most of her time concentrating on offense, Foster chooses to focus on her defense.
Foster knows that's the main point of emphasis for Schaefer.
"We work on it every day in practice," Foster said. "Defense is a part of everything we do. He is a big defensive coach. It's all about denying the ball, putting pressure on the ball, being help side and working on several techniques. He wants us to be the type of team he's coached before.
"I love they are a defensive-minded staff. That's something I harp on. I enjoy defense. I try to create offense off my defense. Playing hard and working hard is just who I am. It's part of how I was raised and brought up. (I) don't lay down for anything and put it all on the line. (It's about doing) what's asked of you and do your best."
Foster is an inspiration for other MSU players like junior guard Kendra Grant.
"If you know the type of person Candace is, you can see it on the court," Grant said. "She lays it on the line, whether it's in practice or in games and however many minutes she's in. Whatever it is, she's going to go hard. That's something that has been placed in her by God. I love being around her on and off the court. That's her personality and it transfers over to the court."
Foster, a Jackson native, was a part of three Class 5A State championship teams at Murrah High School.
Schaefer said Foster is someone who "loves being a Bulldog" and "embraces Mississippi State."
Foster wants to do everything she can to help the Bulldogs be successful.
"I don't know any other way to be," Foster said. "I want to come out, work hard and do what it takes to get everybody going. I'm not the best player on the team, but I bring what I can and I do what I can. I come out every day in practice, work hard and lead by example in that manner."
Schaefer isn't looking forward to the next time Foster misses a practice.
"She missed practice one day and the whole practice was terrible because she brings a level of intensity that we desperately need," Schaefer said. "That's how important she is for our team. I'm glad I have her and love her intensity. I love everything about that kid."
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