STARKVILLE — Chloe Bibby sounds like Vic Schaefer’s kind of player.
You need only watch the 6-foot-1 forward in one of the Mississippi State women’s basketball team’s practices to see she instinctively gravitates to the right spot and doesn’t mind mixing it up in the paint or chasing a loose ball.
But practices are different from games, especially when you’re a freshman from Australia who is adjusting to the Division I game in the United States.
Don’t worry, though, because Jonathan Goodman, who has worked with Bibby for five years and who coached her with the Bendigo Braves of the South East Australian Basketball League (SEABL), believes Bibby will fit in just fine.
“Chloe knows how to win,” Goodman said, “and she will find ways to compete to ensure she finds ways to win.”
Bibby will get her first chance to show what she can do at 6 tonight when MSU holds its annual Maroon-White Scrimmage at Humphrey Coliseum. Admission is free for the event.
Lots and lots of wins
MSU is coming off a record-setting 34-5 season that saw it advance to the program’s first Final Four. MSU defeated four-time reigning national champion Connecticut 66-64 in overtime to reach the title game. The win snapped UConn’s record 111-game winning streak. South Carolina beat MSU for the national title.
Newcomers Bibby, Mississippi All-State standouts Myah Taylor and Nyah Tate, Arkansas All-State guard Bre’Amber Scott, and junior college All-State talent Jonika Garvin figure to compete for playing time after the graduation of Ketara Chapel, Dominique Dillingham, Chinwe Okorie, and Breanna Richardson. Those four players were part of a program-record 111 wins in four seasons.
On paper, Bibby looks to be in the mix with 6-2 sophomore forward Ameshya Williams to help fill some of the minutes Richardson and Chapel played last season.
Bibby has the skills to play multiple roles. She averaged a team-best 17.9 points per game this past season for the Bendigo Braves. She shot 36.4 percent from the field and 76.9 percent from the free-throw line.
Goodman coached Bibby as an Under-18 athlete at a national championship. He also watched her at camps in Australia where she was a selected athlete. He said Bibby’s competitiveness and versatility stand out.
“We would have her in the four (power forward) and then stretch to the three (small forward),” Goodman said in an email in response to questions. “She was able to post up smaller guards or stretch the bigs out because of her perimeter game. We often gave her a defensive assignment and she was able to guard people out of her position given her size and athleticism.”
Could be special
MSU coach Vic Schaefer has said Bibby, a red head, “plays like her hair color” at times, which speaks to her intensity and her hustle. Goodman agreed Bibby can be a “fiery red head.” In fact, he said the coaches often would ask her if she was getting “rangry.”
If that sounds like a player Schaefer could grow to love, it is.
“She always plays hard and plays both ends of the floor with relentless persistence,” Goodman said.
Schaefer hopes Bibby brings that mind-set to the court because he has called the four position “critical” to the team’s success this season.
“(Chloe) is highly skilled and is going to be really unique and bring a different dimension to our team,” Schaefer said. “I would have to say her and Ameshya — you could throw (Jacaira) Iggy (Allen) in there at the four — those kids are unique in their own way, and add a dimension to our team that could be really special.”
The way Goodman describes Bibby it sounds like she could be a taller version of Dillingham. When Goodman was asked about Bibby’s ability to balance her scoring and the “blue-collar” part of her game, he said she always found the “hard way to score.”
“She would get to the foul line consistently, but she also would be able to pull up and stick the perimeter shot,” Goodman said. “She hustled on the D end. As I said earlier, she sometimes would give up four inches on the D end and scrap to compete. She doesn’t mind the physical side of the game. In fact, she enjoys it that way.”
Ready to adapt
Goodman also doesn’t believe the transition to a more physical or faster style of play in America will be an issue. In July, Bibby was a member of Australia’s U-19 National Team that played in the FIBA World Cup in Italy. Bibby averaged 11 points and 7.4 rebounds to help Australia advance to the quarterfinals. She shot 34.1 percent from the field, 38.5 percent from 3-poinr range, and 88.9 percent from the free-throw line.
“She will be a fish to water given her experience internationally and her ability to find ways to compete,” Goodman said. “She will play her role. She can adjust to an up-tempo game given her athleticism as well as grind it out in the half court given her IQ for the game.
“Chloe is a good country girl, and having done a lot of her schooling away from home she will embrace her new environment, as she did in Bendigo. She is very driven about what she wants to achieve and how to get there. I believe she will enjoy her new environment and thrive.”
NOTES: MSU will play host to Arkansas-Fort Smith in an exhibition game at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3, at Humphrey Coliseum. It will play host to Virginia at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 10, in the season opener for both teams. The game will be part of a doubleheader with the MSU men’s basketball team. The MSU men will play host to Alabama State at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 10. A special Final Four banner raising ceremony will be held between games.
Tickets for the doubleheader are being sold separately from season ticket packages and cost $20 each. The tickets can be purchased at www.hailstate.com/tickets and clicking on men’s basketball single game tickets.
Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.