Mississippi State coach Vic Schaeffer blamed no one but himself after his team lost 61-58 to Notre Dame Sunday night in the national championship game.
Here’s how the SEC coach started his postgame press conference:
“First of all, congratulations to Notre Dame on a tremendous basketball game. Just like I saw on Friday night, there’s a tremendous passion, a relentlessness, a toughness, and a resiliency to that bunch, and they’re to be commended for that and for how they played today.
“At the same time, my bunch has got the same thing. This is the toughest, most resilient team I’ve ever seen. Their competitive fire and competitive spirit is second to none. Again, congratulations to Notre Dame, but I’m awfully proud of this group.
“You’re up five with 1:40, it’s my job to get them home, and I didn’t get them home. It’s always been my philosophy up four, down four, as a head coach, it’s my job to get them home inside of four minutes. And I didn’t get them home today. I’ll wear that maybe for the rest of my career.
“But I’m proud of them. I thought they fought. These four seniors are so special. They’ve done so much for me personally as well as professionally. They spent time at my house. I’ve had dinner with them numerous, numerous, numerous nights, more nights than you can count. Spent time obviously at the gym with them over the last four years. This is a high character, classy group of seniors.
“We’ve got great kids coming in. I’ve still got great kids in that locker room. But the integrity and the character of this group is something I’ve not seen. I’m so proud of them. I’m proud to be their coach. I’m proud of their fight. They’re going to be so successful in life because of their grit, their determination, and how they embrace the grind of life as well as the grind of basketball.
“It hurts right now. Again, it’s not their fault. They played their hearts out, and you just got to give Notre Dame credit. They made one more play. We talked about it in pregame. These games come down to one more. That’s been our motto. It’s on our national finalist ring a year ago — one more. It’s been our calling card all year — one more.
“Notre Dame made one more play tonight, so we congratulate them. And at the same time, these kids right here are champions, 37-2. That’s hard to do. Especially living in my league.
“So I’m proud of what they’ve accomplished, and I’m just proud of them as individuals. I just think they’re the best. Three of them came to us and have been with us four years. Ro turned us down the first time, but she came back to us and been with us the last three. What a blessing. She had another big shot tonight. I thought tonight was going to be another shot where you’d be talking to her about a big shot she made that helped us win a National Championship. But she made another one when we were struggling to score.”