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Archive for March, 2008

Will he stay or will he go? Jamont Gordon and Mississippi State

Posted by Kyle Weidie on March 29, 2008

After completing his junior year with the Mississippi State Bulldogs, the question at hand is will Jamont Gordon enter the NBA draft? Gordon flirted with the NBA draft last year, declaring on April 27th before withdrawing his name 3 days later.

His quick accolades: 1st Team All-SEC (unanimous selection along with Vanderbilt’s Shan Foster); 2nd Team All-American, Rivals.com.

As expected, Gordon was asked the question on the podium immediately after MSU’s 2nd round loss to the Memphis Tigers. His response: “I’m not sure yet. I’m going to look into it and look at everything and see how everything goes for me and then I’ll make my decision.” [Kyle Veazey’s Blog – Clarion-Ledger]

Gregg Ellis, who covers Mississippi State for the NE Miss. Daily Journal is split down the middle, giving Gordon’s return a 50/50 chance.

Should he stay or should he go? [blog post by Gregg Ellis, Inside Miss. State Sports] Most commentors thought that Jamont should return to college, here are a couple interesting thoughts:

buzzardroostus: I don’t think he’s ready, but I hope he goes. With Gordon it’s been feast or famine for the bulldogs. He’s so out of control at times and totally inconsistent in all aspects of the game. He’ll never be a point guard in the NBA, and probably wouldn’t be at any other NCAA school.

dawgbones: Stansbury will tell an agent that Jamont is not going to get better in college than he is now. What you see now is what you will get next spring. In my opinion Jamont will be playing elsewhere next year, probably in an European league.

Bulldog Coach Rick Stansbury had this to say immediately after the Memphis game: “If you can be a first-rounder, it’s best to take that jump” [MSU-Memphis notebook, NE Miss. Daily Journal]

Ok, so before we can answer the main question, let’s answer this precursory inquiry…..IS Jamont Gordon a 1st round NBA draft pick? Well, let’s see how the internet answers that question (much info thanks to the DC Pro Sports Report NBA Mock Draft Database).

  • Right now, ESPN.com has Jamont as “second round to undrafted”
  • DraftExpress.comJamont Gordon, pick #44, 2nd round (to Seattle where he would replicate Damien Wilkins); Charles Rhodes not listed.
  • TheSportsBank.com – Jamont Gordon to New Orleans with 1st round pick #28 — Jamont is compared to Ronald “Flip” Murray.
  • HoopsWorld.com – Jamont Gordon, pick #40, 2nd round (to Sacramento to learn from Ron Artest); Charles Rhodes not listed.
  • RealGM.com – Gordon is listed going in the 2nd round at #35 to the Knicks (poor Jamont!); Rhodes is not listed and get this, Jarvis Varnado is listed at #57 to the Spurs — don’t think he’s entering the draft this year folks.
  • BestProPicks.com – Wow! Jamont Gordon again listed in the first round, pick #23 to play with Chris Paul and the New Orleans Hornets. (*note, if the draft was today, New Orleans would not have the 23rd pick) Of course, I’m not sure I trust this assessment: “Give Chris Paulanother weapon. Hornets would be get fit for Gordon, who can light it up from anywhere on the court. Undersized frame might prevent someone from taking him in first round.”
  • CollegeHoops.net – Jamont listed in the 2nd round at #37 overall (to the Bucks); Charles Rhodes is not listed among the next 25 (top 85).
  • NBADraftPress.com – Jamont can’t avoid the Knicks at pick #35 in the 2nd round. No Rhodes.
  • NBADraft.net – Lists Jamont Gordon as a 2nd round pick, #41 to New Jersey……in 2009. So, evidently, going back to school won’t help Jamont. Rhodes is MIA.
  • HoopsAddict.com – Lists Jamont Gordon as an “on the cusp” first rounder.

Round 1 Only Mock Drafts Where Neither Gordon Nor Rhodes Appear:

The Final Word (for now):
What we know is that we don’t know. I welcome Jamont Gordon to go through the “process” as does Rick Stansbury. Since Jamont removed his name before the deadline last year, he can officially enter the draft and truly test the waters this year. Of course, most agents will be in Gordon’s ear offering him money and telling him that he can’t really show his stuff to pro scouts unless he has representation.

I really don’t think Jamont Gordon, in pre-draft workouts, will put on a display which will “wow” scouts into changing their opinion about his game. All the mock draft composers are far from experts, but they sure are good for forecasting. Bulldog fans in Starkville and around the country can only hope that Jamont doesn’t hire an agent, or at least doesn’t get caught with illegally contacting one.

You have to ask two questions:
Will Jamont hurt his draft status by returning to school? I highly doubt it. Gordon has unquestionable talent, it’s only a matter of refining his skills and fundamentals. Yes, it would be great for him to do so while riding an NBA bench and learning a system, the ropes. Unfortunately, at this point, Jamont would not be receiving guaranteed money and would likely be toiling around the NBDL or Europe for his next chance at the league.

The other question, will Jamont Gordon help his status by returning to Mississippi State? I say yes. He already has the physicality to compete in the NBA. However, Gordon would greatly benefit from improving point guard skills and jump shooting on the college level. Plus, if the Bulldogs are once again a good team, Jamont will receive even more media attention which could propel him into a higher NBA salary bracket. A Mississippi State NCAA Tournament run in 2009 would be the icing on the bank account.

Back to school it is!….here goes nuthin’

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Posted in charles rhodes, jamont gordon, mississippi state bulldogs, nba draft, rick stansbury, sec basketball | 2 Comments »

To Upset Calipari’s Tigers, Jamont Gordon Must Have Best Game Ever

Posted by Kyle Weidie on March 23, 2008

And I’m talking a LeBron James-like 27 points, 7 assists, 7 rebounds, 3-6 from three, 48% from the field with only 3 turnovers. There is it, plain and simple. Oh yea, find a way to “contain” Derrick Rose as well. Charles Rhodes and early paint intentions are still the key. But to overcome a #1 seed, there is more than one lock so you need more than one key.

This is a quick post….no numbers and no analysis, just a prediction (by the way, Sheridan is giving Mississippi State 9.5 points in USA Today): The Bulldogs pull off the upset 76-75. And I’m off to watch the game….

Check these links:

Charles Rhodes on Joey Dorsey:I really think he’s got to get the better of me in this matchup. He’s a great offensive rebounder. He’s not really an offensive player.” [Kyle Veazey’s Blog]

“Help for Rhodes finally arrives in marksman Stewart” [Rick Cleveland, Clarion-Ledger] – I’m also predicting that the momentum continues for Barry Stewart on offense, sparking even better defense from the sophomore.

Stansbury on Tests: “No one has played close enough to them to see how they play in a pressure situation,” he said in regards to Memphis. “I think that’s our challenge. Can we keep the game close enough that it becomes a close game in the last five minutes? There’s no question we’ve been tested there a lot more than Memphis has.” [Gregg Ellis, NE Miss. Daily Journal]

Mississippi State and Memphis last met on the hardwood in December of 1984.

Posted in Bulldog Basketball, memphis tigers, mississippi state bulldogs, ncaa basketball, ncaa tournament | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Another bag of Charles Rhodes please – Miss. State looks to continue NCAA survival

Posted by Kyle Weidie on March 23, 2008

But to beat the Memphis Tigers, Rick Stansbury will want much more from the supporting cast. Against the Oregon Ducks, Jamont Gordon made a lot happen, but his scoring needs to be sweet for the Bulldogs to reach the round of 16.

But first, speaking of Oregon, here’s the game run-down:

Half Number One

First 5 Minutes: Jamont Gordon started out physical in guarding Malik Hairston while Charles Rhodes set his personal tone early getting a dunk for the game’s first points at the 18:30 mark. Three turnovers came for the Bulldogs in the first three and a quarter minutes, two coming from Ben Hansbrough. Crisp passing wasn’t on the agenda to start, chalk it up to nerves. Oregon shot more threes than I expected, 3-7 in this first segment. Rhodes started off on Oregon’s Maary Leunen, but when Jarvis Varnado was on the Ducks three point wizard, the lane was wide open for a Bryce Taylor layup which gave the Ducks an early 13-6 lead.

The Next 10 Minutes: “Play until you hear the whistle.” Ben Hansbrough is learned in the game of basketball as he got a steal off a near Oregon backcourt violation and sprinted the length of the court for a layup. Meanwhile, Rhodes wasn’t disciplined on defense. In a three possession sequence, Charles fell bad for a Leunen pump fake in the paint – layup; Rhodes got an offensive rebound and put-back off a Barry Stewart miss; and back down the court, Leunen got Charles to bite again with a fake three dribbling into a mid-range jumper, 21-17 Oregon.

Overall, Mississippi State ball movement was slow; Oregon was able to easily react and get in the right position. Abundant Bulldog misses gave the Oregon offense a head start. With a lightening quick 5’6″ point guard in Tajuan Porter, the Ducks pushed the rock to the tune of a 28-20 lead with seven minutes left.

Persistent work in the paint was still the key. Going to Rhodes down low led to a 2nd foul on Maarty Leunen. Having to sit with seven minutes left in the 1st half went towards disrupting his rhythm. On defense, the Bulldogs finally returned to man after a failed experiment with the zone – the result of a minor panic after Oregon hit some long distance buckets early in the game. Varnado’s work in the interior was of utmost importance, one block to this point, but he changed a lot of waddling duck shots. The Dogs did limit their mistakes during this stretch by committing only 2 turnovers – 5 total to Oregon’s 2.

Last Five: Heading into the final five minutes of the first half, Oregon had a 30-23 lead. Rhodes was dominating with 13 points while his teammates totaled 10. Even though the Bulldogs were shooting 38% from the field, I never felt like they were losing control. But Jamont Gordon didn’t help the cause of good vibrations with forcing the issue at times while Ben Hansbrough was doing a bad impression of a catch-and-shoot ball player. Ben, along with Barry Stewart, was added to the amber alert list. The Ducks ended the half with a Porter triple with five seconds left to take a 38-28 lead.

Half Number Two

First 5 Minutes: Jamont Gordon got a charge called against him in the early going, my dad is glad the refs blew the whistle on something that blatant. Oregon stayed firing with the threes, going 1-7 in this first segment. The game announcers relayed to the viewers that Mississippi State Coach Rick Stansbury said that if the Ducks shot 40% from long distance, the Bulldogs would not win. This struck me as odd as 40% is Oregon’s 3-point average for the season. You’re telling me if Oregon plays their “average” they can’t be beat? Rhodes continued to push with 22 points while his teammates had 12. Despite a sub-par shooting game, Hansbrough provided constant hustle with another steal converted to a layup. The Oregon Ducks were up 43-36 after the first five.

The Next 10 Minutes: The Bulldogs started out this segment like this: A forced Gordon layup miss, a Barry Stewart offensive rebound, a Jamont Gordon ill-advised 3 miss, a Charles Rhodes offensive rebound, and a Barry Stewart 3 miss. The Bulldogs were 0-12 from the 3-point line as Gordon was 2-12 from the field. Something had to give, and it just might be Jamont’s NBA chances if he leaves after this year.

Finally, at the 13 minute mark, Barry Stewart broke the cold long distance ice with a three (assisted by Gordon). The Dawgs were hanging around only down 6, 47-41. On a subsequent play, Jamont Gordon failed to contest a mid-range baseline jumper by Hairston. But Gordon was making the game happen in other areas: picking up 6 assists in a stretch from just under the 14 minute mark to just under the 9 minute mark. Mississippi State continued their push despite a couple calls not going their way leading to a 4th foul on Jarvis Varnado. The frigid shooting of the Ducks became the biggest help, with about 7.5 minutes left in the game, the Bulldogs were shooting 69% for the 2nd half while the Ducks faltered with 28%. Mississippi State would head into the last 5 minutes with a 61-58 lead.

Last Five:
Once Oregon’s threes slowed down, they didn’t have much else in the offensive repertoire. Meanwhile, the plan for the Bulldogs was coming to fruition. Double Charles Rhodes? No problem, that just left Barry Stewart open for a three – he found the right time to rediscover his stroke. Even Jarvis Varnado kept himself in the offensive mix with a great cut to the basket which led to a composed and balanced layup – a nice display of basketball I.Q. – to give MSU a 68-61 lead with 2:15 left.

Overall, Mississippi State had more in their tank down the stretch. With more perseverance, the Dawgs outlasted the Ducks. It also didn’t hurt that Oregon made a 3 at the 19:21 mark of the 2nd half, proceeded to miss 17 in a row, then made one with 14 seconds left when the game was in the bag. In the 2nd half, the Bulldogs weren’t giving up many open looks from long distance. The final tally would have Mississippi State advancing to the 2nd round of the Big Dance with 76, sending the Ducks back to Oregon with 69 – only 1 point off of my 76-68 prediction.

Stat Check:

  • Oregon was close to their season average of 8.7 3s per game with 9 against MSU. However, their season average of attempts was 21.7, they hoisted up 38 threes on this night – 2-21 from deep in the 2nd half after going 7-17 in the1st.
  • Charles Rhodes dominated with 34 and 9.
  • Jamont Gordon finished 2-14 from the field and 4-8 from the FT line, but contributed with 9 assists, 11 rebounds and the “usual” 6 turnovers.
  • Barry Stewart picked up the slack with 16 points on 4-8 from three point land.

Full Box Score

Other Reading:

  • “Rhodes leads MSU past Oregon” [NE Mississippi Daily Journal]
  • With four media timeouts per half, the starters can withstand a lot of minutes: [Bulldog Notebook – NE Mississippi Daily Journal]
  • “Rhodes loudest with a career game” [Clarion-Ledger]
  • “State sticks with starters in 2nd half” [Clarion-Ledger] – On the end of Alltel Arena’s floor closest to the Mississippi State bench, teams were 11-of-24 from the 3-point line. On the end in front of the Oregon bench, teams were 2-of-31. One observer who had watched games all day said the shooting was a trend. The hot-shooting end doesn’t have an upper deck; the cold one does. “We need to play on the one end where it goes in better,” MSU coach Rick Stansbury said, laughing.

Posted in charles rhodes, mississippi state bulldogs, ncaa basketball, ncaa tournament, oregon ducks, sec basketball, SEC Sports | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Total Game Preview: Mississippi State vs. Oregon

Posted by Kyle Weidie on March 21, 2008

Everyone is worried about a bunch of quacks, including myself. Oregon can fire the rock…to the tune of 40.1% from 3-point territory on the year, knocking down 8.7 per game. Big man center, Maarty Leunen, who hoisted 114 threes this season, making 50.9%, is on the chalk-talk from Eugene to Starkville. The remaining Duck starters combined to shoot 38.8% from long distance. The Bulldogs as a team only mustered up 34.1% from beyond the arc, yet they only attempted 7.2% less three-pointers than this gunning Oregon squad.

The point is, 39% of Oregon’s shot attempts are 3 pointers. Can you guess what that percentage is for Mississippi State, a team with an interior offensive presence which is described as being “rough and tumble,” especially when it comes to defense and rebounding? 36.8%. More than a third of the Bulldogs’ shots are 3 pointers. Why does the difference between these two teams seem so little? I’m certainly baffled, but the conclusion is simple: Mississippi State can’t afford to get in a shooting contest against the Oregon Ducks, because……well, the Bulldogs can’t really shoot.

Meet the Press:

OK, so how does one go about predicting this game?

I almost spit up my [insert what you might be drinking here] when I read the Dawgs-Ducks game preview on the Sporting News:

Defense usually prevails in postseason, and that would lead one to pick Mississippi State. But the Ducks played in the nation’s toughest conference this season and are more tested. Don’t expect Oregon to get the score into the 90s, but it should be able to impose its will.

The Crap-10 is the nation’s toughest conference? Are you kidding me? First of all, the Pac-10 is #2 in conference RPI, ACC is 1, SEC is 4. Another fact: those are just numbers. I know it’s a down year for the SEC, but the Pac-10 will never, repeat, never be “tougher” than the SEC, much less the best in the nation. That’s why I never read the Sporting News anyway.

——

Joe Lunardi, Bracketologist, M.D., ranks the tourney participants 1-64. Mississippi State is #30, Oregon is #45.

Accuscore on ESPN gives Mississippi State a 53% and Oregon a 47%, and predicts the score: 71.9 to 70.6 in favor of the Bulldogs.

Pat Forde says the “best case scenario” for the Bulldogs is to beat Oregon and push Memphis to the limit before losing. The worst? Stans catches heat for another early exit and Jamont Gordon hires an agent, gets a new car, and never makes it back to Starkvegas (a paraphrase).

CBS Sportsline “Expert” Picks:

Gary Parrish, Senior Writer – MSU wins, loses to Memphis.
Gregg Doyel, National Columnist – MSU wins, loses to Memphis.
Michael Freeman, National Columnist – Oregon Wins.
Dennis Dodd, Senior Writer – MSU wins, loses to Memphis.
Brian De Los Santos, College Producer – MSU wins, loses to Memphis.
Pete Gillen, CBS College Sports Analyst – Oregon Wins.
Steve Lappas, CBS College Sports Analyst – Oregon Wins.

But most importantly, Neil Patrick Harris (Doogie Howser, M.D.) picked the Dawgs to beat the Ducks. Aren’t you excited?

The Rivals.com experts have picked Mississippi State across the board.

However, both Bill Simmons and his wife are picking Oregon.

ESPN.com Bracket Caster

Back to ESPN……no joke, my first and only run at the ESPN Bracket Caster for the South Region produced this result (click thumbnail to the right to see the results):

—–

MY PREDICTION:

What worries me the most about this game is not en fuego Oregon 3-point shooting; it’s the Bulldogs themselves. One can only hope that they don’t shoot themselves in the foot (no pun intended) with careless turnovers and missed free-throws. Mississippi State averaged 15.5 turnovers per game and shot 63.5% from the line this season. But it’s not like Oregon takes care of the ball and their business at the charity stripe either. They committed about 12.7 tos per and shot 68.9% on freebies.

The Oregon Ducks are small, and they are not known to be a good defensive team. I certainly see them packing in a zone against the Dawgs, usually not a good sign for MSU. But this game will be won on the boards and the vertically challenged Ducks will have a hard time keeping Mississippi State away from the offensive glass in their zone defense.

In contrast, the gritty Bulldog D will be able to extend their man defense out to the 3-point line as Jarvis “Swat” Varnado will allow them to do so. The guy Varnado will probably guard is Joevan Catron, the 4 that’s really a 3 in Oregon’s three guard offense. Catron is only 6’6″, but is not known to knock down the trey as he’s only 5-13 from deep this year.

So, as the cliché goes: defensive teams are set-up to do well in the NCAA tournament. This game will be no exception. Oregon will not get hot because they will not get many open looks or second chances. The Bulldogs will overcome their own mistakes to move on to the second round.

Mississippi State 76 – Oregon 68

Other News Items:

Posted in jarvis varnado, mississippi state bulldogs, ncaa tournament, oregon ducks, rick stansbury, sec basketball | 1 Comment »

Senior to Watch: Charles Rhodes – Mississippi State

Posted by Kyle Weidie on March 18, 2008

Charles Rhodes – F/C
Mississippi State University
6’8″ – 245
16.9 PPG, 7.7 REB, 55.5 FG%

Background
Charles Rhodes hails from the famed Jackson Lanier High School in Jackson, Mississippi where was Clarion-Ledger first team all-state and won the MVP of the Mississippi-Alabama HS all-star game in 2004. Rhodes sat out his high school junior year as he was ruled ineligible after transferring from Forest High School, where he was declared academically ineligible.1

In his four year career at Mississippi State University, Rhodes has amassed more than 1,400 points, more than 670 rebounds and 105 blocks, twice finishing on the all-SEC 2nd team and making the conference 1st team this year. During his span as a Bulldog, he’s also averaged a hair above 55% from the field and a hair below 70% from the FT line. In 2005 after his freshman year, Charles Rhodes announced that he was going to transfer from Mississippi State. Bulldog fans are glad he didn’t, as is Charles – he drives a gold Infinity QX56 with rims of an unknown numerical value; a “gift” from his brother.1

Strengths
Charles Rhodes has promising, yet incomplete, inside-outside offensive skills. He often displays smooth footwork in the post and has the ability to go through contact on his way to the hoop. With improved decision making, his offensive game has the potential to be one you would call truly polished. Rhodes is very effective when he is able to face up his defender, large or small, from mid-range. Depending on who’s guarding him, he can go quick or strong. Just beware if Rhodes attempts to drive from too far out. He has the tendency to get ahead of himself and in the position to make a foolish turnover. Don’t be surprised if you see Rhodes pull the trigger from deep. He’s 9-25 from 3-point land in his career and believes that he has the occasional green light, or for Coach Rick Stansbury, the perpetual yellowish-orange light.

Weaknesses
Mississippi State fans have long wanted Charles Rhodes to be a better rebounder. After averaging 7.1 per game in his sophomore year, he went down almost a rebound last year to 6.2. He averaged just over 26 minutes per game in each of those seasons. This year, in over 31 minutes per contest, Rhodes is pulling down 7.7 rebounds a game. The numbers aren’t paltry, but when you consider his athleticism, you can only hope for better work on the glass. Here lies the rub: Rhodes is a small 6’8″ and while he will and can dunk on people with some authority, he’s not going to win a lot of jumping contests. Some say rebounding is also about toughness and heart.

Importance to Team
Most call Jamont Gordon the “go-to-guy” for Mississippi State. However, this title might be the de facto result of Gordon’s position in charge of ball handling duties. Charles Rhodes is the key factor to Mississippi State’s ability to advance in the 2008 NCAA tournament. If the Bulldogs want to move past round 1, they must work inside-out instead of settling for outside jumpers. This work starts and ends with Charles Rhodes in the paint.

Prime Time Experience
Charles Rhodes averaged 13.9 points per game in his first 8 games of the SEC schedule. He missed the January 9th conference opener, a Bulldogs home win against LSU. In his next 9 SEC games (including 2 in the SEC tournament), Rhodes came on strong averaging 21.3 points in those contests. In contrast, Jamont Gordon played in all MSU SEC games, averaging 18.4 in the first eight. In Jamont’s last 10 games, also factoring in the two SEC tournament games, Gordon put up 16.3 points per game, including outings of 9, 9, 4, and 7. The first 3 of these were wins, the last effort of 7 points came when it should have mattered most, against the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC tournament.

What to Expect
Clearly, down the stretch of the Bulldog’s schedule, the play of Charles Rhodes became strong while the play of Jamont Gordon proved to be inconsistent. As far as the NCAA tournament is concerned, as goes Charles, so go the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Outside of 6’9″ senior Maarty Leunen, the Oregon Ducks do not have much down low. In addition to Leunen, Oregon starts three guards along with a 6’6″ “three” man, sophomore Joevan Catron. I’m not sure how the Ducks will match-up with the Bulldogs or if they will change their starting line-up. I could easily see Catron guarding the offensively challenged 6’9″ Jarvis “Swat” Varnado from Mississippi State. That would leave Leunen on Rhodes. Problem is, Maarty Leunen cannot afford to pick up fouls and Charles Rhodes outweighs him by about 25 pounds.

If the Bulldogs get the rock to Rhodes in the paint early and often, while avoiding an insanely hot shooting night from the Oregon Ducks, look for Mississippi State to advance to the second round.

Good Reads: “Mississippi State star Rhodes faces end of career,” Kyle Veazy, The Clarion-Ledger

Also See: Jamont Gordon – Junior to Watch | Profiling the Field: Mississippi State Bulldogs

Posted in charles rhodes, mississippi state bulldogs, ncaa basketball, sec basketball | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Bulldogs Help Bulldogs Make History

Posted by Kyle Weidie on March 16, 2008

How dare the Mississippi State Bulldogs lose to the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday. Unfortunately, I was not able to see any part of the game, outside of the last 6 seconds, just after the Charles Rhodes technical foul. I wanted to watch the game, but had obligations of a friend’s birthday dinner. Oh well, I had thought……the Bulldogs, those hailing from Starkville, had the game in the bag, right?

After all, the Georgia Bulldogs played a late (9:45 est start) overtime game versus Ole Miss on Thursday where this happened:

Ole Miss (21-10) sent the game to overtime when David Huertas was fouled on a 3-pointer and made all three free throws, and the Rebels looked to have forced another extra period when Chris Warren sank three after a virtually identical foul with 5.5 seconds left in OT.

But Georgia inbounded the ball to Corey Butler, who had fouled Warren. The walk-on guard made up for his blunder by driving nearly the length of the court before dumping the ball off to Bliss for an open 10-footer. He banked it in softly off the glass, sending the Bulldogs on to face Kentucky in the quarterfinals Friday night.
from secsports.com

Then, after thinking they would be playing Kentucky in the last game on Friday night, Georgia had to wait on a tornado. [So did Mississippi State, but at least the MSU Bulldogs got to finish their game.] UGA waited until noon on Saturday to play the Wildcats; the winner knowing that they would be playing again at 8:30 pm on the same day. Unprecedented.

Just a reminder: this is the same Georgia Bulldogs squad that lost 11 of their last 13 regular season games between January 26 and March 8. Georgia would go on to beat Kentucky, once again in overtime, thanks to some guy named Zac.

Silly me for thinking that Mississippi State would take care of business, especially when factoring in Georgia’s hurdles. Silly me indeed. How could one set of Bulldogs possibly underestimate another set of Bulldogs to the tune of 64-60 [box score].

Good for Georgia though, and good for Dennis Felton. I think he’s a good coach, and he might have just saved his job as Georgia capped their amazing run by beating Arkansas for the 2008 SEC Tournament Championship and earning them an automatic bid to the Big Dance; a 14 seed playing #3 Xavier in Washington, DC.

Many people, such as the Clarion-Ledger’s Rick Cleveland, will tell you that the Georgia Bulldogs “wanted it” more. I’m just struck as to why my Mississippi State Bulldogs “wanted it” less.

Did the loss hurt seeding for MSU? Of course. Mississippi State had a chance to be a 6, maybe even a 5 seed with an SEC Tournament win…but more likely a 6. This notebook entry from the Clarion-Ledger gives a report on seeding, as well as this excerpt: “As for tempo, Stansbury lauded Georgia’s decision to play mostly zone, which helped UGA save its legs.”

Clearly, zone defense was a great option for UGA to preserve their strength. However, I’d be willing to gamble that Georgia would have used a zone against Mississippi State regardless of their situation. From other post-game quotes, Rick Stansbury seems to be pretty upset that Mississippi State was able to limit their turnovers (only 6) and sink 16-20 FTs (better than par for the course), yet giving up a whopping 46 rebounds to Georgia while MSU only totaled 33…..a fact that Stansbury harped on: “It’s easy for me to watch that game and see that happening, but I always look at one stat, and that one stat tells me where it lies. We got rebounded again, probably the most we got out rebounded all year long, 46 to 33.”

So Where Do The Mississippi State Bulldogs Stand Right Now?

Well, M-State is an 8 seed in the 2008 NCAA Tournament and are semi-close to home in Little Rock, Arkansas. The Bulldogs will be playing the 9 seed Oregon Ducks, the winner most likely going up against the south bracket #1 seed (and national #2) Memphis Tigers. “It ain’t going to be easy,” as goes the classic Stansbury quote. Hopefully, the loss to Georgia will light a fire under some MSU Bulldog butts. An analysis of the NCAA tournament and the chances of Mississippi State will be forthcoming.

The Gaffe of the SEC

The Big Lead gives us a clip of the live CBS coverage as the tornado hit during the Mississippi State – Alabama game in Atlanta — in case you didn’t see it, or if like me, you were watching the game in a bar with no sound.

Only 400 tickets were available to each school for the SEC tournament games at Georgia Tech, most going to officials, families and big money contributors. In case you missed it, Gary Parrish of CBS Sportsline already compared the organization of the 2008 SEC Tournament to that of AAU ball.

But the Southeastern Conference screwed up. Yea, yea…I’m sure that making last-minute arrangements and switching venues as a result of an unexpected tornado wasn’t easy. I sympathize. But any time you have teams playing in front of a half-full arena, the right thing to do has not occurred. The SEC seats schools by sections in their annual conference tournament. Are you telling me that something could not be done to allow those who purchased tickets through the respective participating schools to attend the games, even via a lottery, or on a first-come, first-serve basis? From a major conference, I expect better. This article from the AJC expresses some frustrations, along with the fact that the SEC isn’t sure about a reimbursement program.

Filling Out A Bracket Online…For Money?

The FBI may be watching you.

Posted in georgia bulldogs, mississippi state bulldogs, ncaa basketball, ncaa tournament, sec basketball, SEC Sports, sec tournament | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

In One Night, Miss. State Survives Buzzer Beater, Tornado and Free Throw Demons

Posted by Kyle Weidie on March 15, 2008

Last night’s game against the Alabama Crimson Tide started well enough for the Mississippi State Bulldogs: an alley-oop to Jamont Gordon on the very first play. The Bulldogs having their way in the paint against the non-existent Alabama defense led to a Mark Gottfried timeout 48 seconds into the match. The Bulldogs eventually got a 10-0 lead within the first three minutes.

But when MSU started getting sloppy, resulting from a couple undisciplined efforts on defense and several ill-advised shots, the Crimson Tide would go on a run to tie the game at 27. Bama’s streak would continue until they had a nine point lead at 36-27. During that stretch, Mississippi State put down their brushes and halted work in the paint. Instead, they opted to launch nine three pointers, missing all except one. Who made the one? Big man Charles Rhodes of course.

The Bulldog zone aided the most in Alabama’s foray into the game. Alternatively, the Tide went 8-14 from long distance as the Bulldogs waited until around the five minute mark to test their man defense. Oh, and don’t forget points off turnovers, Alabama had 15 in the first half as they led 36-29 at intermission. The only thing that didn’t really hamper the Bulldogs was free throw shooting; they went 8-10 from the line.

The beginning of the second half did not show much promise as the Miss. State scored four points, committed three turnovers and missed five shots (including three 3-pointers) in the first six minutes. It was hard to imagine that the same team which scored 10 points in the first 2:23 would only score 23 points in the next 23:48. The Mississippi State zone offense has long been one of the weaker points of Coach Stansbury’s repertoire. It usually involves dribbling and passing the ball around the horn as the shot clock runs down, the end result being the chance of a long distance shot.

But someone, something, cracked open the door of emotion for the Bulldogs….if just a little bit. The M-State team fought their way back to a three point deficit, down 46-43 with 11 minutes left in the game. Unfortunately, I’m one who focuses more on the negative……such as Jamont Gordon’s pocket defense (I know that Rick Stansbury teaches his kids to hand-carry the ball and to do away with hands in holsters); the abundance of Alabama offensive rebounds (they had nine in the second half); and the zero confidence of Barry Stewart. I’ve issued another amber alert on the sophomore, a previous member of the SEC All-Freshman team.

And then, Jamont Gordon does something so amazing on offense, that we have no choice but to gasp and put aside his transgressions. With about 1:20 left in the game, Gordon, aka The Ice Cream Man, charged up the court, gave a nasty cross-over (looked like the defender was leaning in the wrong direction) and did his impersonation of a train going down the lane with a huge left-handed dunk, which put Mississippi State up 58-56.

But those holsters then got stuck as the Bulldogs shot themselves in the foot at the O.K. Corral. If Barry Stewart, the team’s starting 2-guard who is supposed to be a shooter, makes both of his free-throws with 7 seconds left, you could forget all about the text below. Barry didn’t. He missed his second attempt from the charity stripe leaving MSU with only a 3 point lead.

Ultimately, Alabama was left taking the ball out of bounds on their end with two seconds left in the game. Mistake #1: Arguable. Mississippi State did not put a man on the inbounds passer. Yes, I understand wanting to avoid a lob pass with an extra rover, but two seconds is a lot of time. I’d rather prevent the “easy” pass. Mistake #2: Huge. Mississippi State, at least two fouls away from putting Alabama in the double bonus, did not foul the man on the floor. Thank you Ben Hansbrough. You’ve no doubt seen the highlights of the Mykal Riley 3-pointer, sending the game into overtime. And perhaps you’ve seen the footage of an incensed Stansbury who told his team to foul.

Surprise! A tornado. With 2:11 left in the overtime period, Mississippi State held onto a three point lead as they fouled Alabama’s Alonzo Gee on the floor; the winds in the Georgia Dome began to blow. At first, I thought the players were looking up at the jumbotron to see a replay of the foul. As the cameras panned to the swaying suspended metal structures, I knew the situation was a scary one. The players, the coaches, and their families cleared the court as those in attendance were advised to stay inside the Georgia Dome to safely wait out the storm. Read the report from Kyle Veazy’s blog on the Clarion-Ledger.

A lengthy delay made everyone wonder about the next course of action. The final 2:11 resumed well past 10:30 pm est. Remember that foul on Alonzo Gee? Must’ve been the hardest front end of a 1-and-1 ever…..after a 63 minute delay and a 10 minute warm-up, he missed.

The play of the game came when Ben Hansbrough missed a 3-pointer. Jamont Gordon, who had impressed me with his muscle on the offensive glass, got the strong rebound and put-back, giving MSU a five point lead, 66-61 with 52 seconds left. A resilient Bama hung around. Richard Hendrix was allowed to get not one, but two offensive put-back dunks. Gordon simply neglected to box him out on one occasion. In the end, fate was in the hands of the younger Hansbrough brother.

Poor Ben Hansbrough. One Shining Moment wasn’t playing in the locker room for him last night. He played a gutty game with 8 points, 2 assists, 6 rebounds and only 1 turnover; a great stat line. Unfortunately, he was cold from the field, taking all eight of his shots from beyond the arc and making only two. He failed to commit the foul at the end of regulation, but not forgetting Stewart’s missed FT.

Seven seconds left, Mississippi State up by a deuce and Ben Hansbrough at the line with a chance for redemption. A white guy missing both free-throws? Seems like a tornado just hit the dome of my basketball mentality. With Alabama down a bucket, this gave Mykal Riley another chance to be a hero; twice in one day…that guy’s lucky. But a 3-point miss that went 20% in then 100% out, perhaps moved by dissipating winds, would swing the luck back in the Bulldogs direction.

Final Score: Mississippi State 69, Alabama 67

An Interview: with the Tornado

AP Photos: from Gregg Ellis – Inside Mississippi State Sports blog

The Game Story: Clarion-Ledger

The Tornado Story: Atlanta Journal and Constitution

Wrap-Up: Post game notes and interviews from secsports.com

Posted in alabama crimson tide, Bulldog Basketball, mississippi state bulldogs, ncaa basketball, sec basketball, SEC Sports, sec tournament | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Running With The Bulldogs and Their Awards

Posted by Kyle Weidie on March 12, 2008

The 2007-2008 Mississippi State Bulldogs squad have picked up their share of SEC conference awards.

First Team All-SEC x Two: Congrats to both Jamont Gordon and Charles Rhodes for being named to the SEC Men’s Basketball All-Conference 1st Team, along with 7 other players. Gordon, with Shan Foster of Vanderbilt (the SEC Player of the Year) were the only two unanimous 1st team selections. Take that Chris Lofton!

No real surprise that Jarvis Varnado was named the unanimous SEC Defensive Player of the Year. It’s pretty much required that the honor go to the nation’s leading shot-blocking.

Jamont Gordon to the NBA? Personally, I’m betting he goes. We also find out via the link to Kyle Veazey’s Clarion-Ledger Mississippi State blog entry that Ben Hansbrough recently put Flexall in the basketball tights of Brian Johnson. Flexall, or sometimes Rocket Balm, in the tights…..a time tested Mississippi State basketball tradition. Although, I’ve never heard of a sophomore doing it to a junior.

Rick Stansbury a dapper gentleman? Ron Morris of The State (South Carolina paper) gives Stansbury the “Rick Pitino Award”Stansbury? How about checking out assistant Robert Kirby?

On Monday, the Big Lead had Mississippi State, Vanderbilt and Tennessee as the only “locks” from the SEC to make the NCAA Tournament……they were skeptical of Kentucky and Arkansas, and said that Billy Donovan and his two championship rings would be hitting the bricks.

….and later that afternoon, The Big Lead put the aforementioned three, along with Kentucky and Ole Miss, and not Arkansas, in the Big Dance.

In any case, the Mississippi State Bulldog math adds up.

….That is, unless you are talking about MSU free-throw shooting; the misses add up in a bad way. This Clarion-Ledger article by Kyle Veazy doesn’t do much to aid the Bulldogs in their search of a solution. In fact, all it really does is use the grade school argument of “Look, they’re doing it too!” as more of an excuse, and not a solution.

Ben Hansbrough’s older brother: Tyler.
Mike Freeman has an interesting article on CBS Sportsline discussing the media’s love for Tyler….or “Psycho T” – Yes, the media (and especially Dick Vitale, whom I do not like) can be a little crazed sometimes, especially when it come to Great White Hopes (or Hypes). However, I’ve seen Tyler Hansbrough play plenty of times, albeit not as much as the pundits, and he clearly brings much more intensity than your standard college basketball hustler. And definitely more intensity than anyone I saw in my five years of watching Mississippi State basketball and all their opponents up close. Well, perhaps with the exception of my boy Brandon Carr; Coach Stansbury used to have to tell him to slow down during practices.

Mike Freeman claims not to knock Hansbrough, but putting him in-the-mix with other college basketball players is definitely a slight (Freeman’s cookie-cutter race argument notwithstanding). Personally, I’m far from putting Tyler Hansbrough on a pedestal as “analysts” obviously have, but his gamesmanship can not be questioned. And remember, Tyler’s teammates gave him the “Psycho T” nickname, not the media.

Kansas State’s Michael Beasley.
If you read Ryan O’Halloran’s article in the Washington Times, “B-Easy”, you’ll know that Mr. Beasley carries four cell phones.

“Out of Beasley’s pockets come four devices: an iPhone, a T-Mobile Sidekick, a Verizon LG phone and a Sprint BlackBerry. The static disappears, and he conducts the interview.”

I can’t blame Beasley. After all, he’s probably trying to lock up a mobile phone sponsorship. Why not start a bidding war between the four carriers?

Other News:

Looking for an excuse to miss work for the NCAA tournament? Epic Carnival has your back….hey, I didn’t say they were going to be good excuses.

Want to get to know a mid-major via cheerleaders? I present to you: St. Mary’s.

Posted in ben hansbrough, charles rhodes, jamont gordon, jarvis varnado, mississippi state bulldogs, rick stansbury, sec basketball | Leave a Comment »

Profiling the Field: Mississippi State Bulldogs

Posted by Kyle Weidie on March 10, 2008

Mississippi State
21-9 (12-4 SEC West Champions)
RPI: 37-39
Seed:
6-9

The Growth of a Seed
ESPN.com’s Joe Lunardi is currently projecting the Bulldogs to be a falling 7 seed, after being a rising 6 seed last week. The March 10th edition of Projecting the Seed on CBS Sportsline also has Mississippi State as a 7 seed. Seeding can clearly rise and fall with conference tournament performance. Today, I’ll put the Bulldogs down as a 7 seed as well. With their strength of schedule at 50 and an SEC West title in the trophy case, the Bulldogs are a lock to make the NCAA tournament, even though they are only 3-7 against top 50 RPI teams.

Mississippi State has a bye in the first round of the SEC tournament and is set to play the winner of the Alabama/Florida game on Friday, March 14th at 7:30 pm. If the Bulldogs win one, or even two, in the SEC tournament (after the Crimson Tide/Gators, MSU is on the Kentucky vs. Georgia/Ole Miss side of the bracket), I think they have a solid chance of being a 6 seed. If the Bulldogs lose to Florida in the second round, they might have a chance of staying a 7 seed in the Big Dance. But if it’s a loss to lowly Alabama, they could drop to 8 or 9.

Wins That Count
Well, all of them count….but wins at home against Kentucky, Ole Miss and Arkansas stand out. The selection committee will no doubt most notice Mississippi State’s 12-4 conference record. Yes, it’s a down year for the SEC, currently ranked 4th in conference RPI, but that should not take away from a division championship in a traditionally strong conference.

Losses That Hurt
Seven of Mississippi State’s nine losses have come to RPI top 50 teams….so, no bad ones there. Although, blowing a game at South Alabama with a 13 point lead and 10:25 left in the 2nd half should never be considered “okay.” State’s two worst losses have come at the hands of Southern Illinois and Miami Ohio (#61 and #81 in RPI respectively) during the Anaheim Classic back in late November; the Bulldogs have obviously improved since. Southern Illinois bowed out in the quarterfinals of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, their 17-14 record only leaving them with faint NIT hopes. [Epic Carnival has officially popped the SIU bubble] Miami OH, ranked 5th in the Mid-American Conference, still has a chance to dance as their conference tournament starts Wednesday. In any case, dropping two games to “mid-major” Mid-Majors is a blemish, albeit minor, on the Mississippi State résumé. The NCAA tournament selection committee will note that there are no true “bad” losses (to a 100+ RPI team) for this Bulldog squad.

Players to Eyeball

Mississippi State has plenty players of note. Ben Hansbrough, the sophomore and younger brother of North Carolina’s Tyler Hansbrough, has helped push the Bulldogs to the next level after he missed SEC games 5 through 7 due to injury/sickness, two of those games being back-to-back losses to Arkansas and Tennessee.

Rail-thin sophomore Jarvis Varnado led the NCAA in blocked shots with 4.8 per game. On the season, Jarvis had three 10 block games and 16 total games with 5 or more blocks.

Junior Jamont Gordon gets a lot of attention. He’s even one of the 24 finalists for the 2008 John Wooden Award. He is capable of dominating every aspect of a game, as he averaged 17.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 4.8 assists on the year.

The key to Bulldog success? Senior Charles Rhodes. The agile big men can lead his team to tournament victories if he is able to effectively establish himself in the paint on offense early in games. I am looking for him to improve on his season averages of 16.8 points and 7.7 rebounds as Mississippi State charges into the post season.

Strengths
A Rick Stansbury team traditionally means tough defense and rebounding, and this season’s campaign is no exception. Let’s go through some numbers:

  • The Bulldogs led the SEC in scoring defense, holding opponents to an average of 65 points per game.
  • MSU was first in the SEC in field goal percentage defense, opponents shot .369 on the year (MSU was second to Tennessee in 3-point FG% defense at .316).
  • The Dawgs were first in the SEC in rebounding offense, 40.9 per game (second in rebounding margin at +5.1).
  • Mississippi State was first in the SEC in shot blocking averaging 8.10 per game (second place LSU averaged 6.5 per game).

So as you can see, with the nation’s leading shot blocker, Jarvis Varnado AKA “Swat” patrolling the paint, Mississippi State is capable of locking down very good teams. Statistics point to the Bulldogs having one of the top 10 defenses in the nation.

Weaknesses
Free throws and turnovers, another tradition of Rick Stansbury teams. This season, Mississippi State is second worst in the SEC at the charity stripe shooting 63.5% (good for 313th in the nation). It’s no surprise that in their nine losses, the Bulldogs have been even worse at the line, making 58.8% of their FT attempts. In fact, we should stop using Mississippi State and free-throws in same sentence all together. Let’s just refer to them as “Line Challenges.”

Freebies: The Bulldogs have accomplished a 12-4 conference record despite their penchant for something else “free” – giving the ball away….turnovers. M-State has averaged 15.5 turnovers per game on the year (99th worst in NCAA DI), good enough for the second worst turnover margin in the SEC, along with the 10th “best” assist/turnover ratio in the conference. Of the 465 turnovers committed by the Bulldogs on the season, the team’s star players, Jamont Gordon and Charles Rhodes, are responsible for close to 40%. Gordon, the team’s starting point guard, came through with 121 turnovers of his own, compared to his 143 assists…..good thing he’s 3rd in the SEC in dimes I suppose. There are 12 NCAA Division I players who have committed more turnovers than Gordon this season.

Prediction
Rick Stansbury, for all the accolades he’s garnered in his 10 year career as head coach at Mississippi State University: 206 wins (most in school history), a .646 winning percentage, 4 NCAA tournament appearances and 4 SEC West titles; Stansbury has yet to lead his team to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. This will be the year that he succeeds. Given that the Bulldogs don’t face some incredible dominating post player or an exceptional 3 point shooting team in the first two rounds (the latter happening has a much higher chance, especially when dealing with a possible mid-major 8, 9 or 10 seed), their chances of willing themselves into the round of 16 are high. Some believe that the Mississippi State Bulldogs even have Final Four potential. Hey, if the two superstars get on a roll, the sky is the limit, or, at least breathing the early April air in San Antonio.

Posted in Bulldog Basketball, mississippi state bulldogs, ncaa basketball, ncaa tournament, sec basketball | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Bulldogs Slam The Door On A Tiger Tail

Posted by Kyle Weidie on March 9, 2008

Just before the game, Barry Booker doled out some disrespect. He said that Mississippi State and LSU were the best teams in the SEC West right now. He claimed not to disrespect Arkansas, but how can his statement not be?….and possibly to Ole Miss as well.

Early in the game, Charles Rhodes tried his hand at some outside/mid-range shots….when he should’ve been working to establish himself down low. He missed his first three attempts. Rhodes’ first strong inside move gave the Bulldogs a 17-8 lead, as State continued to have their way on offense.

The Bulldog defense looked strong in the opening minutes; Charles anchoring with a big block himself. However, Rhodes is clearly at the ‘block the shot out-of-bounds and yell’ stage instead of the ‘block the ball and recover it’ stage. The gritty Ben Hansbrough had his back with hustle and a save of the possession.

From LSU’s end, Chris Johnson, a junior born in Washington, DC, looked smooth in the early going, skinny like a crack-head though. Johnson’s job in exposing Charles Rhodes with activity on the offensive glass was commendable, along with his 17 points on the day.

Jamont Gordon gave us the obligatory “What was he thinking?” move as he got his pocket picked by LSU freshman sensation Anthony Randolph and then committed a juvenile intentional file. What do they call it? Oh yea, compounding mistakes.

Quick TV Stat: Anthony Johnson and Jamont Gordon are the only two players in the history of the SEC who won the Freshman of the Week honor four times.

Elgin Bailey impressed with his ability to take up space down low…..looked damn good scoring 2 points in 9 minutes of action. Mississippi State received 10 total points from their bench for the game.

In the first half, LSU definitely showed a tad more hustle than the Bulldogs, at times sprinting to get into their offense. The Tigers were able to keep up with MSU because their goal was to go in the paint…..getting the job done a little too easily if you ask me. As Rick Stansbury would say, ‘they took it down their throats’ resulting in a squeaky LSU halftime lead of 43-32, contributed to by the casual mannerisms of the Bulldogs.

In the second half, it only took the Bulldogs five minutes to take the lead for good. A three pointer by Jarvis Varnado of all people, put the Bulldogs up 14, 68-54, the largest lead of the game. The seven blocked shots Jarvis had against the Tigers is becoming a rather pedestrian feat for him.

But with just over two minutes left in the game, the Tigers were able to cut their deficit to four on a three from Marcus Thornton. I barely noticed the 17 Thornton scored in the first half, but his 38 for the game sure stands out. Oh yea, add the fact that Marcus scored 17 of his 38 in the final 6:16. It’s pretty rare for an individual player to go off two games in a row against the Bulldogs…..you didn’t forget Shan Foster’s 42 did you?

In the end, the tandem of Jamont Gordon and Charles Rhodes closed out the game as LSU simply could not hang with their superior talent; the duo combined for 50 points as Mississippi State had themselves an 84-75 win. The Dawgs were 20-24 on free throws….how ’bout that! [box score]

Passing Grades? The Bully Basketball Blog

Bulldog Pride: Charles Rhodes’ love for the logo and the photo.

“It’s been a great ride.”: The Clarion-Ledger gives Charles Rhodes some shine. They also feed a beast. And to shine, one must have a star.

Amber Alert: Barry Stewart – 5 points, 2-9 FG, 1-6 from three.

LSU Not Tough Enough: So says the Advocate.

Jamont Gordon: If it don’t fit, don’t force it.

What 38 Points? Thornton (the other one, Quintin) wanted no part of Charles Rhodes.

Photo of the Day: Jamont Gordon, The Ice Cream Man.

Posted in charles rhodes, jamont gordon, lsu tigers, mississippi state bulldogs, rick stansbury, sec basketball | Leave a Comment »

Mississippi State Will Try To Stay Off The Tiger Beat

Posted by Kyle Weidie on March 8, 2008

Senior Day for the Mississippi State Bulldogs: Charles Rhodes and walk-on Billy Begley will be the lone celebrants. The Louisiana State University Tigers, 13-16 overall and 6-9 in the SEC, have had a dismal season. However, since Mississippi State “product” Butch Pierre has taken the coaching helm from John Brady, the Tigers have gone 5-3….winning their last 4 SEC games in a row (albeit only one was on the road and the combined SEC record of those losers is 19-41). Nonetheless, Gregg Ellis of the NE Mississippi Daily Journal has a story about Butch Pierre that’s well worth the read. LSU Tiger fans seem to be behind Pierre. So, will the yet to be named LSU AD end up jettisoning Butch for VCU’s Anthony Grant? I’d bet money that the answer is no. With Pierre’s ties to the south, especially in terms of his purported recruiting skills, LSU (whomever the AD will be) would have to be crazy to let him go.

A quick check of the LSU Tiger Blogosphere:

And this guy has the run-down on all of SEC Hoops.

Will the Bulldogs be motivated against LSU today? [Kyle Veazey of the Clarion-Ledger asks.]

I think so. My prediction: 25 and 13 for Charles Rhodes and Billy Begley gets some Senior Day points.

Oh yea, today Mississippi State will recognize the 1963 Bulldogs basketball team, the first team from MSU to participate in the NCAA tournament.

GEAUX DAWGS!

Posted in charles rhodes, lsu tigers, mississippi state bulldogs, sec basketball | 1 Comment »

The Case of Bully’s Missing Free Throws

Posted by Kyle Weidie on March 6, 2008

Most accounts of last night’s game between the Mississippi State Bulldogs and the Vanderbilt Commodores will begin and end with the name Shan Foster. Words like “special”, “classic”, “memorable”, “all-time” and “amazing” will be thrown around, and justifiably so……if you’re looking at the game from the perspective of a Vanderbilt fan.

The faithful in Nashville will simply remember how a senior on ‘Senior Night’ willed his team to a win. Shan Foster, of Kenner, Louisiana (who actually took a visit to Starkville), threw in a career high 42 points, making his last nine 3-point attempts (after missing his first six), including one with 2.7 seconds left in overtime to put an 86-85 Vanderbilt win in the books. If you are brave enough to want to look at the box score, you can find it here.

Now, I did not watch the game….didn’t even hear it over radio (or web), save for the last 30 seconds of OT — my dad called me and I listened to his XM Radio via my cell phone (most of my night had been spent watching my Washington Wizards get creamed by the Orlando Magic and following the State game on Stat-Tracker).

After hearing the Nashville crowd roar, my dad came back on the phone, “Incredible, huh?” I was speechless. Eventually, I managed to muster out, “Well, it’s par for the course. State makes half of their missed FTs (they missed 13, so let’s just say 6) and Foster’s effort is in vain. Unbelievable.” By many accounts, Foster was in what some call “the zone” as he hit those nine straight 3s in difficult situations with challenging defense. And some believe that the Bulldogs should have doubled Foster more, gotten the ball out of his hands, made someone else beat them. However, with an experienced senior such as Shan Foster and a good team such as Vanderbilt, this method is not always something to depend on.

In any case, I don’t care about Shan Foster. I don’t care about his three-pointers. I don’t care about what Mississippi State did or did not do in defending him. I don’t care about the legend behind the 2008 Senior Night for the Vanderbilt men’s basketball team. All I care about is that damn charity stripe where the Bulldogs shot 15-28 on the night.

You would assume that MSU Coach Rick Stansbury expressed his displeasure at the horrendous free-throw shooting in the next day media. He didn’t and we all know what happens when assumptions are made. Perhaps Rick has become so immune to his team’s traditional poor FT shooting that work at the line has become an after-thought for him; a given…part of each game with which his teams simply must deal. If the Bulldogs shoot well from the FT line in a game, well, then it’s a bonus.

Nonetheless, this quote from the head ‘Rick Rowdy’ left me in disbelief:

“There isn’t a whole lot to say except this: Foster beat us,” Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury said. “You can’t say anything else about it. It wasn’t anything they did, absolutely nothing. He jumped up in stressful situations. He just jumped up and made shots. Give him credit. There is absolutely nothing I would have done differently. There is nothing we could have done. He made 30-footers with someone in his face.”
from the Sports Network

So while on this night, in this game, Shan Foster’s amazing effort, — and by all means, I am not taking away from his performance. All the aforementioned descriptive words apply….so much so that I almost wish I was there, but not really — his 42 points provide an easy out for Coach Stansbury to the media. I just hope the same “get out of jail” card was not issued to his players.

Will Bully, the lovable Mississippi State mascot, ever solve the mystery of the missing work from the charity stripe? Time will only tell as there is much work to be done on the 2007-2008 season and painful finishes can easily be forgotten. Keep those chins up and the CSI kits handy…..another baffling mystery could be just around the corner. Only in the future, the stakes will be higher.

UPDATE:
Vanderbilt fans are understandably upset that what is perhaps the best home-court performance by a Commodore, ever, was not on television.

Posted in mississippi state bulldogs, rick stansbury, sec basketball, vanderbilt commodores | Leave a Comment »