Bulldog Maroon & White

a Mississippi State sports blog

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.

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


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