Bulldog Maroon & White

a Mississippi State sports blog

O Brother Ben Hansbrough, Where Art Thou?

Posted by Kyle Weidie on April 16, 2008

So you’re is going to transfer from Mississippi State, huh kid? As a avid Bulldog fan, I want to disapprove of such a maneuver. Is this really what it comes down to? One of the winningest programs in recent SEC history and you just wants to jet? Why not stick with something? Sorry if I’m asking a lot of questions, but a transfer like this deserves an answer.

Let’s just put this “Big Brother Tyler” thing behind us right now and concentrate on Ben. Because it would be completely unfair for anyone to compare the both; same heart, but two separate players with obvious physical differences. Getting to the point, did the younger Hansbrough brother simply feel inefficient at Mississippi State? Or perhaps this situation actually resonates with Ben’s father. After all, Gene Hansbrough’s comments to the St. Louis Dispatch have turned this whole ordeal into a “he said, she said” battle royale. Let’s take a look at those comments from Gene:

“Ben loves Missouri, I think he wants to play in a competitive program and be able to excel as a team. It depends on what opportunities present itself in Missouri and even outside of Missouri. He doesn’t have his mind made up about anything except that he doesn’t want to play at Mississippi State next year.”

Wow, if that’s not a gauntlet thrown down, then I don’t know what is. Overtly, those are harsh words towards Rick Stansbury and his basketball program. What does that say about Mississippi State?

Well, what say you Ben? Here’s the exact words that young Hansbrough told Gregg Ellis of the NE Mississippi Daily Journal:

“I’m not going to beat anyone on talent alone,” he said. “I have to outwork people. And to do that, I need to be in the gym. Right now, I can’t get into the Hump, and I won’t be able to for another couple of months. I know it sounds petty, but without a practice facility, I can’t get better as a player.”

Oh wait, there’s no practice facility? Shame on Mississippi State. Because in the time that pre-dates the short history of exclusive college basketball practice facilities, no self-proclaimed “gym rat” has ever made them self a better player, right? Especially none of those hard workers such as Timmy Bowers and Derrick Zimmerman who led the Bulldogs to SEC titles and post-season play, huh?

I agree, to keep up with top programs, Mississippi State could use a practice facility to be shared by both the men and women’s programs. But to say that you can’t be a better player without one would be the definition of a cop-out. In fact, such a facility is actually in the works (of course, the MSU athletic department is in the “quiet” phase of raising funds for a basketball practice facility). Regardless, Ben Hansbrough and his father knew of the situation coming in.

Aside from issues with a place to improve skills, or perceived lack thereof, the honesty is refreshing, but the absence of confidence is concerning. In the game of basketball I know, you’re not going to get far without a minimal chip on your shoulder. Oh, by the way, Ben’s comments (which occurred about a day before his father’s) are a far cry from what Gene Hansbrough said. I suppose Ben can play the diplomat and Gene can take the bullet.

Ben Hansbrough to the Clarion-Ledger on if his decision had anything to do with the coaching staff or teammates: “It had nothing to do with that,” he said. “Had nothing to do with playing time. I was playing a lot.”

Coach Rick Stansbury’s comments were predictably stoic: “Ben is a good kid and we wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.” — kinda reminds me of that time when, Rasheed Wallace said “both teams played hard, it was a good game,” over and over again after a loss.

Many people are starting to worry about the recent trend of transfers from the Mississippi State basketball program. As his quote from a Clarion-Ledger blog entry conveys, Coach Rick Stansbury is not worried, and you should not be either. (A reflection of Mississippi State transfers will be covered in a future entry here at Bulldog Maroon & White.)

“Some of them, No. 1, want to play bigger roles than are available on the team,” he said. “No. 2, some of them don’t have a choice, they’re just not good enough and don’t have a choice for other reasons. And No. 3, I’ve always got to make decisions that are best for the team.”

Look, part of this blog is speculation, part of it is getting something off my chest. I don’t claim to know Ben Hansbrough, or his family. I would like to wish him the best of luck on his future basketball path. I will certainly follow his career and hope that he succeeds to the best of his potential. What’s done is done and the Mississippi State basketball program will move on. Although I can be critical at times, (it’s in my nature), Rick Stansbury has my full support because I don’t think anyone can do a better job at Mississippi State University.

Do you read message boards, or comments on blogs? Well, good for you. I really don’t care for reading them, but they do provide for interesting fodder. Here are some of the more interesting quotes in regard to the Ben Hansbrough transfer:

From the Reflector Online – John posted 4/08/08 @ 1:25 AM CST
It is because he [Rick Stansbury] pays great players to come here and then does not punish them and let’s them do whatever they please, and the average players (Ben) he has to discipline. Stans has NO control over our program.

Kosciusko Star-Herald (actually a column by Austin Bishop)
There had been some talk that Hansbrough’s father had some dissatisfaction with MSU coach Rick Stansbury for one reason or the other, but that is unsubstantiated at this point.

2thdoc on Inside Mississippi State Sports with Gregg Ellis
I am positive that Psycho Dad helped come up with that excuse [of a practice facility]…priceless. We also don’t have another basketball goal in the city of Starkville. Everyone knows we need a practice facility but I did not know the time table evolved around Little Ben. Gregg [Ellis], I’m sure you can’t practice your typing speed on your laptop either unless you are in the first class seat of an airplane.

roastbeef1 on Inside Mississippi State Sports with Gregg Ellis
Does Ben Hansbrough think he is some stud or something? Look at his old profiles. Who were his final four on his list? State, Southern Illinois, Dayton, and Florida State. Sure, Dayton was solid this year and SIU is usually solid, but Mississippi State is the only legit BCS school to offer him.

TTDAWG on Kyle Veazey’s Clarion-Ledger MSU Blog
Ben will be missed. I think there is much more to the story. Could it me any truth to the rumors that Ben’s mom has been caught with ex-teamate Dietric Slater? and Dietric recently got caught with prescription medication belonging to his mom. Hope this is all untrue but would be enough to make him want to get far away from Starkville.

GoState04 on Kyle Veazey’s Clarion-Ledger MSU Blog
The practice facility is a lame excuse. If I were Ben, I’d be embarrassed to even say it was. There is something else going on. Remember this time last year there were rumors floating that Ben was going to leave then–rumor it had to do with parents divorce– he stayed. Now, a year later, rumors floated again, and now they are true. I believe Stans needs to make a statement to the fan base regarding the defections made during the last few years. I believe Ben leaving could have to do with personal issues and not with coaches/program.


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