Bulldog Maroon & White

a Mississippi State sports blog

3:45 PM Madness! The Mississippi State Bulldogs Commence Basketball Practice

Posted by Kyle Weidie on October 19, 2008

At 3:45 pm last Friday afternoon, the Mississippi State Bulldogs began a quest for another basketball championship. And so coach Rick Stansbury puts a decade at the helm of the program behind him and begins a new one with his 11th year. For the utmost time, Stansbury is selling his team as young and inexperienced. As the Clarion-Ledger’s Kyle Veazey implies, Stansbury’s media quotes are….manufactured, if you will……and the factory seemingly went out of business awhile ago (damn economy), so Rick is forced to blow the dust of the same ol’ quote handbook year after year.

Can you blame him? There’s a term for the same song and dance, it’s called “coach-speak” and it’s a standard around the country from college to the pros. Coaches aren’t necessarily straight-shooting mavericks, they’re teachers of the game (and let’s be honest, businessmen). But in any case, I’m looking forward to the basketball season and I’m anxious to see just how this young Bulldog team, and the coaching of Rick Stansbury, develops.

Recently, there have been several great articles from media outlets covering the onset of practice, such as from The Commercial Dispatch, the NE Mississippi Daily Journal, College Hoops Net, and Inside Mississippi State Sports (Daily Journal Blog).  Here’s a summation of what I’ve learned from those articles:

  • Stansbury essentially claims the team to be an unknown entity to him….however, that doesn’t mean he’s not aware of the individual strengths and weaknesses observed from the NCAA sanctioned individual workouts, which have been going on almost since the start of school.
  • Stansbury knew well enough to ride the talent of Jamont Gordon like butter on warm bread…..put the ball in the guy’s hands and get out of his way. Sure, many times this laissez-faire method worked to the detriment of the team, but would the Bulldogs have won an SEC West Championship without Gordon? I doubt it.
  • However, Coach is not exactly shedding tears over the early departure of Jamont, and looks forward to working with two new point guards, Dee Bost and Twany Beckham, who are more towards the pure end of the spectrum, yet whose games are different enough to give Stansbury diverse options.
  • Speaking of Beckham, he claims himself to be a leader….I like that.
  • But Barry Stewart is expected to be the leader of the team…..I’m not sure how vocal Stewart is, but in terms of his on-court presence, hopefully he leads by example.
  • Brian Johnson, and his new-found leg strength, could be the pleasant surprise that the rest of the SEC isn’t ready for.
  • The man-child who will garner the most attention is obviously Jarvis Varnado….but one of those “unknowns” Stansbury was speaking about would surely be Varnado’s offensive game. Jarvis had a very active summer, from going up against the likes of Chris Paul and LeBron James, to unveiling some offensive skills at the renowned Adidas Nations camp. So, there’s no reason to think that Varnado’s scoring abilty hasn’t improved by leaps and bounds, and thus, Stansbury will be able to feed him the ball with confidence.
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