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Going Back On My Words: The Bonnies Are Not A Cream-Puff

Posted by Kyle Weidie on November 26, 2008

Before last night’s game against St. Bonaventure, I wrote this:

“….the Mississippi State Bulldogs will head to Olean, NY for another cream-puff game against St. Bonaventure on Tuesday before facing the big boys (Washington State on Friday the 28th and possibly Pittsburgh on Saturday the 29th) in the Legends Classic in Newark…”

Well, let’s just say that some on the Bonnies Bandwagon message board did not take too kindly to those remarks. Admittedly, I did a minimal amount of research on St. Bonaventure before the season, and posted the blurb below about them in an analysis of the MSU basketball schedule.

St. Bonaventure finished at the bottom of the A-10 with an 8-22 (2-14) record, and lost four seniors who ranked 1-4 on the team in minutes played. They’ll try to stop the bleeding with three incoming JUCO transfers, the headliner being SG, Jonathan Hall. Look for the Bonnies to be an easy win for the Bulldogs, even if it is a road game in Olean, NY.

After Mississippi State squeaked out a 76-71 win on Tuesday night, St. Bonaventure certainly proved that they are no pushover. Some Bulldog fans may still feel that the score was too close, nor will many admire the Jack Bauer the Dawgs dropped in the turnover department, that’d be 24, but there are some positives to be taken from the game:

  • Winning in a hostile environment – No, it’s not exactly like going on the road in the SEC, but 5,111 fans packed into the 5,780 capacity Reilly Center can feel just as hostile and just as loud as a much larger crowd, if not more because of the closeness of the environment.
  • Pulling through, even after failing the seal the deal the first time – At the 9:31 mark, Jarvis Varnado got a dunk, And 1, to put the Dawgs up 63-48. Over the next 3+ minutes, the Bonnies would go on an 13-4 run, assisted by three Dee Bost turnovers, who was playing with a sprained ankle that occurred in the 1st half, to put the score at 67-61 Bulldogs with 6:12 left. The Bonnies would continue to claw their way back, tying the game at 71 with 1:52 left. For the rest of the game, the Bulldogs would not allow St. Bonaventure to score. One can be justifiably disappointed that the Bulldogs could not put the Bonnies away, but be happy that this young team came through when it mattered most.
  • Ravern Johnson, rising star – Johnson was second on the team in scoring with 18 points and also pulled down seven rebounds. But Johnson is a rising star because in the final 22 seconds, he grabbed an offensive rebound, hit a big 2-pointer, snatched a defensive rebound, and sealed the game by making two free-throws with one second on the clock…..ice water may be in the kid’s veins.
  • Jarvis Varnado can score – Big players provide big stat lines, and they don’t come much bigger than 19 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 blocks from Varnado.
  • Arrival of Twany Beckham – Here’s what Rick Stansbury said about Beckham via the Inside Miss. State Sports blog: “We were very fortunate that Twany came and rescued us. He played with a lot of poise, played with a lot of toughness, played a lot more minutes that he was ready to play.”

Up Next:

The Bulldogs will play Washington State on Friday at 5:30 pm eastern time in the Legends Classic. Unfortunately, right now it looks like Dee Bost is “very questionable” to play in the game. Beckham stepped up when Bost hurt his ankle the other night, hope he is ready for round two.

Game Stories:

Other Links:

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MSU Bulldogs Head to Brick City After Undefeated Start Against Unimpressive Competition

Posted by Kyle Weidie on November 24, 2008

Miss. State v. Fairleigh Dickenson

Opening Tip: Miss. State v. Fairleigh Dickenson

Actually, the Mississippi State Bulldogs will head to Olean, NY for another cream-puff game against St. Bonaventure on Tuesday before facing the big boys (Washington State on Friday the 28th and possibly Pittsburgh on Saturday the 29th) in the Legends Classic in Newark, New Jersey aka “Brick City.”

But on Saturday, after witnessing the MSU footballers squeak out a win versus Arkansas, I had the privilege of catching the MSU basketballers live after a short walk from Davis-Wade to The Hump.

I’d heard the stories about the ball movement of Rick Stansbury’s team having vastly improved from the days of the domineering Jamont Gordon Point Guard Experience. Now, I can attest that those theories are true. Sure, the ultimate differentiator between Mississippi State and Fairleigh Dickinson was athleticism, but this version of the Bulldogs can rest assured that the future looks bright with PG Dee Bost at the helm and a company of soldiers willing to go to war.

Game Observations:

  • Dee Bost is the selfless pass first point guard, who also has the threat of a jumper, that the Bulldogs have craved for years. His 27 assists to 13 turnovers on the year is most impressive.
  • Elgin Bailey is a big dude. He’s seemingly turned old baby fat into brute strength.
  • Kodi Augustus has significantly improved since his freshman year to the point where he is a key factor in the team’s future success….plus, he’s stepping up nicely in the abscence of Brian Johnson, out with an ankle injury.
  • Ravern Johnson is a great scorer, but he should to avoid the habit of prowling around the 3-point line. To truly help the team, Johnson needs to develop a mid-range game. Getting into the paint for buckets will open up the offense for the entire team. On the other hand, his stroke is so pretty, I can’t blame him for wanting to fire long-range bombs.
  • Romero Osby has diverse, raw talent. He should become a multi-faceted threat on both ends of the floor.
  • The perimeter defense is stiffling, but it’s the presence of Jarvis “Swat” Varnado that allows the Bulldogs backcourt to get up into opposing guards.
  • Both Elgin Bailey and Kodi Augustus fouled out. Avoiding cheap fouls may be the hardest aspect to learn in playing aggressive defense.
  • Rebounding Fundamentals: The Bulldogs were out-rebounded 50-45 by the FDU Knights. When the level of competition increases, the dependence on athleticism in rebounding must be trumped by proper blocking-out technique.
  • Silly Moment: Out of a timeout, with the Bulldogs set to full-court press the Knights, Romero Osby and Jacquiese Holcombe got into a slight shoving match argument about who would be covering the baseline out of bounds passer for Fairleigh Dickinson. They kissed and made up on a dead ball down the court.

Game Story Links:

Fairleigh Dickinson Trivia:

Other Web Quotables:

“As much as I miss Charles Rhodes and Jamont Gordon, when they were here, they were our team. It was Charles and Jamont and three other people. However, this team is five guys working together.”
[Nails In The Road]

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

MSU Bulldogs Not Very Courteous To Gents, Down Centenary 77-55

Posted by Kyle Weidie on November 16, 2008

Yesterday’s season opener against the Centenary Gents went just about as expected for Mississippi State Coach Rick Stansbury. The Bulldogs led from start to finish, blowing out their Summit League opponent by 22 points.

Coach Stansbury got to empty his bench, see his team play aggressive defense against an inferior opponent, and  was able to observe the Bulldogs against the 1-3-1 zone defense that Centenary often plays. Stansbury’s teams have traditionally struggled with zone offense, but with shooters like Dee Bost, Barry Stewart, and Ravern Johnson, who were a combined 9-16 from deep, the rest is elementary.

Hopefully the win against Centenary will help the Bulldogs forget about a close-call against Oklahoma City, the defending NAIA champion, a week earlier. OKC hit a shot to go up 60-48 with 5:58 left in the 2nd half, after which the Bulldogs went on a 19-5 run to win the game, 67-65. Jamarcus Ellis, who led Oklahoma City with 26 points, had a chance to win at the buzzer, but came up short.

The Bulldogs still must overcome an injury to big man Brian Johnson, who severely sprained his ankle in practice on Tuesday, November 11th and is scheduled to be out 2-4 weeks.  Next up for the Bulldogs, three home games in the next six days: Louisiana-Monroe on Monday, North Alabama on Wednesday, and Fairleigh Dickinson on Saturday.

Stat Analysis [Box Score]

  • Barry Stewart negated his four steals with four turnovers.
  • First Game Jitters: The two teams combined to shoot 18-61 from the field in the 1st half. In the second half, they combined for 29-62.
  • In 16 minutes off the bench, Elgin Bailey took a team leading 11 shots, making four and finishing with 10 points.
  • The 1:1 assist-to-turnover ratio for the Bulldogs is not ideal (17 in both categories), but I suppose when you consider that MSU finished with 448 assists to 509 turnovers in 07-08, you can call it progress.
  • Even though Mississippi State out-rebounded Centenary 46-38, they allowed the Gents to get 14 offensive boards — for a team the size of Centenary, that’s way too much.

Did You Know? – Centenary Facts

  • The College of Louisiana, located in Jackson, LA, and Centenary College, located in Clinton, Mississippi, merged to form the Centenary College of Louisiana in 1845.
  • The campus moved from Jackson, LA to its present day location of Shreveport, LA in 1908.
  • Newsweek named Centenary the “Hottest Liberal Arts School You Never Heard Of” in 2007.
  • Centenary is the smallest D1 school in the U.S.
  • You should know the most famous Centenary basketball alum, NBA Hall-of-Famer, Robert Parish. In his four years as a Gent, Parish played in 108 games, scored 2,334 points (21.6 per game), and grabbed 1,820 rebounds (16.9 per game). Parish still holds Centenary basketball records for most points in a game (50), most rebounds in a game (33), in a season (505), and in a career (1820), among other records. During Parish’s four years in Shreveport, the Gents posted a record of 87-21.

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

MSU Bulldogs Hold Strong in Opening Exhibition Basketball Game

Posted by Kyle Weidie on November 2, 2008

TCOB….“Taking Care of Business”….that’s what the Mississippi State Bulldogs did in their opening exhibition match against the DII Montevallo Falcons. In 2007, the Falcons were champions of the Gulf South Conference, and made it to the DII Elite Eight. On Saturday, the Bulldogs held the Falcons to 32.4% shooting en route to an 88-59 win.

Didn’t see the game, but here’s what I learned from the boxscore:

  • The Bulldog offense started out slow shooting 36.1% in the first half, and ideally, you’d like MSU to put up more than 88 points against a DII opponent……but all that’s okay. With a mix of fresh faces, and a new PG trying to get acclimated to running the offense, the development won’t be instant gratification.
  • Speaking of that point guard, Dee Bost couldn’t find the range from outside, going 1-5 from deep, but I’d much rather see that 7 assists to only 3 turnovers in his stat line. Bost played a team high 32 minutes.
  • Ravern Johnson led the Dawgs in scoring with 19, and took the most shots, 14 attempts, making 8. It’s looking more and more like he will be the safe bet to be Mississippi State’s leading scorer this year.
  • Barry Stewart filled up the stat sheet in good ways (10 points, 4 assists, 5 rebounds, a block and a steal), and bad (3 turnovers, 4 fouls). I believe that if Barry Stewart accepts the role of Robin to Ravern Johnson’s Batman, the two will form one of the more dangerous scoring duos in the SEC. I hope to see Stewart hitting a lot of spot up jumpers created by Bost and Johnson.
  • Jarvis Varnado had a very strong game — 17 points (7-9 shooting), 12 boards, 8 blocks, 4 assists, 1 turnover — those last two categories being the most remarkable.
  • Perhaps freshman big man, Romero Osby, was just as impressive with a double-double (10 points, 11 rebounds) in only 13 minutes on the court.

News Quotables:

[MSU rolls past Montevallo for hoops win – NE Mississippi Daily Journal]

Stansbury was especially pleased with his team’s unselfish play. The Bulldogs had assists on 23 of their 32 field goals. “I think the thing that was most pleasing to me was, we shared that basketball,” he said. “I thought that basketball flowed through a lot of people.”

[Rick Stansbury Post Game Quotes MStateAthletics.com]

  • “[Jarvis Varnado] is special in his ability to pass out of the paint. If people double team him it is okay to throw it in there. It is not like a black hole, once it goes in it does not go out.”
    In other words, Varnado is not like Robert Jackson….or Mario Austin….or Lawrence Roberts….or Charles Rhodes. Nothing against those guys, but a big man more willing to pass is refreshing.
  • “Number one [Romero Osby] plays hard and he is very active. He goes after the boards every time a shot goes up.”
  • In reference to Dee Bost: “If I were a player I would be smiling, because all you have to do is run if you want to score. I should never as a coach, tell you to sprint, because if you want that basketball all you got to do is run hard.”
  • “I like our ability to share the basketball and the chemistry we are working with. Brian Johnson did a good job establishing his presence tonight as well.”

For other thoughts, check out the comment section on this post at bullybasketball.blogspot.

Next up: Exhibition #2 against Oklahoma City in Starkville on Saturday, November 8th.

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Bulldog Basketball Roundup: Intrasquad Scrimmage

Posted by Kyle Weidie on October 31, 2008

Ok, work has been crazy, the NBA season has started, my Washington Redskins are garnering a lot of attention, etc., etc….I just haven’t had the chance to keep up with MSU basketball this week. So, it’s time for an exercise……an exercise in Bulldog-related internet postings.

The topic: last Saturday’s scrimmage. It’s always hard to judge the stats put out after a scrimmage. Coach Rick Stansbury has traditionally run a lot of situational scenarios. But we must remember, the scrimmage is more for team development and not the fans….they’re just allowed to watch.

So, while the official MStateAthletics.com story relates that there were two 20-minute scrimmages followed by an 8-minute game, you’ll surely be curious as to how Dee Bost, when looking at the “official” box score, played 55 minutes for the white team.

So, the sensible thing to do would be to check out coverage of those who actually attended the scrimmage…..the highlights:

The MSM mavens of the Clarion-Ledger and NE Miss. Daily Journal could not stay the whole time as preparations for the football game took precedent The consensus seems to be that Ravern Johnson has a diverse offensive game…..not only can he slash to the basket, but the kid has three-point range too.

“What he did is what we need him to do, and that is to shoot the ball,” said Coach Stansbury about Johnson.

Big man soph, Elgin Bailey, threw around his weight in the paint. Remember, both Johnson and Bailey honed their games in the Dominican Republic this past summer.

Signs indicate that Dee Bost will be the starting point guard, although a competitor for the spot, Twany Beckham, could not play due to injury. Bost impressed with his passing (even though the stats indicate four assists to five turnovers), but more importantly showed he can score, dropping 34 points and going 5-8 from long distance.

A more extended recap of the scrimmage can be found at bullybasketball.blogspot.com.

In other news:

Dee Bost made the CollegeHoopsNet freshman honorable mention team. Scotty Hopson (who’s that guy?) made the first team and Alabama’s JaMychal Green made the third team. Here’s what CollegeHoopsNet’s Shawn Siegel had to say about Bost, “If you’re looking for a smaller name player from the HM list who might break out in a big way, I’d look at Dee Bost, David Loubeau, Chris Singleton, and the Kentucky pair of Liggins & Miller.”

Mark Cuban‘s HDNet will be broadcasting the semis and finals of the Legends Classic live….but I’m not sure what that means for your local cable or satellite provider.

The first scrimmage kicks off tomorrow against the Montavello Falcons.

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Big Game For The Bulldogs, Those Florida Gators

Posted by Kyle Weidie on March 1, 2008

Well, I’ve been out of the country for the past couple of weeks and in the process, missed 3 and 1/2 Mississippi State Bulldog games. I say 3.5 because I was able to catch the first half of the Arkansas game in the airport before I left. I’d say that a 3-1 record is not bad in my absence.

W VS. ARKANSAS
First Half observations: Ravern Johnson is going to be a helluva ball player….evident by the nice dunk he had at the 12:30 mark. Charles Rhodes is an agile big man, with very nice footwork, who has skills which just might translate to the next level, but he will need a good NCAA tournament a la Antonio McDyess for Alabama years ago to really get noticed by NBA scouts. Patrick Beverley made Ben Hansbrough look pretty silly on defense….then again, Beverley is good and Hansbrough is white. The Bulldogs built a 13 point halftime lead despite the usual Jekyll and Hyde act from Jamont Gordon. As for the second half, I caught an update from my father over the phone on my layover in Atlanta….and from the first 60 or so seconds of our conversation, I was under the impression that the Dawgs blew it and lost — only later to get that “a win is a win” relief in finding out that MSU prevailed over Arkansas 80-74 thanks to the strong effort by Charles Rhodes and no thanks to a horrible effort by Jamont Gordon. [game photos from the Clarion-Ledger]

L @ OLE MISS
I initially predicted that the Bulldogs would beat an overrated Rebel squad up in Oxford. They didn’t. Oh well, you can always throw records and theories out in rivalry games such as this. From what I read overseas, it looked like the Dawgs got off to a hot start and were well on their way to routing Ole Miss as they did in Starkville. From the light-hearted nature of the team leaders after the game, maybe they expected to lose. In the end, not being able to stop a freshman point guard (Chris Warren has 22 for OM — not sure who was guarding him) and allowing Dwayne Curtis to dominate the boards with 16 (8 offense) will easily lead to a 74-63 loss to Ole Miss for the MSU Bulldogs, despite Jamont Gordon “limiting” himself to only 4 turnovers.

W (in OT) @ SOUTH CAROLINA
I didn’t read anything about this game except for an email from one of my contacts which pretty much sums it up: I don’t care that we beat USC in OT. Very lucky. Coaching is terrible. Gordon runs wild. Points off turnovers – 26-5 Carolina.” I’ll just go with that “A Win Is A Win” thing again, especially on the road in the SEC. And at least young Ben Hansbrough came through big time in the clutch. Of course, if you go read the Clarion-Ledger or the official MSU site, they will paint the game as pretty picture and a great win. But the fact is that South Carolina is terrible. Right now, they are 12-15 overall and 4-9 in the SEC….a Bulldog team that wants to make noise in the NCAA tournament would have cleaned their clock.

W VS. AUBURN
Auburn is bad too. The Dawgs made them look like a D2 team on the Plains with an 83-64 win back on February 9th. I had a pretty intensive break-down of that Mississippi State-Auburn game on this blog. There was no reason to think that the Dawgs wouldn’t win this one at home on February 27th….they did, 89-78, clinching at least a tie of the SEC West crown. And look! — the team only had 12 total turnovers….Jamont came through with 6 of those 12.

Today’s Game @ The Florida Gators
Here’s where the Mississippi State Bulldogs stand: with a 19-8 overall record and a 10-3 SEC record (and a 41 RPI), the Bulldogs are pretty much a cinch for the NCAA tournament. I think I heard on ESPN this morning that only two SEC teams with 10 conference wins have ever been left out the big tourney (they were talking about Kentucky), but that’s when they played 18 conference games instead of 16. ESPN Bracketology currently has the Dawgs as an 8 seed playing UNLV in Little Rock. Forget playing for the SEC West title, forget playing for higher seeding in the NCAA, forget playing for a chance at the overall, and outright, SEC title……the Bulldogs need to win this one to gain momentum and confidence as a team heading into the SEC conference tournament and the Big Dance. I’ll be heading over to the Crystal City Sports Pub in Alexandria, VA to watch the game and will get an analysis of the game in a subsequent post.

GO DAWGS!

Posted in arkansas razorbacks, auburn tigers, florida gators, mississippi state bulldogs, ncaa basketball, ole miss rebels, sec basketball, SEC Sports, south carolina gamecocks | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »