Bulldog Maroon & White

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Posts Tagged ‘rick stansbury’

MSU Bulldogs Dominate WKU Hilltoppers With The Long Ball

Posted by Kyle Weidie on January 6, 2009

Well, live and die by the three it is…..and the Mississippi State Bulldogs are riding a crest in the 3-point economy.

How much so? Well, the Bulldogs set a team record last night against Western Kentucky for most three-pointers made in a game with 14.

So long to the Hilltoppers and their falling RPI (now at 54), and hello to the momentum building Mississippi State Bulldogs whose RPI has “risen” to 142. That Strength of Schedule is still at 171…..yikes!….I knew that despite the politicking of Rick Stansbury, this year’s schedule was way below par.

[All of this RPI stuff according to this site: RealTimeRPI.com]

Key Game Stats [Box Score]:

  • Offensive Rebounds: WKU 16 – MSU 5
  • 2nd Chance Points: WKU 16 – MSU 4
  • Fast Break Points: WKU 10 – MSU 6

Look, I hate to rain on anyone’s parade, but this Bulldog team will NOT fare well come SEC time being deficient in the categories above, especially the first two. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, second chance points are a killer. Living and dying by the trey ball is one thing, but once you depend on the land beyond the arc, a flat-line will be inevitable at some point.

Game Stories:

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Bulldogs Rebound for Solid Win Against Houston Cougars

Posted by Kyle Weidie on January 3, 2009

First of all, apologies to anyone out there who has been a reader of this blog and has wondered why there has been no posting in over a month. I’m obviously not dead and I’m definitely not abandoning Bulldog Maroon & White. Busy turned into procrastination turned into neglect. But I still love Mississippi State basketball and that passion will keep me writing about the program in whatever capacity I can manage. So, with a nice win for the Bulldogs today, one that I got to watch with my father, there couldn’t be a better time to pick things back up.

So admittedly, with the lack of posting, I’ve only kept up with the Bulldog basketball team in passing recently…..something I hope to change in the ’09.

Losses to Washington State and Texas Tech were understandable, a loss to Charlotte at home was unacceptable, a loss to Cincinnati was embarrassing, and an overtime loss at home to San Diego was a disgrace. But overall, even with a weak schedule, Bulldog fans should not be all that surprised at the current 9-5 record, but should be allowed to be disappointed.

What’s done is done, we all knew we had a young team coming into the season; Stansbury sold us this fact like a desperate Willy Loman. But from here on out, it’s all about how this team grows together, and the framework for potential is evident.

As I understand it, this new four guard lineup has expanded scoring opportunities for Jarvis Varnado, but has left me a skeptic as to how the Bulldogs will fare with the gimmick come SEC time.

For one, many times it forces all five Bulldogs on the court to go for defensive rebounds, and understandably so…..allowing the opponent second chances can be a game killer. However, with all that quickness on the court, MSU cannot get out and run as much with everyone hitting the glass. Trouble with four guards and rebounding was especially evident in the first half against Houston. The game plan of Tom Penders was obviously to have his Cougars to be aggressive on the offensive boards, and it worked. Houston killed Mississippi State to the tune of 16-6 in the first half alone.

However, with Houston missing so many shots, there will clearly be more chances for them to secure offensive rebounds. By my count, the Cougars went 4-24 from the field in the last 10 minutes of the first half.

But in the second half, the Bulldogs did a much better job at securing defensive boards, as Houston continued to be ice cold from the field. Long rebounds allowed the Bulldog guards to run. In the process, the played relatively under control, shared the ball, and did a great job at getting the ball into the post within the first look of the offensive set.

Sharing is caring and 18 assists on 30 Bulldog field goals meant a day of Bulldog domination and reconciliation from a loss to the San Diego Toreros.

Romero Osby

Before all is said and done, Romero Osby will be considered the best player on the court for the Bulldogs (if this isn’t already the case). He can obviously step out and hit the three, but rarely neglects to mix it up in the paint. He rebounds, he takes charges, and he’s down to run (definitely more than Jarvis Varnado). Obsy could stand to work on his left hand a bit, but when conference play begins, he will surely make the case for Rick Stansbury to shy away from the 4-guard lineup as Osby is the perfect PF.

Living & Dying by the Three

Overall, this may be the best outside shooting team that Rick Stansbury has had in his tenure as head honcho…..perhaps more of a reason to set up shop and do some livin’ from long distance. However, for consistent winning efforts in the future, that living needs to be worked from the inside out and not the opposite.

In the first half, the Dawgs did a lot of gunning, and luckily, they were on, hitting 7 of 17 threes attempted (41.2%). The pace slowed down in the second half as the Dawgs only went 4-8 from deep. In addition to Osby, Elgin Bailey and Brian Johnson both did a great job of taking up space down low. Let’s hope they keep on their painter’s cap and maintain the tough work under the rim.

Posted in Bulldog Basketball, mississippi state bulldogs, romero osby, sec basketball, SEC Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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 Bulldog Basketball Recruiting Good News: A Shot of Shaunessy

Posted by Kyle Weidie on November 20, 2008

Following the bad recruiting news…..

In state product, Shaunessy Smith, has made good on his verbal commitment to Mississippi State and signed binding scholarship papers to play for the Bulldogs on Wednesday. Rick Stansbury’s recruiting prowess beat out the likes of Clemson, Baylor, and Southern Cal for the services of Smith.

Well….not so fast my friend. Former Bulldog basketballer, T.J. “Brown” Billups, is Shaunessy’s coach at Noxubee County. Former Bulldog great (coach and player), Greg Carter, already let Travis Outlaw get away to the NBA (Carter coached Outlaw at Starkville High). I would have had to let T.J. know if he let Shaunessy get away from playing at The Hump. Just kidding, T.J. and I go back from our college days. He was one of the nicest guys to ever pick up a basketball for the Bulldogs.

You can read more on Shaunessy in a previous Bulldog Maroon & White post, MSU Bulldog Basketball Gets A Commit From Shaunessy Smith.

Other Suggested Reading:

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

MSU Bulldog Basketball Recruiting Bad News: Tiny Gallon Boomer Sooner

Posted by Kyle Weidie on November 20, 2008

About three weeks ago, I wondered if Mississippi State basketball coach Rick Stansbury had a chance at the 21st rated prospect in the nation (3rd among centers), Keith “Tiny” Gallon. For a while, the Bulldogs seemed to be high on Gallon’s final list of schools with Stansbury supposedly having the inside track on signing the kid to suit up in Maroon & White. However, rumors circulating within the past couple of months indicated that Coach Stans was losing out on a prized recruit. Today, those rumors were confirmed.

The Oklahoman reported that yesterday, Gallon officially became an Oklahoma Sooner. There are a variety of reasons as to why the Bulldogs lost out: Gallon’s high school teammate has already signed with the Sooners, current sooner big man, Blake Griffin, will probably be departing for the NBA after this season, and the Bulldogs, aside from Brian Johnson, should have three big men returning next season with significant roles, Jarvis Varnado, Elgin Bailey and Romero Osby. But none of that matters now. Mississippi State has lost out on recruits before, and the Bulldogs have caused other schools to lose out on recruits in turn. All the program can do is move on.

But there is good news……

Posted in basketball recruiting, Bulldog Basketball, keith gallon, mississippi state bulldogs, ncaa basketball, sec 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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Does Rick Stansbury have a shot at Keith “Tiny” Gallon?

Posted by Kyle Weidie on October 31, 2008

It’s well known that the Mississippi State Bulldogs are on the radar of Keith “Tiny” Gallon. It should be made clear that the “Tiny” part is ironic, but not the “Gallon,” as this 6’9″ center prospect, ranked 21st overall (3rd among centers) by ESPN.com/Scouts Inc., weighs in at around 300 pounds.

In his assessment of superlatives among high school big men, Scout Inc.’s Bob Gibbons admits that Gallon is one of only three centers ranking in the overall top 25, but does not rank Gallon within the top three in areas such as rebounding, shot blocking, low-post scoring, and high-post scoring.

More recently, Gibbons had this to say about Gallon after observing a mid-October scrimmage of his high school team, Oak Hill Academy: “Gallon powered for 10 points and 9 rebounds in the first period of Tuesday’s scrimmage. However, he did not score in the second period. He is still overweight and not in good playing condition. He wore down during the night and when fatigued he has a tendency to bring the ball down in the post and lose it or get tied up.”

Other profiles on Gallon, such as the one on Draft Express, continue to relay the message that the kid is out of shape. But go check some YouTube videos of Gallon, and he is clearly abnormally agile for a guy his size. What the big man can do with a ball is almost unprecedented…..even for his common comparison, Robert “Tractor” Traylor.

So what gives? Well, obviously the AAU/High School system is less about developing and teaching players and more about ‘what can I do for myself lately?’ on all levels.

The question is, if Rick Stansbury gets Gallon to Starkville, can he prod the big man into living up to his potential? Stansbury isn’t exactly known for being able to motivate those who lack the full desire to be motivated…..just ask Robert Jackson and Marcus Campbell. Stansbury expects his players to be self-motivated. Not all coaches do it the same way, that’s just Stansbury’s style. Now, it might behoove him to be more like, say, Roy Williams, but with the difficult work it takes to produce a winner at Mississippi State, I can’t exactly blame Stansbury for not taking the time to be a hand-holding nurturer.

Right now, the latest reports indicate that the Bulldogs, California, and Oklahoma are at the top of Gallon’s list, with Arizona, Arkansas, Texas A&M, Tennessee, and Georgetown being somewhat in the picture. I’ve heard rumors that Stansbury is losing out on Gallon, but I wouldn’t count Slick Rick out of a recruiting battle, ever. At this point, even Gallon’s coach is unsure about his decision.

Will “Tiny” one day squeeze into maroon & white? Stay tuned…..

Posted in basketball recruiting, Bulldog Basketball, keith gallon, mississippi state bulldogs, ncaa basketball, rick stansbury, sec basketball | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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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Gearing Up For Basketball: The Mississippi State Bulldogs

Posted by Kyle Weidie on October 24, 2008

Media days have come and gone. The Mississippi State Bulldogs are entrenched in preparations for a scrimmage this Saturday, and the first preseason game on Saturday, November 1st. There has been a lot of media coverage surrounding the Bulldogs, especially Jarvis Varnado. Below are the best excepts……the added commentary comes at no charge.

—————————

Mark Gottfried’s eyes widened a bit when asked about Mississippi State’s Jarvis Varnado becoming an offensive threat this season………Varnado said he can hit a jump shot as far out as 15 feet.
[“Bulldogs’ Varnado broadens his game,” NE Mississippi Daily Journal – Brad Locke]

Still…..teams are going to give Varnado space, he needs to be ready to take advantage from the get-go.

“[Jarvis Varnado] leads by example for the most part with his effort every day,” [Rick] Stansbury said. “He’s not a guy we have to prod very often to get him to play hard. We just have to get him to play hard for more minutes…..He’s a good person and a good kid. Those kind of people you don’t have to worry about much. You don’t have to go to that whip very often with Jarvis.”
[“Varnado wants to be bigger offensive threat,” The Commercial Dispatch – Danny P. Smith]

Uhhh….coach? I know you consider the kids you coach horses….but I still don’t think you wanna talk about whipping black kids in the South….I’m just saying.

Varnado still seems to have that shot-swatting body – he’s still thin as a rail, maybe having gained five pounds in the off-season…..On the 20-minute flight to Birmingham on Wednesday from Starkville’s Bryan Field, he couldn’t even finish a sandwich from Arby’s……”I can eat two of them,” Stansbury said. “He can’t even eat one of them.”
[“A defensive threat, Varnado goes to work on his offensive game,” Clarion-Ledger – Kyle Veazey]

Wait, is Arby’s good for you? No matter…..just reading about Arby’s had my mouth salivating like Pavlov’s dog at the sound of a bell.

“I think the real strength is my creativity,” [Barry Stewart] he said. “You have to find a way to get your shot sometimes. If a (defensive) guy is playing me tight, I might use the big guys as a pick or to run plays off of. You also have to move without the ball.”
[“Stewart, Bulldogs shoot for SEC crown,” The Mississippi Press – Tommy Hicks]

Boy….if Stewart can become a Reggie Miller/Richard Hamilton type (on the college level), then this Mississippi State team can be scary….then again, Rick Stansbury coached teams have been offensively challenged in the past, and the Bulldogs haven’t had a knock-em-down shooter worthy of constantly running ball screens for in a long time.

“I love Dee Bost,” Stansbury said. “He’s got a chance to be as good as we’ve had and that’s a big statement. There’s not many holes in his game right now except he’s a freshman and he’s about 163 pounds. Besides that, he possesses everything that I want a guy to have right now. He’s got a toughness about him. He can defend that ball. He can score it. He’s a terrific passer. But he can defend that basketball, and I love that about him. He’s just young and new.”
[“SEC basketball: Blame the economy for sluggish ticket sales,” Memphis Commercial Appeal – Marlon Morgan]

Hey, I already like this kid better than Gary Ervin.


Suggested Reading:

Zebra Talk – Inside Mississippi State Sports with Brad Locke

Talk about getting grown….the college three point line has been extended a full foot.

“Donovan center of discussion over SEC’s best coach,” Orlando Sentinel – Jeremy Fowler

Posted in Bulldog Basketball, mississippi state bulldogs, ncaa basketball, sec basketball, SEC Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

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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Analyzing The Mississippi State Bulldogs Basketball Schedule

Posted by Kyle Weidie on October 9, 2008

At the very close of business on Friday, September 19th, the Mississippi State Bulldogs finally posted their basketball schedule to mstateathletics.com. The SEC slate has been out for some time now. I analyzed the 16 conference games and predicted a record of 9-7. Now, I’ll take a look at the non-conference schedule. Has Rick Stansbury allowed for an RPI-friendly line-up?

While the schedule is sprinkled with nationally recognized programs (Washington State, Pittsburgh, Texas Tech, and Cincinnati), and some prominent mid-major programs (Charlotte, South Alabama, Houston, San Diego, and Western Kentucky), the reality is that there is only one bona fide top 25 team (Pitt Panthers, ranked #2 in the nation by Andy Katz). The only team among the big programs that Mississippi State is guaranteed to face is Cincinnati in the SEC/Big East Challenge on December 18th.

Washington State, Pitt, and Texas Tech are each taking part in the Legends Classic. There is a chance that the Bulldogs might not see any of these three, and could play two at best. The first two rounds of the Legends Classic will be played on the campus of each host. The Bulldogs will face North Alabama on November 19th, and then Fairleigh Dickinson on the 22nd in Starkville. So, the opportunity to significantly boost the strength of the schedule is contingent on making it to the Legends final four, which will be played at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Working off this assumption, Mississippi State would possibly face Washington State on Nov. 28 and either Pitt or Texas Tech the next day should they advance to the final.

Opponent Conference Breakdown

Atlantic 10: Charlotte, St. Bonaventure
Big East: Cincinnati, Pittsburgh*
Big 12: Texas Tech*
Conference USA: Houston
Northeast: Fairleigh Dickinson
Pac-10: Washington State*
Southland: Nicholls State
Summit League: Centenary
Sun Belt: Louisiana-Monroe, South Alabama, Western Kentucky
SWAC: Alabama State
WCC: San Diego

Division II: North Alabama

*not a guaranteed oppnenent

Overall, I have to say that this is a pretty weak schedule. If the cards happen to fall in the wrong direction, the Bulldogs are left playing only one team from a BCS conference. Let’s hope this is not the case.

Run-down on the Bulldog non-conference opponents:

  • Centenary surprised many with an early upset of Texas Tech last season. However, the rest of the year didn’t fare so well as the Gents only won five more games, finishing with a 10-21 record. Centenary has a couple returning seniors, Lance Hill and Nick Stallings, who were ranked second and third respectively in scoring last season.
  • Louisiana-Monroe finished 10-20, 4-14 in the Sun Belt last season. The three departed seniors accounted for just over half of the scoring on last year’s squad. However, Tony Hooper, last season’s leading scorer (15.1 ppg), who was also named to the All-Louisiana 2nd team, returns for his senior season. The Warhawks also have four incoming junior college players who will look to make an immediate contribution.
  • North Alabama may be a DII school, but they finished 27-9 last year, won the South Region championship, advancing to the DII Elite Eight, before losting to Bentley. The Lions don’t have a ton of size, so I’d look for them to take every shot from the outside, else Jarvis Varnado will net 20 blocks.
  • Fairleigh-Dickenson went 8-20, 4-14 in their conference last year. Currently their online roster shows one senior, four juniors, and three sophomores. However, they will also have a handful of newcomers: transfers from St. Joseph’s and Buffalo who are eligible after sitting out last year, a transfer from the Czech Republic, a transfer from Canada, a British high-school player who spent time with the English National Team, and a player from St. Thomas More Prep School. Sean Baptiste is their best returning player (18.5 ppg), but gone is last year’s leading scorer and All-NECer, Manny Ubilla (20.8 ppg).
  • Washington State made the Sweet 16 last year where they fell to North Carolina, losing by 21 points. Now, it’s time to rebuild. Gone are stars Kyle Weaver and Derrick Low. Only five lettermen (in addition to two RS seniors and two RS freshman) return from last year’s 26-9 squad. With seven true freshman on the roster, highlighted by Klay Thompson (son of former NBAer, Michael Thompson), the Cougars will be inexperienced, but talented.
  • Texas Tech is picked to finished towards the bottom of the Big 12 in Pat Knight’s first full season at the helm. However, aside from losing leading scorer, Martin Zeno, the Red Raiders will have most of their top talent from last year’s team. Sophomore point John Roberson and senior guard Alan Voskuil anchor the backcourt, and accounted for over 36% of Tech’s scoring last season. If the Raiders do make it past their hosted games in the Legends Classic (East Central and Eastern Kentucky), I would not anticipate them being able to beat Pittsburgh.
  • Pittsburgh is a team that most expect to contend for a national championship. Leading scorers 1-3 return: senior forward Sam Young (18.1 ppg), senior guard Levance Fields (11.9 ppg), and sophomore forward DeJuan Blair (11.6 ppg). Pitt comfortably took down Cincinnati, and ranked Louisville, Marquette, and Georgetown squads en route to winning the ’08 Big East Tournament. The Panthers fell to Michigan State in the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament, but with key returnees, and mix of young and old, they are primed to have a very strong season. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention that Pitt is known for its defensive intensity, also a trademark of Rick Stansbury teams.
  • 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.
  • Alabama State will be no pushover. The Hornets won 20 games last year, making it to the NIT, where they lost to Arizona State by nine in the first round. Alabama State will be led by 6-5 guard, Andrew Hayles, the reigning SWAC Player of the Year and an honorable mention AP All-American.
  • Charlotte finished 20-13 (9-7) and lost at Nebraska in the first round of the NIT. They lost four seniors, three of which accounted for 57.6% of the 49ers scoring. The leading returning scorer is junior An’Juan Wilderness (8.1 ppg). Also keep an eye on Rashad Coleman, who spent time at an NAIA school in Georgia, Brewton-Parker, before becoming a 49er. Coleman chose Charlotte over Oklahoma State and Georgia Tech.
  • South Alabama lost only two seniors, albeit their first and third leading scorers, from a squad that went 26-7 en route to an At-Large NCAA Tournament bid. The Jaguars lost to the #7 seed Butler Bulldogs by 20 points in the first round. South Alabama still returns a veteran squad featuring eight seniors and three juniors. Mississippi State will be looking to avenge a 71-67 loss to the Jags in Mobile last year. Demetric Bennett, who dropped 39 points on the Bulldogs that game, was one of the departing seniors. Look for returning leading scorers, Dominic Tilford and Brandon Davis, along with incoming JUCO transfer, LaShun Watson, to shoulder the load.
  • Cincinnati, once a proud program, ESPN analyst Jay Bilas predicts that they will fall in the bottom third of the competitive Big East. The Bearcats finished the season 13-19, ending with a loss to the Bradley Braves in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational (CBI, a college basketball post-season tournament in its inaugural run last year). At one point last year, Cincy had a 13-12 record, 8-5 in the conference, but then lost their final five games. Their best returning player is junior guard, Deonta Vaughn, who averaged 17.3 ppg and 4.2 apg (3.2 to) last year. The Bearcats also add Mike Williams, a transfer from Texas.
  • Nicholls State is the small school from Southeastern Louisiana that BCS schools schedule as an easy win. The Colonels finished 07-08 with 10-21 record, the highlight probably being a 10 point loss to the #1 ranked North Carolina Tarheels in Chapel Hill. They did only lose one senior, fourth leading scorer Adonis Gray, so perhaps Nicholls State won’t be the complete pushover that most would expect. The Colonels field a team that includes five native Australians.
  • San Diego will be one of the better teams the Bulldogs face, and the Bulldogs better be glad it’s a home game. Last year, the Toreros finished 22-14, upset #4 seed Connecticut in the first round of the NCAA tournament, before losing to Western Kentucky in the 2nd round. They upset Gonzaga to win the WCC Conference Tournament. Oh yea, the Toreros return absolutely everyone from last year’s team, including All-WCC 1st teamers, Brandon Johnson and Gyno Pomare. Did I mention they beat Kentucky at Kentucky last year? Ok, so that’s not saying a ton.
  • Houston finished 3rd in CUSA, 22-9 (11-5). The Cougars won at Nevada and beat Valparaiso at home to advance to the final four of the CBI before losing to eventual champion, Tulsa. The best returning player for Tom Penders’ team is junior guard Kelvin Lewis (3rd on the team in scoring in 07-08, 10.2 ppg). Outside of Lewis, three JUCO transfers will look to make up for the loss of four starters.
  • Western Kentucky had a whopping eight seniors on last year’s team, five of them averaged more than 13 minutes per game. Gone is star Courtney Lee (and his 20.4 ppg), who was taken 22nd overall by the Orlando Magic in the NBA draft. He, along with the other departing seniors accounted for 70.5% of the Hilltoppers scoring, and 63% of their rebounding. Western Kentucky’s top returning player will be junior A.J. Slaughter, who averaged 7.6 ppg last season. The Hilltoppers finished 29-7 last season, advancing to the NCAA Sweet 16 as a 12 seed before eventually losing to UCLA by 10 points. With the defections, the Hilltoppers may struggle mightily in 08-09. Last year’s head coach, Darrin Horn, bolted for SEC territory and is now heading the South Carolina Gamecocks.

My gut instinct tells me that the Bulldogs will go 11-4 in their non-conference schedule, making it to the final of the Legends Classic and losing to Pittsburgh. Combine that with my predicted 9-7 SEC record and 20-11 almost seems too optimistic. However, 20 regular season wins is more than attainable, depending on a plethora of factors. If I had to guess, 20-11 does not get the Bulldogs into the NCAA tournament and they would need to help themselves with a strong showing in the SEC tournament. Stay tuned….it will be interesting to see how this young, but very talented, Bulldog team develops.

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