Let’s finish these off this week with the last few of what we’re calling it Transition Basketball, an offseason look at each of the 14 SEC basketball programs. Today’s update: Mississippi State.
State of the Program
After starting last season 19-5, Mississippi State’s year didn’t turn out quite like head coach Rick Stansbury had hoped. The Bulldogs were cruising through the early part of the year behind tireless forward Arnett Moultrie and senior guard Dee Bost. After getting vindication with a home victory over rival Mississippi, however, the Bulldogs fell apart by suffering through a five-game losing streak late in SEC play. For a team that was nationally ranked and looked to be on cruise control for an NCAA berth, a 2-7 record to finish out the year was quite the letdown. MSU then lost to Georgia in the first round of the SEC Tournament, and proceeded to lose to Massachusetts in the first round of the NIT. That team gave up on Stansbury. And Mississippi State gave up on itself.
Quick, name one player on next year’s Mississippi State roster? We’re waiting. Can’t do it? Yeah, didn’t think so. Well, that’s because not a single starter from last year remains in Starkville. Moultrie was a first round NBA Draft pick and will play in the big leagues next season. Bost and Brian Bryant graduated. Freshman Rodney Hood transferred to Duke. Deville Smith transferred. Renardo Sidney is most likely being Renardo Sidney somewhere. Six of the Bulldogs’ top seven scorers will be somewhere other than Starkville next season. That leaves Jalen Steele and Wendell Lewis as the only returning players who averaged more than one point per game. The 2011-12 season was frustrating for Bulldogs’ fans, but the first year under new coach Rick Ray might be downright depressing.