Mississippi State’s Maui Performance Signals a Tough Season for Rick Ray

Posted by KAlmekinder on November 22nd, 2012

The Mississippi State Bulldogs spent earlier this week on the beautiful island of Maui as they participated in the EA Sports Maui Invitational. Among the palm trees, sandy beaches, and perfect waves, the Bulldogs’ lack of productivity in the annual preseason tournament showcased why Rick Ray‘s club, which finished in last place in the event, will have to endure a long and difficult path back to the top of the SEC.

Mississippi State’s woes displayed in Maui is a foreshadowing for the rest of the season (WFAA.com)

The Bulldogs lost all three of their guaranteed games in Maui by an average of 29 points. They averaged only 18 field goals per game, three three-point field goals per game, and, at one point, trailed #9 North Carolina by 49 points on Monday evening. Was this the worst performance from an SEC team in Maui in the last half-decade? Yes. Since 2007, the first year since any one specific school has been in Maui before (Kentucky went in 2006 and 2010), Mississippi State became the first SEC program to finish last in the annual week-of-Thanksgiving tournament. Out of the possible 18 games in the six total years of this research, Mississippi State had three of the five lowest scoring games of any SEC team (averaging 55 points per game). They also allowed opponents three of the five highest scoring games in the six years (averaging 84 points per game).

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SEC Transition Basketball: Mississippi State Bulldogs

Posted by Brian Joyce on September 5th, 2012

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.

Renardo Sidney? Gone. Rick Stansbury? Gone. Regardless of whether or not you see the departures as a positive or negative, the new look Bulldogs might not be a look you’re familiar with.

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.

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SEC Morning Five: 01.12.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on January 12th, 2012

  1. ESPNU will debut the latest in the SEC “Storied” documentary series on February 11 with 40 Minutes of Hell. The film goes behind the scenes on former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson‘s success with the Razorbacks in the early 1990s. The “40 minutes of hell” fast paced and pressing style that Richardson employed in the SEC won him the National Championship in 1994. Richardson’s separation from the university was anything but amicable as he slapped Arkansas with a wrongful termination lawsuit. The Razorbacks hired Richardson’s protege, Mike Anderson, as head coach helping to bring the former coach closer to fans, players, and the University of Arkansas. Not to mention, the hire also brought back a style of play that is modeled after Richardson’s championship winning system.
  2. Senior forward Lance Goulbourne has found his role on Vanderbilt’s roster, and he is making his impact felt on the defensive end. Goulbourne has limited the role of several prominent big men in recent games, holding Marquette’s Jae Crowder to 30.8% shooting and Auburn’s Kenny Gabriel (just to name a couple) to just 2 points on 1-7 shooting. “He’s done an unbelievable job about three games in a row where the team’s best player was the four man,” Vanderbilt guard Brad Tinsley said. “He’s really figured out how to take what the coaches tell him and put that out on the court.” With the return of center Festus Ezeli and solid defense from Jeffery Taylor, Goulbourne’s defense is an added plus for a team known more for its offense. The Commodores’ commitment to the defensive end has their defense ranked ahead of their offense in latest Pomeroy efficiency rankings.
  3. Kentucky coach John Calipari has a theory for why his Wildcats haven’t been effective on the road in the last couple of years. He says the SEC is not an easy league to compete in, and declares that the league could have as many as five teams competing in the Sweet Sixteen. “This league, with the top five teams that we have, that are all NCAA Tournament teams, and really,” said Calipari. “I’ll make a prediction, other than us, of those five, I would say four of those, without us, will be Sweet 16 teams. How about that?” It’s not that far-fetched of a prediction. Vanderbilt and Florida have the talent to compete with anybody in the nation, and Alabama and Mississippi State have both proven its legitimacy within the top 25 teams in the country. And of course, Kentucky, which Calipari didn’t put as a Sweet 16 team, will be competing well into March and most likely early April.
  4. Billy Donovan wasn’t happy with Florida’s defense in its loss against Tennessee, but the Gators played with much more intensity in their win Tuesday night over the Georgia Bulldogs. With all eyes on the defensive end, Florida held the Dogs to just 36.4 percent shooting on the night. Donovan was satisfied this time around. “I thought we defended them very, very well,” Donovan said. “We held them to 48 points. I think if you hold any team to 48 points you’ve done a pretty good job defensively.” The Gators, however, continued to neglect Patric Young in the post, as Young attempted just five shots on the night. If Florida can continue to hold opponents to 48 points, the lack of a post game may be a moot point.
  5. Mississippi State’s big man Renardo Sidney didn’t start on Saturday for the Bulldogs because of a coach’s decision. “I wanted to save him some foul trouble,” head coach Rick Stansbury said. “He had two fouls early in all those games.” The strategy wasn’t very effective as Sidney still committed three fouls in the first half. The fast paced action perpetuated by Arkansas’ full court pressure limited Sidney’s effectiveness. He scored just six points and four rebounds in 22 minutes of play. His replacement in the starting lineup, Wendell Lewis had similar issues. Lewis was limited to two points in 14 minutes of action.
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SEC Morning Five: 12.09.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on December 9th, 2011

  1. Sebastian Pruiti wrote an excellent piece on the pros and cons of Kentucky‘s Anthony Davis, complete with boxes and arrows. Pruiti breaks down how Davis has been able to excel at offensive rebounding, while remaining somewhat limited in defensive rebounding. Davis averages almost three offensive rebounds per game, using his speed and athleticism to chase down the Wildcats’ missed shots on the offensive end. However, those are not the same skills needed to box out an opposing player. Davis’ improvement was noted in the article by showcasing his effort against North Carolina, but effort doesn’t always grab defensive rebounds. Look for Davis to continue to improve over the course of this season as he is tested by stronger low post threats.
  2. Florida may have beaten Arizona 78-72, but the game easily could have gone the other way. Up three with 3.9 seconds left, Billy Donovan instructed Gator forward Casey Prather to foul Arizona forward Solomon Hill for a one-and-one situation. Instead, Hill was ruled to be in the act of shooting and was given three free throws to tie the game.  “He did exactly what we wanted to do,” Donovan said. But of course Donovan and the Gators didn’t agree with the call. “Nobody agreed with the call but you just have to turn around and start focusing on overtime,” Florida guard Brad Beal said. “Basically, just staying composed and playing basketball.”
  3. Freshman BJ Young has stepped in to fill much of the scoring void left by injured Arkansas forward Marshawn Powell. Young scored a career-high 28 points against defending national champion Connecticut. He is averaging 15.4 points per game thus far this year, while shooting an even 50% from the field. Coach Mike Anderson is hoping opposing defenses don’t just zero in on Young. “We have some other options,” Anderson said. “And so hopefully those other options are clicking like he was clicking the other night.” So far for the Razorbacks, those other options haven’t been able to get going on the offensive end.
  4. John Calipari has coached a number of talented teams in his career, but this year’s Cats may be Cal’s best. A rundown of Kentucky’s roster is enough evidence, but it’s Kentucky’s team defense that makes this claim legitimate. The Cats are holding opposing offenses to 32% shooting from the field, and easily outrebounding opponents on the season. While the author calls Kentucky’s game with Indiana on Saturday a “test”, it might be more of a practice run for the true test at the end of this month with in-state rival and top 10 team, the Louisville Cardinals.
  5. Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury has to be happy with the production off the bench from forward Wendell Lewis. Lewis averaged 3.7 points and 3.8 rebounds a game last year, but has increased his numbers to 5.8 points and 5.1 rebounds this year. Bulldogs’ forward Arnett Moultrie gave Lewis some confidence when Lewis needed to step in for the injured Moultrie. “This is your time to step and show the coaches you can play,” Moultrie told Lewis, who showed what he was capable of with 11 points and 11 rebounds, which was good enough for his first career double-double. Lewis has to be knocking on the door of a starting role with starter Renardo Sidney struggling to find his role. Sidney is averaging 8.2 points and 3.5 rebounds per game for the 8-1 Bulldogs.
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Night Line: Mississippi State Shows Its Upside in NYC

Posted by rtmsf on November 18th, 2011

Evan Jacoby is an RTC columnist. 

For the past two seasons, Mississippi State has been a team that’s warranted strong preseason buzz but never lived up to expectations. After a home loss to Akron in its second game this season, it looked like the same old story for these Bulldogs. But just one week later, the outlook of Rick Stansbury’s team has completely changed.

What's Reasonable to Expect From These Bulldogs? (JCL/F. Franklin)

On Friday night, Mississippi State defeated No. 16 Arizona in Madison Square Garden to be crowned champions of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer, one night after it knocked off-No. 18 Texas A&M in the semifinals. MSU used a balanced offensive attack in which eight different players all converted at least two field goals to control this game from the outset. Its depth and talent were on display all night, as veteran leaders Dee Bost and Arnett Moultrie played well and were joined by impressive young reserves Wendell Lewis and Deville Smith. In limited minutes, Moultrie dominated inside to the tune of 19 points and ten rebounds on 8-10 shooting, while senior lead guard Dee Bost racked up eight points, six boards, and five assists.

Watching tonight’s game just makes you wonder how the Bulldogs lost at home to Akron last week. Perhaps we should just accept that this, again, is who Mississippi State is — talented enough to beat ranked teams on back-to-back nights, but undisciplined enough to lose at home to a team from the MAC. MSU’s ability to bounce back from the early upset and improve immediately to win two games over good teams with excellent coaches should leave a real impression on the rest of the SEC and, perhaps, the entire country. The Bulldogs could be ranked in the new Top 25 come Monday, and the buzz will be building again. This team goes eight deep with a combination of experience and youth, and a good mix of size inside and speed on the perimeter.

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Pac-12 Game of the Week: Arizona vs. Mississippi State

Posted by AMurawa on November 18th, 2011

Each week around these parts we’re going to pick one big game involving a Pac-12 team and provide a preview of the game. Last week we took a look at Oregon traveling to Vanderbilt, today we’ll look at a real dog vs. cat matchup as Arizona faces Mississippi State in the final of the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament this evening in New York City.

The Bulldogs (3-1) got to this championship game by racing out to a big 22-point lead in the first ten minutes of Thursday night’s semifinal game against Texas A&M, then hanging on from there to post a nine-point win. MSU hit five three-pointers during the opening ten minutes and made 11 of their first 15 shots from the field, then cooled off considerably, hitting just one of seven three-point attempts in the final 30 minutes of the game and only 28.2% of their field goals over that span. Of those two extremes of shooting, the final 30 minutes probably more accurately reflects MSU’s shooting ability, as the best three-point bombers from last year’s MSU club have graduated. Senior point guard Dee Bost is the Bulldogs’ most important player, team leader and leading scorer (18 PPG), but the real strength of the team lies along their frontline with 6’11” center Arnett Moultrie, much-maligned and underachieving 6’10” power forward Renardo Sidney, and 6’9” reserve big man Wendell Lewis.  The Wildcats will need their veteran forwards Jesse Perry and Solomon Hill, along with freshmen bigs Sidiki Johnson and Angelo Chol, to put in a full night’s work on the glass to keep Arizona in touch.

Dee Bost, Mississippi State

Dee Bost Is The Engine That Makes The Mississippi State Offense Go

While the Wildcats are off to a 4-0 start, they’ve yet to really gel. They needed a big 23-6 in the final seven minutes of their semifinal game with St. John’s to advance, and they’ve struggled to not only replace last year’s two leading scorers, but to fold four freshmen into the mix. Offensively, the Wildcats have been decent, with multiple players chipping in on a nightly basis to provide balanced scoring, but things still remain unsettled. Five players (Kyle Fogg, Hill, Perry, Nick Johnson and Jordin Mayes) have averaged double figure scoring thus far, but this team is still a work in progress, albeit with much upside. Junior wing Kevin Parrom just returned from a gunshot wound suffered in September and has yet to get back to 100%; freshman point guard Josiah Turner is getting slightly more comfortable game by game, but he is still too wild to be completely trusted; and the freshman frontcourt duo of Johnson and Chol has shown some serious flashes but not yet the ability to produce on a consistent basis. Read the rest of this entry »

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RTC Summer Updates: Southeastern Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on August 1st, 2011

With the completion of the NBA Draft and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. Our latest update comes courtesy of our SEC correspondent, Gerald Smith.  This season he will be covering the NCAA Basketball with zeal, nerd-culture references and a fistful of silliness at halftimeadjustment.com. You can also follow him on Twitter (@fakegimel).

Reader’s Take

Summer Storylines

  • One Big, Mostly-Happy Conference: After several years of divisional lopsidedness in conference scheduling and tournament seeding – to the dismay of programs like Alabama — the SEC has merged the West and East divisions for basketball. A 16-game conference schedule, consisting of the same pairings within and across old divisions, remains for the 2011-12 season. Starting with this year’s SEC Tournament, teams will be seeded and awarded first-round byes by their overall conference record. The most vocal dissenter against peace, conference unity and love was Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury. He argued unsuccessfully that divisional championships create excitement for the fans. MSU athletics must have sold some awesome merchandise for Coach Stansbury’s six SEC West Division championships.
  • Too Much of a Good Thing? - Stansbury also argued that a united 12-team conference won’t produce a true champion unless each team plays a full 22-game home and away conference schedule. In July’s coaches’ conference call, some SEC coaches (South Carolina’s Darrin Horn & LSU’s Trent Johnson) agreed, but wonder if such a schedule is feasible. Other coaches (Kentucky’s John Calipari & Alabama’s Anthony Grant) believe that teams should worry more about strengthening their non-conference scheduling and RPI ratings. Increasing the schedule to at least 18 games would placate athletic directors and the SEC’s broadcast partners, but would add further scheduling imbalance and hysteria. In meetings, the decision to increase the number of conference games was postponed until after the 2011-12 season. The SEC coaches will meet again later in August to debate their options.
  • Missouri Newbies - Two coaches previously employed in the Show-Me State join the SEC during this period of conference remodeling. As an assistant under former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson, new Arkansas coach Mike Anderson became very familiar with the “40 Minutes of Hell” system (and Coach Richardson’s snakeskin boot collection). After stops with UAB and Missouri, Anderson returned to Fayetteville to replace John Pelphrey.
  • Caught lying to cover-up his impermissible BBQ — mmmm… impermissible BBQ… *gurgle noise* — Tennessee was forced to fire Bruce Pearl. Missouri State’s Cuonzo Martin was hired to fill Pearl’s vacated orange blazer. With his athletic director resigning and additional NCAA penalties applied to his program, Martin may long for his past days in Springfield.

A major growth spurt led to a similar shoot up the 2011 high school rankings for Kentucky's Anthony Davis. (Sam Forencich/USA Basketball)

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