Believe it or not, today was the first time that new Mississippi State basketball coach Rick Ray sat down for an actual press conference with the local media. Naturally, it was a longer affair and we gleaned several good nuggets of information and opinion from the head coach.
One of the more important news items came in reference to the point guard position. Freshman Jacoby Davis likely would’ve been the starter, but he tore his ACL late this summer and will miss the season.
In his stead, freshman guard Craig Sword will be playing point guard this year, along with Trivante Bloodman, who has one year of college experience.
Sword may be more of a natural shooting guard, but Ray said he feels confident in his ability to run the point.
As for his frontcourt, Ray said junior college transfer forward Colin Borchert has put on around 15 pounds of weight, giving him a little more muscle to bump around at the four-spot. Ray said he expects Borchert to grab hold of that starting position.
Kris Zeidaks, a Latvian transfer who sat out last year and will miss the first 11 games of this season, is one of the more physical players on the team, according to Ray. He said Zeidaks’ size and presence makes him look “like an SEC player,” while he also has good touch shooting and is a force rebounding.
Freshman center Gavin Ware, Ray says, arrived on campus at 290 pounds, but strength coach Richard Akins has him down to 273, with an ultimate goal of 260 pounds.
Ray also discussed the “resmorseful” attitude of Sword, who was arrested on campus for having a BB gun in his dorm earlier this summer. Ray said he’s waiting on the details, but said, “If you want to, you can come run with Craig with Coach Akins in the morning and see the disciplinary action there.”
On the scheduling front, Ray offered mixed reviews for the recently completed non-conference schedule. The Bulldogs open the season on the road at Troy, something Ray said was done before he got to campus.
“I don’t think there’s any BCS schools opening up on the road against a mid-major,” Ray said.
If he had it his way, MSU would be playing at home when they open the season.
One road trip is fine with Ray, however. He said both he and his players are excited about playing in Hawaii later this year.
“I think the most important thing is the Maui Invitational,” Ray said when asked about the schedule. “I think any young man grows up wanting to play in Maui.”
Ray said it is an opportunity for his current players, as well as something prospects like to see when he’s on the road recruiting.
A pair of other notes arose, as well.
Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams will be getting new uniforms this year, likely to be unveiled on October 12.
Why October 12? That’s the date for Maroon Madness, the celebrated opening of practice for the basketball season.
Oh, and Ray will continue to countdown his favorite movies on his Twitter timeline. Surprisingly, in my eyes anyway, he listed Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith as his 10th favorite film.
He did clarify, of course, that it’s not the best Star Wars movie, as any proper nerd or Han Solo fan will tell you. The reason Ray so loved the movie was his excitement over seeing young Anakin Skywalker turn into the terrible Darth Vader.
“Is it better than Return of the Jedi and all those? No,” Ray said. “I just really wanted to see him put the mask on.”
The Force is strong with this one.