This week has been slow as far as game action goes around the athletic department, with finals happening on campus keeping the student-athletes, emphasis on student in this case, away from their various courts and fields.
Downstairs at the Bryan Building, however, things have been quite busy in the ticket office. As of 10 a.m. today, Mississippi State had sold just over 15,000 tickets to the Liberty Bowl, just under 1,000 shy of its 16,000 allotment. Remaining tickets, of course, are available at HailState.com/tickets.
Steve Erhart, Executive Director of the Liberty Bowl, visited with Bulldog Sports Radio earlier this week (link here) and his comments then are backed up by the numbers today – those in Memphis have been eyeing MSU all year and were thrilled to be able to select the Bulldogs, knowing how well State fans typically travel. It would seem their Christmas wish has been answered.
On a related Liberty note, Erhart also confirmed that cowbells will be allowed for the game, under the provision that those ringing them follow the SEC rules in place at MSU home games. Appropriate, as Dan Mullen has now twice called for “a home crowd” in Memphis, which he is likely to receive.
This afternoon, the actual preparation for the game begins as the Bulldogs have their first bowl practice. This one is closed to the public, though not much will truly be happening in their first action since the Egg Bowl over two weeks ago.
Saturday (10-noon), Sunday (6-8), Monday (1:30-3:30) and Tuesday (10:30-12:30) practices are open to the public, should anyone like to go. One result of that, naturally, will be media coverage and reporting from practice.
The early bowl practices, however, reveal very little about the game itself or those who will play in it. Those with even the most minor of bumps and bruises will be limited, while the early goings are a showcase opportunity for young players, particularly those who haven’t played, mostly freshmen and sophomores.
It’s a good opportunity to get a look at those will be more involved in the game plans in years to come, so I’ll certainly have an eye on them.
Later tonight, basketball returns, as Rick Ray’s team hosts Southeastern Louisiana in Tupelo at the BancorpSouth Arena. The game starts at 7 and ought to be an interesting one. Ray has talked this week about the possibility of shuffling his lineup and changing some things around to get the production he wants.
Sophomore Craig Sword has been on a tear recently, which I imagine will continue, but I would think pretty much everyone else is up for change, be it IJ Ready or Andre Applewhite taking starting positions or moving some things around in the front court with Gavin Ware, Colin Borchert and Roquez Johnson.
With only two losses, MSU has mostly played well, but its last outing against TCU left Ray (as well as the team) disappointed.
Back to football for a moment, a few handfuls of postseason awards and honors have been received by MSU players, the most recent and noteworthy being Chris Jones named to Coaches All-SEC Freshman Team and Gabe Jackson being named a Walter Camp All-American, a very prestigious honor.
Oh, and a quick baseball note in the dead of winter. Baseball America released their Top 100 College Baseball Players list, and MSU’s pitching staff had three make the list, in case you needed some encouragement for State’s arms this spring. Brandon Woodruff, Jacob Lindgren and Jonathan Holder all made the list.
Another spring note: junior golfer Ally McDonald came in at No. 8 in the world women’s amateur rankings last week. Not U.S., not college, but world. The whole thing.
In end-of-the-season news, MSU’s volleyball team, for the first time ever, had two players named All-Region, with Roxanne McVey and Kimmy Gardiner both receiving the honor.
And one more reminder as the notes finish, that there will be an in-state contest in The Hump tomorrow at 7 when the women’s basketball team hosts Southern Miss.
Lastly, and just in case you needed some holiday cheer, this is a picture of Johnthan Banks singing Christmas carols at a Tampa retirement home and video of me and sophomore outfielder Jacob Robson talking about Harry Potter, because why not.