At 3:15 p.m., Rick Ray will adress the media in his weekly press conference, followed by select players.
Mississippi Stat begins SEC play this week, opening on the road at Kentucky and opening at home against Ole Miss.
Updates to follow.
“I’m proud of the fact that we got to 10 wins already, considering we got 10 wins all of last year, but we’ve got a really daunting task in front of us,” Ray says.
Key to early season success, Ray says, is guys understanding and embracing their roles. “We’re not a great shooting team,” he says, but guys have played smarter and maturity has paid off big.
Looking at the roster with only eight healthy scholarship guys, ray says the biggest hole is “the emergency four spot.” Depth in the front court is not what he’d like it to be, though the top three there certainly are talented.
As for Kentucky, Ray says the biggest challenge will be in that front court. Wildcats are a great rebounding team, good defensive team and have talented players in the post who can both score and draw fouls, making Kentucky a difficult matchup for anyone, MSU included.
On freshman football player De’Runnya Wilson, Ray says he hasn’t talked to Wilson or Dan Mullen about it yet. “It’s kind of a wait-and-see pattern on that.”
Interesting hearing Ray talk about the high volume of transfers in college basketball, this coming after Dre Applewhite just transferred away from MSU. Ray certainly feels it’s something that’s become too prevalent and thinks the best would be to make a blanket rule that all transfers have to sit out a year.
“The NCAA has kind of painted itself into a corner, though,” Ray said.
Once one guy is allowed to transfer without sitting, Ray says so many others come behind wanting to do the same. Interesting issue and one “that doesn’t mean anything negative about any program.” He called it a “microwave society” problem with players wanting instant results.
Asked about MSU’s early success in not committing too many fouls, despite rule changes, Ray said a lot of it has to do with scouting and a good bit to do with maturity and getting players in positions that don’t set them up to fail.
Redshirt freshman Jacoby Davis has been playing more at the two spot, which Ray says has mostly been out of necessity. “But that’s not what he is. He’s a point guard.”
The difference being that IJ Ready and Trivante Bloodman have been playing well, so it’s better to have Davis where he can be used, rather than playing hardly at all if he were one of three point guards.
Chatting with players now.
Biggest difference and the reason Craig Sword has made such a big leap? Maturity, according to senior teammate Colin Borchert.
Borchert adds he is confidence in teammates outside of Sword. “We’re all well-rounded,” he said, “but we do still need Chicken to score.”
Borchert was proud of himself and team for scoring so much and winning in last game despite only three points from Sword.
“I feel like we can go in there and get the win, if we play together,” Fred Thomas says of Kentucky. “We can win.”
He credits maturity and experience for the confidence.
Quite the understatement from Sword on Kentucky: “They’re gonna have some good players.”
Says the key will be playing hard, being smart and not getting flustered.
Sword on scoring three in last game, said “Gavin was having a great night, so we just kept feeding him.” Said the Bulldogs have a lot of people who can score, no reason to stop them and be selfish if they’re doing it.
Will opponents try and stop Sword from getting to the basket?
“If they do that, I’ve been working on my jump shot.”
He’s not concerned with teams taking away one part of his game, says assistant coach George Brooks has helped him work on shooting, particularly the mid-range, getting better form, timing and selection. Sword said he stays after nearly every practice and takes an extra 200 shots.