At 2 p.m. today, Mississippi State basketball coach Rick Ray will hold his weekly press conference. The Bulldogs host Florida on Thursday night and travel to Vanderbilt on Saturday.
Live updates to follow.
Good to get back home after struggles on the road, Ray says, but the problem is the return means facing No. 3 Florida.
On the Gators, Ray says they play fast on offense, an up-tempo ball screen motion. Defensively, Ray says UF will make mistakes, but their rotation does a good job of covering those up and keeping other teams out of the paint.
For his own team, Ray says one of the keys is in the post, where he only has “one true post presence” in Gavin Ware. Says Ware needs to be quicker, part of his foul trouble has been trying to catch up when he’s behind.
On De’Runnya Wilson, Ray says he’s obviously still learning the offense and defense, but that he works hard and is a big, physical presence in the game.
Ray also says Bear is getting along well with the rest of the team and becoming a part of the group.
“He’s a great kid,” Ray said.
One thing Ray has told Wilson is that he has to be ready when one of three forwards needs a sub or gets in foul trouble. Wilson told Ray “I don’t wanna come in and be a star, I just want to help the team.”
Ray says Florida coach Billy Donovan runs a fair bit of full court press. “He changes up the defense,” Ray said, “but I just think they’re a phenomenal defensive team.”
On Fred Thomas, Ray said he’s done a good job “trying to decipher what’s a good shot and what’s a bad shot,” though he does wish Thomas would utilize his shot-fake a bit more.
Ray: “My biggest concern is what we’re doing to be competitive on the road. Once we get competitive on the road, we can start talking about winning those big games on the road.”
Chatting with Gavin Ware now, who says the loss to Ole Miss is something they have to learn from. Says they went in with a lot of confidence and disappointed themselves.
“Sometimes we have no heart,” Ware said of road struggles. “We have to find that piece that we’re missing to be able to win on the road.”
Ware says the players had a team meeting where everyone shared their weaknesses and strengths.
“I think that brought everybody closer together,” Ware said.
His strength is scoring in the post, weakness is defense.
Craig Sword in the press room now chatting with media. On the starting five at Ole Miss, he says, “We weren’t competing at all. We weren’t playing hard at all.”
On the players’ meeting, Sword says it’s not about the team falling apart, just a chance for them to remind each other what they bring to the team and the mindset they need.
Sword adds, personally, “I’ve gotta work on my shot more … I’ve gotta do more than drive.”
Bear. In the press room. Thought you ought to know.
Wilson: “It’s a great experience. Transitioning from football to basketball is tough.”
Wilson says he’ll lift with the football team and practice with the basketball team.
Asked when he decided to play both sports, Wilson interrupted the question and said, “When I decided to come here. That’s one of the reasons I came, so I could play both sports.”
More Wilson: “Craig Sword is like a brother to me. I really want to help the team.”
On football shape compared to basketball shape, Wilson says, “There really ain’t no difference. It’s more of a mindset.”
On new strength coach Rick Court with the football team, Wilson says “I like him a lot. Juice Boy.”
Wilson half joke, half serious: “I’m really good in baseball, a lot of people don’t know. Third base…I can pitch.”
Jacoby Davis chatting with us now, saying Ray has been working with the point guards on attacking the basket more.
Preparing for Florida, Davis says they’ll probably play a lot with two point guards in to try and break Florida’s press.