At 10 a.m., Rick Ray will meet with the media for his final Monday press conference of the season. Mississippi State plays Vanderbilt on Wednesday in the first round of the SEC Tournament.
Live updates to follow.
In preparation for Vandy, Ray says they’ve watched the film of MSU’s regular-season game against them five or six times already.
One issue, Ray said, is how many sets the Commodores have on offense. He says they can’t prepare for all of them, just have to be ready to handle it. Ray believes VU’s Kevin Stallings to be one of the best coaches in the SEC.
Coming off a losing streak, Ray says the team has to have a couple short, upbeat practices before heading to Atlanta.
Ray did say he expects Vanderbilt to play zone defense against the Bulldogs, as teams have been apt to do.
Asked what positives he takes from first two years at MSU, he says the perception of the program has improved significantly. He said coaches around the conference and country now say how tireless the team is and how much effort they give. That’s not the ultimate goal, Ray says, but a good start for where they are.
Interesting hearing Ray talk about freshman point guard IJ Ready. Ray says he’s a very good shooter and that a full offseason of strength and conditioning will give him the legs and stamina to be more consistent next year.
On Ready, Ray says, “We want him to be more of a scorer for us.”
Two things Ray says he will finally have next year: “legitimate competition at every position … And my favorite teacher – the bench.”
Two-sport star De’Runnya Wilson is done with basketball for the season. Ray says he had a little bit of a groin issue – nothing serious – and also that he really hasn’t had a break since fall football camp started. Ray said he knows Wilson’s future is in football, wants to make sure he’s fully prepared for spring practices.
Looking ahead, Ray says all signees will be on campus for the second summer session beginning in July. Said graduation dates at high schools make it difficult for them to enroll in July.
On walk-on guard Tevin Moore, Ray says he’s still not doing anything in practice other than some warm-ups on the side.
Ray: “I really think you can’t anticipate playing two years – your first with six or seven scholarship guys and your second with seven or eight.”
What should fans look forward to next year? “A full roster. And not just a full roster, but a full competitive roster … We’ll finally look like an SEC team.”
“I think there’s a lot to be excited about with the program. I know you guys can’t always see that because you don’t see what I do in practice in every day. I’m excited about Fallou [Ndoye] and Travis [Daniels].”
“Some of the things we have trouble with in our defensive rotation, we’ll have numbers now.”
On how roster has affected his coaching: “We’ve got good kids on our team, but everybody needs to be able to go to the bench and learn … We need the threat of a guy not being in the rotation.”
Talking to players, IJ Ready says they have to forget about everything that’s happened and go into the Tourney with a new mindset.
“We really have nothing to lose … If we go out and get a couple wins that’ll give us a confidence boost.”
Ready says Craig sWord talked to the team once the bracket came out, encouraging them and making sure everyone was in the right place mentally. It’s a new season.
In the offseason, Ready says he’ll eat better, try to put on weight and stay in the gym more to make sure his body is ready.
“Right now, we haven’t been making a high percentage of jump shots,” Ready said, “and I know that’s where I can help from. Coming off the screens, hitting jump shots. I’ve gotta make sure I’m automatic.”