Live thread: men’s basketball media day

At 1:30 today, Mississippi State basketball will host its preseason media day. Ben Howland and several players will be speaking to reporters as the Bulldogs prepare for their season-opener on November 13th.

We will have live updates here as events and interviews unfold, beginning with Howland.

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And he’s here!

Update from Howland on injuries, Malik Newman has turf toe, Fallou Ndoye broke his nose and sprained his ankle, then Travis Daniels had his wisdom teeth removed.

“We have a lot to do and a long way to go,” Howland says of the upcoming season.

The injuries have slowed things, but MSU has been able to go five-on-five for the most part. The last dozen practices they’ve been able to do so. Howland says having a good group of walk-ons has made that easier.

“It’s been a challenge,” he says.

Asked about the guards, Howland is confident in the group he has and the rotation of five guys he has for those three spots. With so much depth, they’re even playing Demetrius Houston some at the four, who has been one of MSU’s best rebounders

“I like our guards,” Howland says. “That’s where our depth is.”

Getting into the team as a whole, Howland says the seniors are the guys who drive the team. There are five of them and he has that group lead drills every practice. Said he’s pleased with their attitude as leaders and the way their embracing things.

Those older guys, Howland says, are adjusting to a new system, but they have experience playing college basketball and that makes a big difference as they try to lead and help the younger guys. He says the jump from high school to SEC is bigger than most young guys realize and that will be the biggest adjustment they have to make.

Asked about his expectations for freshmen guards Malik Newman and Quindarry Weatherspoon, Howland says, “to play really good.” Went on to say the biggest thing they have to learn and improve on is defense. Says they can’t gamble too much and have to learn to play responsible defense.

“They’re going to have big roles and we expect big things,” he said.

In the post, Howland says he’s asking Gavin Ware to be an inside scoring threat and get more buckets around the basket. Howland said Ware has been one of MSU’s best and most consistent scorers in practice.

“He’s critical to us offensively,” Howland said of Ware. “He’s gotta get better defensively.”

Howland says, at one point, Ware shot 58 of 75 from the field in a streak of four practices.

“He has great touch for his size.”

As for the possibilities of this season, Howland says the goal of every team is to be in the field of 68 and make the NCAA Tournament, but adds the team doesn’t talk about that. Plan is to take games as they come and hope the results add up by the end of the season.

Who will be MSU’s starting five when the season starts? “I have an idea, but I’m not ready to share it with you,” he says with a smile.

And that’s it for Howland.

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