Archive for January, 2009

Blog Bag Answers … Finally

January 31, 2009

Finally, here it is, this week’s answers to your questions. But let us begin with some excerpts from an interview I conducted with AD Greg Byrne on Friday. I asked him some questions y’all had about video boards and uniforms and such.

Byrne said the football video board should have all the finishing touches put on it by the spring game, which is April 18. As for the baseball board, it has HD capability, but the games won’t be shot in HD this year because the control room is not yet HD compatible. Byrne said the plan is to streamline the video boards. “Eventually what we’ll do is we’re going to combine our baseball and basketball production room with our football production room, and just run a fiber optic cable and have it in one central location, and move all the HD equipment in there.”

I asked him about having ribbon displays in the football stadium, but he said that’s way down the priority list right now.

Now, the uniforms. Byrne said the school and Adidas are still trying to decide when the unveil them. “They look great,” he said. “Lot of trim. I mean, they look good. They look sharp. … I think no matter your taste, I think you’ll be OK with it.”

Now, on to the rest of the questions.

Q: Though it’s early in the SEC season, looks like the West winner has a better than average shot at the SEC title since the West teams play each other twice and the East teams once. Kentucky, Florida and Tennessee may end up beating each other up with the “best” in the west having a better SEC record. Thoughts?
A: The SEC West’s only hope, right now, to win the overall is LSU. Mississippi State, despite that loss to Ole Miss, should make some noise (and so will those Rebels). Hard to say which division is better, because neither impresses me much right now.

Q: Call some of these commits and ask them what they expect of themselves.
A: Well, I got Tyler Russell. Hope that suffices for now: “I think that this class that we’re getting right now, if everybody stays together and everybody signs and we do go to State, I think it’ll be one of the best classes Mississippi State has had in a long time, if not the best. All of us know each other and we played together in the all-star game, and I think it’s going to work out real good. I’m looking forward to it.”

Q: When does the new merchandise go on sale?
A: See last week’s Blog Bag.

Q: What would you do for a Klondike Bar?
A: Shave my head. Oh, wait …

Q: What’s the status on Brandon McRae?
A: I keep getting this question, and I’m sorry I don’t have an answer yet. I pinkie swear I’ll find out first thing next week.

Q: How’s Robert Elliott’s rehab going?
A: See above answer.

Q: With the commitment of Billy Hamilton, could this be a trend of multisport athletes at MSU?
A: I wasn’t able to get ahold of John Cohen, so I’ll have to let all baseball questions carry over to next week. But at this level, you won’t see this happen often.

Q: Josh Boyd will help, but might we see an offensive lineman converted to give us more size/depth in the middle of the defensive line?
A: Coach Dan Mullen said he hasn’t spent any time worrying about positions and such. But I don’t think the offensive line can afford to give up anyone.

Q: When does spring practice begin for the football team?
A: March 23 or 24.

Q: Is Rockey Felker on the new coaching staff or not? Does he have some other role in the athletic department?
A: Mullen hasn’t yet established specific roles for everyone, but Felker’s on the staff, and he was introduced with the rest of them at halftime of a basketball game a few days ago.

Q: What does a typical recruiting weekend consist of, and how does Dan Mullen differ from Sylvester Croom in that aspect, if any?
A: Can’t tell you how they differentiate, but basically, they tour the campus and facilities, go to a basketball game – where they are paraded in front of the fans, as they were today – meet with academic people and president Mark Keenum. And eat. A lot. Two weeks ago, recruits were shown something on the big video board that got them fired up.

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Hoops: Ole Miss 67, MSU 63

January 31, 2009

For the first time in 11 years, Ole Miss won at Humphrey Coliseum. The Rebels overcome an early 25-12 deficit and held on for their second straight win against a division leader (they beat Kentucky on Tuesday). Terrico White scored 18 for Ole Miss (12-9, 3-4 SEC); Ravern Johnson led State (14-7, 4-2) with 20, but 15 of those came before halftime.

Two key players were missing for MSU: Elgin Bailey and Brian Johnson, both of whom were suspended for the game for missing curfew. When asked if the suspension would be longer than one game, coach Rick Stansbury said, “I’ll make the decision.” He didn’t say when he’d make it.

The absence of those two crippled MSU’s inside game. Center Jarvis Varnado, who played 33 minutes, scored just 8 points on 2-of-5 shooting. He was spent after chasing his man around; Ole Miss did a good job screening and moving the ball. “I thought Jarvis really got worn out,” Stansbury said.

MSU shot 31.5 percent from the field, including 29.0 percent (9-31) from 3-point range. Ole Miss hit 41.4 percent of its shots, 36.0 from downtown. Four players scored in double figures for Ole Miss.

Some quotes now, starting with Stansbury:

• On losing the rebounding battle, 42-33: “They won the war of us playing small and them playing big. Phil Turner didn’t have one of his better days.”

• On shot selection: “I really think that once Ole Miss got the lead, I thought we pressed a little bit. I thought we tensed up and tried to get it back too quick, too soon.”

• On PG Dee Bost (13 points): “You want him attacking that zone, sometimes he’ll make some, sometimes he won’t. We probably wish he’d attacked it more than he did.”

Ravern Johnson:

• On his second-half struggles: “They play zone the first half, I knock down a lot of shots. Second half, they stretch the  zone our more toward me, they’re not doubling down, they’re not helping off.”

Varnado:

• On his game: “They packed the zone in, focusing on me. I’ve just got to find other ways to score, get it off the glass.”

Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy:

• On guard play: “We were hopeful we could get the lead and make them play from behind. They’ve got young guards as well. Dee Bost, it’s his first time through this league. We wanted to make them make some decisions with the ball.”

• Overcoming the early deficit: “We’ve been in big holes before, unfortunately, we’re pretty experienced about falling behind early. I’m glad to see we’re learning some lessons from that.”

• On Rebels’ inside game: “We have got to be the aggressor, we’ve got to grind them out, and today was an example of that.”

Ole Miss at MSU: Official Game Thread

January 31, 2009

I’m sitting next to fellow Journalite Parrish Alford, who’s also blogging on the game, FYI. Just minutes from tipoff, and I’m interested to see how these teams respond to what occurred the past week. Ole Miss, of course, upset Kentucky on Tuesday. Letdown time? MSU hasn’t played since beating Georgia a week ago, so the Bulldogs will be either rusty or refreshed.

Anyway, here is the pregame capsule.

TV: Raycom. Live Internet streaming at ESPN360.com.
XM: Channel 199.
Series: MSU leads 133-104.
Last year: MSU, 88-68 in Starkville; Ole Miss, 74-63 in Oxford.
Coaches: Ole Miss – Andy Kennedy (77-46, fourth year; 56-44, third year at Ole Miss). MSU – Rick Stansbury (222-121, 11th year).
Notes: The Rebels’ last win in Starkville was Feb. 21, 1998. Keith Carter, now a radio analyst with the Ole Miss network, had 20 points and 10 rebounds to lead an 82-78 victory. … Rebel freshman Terrico White is averaging 14.7 points in SEC games, second on the team and 11th in the league. … David Huertas is averaging 19.6 points. If he maintains that pace he finish as the highest-scoring Ole Miss player since Joe Harvell’s 25.0 points per game in 1992. … MSU freshman Dee Bost is third in the SEC with 4.5 assists per game. … Junior center Jarvis Varnado continues to lead the nation with 4.9 blocks per game.

Probable Starters
Ole Miss (11-9, 2-4 SEC)

C – Malcolm White    6-9    So.    6.4 ppg
G – David Huertas    6-5    So.    19.6 ppg
G – Terrico White    6-5    Fr.    9.9 ppg
G – Zach Graham    6-6    So.    7.4 ppg
F – DeAundre Cranston    6-9    Jr.    3.1 ppg
Top Reserves: G Will Bogan, F Terrance Henry, F Murphy Holloway.

Mississippi State (14-6, 4-1 SEC)
C – Jarvis Varnado     6-9    Jr.    13.0 ppg
G – Ravern Johnson    6-7    So.    12.5 ppg
G – Dee Bost    6-2    Fr.    9.7 ppg
G – Barry Stewart    6-2    Jr.    10.6 ppg
G – Phil Turner    6-3    So.    7.7 ppg
Top Reserves: F Romero Osby, F Elgin Bailey, G Riley Benock

Lunchtime Hoops

January 31, 2009

It’s going to be rather crowded around Humphrey Coliseum today. Several football recruits are visiting, and of course Mississippi State has a game against this team from Oxford, at noon. Yeah, it’s big. How big? MSU basketball SID Gregg Ellis said he’s issued 66 media credentials, and that doesn’t included the 40 or so for the Raycom folks. Students are braving the cold, camping outside The Hump in hopes of getting a seat.

MSU (14-6, 4-1 SEC) is trying to remain tied with LSU for first place in the Western Division. Ole Miss (11-9, 2-4) hopes to build off Tuesday’s 85-80 upset of No. 24 Kentucky. Here’s a look at the matchup.

Now, I’d best finish my breakfast (reheated pizza) and hit the road. Need to procure a seat in the workroom. See you there.

Blog Bag Postponed

January 30, 2009

In short, today got away from me. Heck, I’m still waiting on my supper at IHOP. Anyway, rest assured I will have a Blog Bag for y’all, but not until Saturday night. Thanks for your patience.

On the Link … Yeah, Just One

January 30, 2009

The pushing back of the 3-point line – from 19 feet, 9 inches to 20-9 – has had an effect on the college game. What kind of effect and how much? Depends on who you talk to, as I write in my story examining the issue. Had some good leftover quotes about it that didn’t make the story.

• Kentucky coach Billy Gillespie: “I don’t think there’s as many teams shooting it well, but it could be personnel, it could be a number of things.”

• Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl: “I wasn’t in favor of the line moving back. I thought it was pretty good where it was.”

• Auburn coach Jeff Lebo, on good 3-point shooters: “I don’t think it’s a big deal for them. I think there was a short period of time, I think they’ve already adjusted to it. Now, you move it back any further, I think it will become more of an issue.”

I’d love to stick around, but I’ve got much work to do. I’ll check in later with the Blog Bag.

Report: Croom to St. Louis

January 29, 2009

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting that former MSU football coach Sylvester Croom will join the St. Louis Rams, probably as running backs coach. Croom spent 17 seasons as an NFL assistant before coming to MSU before the 2004 season. After leaving State, he said he’d like to stay in the college game.

St. Louis is in a head coaching transition, with Steve Spagnuolo now at the reins of a team that went 2-14 this season.

Dennis Felton Fired, with Reaction

January 29, 2009

As you’ve probably heard by now, Georgia has fired basketball coach Dennis Felton. Here is the latest story on it. Interim coach Peter Hermann just fielded questions on the SEC coaches teleconference. Said Hermann, “It’s not a good day for the Georgia program. We don’t feel it’s in the best interests of the team and the players and everyone preparing for games when a decision is made like this. But that’s the prerogative of the administration in charge at the time.”

Georgia is 9-11 overall and 0-5 in SEC play. The Bulldogs fell 83-57 to Florida last night. In five-plus seasons, Felton had a record of 84-91. He led UGA to an unexpected SEC Tournament championship and NCAA tournament berth last season, but that obviously didn’t carry over.

Georgia plays next on Saturday – against Alabama, which fired Mark Gottfried on Monday. Hermann said he figures they’ll call this “The Interim Game.” Philip Pearson is coaching Bama for now.

It’s quite unusual to see basketball coaches fired at midseason, but it happened last year, too, with John Brady and LSU. “All three of those guys had won at a high level at various places,” said Trent Johnson, Brady’s replacement. “All of a sudden they became a bad coach? I don’t know, it’s just disturbing. This business is what it is.”

Needed: Your Help

January 29, 2009

Hey, people. Nothing major from yours truly in today’s Journal, but plenty to come in the near future. One story I’m working on is how Web sites like Rivals and Scout figure into the football recruiting process. I’ve talked to players, coaches, and writers from those sites. And now I need to hear from you.

I’m looking for two or three fans to interview, fans who subscribe to one or both of those sites and closely follow recruiting. You’ll have to divulge your real name, of course, and where you live. (In case you’re wondering, I won’t be letting anyone know what your screen name is in the story.) If you’re interested, e-mail me at brad.locke@djournal.com, and we can set up an interview – via phone, e-mail, IM, whatever works for you.

And by the way, you don’t have to be an MSU fan to participate. In fact, I’m looking for a little variety. So there you go.

Some breaking news, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia basketball coach Dennis Felton might be on the way out. There’s an 11 a.m. (local time, 10 here) press conference scheduled “to discuss the men’s basketball program,” according to the story. Wonder if he’ll be on the teleconference later?

I do have an MSU-related link I’d like to share. I heard recently that Auburn commit Brandon Heavens, a receiver from Jess Lanier, Ala., High School was showing an interest in the Bulldogs. As The Birmingham News reports, Heavens is coming to Starkville for an official visit this weekend, and he has no other offers besides Auburn and State.

Jacquiese Holcombe Suspended

January 28, 2009

Junior forward Jacquiese Holcombe has been suspended indefinitely by coach Rick Stansbury, an MSU spokesman confirmed this afternoon. No specific reason was given, but Holcombe is still on the team. Stansbury is not commenting on it.

Odd thing is, Holcombe is going to be redshirted this season because of a stress fracture of his left tibia. He played in seven games early this season, averaging 3.0 points and 2.0 rebounds per game. He’s remained active even on the bench, drawing praise from teammates for his enthusiasm, which has been evident to even casual observers. He could be seen leading a Maroon & White cheer late in State’s win over Alabama a couple of weeks ago. “He gives us a lot of energy every game,” starting guard Barry Stewart said that night.

Holcombe (6-foot-5, 205 pounds) transferred in this year from Georgia Perimeter College, where he was a second-team All-American and the Region 17 Player of the Year.

Signing Day Plans

January 28, 2009

Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen will be in Starkville and Jackson on National Signing Day, which is next Wednesday. He’ll attend a 2 p.m. gathering at the Griffis Boardroom on the MSU campus; fans get free admission and free food. Mullen will speak at about 2:30. At 6:30, Mullen and AD Greg Byrne will be at the Mississippi Agriculture & Forestry Museum’s Forestry Auditorium; cost is $10, and doors open at 6.

Several MSU assistants will also be around the state: Tony Hughes, Les Koenning and Reed Stringer will go to The Chili House in Meridian (6 p.m., $5 admission); Rockey Felker and Mark Hudspeth will speak at Romie’s Grocery in Tupelo (5 p.m., $15).

Information courtesy MSU media relations.

On the Links: Hoops & Recruiting

January 28, 2009

Well, Saturday’s Ole Miss-Mississippi State game just got a lot more interesting. Any of you watch the Rebels stun Kentucky last night, 85-80? I’ve gotta go back and give it a look. Thank heaven for DVR.

As for MSU, it has no mid-week game. But I took a closer look at an interesting trend in regards to the Bulldogs’ scorers – a tale of two halves, if you will. Ravern Johnson, for instance, is averaging 9.4 points in the first half of SEC games, compared to 3.0 in the second half. He’s been shut out in the second half in three of MSU’s five SEC games. But others have picked up the slack, like Jarvis Varnado, who’s averaging 8.2 points in the second half (13.4 total).

Now, to the gridiron. My opinion offering today was some high praise for new coach Dan Mullen‘s recruiting efforts. The big question: How will it translate to the field of play? Signing Day is a week away, so a good bit of work remains.

Looking Ahead

January 27, 2009

I suggest y’all turn on ESPN at 6 p.m. to watch Kentucky at Ole Miss. Sure, it could be a blowout, but those are Mississippi State’s next two opponents. The Wildcats are the only team with an unblemished SEC mark, and who knows, Jodie Meeks might go off for 54 again. As for the Rebels, I know y’all hate ’em, but they’re a scrappy bunch.

Ole Miss visits Humphrey Coliseum on Saturday (noon, Raycom), and State travels to Kentucky next Tuesday (6 p.m., Raycom). I just booked my flight to Lexington; a shade under $400 for round trip. I don’t fly much, so I have no idea if that’s reasonable. Now I just need a hotel and a rental.

Even though the Bulldogs aren’t playing a mid-week game, I’ll have plenty of bylines in the coming days.

• I’ve been on the phone with some football commitments for a story I’m working on about the recruiting process.

• I have a story coming on the Lady Bulldogs’ Congo trio (Rima Kalonda, Armelie Lumanu and Chanel Mokango).

• Also in the works is a look at how the shifted 3-point line is affecting the men’s game.

• For tomorrow’s paper, I’ll have a story on the basketballers as well as a column on football coach Dan Mullen.

OK, back to work.

Bulldogs Off, Gottfried Out, Recruit In

January 27, 2009

Mississippi State’s men don’t play again until Saturday. As I write in today’s Journal, they’d rather be playing this Wednesday. As it is, the Bulldogs (14-6, 4-1 SEC) are off until Saturday’s home game against Ole Miss. You can catch the Rebels on ESPN tonight against Kentucky, which MSU plays next Tuesday. Could get ugly tonight.

Concerning the big SEC news of the day, here is Kevin Scarbinsky‘s take on the Mark Gottfried “resignation.”

On the football recruiting front, Joe Stewart, a receiver/kick returner from Dutchtown, Ga., has Mississippi State high on his list. So says the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He likes that spread offense of Dan Mullen‘s. And one I simply missed – recruiting is not my specialty, nor should it be – but Taylorsville receiver Billy Hamilton committed to State and also plans to play for new baseball coach John Cohen. Also, we learn that MSU is out of the running for Noxubee County receiver Pat Patterson.

Stansbury, Players Speak

January 26, 2009

The media assembled at Humphrey Coliseum this afternoon to chat with MSU coach Rick Stansbury and several players. The Bulldogs are off Wednesday, then host Ole Miss on Saturday. The big news of the day in the SEC is Mark Gottfried leaving Alabama. Stansbury offered his thoughts on the situation: “I hate it for any coach. I hate it for Mark, Mark’s a really good person. It’s very obvious that he’s been a great coach over there for a long time. … That’s the beast of the business. That’s the life we’re in.”

Now, to some excerpts from today’s gathering, Stansbury first:

• On the Georgia win: “We got hit in the mouth at LSU in a bad four-minute stretch, but our kids found a way to respond. Any time you can go out and respond on the road with a road victory, it shows your team is making some progression.”

• On having Wednesday off: “I’ve always said once you get in a rhythm, you like to keep your rhythm. You like your same routine. … It’ll give us a chance to do a few things, to spend a little more time on a few things than normal, make some little adjustments here and there.”

• On being out-rebounded so often: “Do I like getting out-rebounded? Absolutely not. You win championships on the road by defending and rebounding. This team’s put together differently. Can we win a championship put together the way we are? I don’t know. We’ll see. Ask me 11 more games from now, we’ll see.”

Now, center Jarvis Varnado:

• On Ole Miss: “They’re pretty scrappy. You can never take Ole Miss lightly, because this is  rival game. They’re going to be pumped just as well as we are.”

• On Georgia win: “I think this team is finally growing up.”

From backup Elgin Bailey:

• On bouncing back so well: “I’m very surprised. We came back with it on our minds, we took it to Georgia. We kind of let up in the second half but we got back on it, and that’s how we’re supposed to do it.”

• On the bench play: “We’ve got great talent on the bench. We work just as hard as the starting five, maybe even harder.”

Freshman point guard Dee Bost:

• On Ole Miss: “I heard that it’s a big rivalry. The place will be sold out, everybody will be loud. I’m sure it’s going to be real competitive between both teams.”

• On the Western Division race: “Right now I feel that we’re the team to beat if we continue to win and play good.”

And finally, guard Ravern Johnson:

• On LSU loss: “We can’t let just one loss like that mess up our season. We talked about it, and basically what we said was, ‘We’ve got to bounce back.’”

• On trying to draw more fouls: “The coaches are on me hard about driving the ball. I’m trying to put that in my game, but when I try to drive, I never get fouled. I’m trying to do what coach asks.”

PS: I’ll have an update on the Bulldogs in tomorrow’s Journal. My column, which will be on football, will run Wednesday.

Blog Bag: Reloaded?

January 26, 2009

Y’all have done a great job of hitting me with tons of questions this month. Makes me wonder if there’s anything left in the chamber. Hit me.

On the Super Links

January 26, 2009

In the spirit of Super Bowl Week, today begins, for me, what promises to be a super-busy week. And that’s without having a game Wednesday. But signing day approacheth, so I’m working on something to lead us into that. Working on a some other stuff, too. Stay tuned.

As for this lovely Monday (ugh), I have some various links for you, some Mississippi State-related, some not. We’ll start with the MSU stuff:

• The Lady Bulldogs fell at home to Arkansas yesterday, 65-62. The women are 15-5 overall, 3-3 in SEC play. This was not a good loss; it gave Arkansas its first SEC win of the season. State’s back in action Thursday, at Humphrey Coliseum, against Savannah State.

• Can’t link it because it’s premium content, but a bit of recruiting news. Scout.com talked with D’Iberville LB Jacoby Bell, who said MSU has been coming after him “pretty hard lately.” He called assistant Carl Torbush the linebacker coach, for what that’s worth (titles have not officially been set for assistants, but I imagine we’ll see Torbush as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach).

• To the non-MSU links. Our sports editor, John L. Pitts, offers his weekly Monday thoughts. This week, he takes a look back at the 2004 NFL Draft, “with new data.”

• Finally, here is a short interview of North Carolina coach Roy Williams. My boy Adam Gore tracked him down at the Hotbed Classic in New Albany on Saturday. Good job, Adam.

On the Sunday Links; Mullen on Recruiting

January 25, 2009

Since I was not in Athens last night, I have no story for you of Mississippi State’s 67-61 win over Georgia. But the Atlanta Journal-Constitution does. The Bulldogs (14-6, 4-1) now have a half-game lead over LSU in the Western Division. MSU is off until Saturday, when it hosts Ole Miss. We’ll speak with coach Rick Stansbury and some players tomorrow.

It was a good bounce-back win for State. I watched it on the Deuce, and fans should be encouraged at the explosive scoring ability of Ravern Johnson, and by the ability of the rest of the team to score points when he isn’t. By the way, MSU’s RPI is now up to 80, according to RealTimeRPI.com.

To football, I caught up briefly with coach Dan Mullen yesterday. I asked him if he had specific position needs in mind while trying to fill out the 2009 recruiting class – the Bulldogs have 23 commitments and can sign 25 this year. Mullen’s answer reminded me of what you often hear of NFL Draftniks: “Just the best players we can get on board.” As for a question one of you asked about how a coach decides how many players over the limit to offer scholarships to, he said, “That’s one of the toughest deals in this business. We try to hit it where to do hit it right at 25. … It’s such an inexact science.”

One more quick thing. I found an interesting Q&A from The State (Columbia, S.C.) with South Carolina assistant Shane Beamer, a former MSU assistant under Sylvester Croom. Beamer took over as SC’s recruiting coordinator after the season, and he talks about that aspect of coaching. He includes a couple of stories from his Starkville days.

On the Road … Well, Not Me

January 24, 2009

I regret to inform you all that I will not be in Athens tonight for the MSU-Georgia game. But this means I will probably be able to travel to Kentucky on Feb. 3.

But I’ll be DVRing tonight’s game to view at my leisure – 5 p.m., ESPN2. The Bulldogs (13-6, 3-1 SEC) are looking to bounce back from Wednesday’s 81-57 beatdown at LSU. Georgia (9-9, 0-3) is looking to bounce back, too – from a five-game losing streak. In today’s Journal, my game advance focused on State’s four-guard lineup and how they need to be more aggressive offensively. Here is the pregame capsule:

When: 5 p.m. today, Stegeman Coliseum, Athens, Ga.
TV: ESPN2.
XM: Channel 199.
Series: Tied, 49-49.
Last year: MSU, 60-49 in Starkville; Georgia, 64-60 in SEC Tournament.
Coaches: MSU – Rick Stansbury (221-121, 11th year); Georgia – Dennis Felton (184-143, 11th year; 84-89, 6th year at Georgia).
Notes: Georgia has lost five straight games. … Georgia’s last 0-4 SEC start was the 2004-05 season. … MSU junior Barry Stewart has 164 career 3-pointers, tying him with assistant coach Marcus Grant for fourth-most in school history. Darryl Wilson holds the mark with 258.

Probable starters
Mississippi State (13-6, 3-1 SEC)

C – Jarvis Varnado    6-9    Jr.    12.9 ppg
G – Phil Turner    6-3    So.    7.4 ppg
G – Dee Bost    6-2    Fr.    9.9 ppg
G – Barry Stewart    6-3    Jr.    10.8 ppg
G – Ravern Johnson    6-7    So.    12.0 ppg
Top reserves: F Romero Osby, G Twany Beckham, G Riley Benock.

Georgia (9-9, 0-3 SEC)
G – Zac Swansey    6-1    So.    6.0 ppg
G – Corey Butler    6-3    Sr.    7.1 ppg
F – Terrance Woodbury    6-7    Sr.    13.4 ppg
F – Trey Thompkins    6-8    Fr.    13.2 ppg
C – Albert Jackson    6-10    Jr.    4.1 ppg
Top reserves: G Dustin Ware, F Chris Barnes, F Travis Leslie.

If you’re not making the trip to Athens but want to see some good hoops, I highly recommend the Hotbed Classic in New Albany. Just $10 for all day, and it’s already under way. Matt Wyatt is calling all the action on Miss 98. And North Carolina coach Roy Williams is supposed to be there to check out one of his recruits.

And for what it’s worth, the Senior Bowl is on for 6 p.m. today. NFL Network carrying the game, which means I won’t be able to see it.

Blog Bag Answers Aplenty

January 23, 2009

Y’all filled this week’s Blog Bag to overflowing, and I did my darndest to provide satisfatory answers. Can’t say I hit 1.000 on that, but some questions will be more precisely answered in time. On with it:

Q: Any update on the indoor basketball practice facility?
A: Athletics director Greg Byrne: “We’re making progress. The goal is still to try to get it going after the season. But like many others, we’ve felt the impact of the economy.”

Q: Any update on the expansion of Humphrey Coliseum, Dudy Noble Field or Davis Wade Stadium?
A: Byrne: “Right now we’re trying to finalize a master plan for all of our facilities.”

Q: What are the chances of the Dudy Noble bleacher stands all being made chairbacks?
A: Byrne said if that happens, it’ll be worked out in the aforementioned “master plan.”

Q: Is there any chance new president Mark Keenum puts a stop to this crazy logo change?
A: Logos are all set. If you haven’t seen them yet, here they are: mississippistate-logo-usage3.

Q: Have you had the chance to interview Dr. Keenum on his take on all that has happened in the athletics department?
A: Not yet, but I want to soon. He’s so busy, though, our news editor hasn’t even been able to secure an interview with him yet.

Q: How are things with baseball coach John Cohen and the team? I’ve seen them practice a little this winter.
A: I haven’t spoken with Cohen lately, but I’m going to try to catch up with him next week.

Q: What is the word on the pitching rotation and starting lineup for the baseball team?
A: I’ll let you know what I find out when I talk to Cohen.

Q: What was that video that was playing on the MooTron before the Vandy game?
A: Didn’t see it. Something for the recruits, I heard.

Q: When are they gonna schedule alternative uses of the new video board (movies, etc.)?
A: Byrne said that hasn’t found its way up the priority list yet, so nothing to report.

Q: Who do you think would just complete the puzzle for us in football?
A: One word: Quarterback. And an offensive line. And a pass rush. And speedy wideouts. And a reliable kicker. Dude, there are lots of issues.

Q: When will we ever see Mississippi State with a winning football team?
A: If you’ve seen me try to predict games, you’ll know my opinion on that is worthless, so I won’t bother.

Q: I keep hearing football coach Dan Mullen is expected to pull out one or two more key recruits before signing day. Who’s left that has State on their list? We’re at 23 commits, how many more can we sign?
A: State can sign 25 this year. I don’t know who Mullen is looking at most closely – he obviously can’t tell us – but we might can draw clues from a by-position breakdown of current commitments (star ratings from Rivals.com):
• QB: Tyler Russell, Meridian HS (4 stars)
• RB: Darius Slay, Brunswick, Ga., HS (2 stars); LaDarius Perkins, St. Joseph HS (3 stars); Montrell Conner, Ouachita Parish, La., HS (4 stars); William Shumpert, Itawamba AHS (3 stars)
• WR: Chad Bumphis, Tupelo HS (4 stars); Leon Berry, East Miss. CC (3 stars); Maurice Langston, East Central Miss. CC (4 stars); Chris Smith, Meridian HS (3 stars)
• OL: Gabriel Jackson, Amite Co. HS (3 stars); Sam Watts, Salem HS (Conyers, Ga., 3 stars)
• DE: Pernell McPhee, Itawamba CC (4 stars); Johnathan McKenzie, Starkville Aca. (2 stars); Fletcher Cox, Yazoo City HS (4 stars)
• DT: Josh Boyd, Philadelphia HS (4 stars)
• LB: Chris White, Miss. Gulf Coast CC (4 stars); Deontae Skinner, Noxubee Co. HS (3 stars)
• DB: Dennis Thames, Louisville HS (3 stars); Nickoe Whitley, Provine HS (3 stars); Johnthan Banks, East Webster HS (3 stars); Cameron Lawrence, Magnolia Heights HS (3 stars)
K: Sean Brauchle, Miss. Gulf Coast CC (3 stars)
P: Heath Hutchins, Itawamba CC (3 stars)

Q: Are there any more offensive linemen in our sights for the few remaining scholarships?
A: At least a couple of linemen have been offered by State but haven’t committed: Olive Branch’s Aubrey Phillips, who according to Scout.com has given Tennessee a soft verbal; and Randall Fowler of Banneker (College Park, Ga.). It would make sense to get a couple more linemen.

Q: Any word on Pat Patterson (Noxubee County WR) coming to MSU?
A: Nothing solid, but a story I linked up in my previous post has a Rivals.com dude saying he thinks Patterson is coming to Starkville.

Q: How do coaches decide how many scholarships to offer above the limit?
A: I’ll ask Dan that question whenever I can get him on the phone.

Q: What coaches did Mullen keep from Sylvester Croom’s staff?
A: Rockey Felker, Melvin Smith, Reed Stringer and David Turner.

Q: When are you going to change the header on this blog page?
A: When somebody makes me one. I got no Photoshop skills.

Q: What is the meaning of life?
A: Cashews.

Q: Twenty wins in basketball used to be a lock for the NCAA Tournament. Still so? If not, how many, and do you see MSU getting there?
A: MSU is 13-6 (3-1 in SEC) with 12 games left, plus the SEC tourney. I’d say at least – at least – eight more wins plus a strong tourney run. Winning the West sure wouldn’t hurt.

Q: I heard that Leo Seal Jr. left the athletic department a sizable gift when he passed away in November. When will this gift be announced, and what are the plans for the donation?
A: I’ll go with imabulldog’s answer: “Think it’s private, and by that I mean assigned to cover expenses concerning the coaching staff and changes needed. I may be wrong, though.” I’ve heard nothing on an announcement.

Q: Any chance that the club hockey team gets more support, or is this a dead issue due to Title IX?
A: Byrne said that the foreseeable future holds no change in the team’s club status.