Archive for January 8th, 2009

Augustus’ ex-Coach: ‘I Think It’s Really Unfair’

January 8, 2009

Bet you’re wondering what’s been up with Kodi Augustus lately. The sophomore forward (6-8, 220) has been riding the pine for five straight games, and all coach Rick Stansbury will tell us is that, “It’s a coach’s decision.” Well, Augustus’ old AAU coach, John Eurey, is wondering what’s up as well, and he’s none too happy with what’s gone down.

I caught up with Eurey this afternoon. The Houston Superstars coach, who speaks with Augustus at least once a week, said, “I don’t understand why he’s not playing. I don’t understand. … It’s some things he’s done, some things here and there that he’s done, but it’s not all his fault. He’s not to blame for all of it.”

As for the source of whatever beef there might be between Augustus and Stansbury, Eurey said it stems from Augustus refusing to check in late in a blowout win over Houston on Saturday. “One minute left to play, you want to go in with one minute left to play? You go figure it out,” Eurey said. Thing is, whatever sent Augustus to the bench occurred before the Houston game. It was after the Nicholls State win in Jackson on Dec. 22 that Stansbury first addressed the issue. “Coach’s decision,” he said at the time. “That’s about as easy as you can put it without going into any kind of detail. You’ve just got to make decisions sometimes to try to do things to help the team and to help improve players, too.”

Eurey said he knows Augustus, who’s averaging 7.3 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, would be well-served to have a better attitude, but he still comes down on his former pupil’s side. “I think Kodi probably could have a better attitude in terms of how he’s going about it. But the thing about it is, when you’re sitting so long and you know guys that are playing aren’t better than you, what kind of attitude are you going to have?”

Eurey is not high on the Bulldogs. “Mississippi State is not that good, period. They have terrible guards, and they have one big man that’s good (Jarvis Varnado). You’re going to tell me those other guys are better than Kodi Augustus? Trust me, they’re not. … I don’t want to do anything to hurt Kodi, but if he’s not playing, something’s wrong with the situation. I think it’s really unfair.”

Eurey advised Augustus during his recruiting process and thought Tennessee would have been a better fit. But he didn’t push his opinion on Augustus. “I ain’t saying it’s all Rick’s fault, because Kodi’s got some issues, too. But my issue is, you knew who Kodi was when you got him. You knew he was an offensive player. Certain players are going to be offensive-minded, certain kids are going to be defensive-minded. … Kodi is a scorer, but I don’t understand why he’s not playing.”

Eurey said Augustus is doing well academically and working to get back on the court. Eurey doesn’t know if Augustus plans to leave MSU after the season, but he has noticed the trend of players transferring out of Starkville (see: Gary Ervin, the Delk twins, Ben Hansbrough, et al.). “Something’s wrong,” he said.

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BCS Championship: Gator Bait

January 8, 2009

OK, here is your prediction thread for tonight’s BCS title game featuring Florida and Oklahoma. The Gators are four- to five-point favorites. For a game preview from the Gator side, go here. For a look at it from the Sooner side, go here.

It seems the majority of folks are picking Florida to win this one. Let me offer my humble and somewhat informed analysis. The keys for a Florida victory: On defense, get to QB Sam Bradford – who, I heard on ESPNRadio today, gets hit just once every 13 snaps – and on offense, get the ball to your gazelles and let ’em run wild. For OU to win, I think it needs to establish the running game – seriously – so Florida won’t have license to blitz at will. Defensively, pray.

Yeah, I’m going with Florida. Because Tim Tebow can melt a defense with his eyes. Even Chuck Norris can’t do that.

My prediction: Florida 38, Oklahoma 28.

Pelphrey, Stansbury on SEC Teleconference

January 8, 2009

A few quotes from Arkansas coach John Pelphrey and MSU coach Rick Stansbury from this morning’s SEC teleconference. The Hogs (12-1) and Dogs (10-5) meet Saturday at 7 p.m. in Fayetteville.

First, Pelphrey:

• On his team’s youth (3 freshman starters): “I think we just talk about who we are and understand who we are and try to play to our strengths. Bottom line,age and inexperience doesn’t mean you can’t have a level of success.”

• On his players handling a fast start: “You’re worried about guys handling success for the first time at that level. You worry about this is their first SEC game for them. You worry about overachieving in your non-league schedule.”

• On his freshman PG, Courtney Fortson: “I think the thing that’s surprised us about Courtney is he hasn’t had very many bad games as a freshmen.”

Now, from Stansbury:

• On Fortson: “He’s fearless and has a great confidence about him and a great toughness about him.”

• On Arkansas’ 6-9 post, Michael Washington: “He was a difficult matchup last year. He’s got all those other bigs out of his way, and I thought he was the most talented big guy of all those big guys last year. ”

• On his youngsters starting SEC play: “There’s no drills, there’s no simulations, there’s no speeches I could possibly give to make our guys understand what they’re about to go into.”

Frank Wilson Says …

January 8, 2009

Just got off the phone with Frank Wilson, one of four assistants new football coach Dan Mullen has hired. More to come on that front, but Wilson thinks that he, Mark Hudspeth, Les Koenning and Carl Torbush, along with the holdovers from Sylvester Croom‘s staff, are coming together quickly as a unit.

“I think we have great chemistry,” Wilson said. “I think we have guys with experience and expertise in various areas. I think we’ll all be able to learn from one another.”

With Mullen splitting his time between Starkville and Gainesville, it’s fallen on the assistants to handle a lot of the recruiting duties. Wilson, having coached previously at Southern Miss and Ole Miss, already has good in-state ties with high school and junior college coaches. Mullen has had a hand in things, of course. Wilson said he and his fellow assistants have been speaking with Mullen each morning and night, and that Mullen left things well-organized.

“Honestly, it’s been as good as it could be considering the transition with coach finishing up his deal,” said Wilson. “It’s given us an opporunity to bond as assistant coaches and get our plan together.”

Wilson added, “Signing day not being until February, it’s just starting, a long way from now. We’ve gotta finish it.”

Football, Hoops: All About Florida

January 8, 2009

Today is the Big Day. At 7 p.m. on Fox (ugh), the BCS National Championship game will go off. No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 2 Florida. It’s the final game for Dan Mullen as a Gator, and then he can turn his attention full-time to his job at Mississippi State. So I wrote in today’s Journal.

Mullen said in my story that he thinks it could be a defensive battle – by that, I’m assuming he means both teams will keep it under 40 points. Hmmm. As for his Florida offense, here is a good story on what makes it go.

Just how big is this game? Well, one Florida congressman is requesting a “football break” so he and other politicians can attend. Hey, if the guy working at the gas station can’t get off work tonight, neither should you.

I’ll have a prediction thread on this game later today.

Speaking of Florida, the MSU women’s basketball team opens SEC play in Gainesville today. Tipoff was moved up to 4 p.m. so as to accommodate fans wanting to watch the BCS game in the O’Connel Center on giant video screens. That’ll mean lots of fans watching the hoops. Coach Sharon Fanning said that a sharp focus will be the key for the Lady Bulldogs (12-2). Florida (14-1) is ranked No. 18 in the country.

One more note: Provided we have enough space for it, I have a big feature on Jarvis Varnado set to run in Friday’s Journal. Reall big feature. Might have to jump it to another section. Speaking of, I better get to finishing it.