Semi-Tough

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Mississippi State and Florida square off tonight (7 p.m., Raycom and ESPN360.com), and both will be seeking a quality that both have lacked of late: toughness. The Bulldogs have lost three straight and five of six. The Gators have dropped two straight and four of six. Florida coach Billy Donovan said there’s an inconsistency in his young team in the toughness department.

“There’s times where I see a guy like Dan Werner battling as hard as he can, and maybe physically not being able to do it. And then there’s times where I see him, he could be doing better,” Donovan said, and he added that he’s seen the same out of other players. It’s all part of the growth process, and keep in mind that Florida starts three sophomores and has three freshmen coming off the bench. “I think they’re trying. I think any time as coaches when you’re involved and as players you’re involved, you always want to see bigger steps all the time. … Are they making steps at the rate and speed we’d like? Maybe not … .”

Is MSU taking steps? Backward steps, it would appear. Saturday’s loss to Auburn was the first time, according to coach Rick Stansbury, that his Bulldogs didn’t show the “grit” he so dearly values in his teams. “This was the first game that I felt like we didn’t play with the urgency that we have to play with,” he said. Sophomore guard Phil Turner is feeling very upbeat about State’s immediate future, but that optimism needs to translate to more energy and, of course, toughness on the court tonight.

“We’ve just got to have that mental, gritty edge,” Stansbury said. Expect a close game tonight. Hopefully, a hard-fought one as well.

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3 Responses to “Semi-Tough”

  1. imabulldog Says:

    One of the few nights, I get to come home and do nothing but relax…hope our boys represent!

  2. BirdZ! Says:

    Our players certainly need to play with more energy than the in the Auburn game. Seemed like Phil was the only one that I saw with some emotion about him.

  3. imabulldog Says:

    Phil is def the heart of the team-as far as attitude, effort, encouraging others

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