I am not writing this because I don't like Rick Stansbury. I'm doing it because I love Mississippi State. As an alumni of MSU, I want the best for it. And I believe a change in the basketball program would be best right now.
I'm not exactly sure what Rick Stansbury's goals are with his basketball teams, but they don't seem too lofty. The SEC isn't the juggernaut in basketball that it is in football, and State should be able to compete for a conference championship on a regular basis. And by that I don't mean the SEC Tournament Championship. Those are nice, but it can just take a hot team, or a good one who avoided playing the best teams in the league. The real prize is the regular season championship, like the one State got in 2004. That shows you are the best.
If you can win the SEC regular season championship then you'll be in a position to make a run in the NCAA Tournament. Case in point of why the regular season championship is much more important than the SEC Tournament: 2004 State gets a '2' seed, 2009 they get a '13' seed. I can live with the '04 team losing in the 2nd round because they were in a position to succeed but they ran into a hot team and got upset just like many other teams do. The 2009 team got in, but was the season a real success because they found magic for four days in Tampa?
The problem I see is this: Stansbury's expectations aren't the same as the fan base's expectations.
Stansbury is always talking about how difficult it is to win on the road, and it is. That's fine to acknowledge road games as tougher, and maybe that would focus his team more. But to use them as a crutch is where the problem is. After the Auburn loss, he said "we're the underdog in all these road games" and "the home game is the one you hate to lose".
Those comments really got under my skin. First off, MSU was favored against LSU and Auburn. Secondly, you should be pissed about losing them. No, you shouldn't be too upset about losing on the road to Florida, or if we had lost to Vandy on the road. But LSU? Auburn?
Mississippi State hasn't gone undefeated at home since Babe McCarthy was the coach....and that's going on 50 years! So, if we are at best going 7-1 at home, what are we hoping for on the road using Stansbury logic? 1-7? 2-6? Is going 8-8 or 9-7 a stellar year? Are YOU buying this?
I'm not. Those expectations are ridiculous. State should be striving for 12-4. Undefeated at home and .500 on the road. Those are high, yes, but when you strive for an 'A' and you get a 'B' it's still good. When you strive for a 'C' you get a 'D', or an 'F' which is what we're headed for.
I don't know about you, but I'm not okay with the goal of playing second fiddle to Kentucky and Florida every year. I don't think 2004 was a 'once in a lifetime' year and we can't achieve that again unless we get lucky. If the goal is 9-7 in the SEC and a NCAA berth then I don't like it.
I want to see a coach who will 'relentlessly pursue a SEC Championship, a #1 seed, a national championship'. One who will recruit players with 'passion for the game of basketball'. And yes, I am using those phrases because I want a basketball coach who is like our football coach, Dan Mullen.