The SEC held its annual basketball media day event in Hoover, AL, yesterday. This event has much less fanfare associated with it than the football media days. This even brings 1 coach and 1 player from each school's men and women basketball teams to one place to answer questions from the media.
This year, it looks like the men's and women's teams will be worlds apart. On one hand, you have the men's team picked to finish first in the SEC West and in the top 3 or 4 of the conference. The return of Dee Bost and the eligibility of Renardo Sidney has certainly helped boost optimism about the upcoming season.
On the other hand, the women's team is returning very little experience and only 1 senior. They are picked to finish last in the conference.
Below, we have quotes from men's head coach Rick Stansbury, junior forward Elgin Baily, women's head coach Sharon Fanning-Otis and senior guard Mary Kathryn Govero.Head Coach Rick Stansbury
On His Expectations on the Season After Losing Barry Stewart and Jarvis Varnado...
"Anytime you lose the National Defensive Player of the Year, you are going to have to change things. Those two guys are players you do not replace. You just have to do things a different way. We are starting to figure out our team a little bit. I do not know what you guys were thinking picking us to win the West. I thought that was very surprising but you know I never question you guys. Those two guys were great leaders, but I hope you guys are right. Alabama returns a lot of guys this year, and I believe Mississippi brings back around six guys who played a lot. Arkansas has good talent, and Trent is always going to do a good job at LSU. We return a few players like Ravern and Kodi, and that will help us a lot."
On the Status of Players Returning from Injury...
"I do not know a lot about Elgin Bailey. He is the one guy I am not 100 percent sure on. I know Twanny and Shaun are recovering well. I also know Elgin is ahead of schedule, but he is not where he used to be. That is one thing we have to figure out. Will he be able to get back to where he was? Will he be able to help us out in a few weeks when we start the season? We do not know that right now. I do know he is a tough guy. He is really tough mentally and physically. He is the type of physical guy that we have not had in a few years. I know that he is really mentally tough, but the mind cannot always make the body move well."
On How the Team will Handle the Suspensions of Renardo Sidney and Dee Bost...
"One thing I want everyone to keep in mind, is that everyone has really high expectations for Renardo. You have high expectations for him, but we have high expectations for him and he has high expectations for himself. Everyone has to remember that he has not played yet. He had to sit out last year, and there is going to be a learning curve for him. Fortunately, he can do a lot of things that will help him overcome a lack of experience. He has a great basketball IQ, and he will help us speed up the game when he comes back. With Dee, I know that we will not have him back until after fourteen games, but I would rather have him after fourteen games than not at all. It will be a challenge to piece him back in when he comes back, but hopefully we will have prepared enough in practice that it will not hurt us. I cannot really give you a true answer on how it will affect the team. If you ask me again in March I can give you a true answer. I do know that nobody is going to cancel games or feel sorry for our team. We are going to have to minimize the adjustment for our team when they come back."
Junior Forward Elgin Bailey
On the Status of His Recovery...
"I am trying to progress everyday. It is just the knee now and not the ankle. The ankle is 100 percent, but I would say the knee is about sixty-five percent [healthy]. I can do everything that the team does in practice, I just have to take time off. My stamina is fine. The team does not really have a timeline for me right now, but I am giving myself until December."
On Mentoring Freshman Renardo Sidney During His First Two Years...
"I call Renardo my little brother. I know what he had to go through last year sitting out. I had to sit out some games in high school, some last year, and some the year before. I just try to keep motivating him and keep his head up. I always try to keep him humble. I always talk to him in practice when I am guarding him and tell him if he does something wrong. If I had to describe Renardo, I would call him a great big bowl of talent. He is a big guy who is light on his feet, has good hands, and is really good around the basket."
Sharon Fanning-Otis, Head Coach Mississippi State
On having limited experience from last year...
"Practice is definitely a work in progress and a daily improvement. When you are putting in a new system it is very important that you play to their strengths then improve on the areas that need improvement. Work ethic and team chemistry are the two key things for us right now. Now we are trying to figure out exactly what it is that will make this team successful. We definitely want to be the most improved and consistent team in the league."
On experience of Mary Kathryn Govero...
"Mary Kathryn is a tremendous example on and off the court. She is going to be a coach and she is a very good teacher with a passion for what she is doing. Every day she is setting an example with the challenge that has been placed in her hands. Right now she is in the middle of her student teaching so the fact that she is that far along in her education is a testament to her ability to manage the tasks in front of her. She is a key part to the success of this team and has done a fantastic job in training to the new ladies this year."
On being picked to finish last in the SEC...
"You have to focus one day at a time. Things are never as good or as bad as they seem and somewhere in the middle, reality sets in. We are trying to teach our young ladies that they need to develop as leaders then teach that toughness in leadership later down the road. Everything has to be their idea in winning, how they will step up to the challenge in the league, and how they will develop in this process. Last year Kentucky was picked 11th last year and they had one of the best runs in the history of their program. This is a new team this year and of course we would like to build on the success from last year and enjoy but, we also realize that there are new strengths on the team so we have to play to those and be ready on November 12."
Mary Kathryn Govero, Mississippi State, Sr. Guard
On being the only senior on the team:
"It takes a lot of patience and a lot of learning but we are making progress. Hopefully by the start of the season everyone will be on the same page. Between me and Diamber Johnson, we are the two with the most experience from last year's team. Obviously with nine new people we are the two veterans the young ones turn to for advice. Our goal is to give understanding and direction."
On expectations carrying over from last season:
"We have talked a lot about how it is not about us filling shoes from last year but everyone filling their own shoes this year. This is a new team so new shoes will be on the court. We are consistently working every day to improve so that we can be the best team that we can be."
On her improvements from last year:
"I have become a much better communicator because so many people are looking to me. I am actually student teaching this semester which has helped me become a much better leader. My goal is to be a coach one day so being in a teaching environment along with having the duties as the only senior on the team has pushed me to improve my vocal leadership skills."