The Mississippi State Women’s basketball team is doing normal things we have come to expect over the last few years. They are currently 8-0, ranked in the top 5, and are rolling heading towards SEC play. In somewhat of a surprise, the Men’s basketball team is keeping pace with the ladies with a record of 7-0. This is after both teams came away with close victories this past Sunday in Starkville.
The Men’s team is beginning to show signs of real progression in the 3rd year under Howland. The defense seems to be a lot better and more aggressive while the offense has much more of an identity with capable scoring on both the wings and in the post. Now I am not saying that we have a national contender over here because so far most of these wins have come against low tier teams. However, these were also games that we struggled to win last year regardless of competition. Teams have to learn how to win. With our still very young roster,opportunities to win, against the likes of Jacksonville State or in the SEC, should be embraced and seen as something to build upon.
Here are my thoughts from the game Sunday:
• Q. Weatherspoon is scary when he has a full head of steam going towards the basket. His ability to finish around the rim is very impressive. We have a number of guys such as Xavian Stapleton and Nick Weatherspoon who also are strong at these finishes which makes me think we must have some great drill about angles at the basket. Keep it up Howland and let’s get Lamar a few more reps at this drill.
• Speaking of Lamar, he needs game time. He has yet to really hit the stride we all anticipated him hitting this year largely due to off the court issues. He was fresh off his 3 game suspension on Sunday, and he looked like he was in a pre-season game with how lethargic he was. He was 1-5 with all his shots being 3 pointers. GET TO THE RIM. You can put any defender on skates and you were settling for jump shots way too much. A weaker opponent on Saturday should give him the chance to build his confidence back up. We need him firing by SEC season.
• Aric Holman, why is your stat line 2-4 from the field…..all being 3 POINTERS. Other than you are 6’10 like him, you are not Kevin Durant. Get in the post and help Ado.
• Ado was 2-2 from the field. Why is he only taking 2 shots? Yes, they ran a zone but Howland, be a little more creative and get the ball to the man.
• Tyson Carter is 12-20 from 3 point range the last 2 games. THAT IS ABSURD. Ride the hot hand and keep him firing. Yes he will probably have at least one air ball a game but I will take 6 3’s any day of the week.
• As a team we were 9-28 from downtown. So pretty much take away Tyson, and we were 3-18….woof. We settled way too much for lazy 3 point attempts against their zone. We are at our best getting into the paint and driving. Q, Nick, Lamar, and Stapleton have to impose their will a little better.
• We are a very deep team and still not 100% healthy yet. I am excited about this team running up and down the floor come SEC play.
We have North Georgia this Saturday in Starkville in what should be a fairly easy tune up game before the biggest non-conference game for us, at Cincinnati. They are a highly ranked team who expects to be in the second week of the NCAA Tournament this year. Our toughest non-conference opponent is also our first road game of the year, sounds about right. Trial by fire boys. I am optimistic that we can run with them early. If we can catch some breaks and shoot well, who knows, we could surprise them and make this a close game down the stretch.
Side note: It has been addressed on multiple social media outlets but the attendance for the basketball teams this year is EMBARRASSING. Our women are coming off a National Finalist season and our men are undefeated playing some high flying fun basketball. I do not want to hear the “it’s finals week” or “its non-conference nobody games” excuses. These teams are bringing the Hump back and deserve our attention and support. We preach at MSU that we are “Family”. If you support your Family at Davis Wade and Dudy Noble, get to the Hump and support the fam there too. Something special might be brewing this season and I would rather not have friends at other schools texting me “Do y’all even care about y’alls basketball?” when we are on TV. DO BETTER DAWG FANS.