Mississippi State Basketball: 2011-2012 Season Preview

November 3, 2011

News, Sports

Dee Bost, PG, Mississippi State Bulldogs

Dee Bost, Senior PG, Mississippi State

2010-2011 Record:  17-14

Head Coach:  Rick Stansbury

Returning Starters:  2

Key Returners:  Renardo Sidney, Dee Bost, Brian Bryant

Key Losses:  Ravern Johnson, Kodi Augustus

Key Newcomers:  Arnett Moultrie, Rodney Hood, Deville Smith

Initial Outlook: The Mississippi State Bulldogs will come into 2011-2012 season looking to put the past year behind them. They have the talent to make everyone forget about the disastrous 2010-2011 season. The Bulldogs return two starters and six total players from last year. The players that they lost, Kodi Augustus, Ravern Johnson, and Riley Benock, might be getting replaced by better players.  I say that not to belittle them, but to drive the point home how talented the newcomers are this season.  The team seems to be finally on the same page with one goal in mind:  to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament and silence their critics.  I’ve been skeptical in the past of Stansbury’s teams, but this compilation has a different feel to it.

Renardo Sidney, C, Mississippi State Bulldogs

Renardo Sidney, C, Mississippi State

Projected Line-Up

C: Renardo Sidney

PF: Arnett Moultrie

SF: Rodney Hood

SG: Brian Bryant

PG: Dee Bost

* Returning Starters in Bold

Key Reserves: Wendell Lewis, Shaun Smith, Deville Smith, Jalen Steele

Backcourt:  The backcourt is headlined by Pre-Season 1st team point guard Dee Bost who returns for his Senior season to lead a deep Bulldog backcourt. The player expected to start next to Bost is Brian Bryant, who Stansbury has called the team’s most improved player.  Bryant is the type of guy that can mesh and will help balance an explosive starting line up filled with scoring potential.

The guy who could end up being the next guard off the bench is Shaun Smith, who seems to have achieved the status of a breakthrough playmaker. Smith has had a rough start to his career; he has not seen much playing time, but this year he has a chance to break out. If he plays to his potential, I wouldn’t be shocked to see him make the starting line-up.

The two players rounding out the backcourt are freshman Deville Smith and sharpshooter Jalen Steele. Smith will be Bost’s primary back up and should provide some extra energy when needed and could make some electric plays for the highlight reel this season. Steele is recovering from a torn ACL; he might be slow early in the season, but I expect him to be a major factor once he is back to full strength.

Frontcourt:  A talented Bulldog frontcourt is led by the mercurial Center Renardo Sidney, who decided to return for his Junior year after gauging some pro interest. Sidney has re-dedicated himself after a controversial sophomore year, in which he was suspended twice.  Sidney was trained by former NBA coach John Lucas all summer and came back to school in much better condition.  Sidney could be the most talented player to ever set foot on MSU’s campus, and that puts State in the unique position of always having one of the best players on the court.  He is just that good, and is one of the three best talents Lucas has trained–only bested by LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.

The Bulldogs other two frontcourt starters have 1st round potential like Sidney. The first that will start at Power Forward is UTEP transfer Arnett Moultrie, who averaged 9.8 points and 6.7 rebounds his sophomore year there.  Moultrie and Sidney’s skill sets should enable them to form a dynamic duo in the post.  It could be a pick-your-poison situation with these two.  Bulldog fans might want to take a long, good look, as they both may be headed to the NBA, but that will likely mean MSU had a big year so it’s a good trade-off.

The last frontcourt starter is highly-touted freshman Rodney Hood, who was rated five stars by Scout.com. He has caught on quickly and was a starter from virtually day one. He has NBA lottery pick talent and provides a tough match up with his 6’8 frame for Bulldog opponents.  His versatility should enable Stansbury to get creative with the line-up.

The primary back up to the other frontcourt players is Wendell Lewis, who will likely see 20+ minutes a game.  Lewis seems to have finally turned the corner and should make a huge impact in the paint, both defensively and offensively.

The frontcourt is rounded out by Kristers Zeidaks, Rocquez Johnson and Shawn Long. Zeidaks is expected to be suspended for a few games after playing on a professional team overseas.  He is the classic Stretch Four player, similar to the skill set of Kodi Augustus.  I wouldn’t expect him to be a major factor this season though, unless there are injuries. Johnson is an energy guy and will likely be the third frontcourt player off the bench. He will possibly be relegated to garbage time duty, so the bench looks very deep.  Long is the last frontcourt player, a redshirt freshman who will further develop his skills.

Final Outlook: The team as I’ve illustrated above has the talent to have a special year, but I will reserve judgment until I see them put it all together and gel on the court.  Stansbury’s teams have played flat a few times a season lately, so it’s hard to predict how many games they will win.  That is the only reason I won’t say this team will go all the way this year, and the majority is simply too young.  This team has a high ceiling and a high floor, but it’s up to them where they end up at the end of the season.  I think it’s unconscionable that this team fails to make the tournament as the talent level is just too high, but weirder things have happen.  Bost’s leadership ability will be put to the test this season, however, and Sidney has come a long way in a short time.

Will this be the typical Bulldog team that we’ve seen the past few years–with the exception of last year–or will the team finally live up to its high expectations?

Best Case: 27-4 (Final Four)

Worst Case: 22-9 (1st Round)


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3 Comments on “Mississippi State Basketball: 2011-2012 Season Preview”

  1. watcher Says:

    Rumors I’m hearing are that Long won’t be rounding out the front court, he’s off the team. Smith won’t be breaking out of anything unless it’s the looney bin.


  2. Jeremiah Short Says:

    Interesting on Long. You might be eating crow on Smith. Injuries are only thing holding him back.


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