Now that you've gotten to see and hear what Rick Ray has had to say (CLICK HERE), what can you expect from the team he puts on the court next season at Mississippi State?
The new coach talked a good bit about the style of play he prefers. Ray will employ a motion offense that puts an emphasis on play-making ability and pushing the tempo. That sort of offense has been used by the likes of John Calipari, who just won a national championships Monday night with Kentucky.
"Sometimes when people hear 'motion offense' they think they’ve got to pass the ball ten times before they shoot it," Ray said. "That’s not the case at all. I believe the motion offense does one thing, it allows guys that are good enough to do what they need to do the freedom and opportunity to go make plays. It is as simply as that. It is the hardest thing to scout because there are no set plays, no patterns. Really more than anything it teaches guys how to play basketball."
Ray's approach requires a lot of "screens, moving, popping and cutting," something the Bulldogs didn't do a whole lot of this past season. Perhaps it could reinvigorate them offensively.
It's a style of play Ray helped implement at, most recently, Clemson and Purdue. He told a story from a few years ago when some of his players – he didn't say which team – came into his office, shut the door, and said, "Coach, we want to play faster. We want to fast-break more."
Ray replied, "Well, why don't you?" He then asked the players if they knew the key to a successful fast break. They didn't.
"If you can’t get a rebound, you can’t get a fast break. If you’re always taking the ball out of the net, it really isn’t a fast break."
Others have described Ray as a strong X's and O's coach, and he tries to be a sponge when it comes to basketball knowledge.
"I'm a student of the game," Ray said. "I always go out and watch because I want to learn about basketball and what's making other people successful."
• This hire belongs to athletics director Scott Stricklin, and today's sidebar story is about the process he went through and what he learned about conducting a high-profile coaching search (CLICK HERE).
Stricklin was asked how he figures out whether a person who's never been a head coach before is able to thrive in that role. Here is most of his lengthy answer:
"We've had a lot of experience doing that with some of our other hires around here. In fact, our last four or five hires have all been assistant coaches. In basketball it's a little trickier, because in some of the sports, you've got a guy who's an offensive coordinator in Dan Mullen, or a pitching coach, where you know a specific area of responsibility, and you can judge that.
"But at the end of the day you still look at those same attributes. Is this a guy whose work ethic's going to take to succeed at this level. Are they competitive? How hungry are they? Are they bright, and can they communicate their vision? At the end of the day that's what you look at."
• If you didn't see it, Ray's meet-and-greet in Jackson was postponed. Bad weather prevented him from flying in last night, so he'll try again today. It'll be from 6-7 p.m. at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum.
• I must say, if you missed out on #LexingtonPoliceScanner last night after the title game, you missed out on some grade A entertainment. They were burning not only couches, but futons. My favorite line from an officer during the one hour, 20 minutes I was listening: "We just had a flash mob, and everybody said they were gonna shoot everybody."
Hope everyone stayed safe, including the gunshot victim who got up and started wandering down the street (I don't believe he was victimized by the "flash mob").