We caught up with MSU head coach Rick Ray this morning on the SEC coaches teleconference. His Bulldogs (7-17, 2-10 SEC) are in the midst of a 10-game losing streak, and it gets no easier on Wednesday with a trip to Alabama (17-8, 9-3), which currently sits second in the SEC standings.
The Bulldogs have played without suspended guard Jalen Steele the past three games, and I asked Ray about his availability this week. See the answer to that question, along with the rest of Ray’s transcript, below.
(I’ll have more from Ray at this afternoon’s press conference.)
I think our team right now is in a little bit of flux with us only having six scholarship guys, down from our allotted we were playing with the whole time, seven. The most important thing that I’m concerned about right now is what we’re doing on the defensive end. We’re going to have our struggles on the offensive end, but we’ve got to get back to holding opponents to a lower field goal percentage defensively, and more importantly, teams scoring in the 70s and 80s. That’ll be a focal point of us right now as far as getting back to some principles defensively, and maybe we can turn our defense into some offense.
Any update on Jalen Steele’s availability this week?
Still yet to be determined.
Seven African-American coaches in the SEC, what do those numbers say about hiring practices and cultural changes?
First and foremost, I think it says a lot about the SEC. Sometimes when you hear (about) the South, me growing up in the Midwest, you have some negative connotations, especially when you start talking about places like Mississippi and Alabama, about race relations. It speaks volumes about the hiring process for the SEC and the schools in the SEC, that they would reach out and have this many African-American head coaches. The bigger story is that fact that it’s not a story. The thing the SEC should be most proud of is that us having this many African-American head coaches is really not a big story, because that means it’s accepted here in the South, and it’s really not a problem.
Is Alabama the second-best team in the SEC, and what’s good about them right now?
I don’t know who is the second-best team. I think that remains to be seen as you continue to play out the conference schedule, but I will say this: They’re a good quality ball club, and they showed that here when they played us in the Hump. The one thing that is really good about Alabama is they have guys who are versatile. With Rodney Cooper and Devonta Pollard, both of those guys are inside-outside players, and you’ve got guys like (Trevor) Releford and Trevor (Lacy) who can handle the basketball and also make shots. That’s one thing, most guys are so one-dimensional in college basketball these days where they can use the dribble and shoot it, but I think they have a lot of guys who can dribble, shoot and pass, which is what you want out of a basketball player.