Mississippi State head coach Rick Ray shared time Monday with the rest of the league’s coaches on the SEC teleconference.
Ray spoke about the Bulldogs current three game losing skid and their upcoming game against Texas A&M.
Ray: “I thought we did some good things on the defensive end (against Vanderbilt). We guarded Vanderbilt very well. Coach (Kevin) Stallings is a great coach. I thought we hurt ourselves. I think they got 24 points off of our turnovers. The other thing we’ve got to figure out is getting back to the free throw line. Our two games we’ve been to the free throw line just six times.
“We’ve got a challenging schedule ahead of us like always in SEC play. But we’ve got a situation where we’ve got some familiarity with our opponents (Texas A&M and Kentucky) because it’s the second time we’ve played them.”
How has your team improved since the SEC opener?
Ray: “One thing we’re trying to figure out as a team, which is always an ongoing process, is who you are individually, who you are as a team and how do you make that work. Sometimes kids have a vision of who they are and as a coach you might have a different vision. It’s how you get those two visions to mesh because you want each kid to believe in himself and also believing in what the team needs in order to win. You have to make sure those two things match up with each other so you can have some success on the court.”
What were your impressions of Vanderbilt and what they are doing with a short roster?
Ray: “First and foremost I think coach Stallings is a great coach. I don’t think you should be surprised that they are still having success with a limited amount of bodies of scholarship players. He’s found a way to mesh those guys and make sure they’re still having success. There is always a couple of things that stand out. You have a guy like Rod Odom who can really shoot the basketball. If you’ve got a guy who can make shots then you can find ways to isolate him in situations so he can get shots off.
“I think the other thing that people kind of bypass is Damian Jones. I think he’s going to be one of the best post players in the SEC for a long time. It’s hard to find guys with that sort of athleticism and have that ability to score with his back to the basket. You’ve got a legitimate threat like that.
“(Stallings) has veteran guys with Odom and (Kyle) Fuller and they know how to play basketball. I think they’re doing a great job. I think they’re going to be a threat.”