Mississppi State’s Rick Ray joined the rest of the Southeastern Conference head coaches this morning on a weekly teleconference.
Ray spoke about the Bulldogs upcoming game against Tennessee, the team’s health and attitude during their nine-game losing skid.
Here’s a transcript of the call…
Ray: “We’re just trying to get prepared for Tennessee at this point in time. They impose a variety of problems but the biggest thing we’ve got to get ready for is the physicality that Tennessee plays with. They’ve got two very good post players in (Jaronne) Maymon and (Jarnell) Stokes. You have to make sure you can match their physicality in some way, shape or form.
“They’ve got one of the best scorers on the perimeter in Jordan McRae so we’ve got to find a way to defend them, rebound the basketball against that team and not turn the ball over.”
How are I.J. Ready and Trivante Bloodman doing?
Ray: “I.J. was was checked out by an eye doctor immediately after the game and there was no sort of scratch or anything on his eye or retina which would cause him not to practice today. Trivante Bloodman is a little bit of a different situation. He’s in a boot right now. They determined that it was actually cramping that was the problem due to having a calf strain. The cramping was a cause of him not trying to further injure the calf strain. He may not be able to practice today we anticipate him being able to go on Wednesday.”
You guys haven’t won in a while. Is there something a coach can do to rally the players to get them enthused about going forward?
Ray: “That’s a good question and maybe I’m too simplistic about things with my math background and am too black and white on stuff. To me, you don’t give yourself a chance to get out of this funk and win if you don’t play hard and compete. The thing you always worry about is are your guys giving an effort when they go out and play. You worry about that but I don’t think there’s been too many times besides the Georgia game where we just didn’t give an effort at all.
“I’ve thought we’ve been pretty competitive as far as playing hard and giving an effort. When you start not seeing an effort on a day-to-day basis in practice, which is even harder to get up for than a game, then I’ll start getting concerned about things.
“Right now, and I don’t want to belabor this point, but we’re just simply devoid of bodies at this point in time. We’ve had a situation where our guys are getting in foul trouble, especially on the front line when we’re playing against big, physical teams like LSU, and it becomes a numbers crunch.”
What are the guys calling upon to continue putting the effort out there?
Ray: “To me it boils down to if you’ve got good kids on your team or not. You worry on a losing streak like this if you’ve got guys who you think are not quality individuals. But I think we’ve got good kids on our team who will try to continue to do the things that we want them to do on the court. I know that’s hard to do when you’re not being successful and on a losing streak like this. But our guys have been very good in practice on a day-to-day basis competing against each other.
“I think we need to continue to go out and try to follow a game plan and get some things done on the court. But we continue to get in foul trouble and we can’t do that with our numbers and we beat ourselves a lot when we turn the ball over too much. People are scoring a lot on points off turnovers against us.”