Mississippi State’s Rick Ray joined the rest of the league’s coaches on the SEC men’s basketball teleconference on Monday to discuss the Bulldogs recent performances and preview its match-ups this week.
Here is a transcript of Ray’s time on the call…
Ray: “We’re coming off a week where we had a road win at Auburn and obviously a loss here at home to the Georgia Bulldogs. From what I’ve seen thus far in SEC play, I thought Georgia was the second best team in the SEC. They’ve got the third best strength of schedule in the nation and are such a physical team.
“Even with that loss, I think in the past two weeks our team is playing its best basketball it has played so far this season. We had a tough loss at Texas A&M before we had the home win versus Vanderbilt. Then it was a road win versus Auburn and a home loss here against Georgia.
“i just think that we’re just a few steps away from being where we need to be at to be a consistent winner. We just have to make sure that we stay the course here with our team. I think that anybody that looks at our team, they can see the improvement that we’re having right now. We’re just getting everybody on the same page.
“A lot of it has to do with the health of our starting backcourt. I would venture to say that nobody else in the nation had their starting backcourt out with back surgery at the beginning of the season. I think those guys are starting to round into college basketball shape.”
What was your reaction to J.J. Frazier’s shooting performance?
Ray: “I sat down and watched tape like all coaches do. I do a tough examination and what I could’ve done better. One thing is that we had some simple defensive assignments that we didn’t do as a team and as individuals that allowed him to get loose on some of those.
“A couple of those were contested shots that he made tough shots that he made once he got into a rhythm. I thought our zone defense was not very good as far as covering the shooters in hindsight. I probably should’ve played a little bit more man-to-man to help contain J.J.
“But to his credit he made some tough, difficult shots in transition. He made tough, contested shots but we also had our defensive breakdowns too. Going into the game, it wasn’t like we didn’t reference him as a shooter. We just didn’t do a good job on him.”
What else impressed you about Georgia?
Ray: “I think what comes into play now in college basketball is that they have such an experienced team. Along with that experience, they have the knowledge of what it takes to win a basketball game.
“We played TCU earlier in the year and I thought they were the most physical team that we’d played up until Georgia. You can see that Mark Fox and Trent (Johnson) come from that same coaching tree.
“They’re just such a physical team. Everything at the rim is contested and they do a good job of using their big, physical bodies to wall it up. They also have that fortitude right now of knowing how to win and go about winning.
“I think they’re a unique team. A lot of teams in college basketball rely on ball screen penetration to get wins. But they do a great job in their screening action with that flex offense of getting guys open often off ball screens. I just think that’s rare in college basketbal at this point in time.”