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 up on a crucial stretch of games here. Obviously, I was disappointed with our loss at South Carolina. More so than the loss at South Carolina, but the way we played. We gave up 81 points to South Carolina and that’s what we hang our hat on is playing well defensively.
“We’ve got a tough task to go play at Vanderbilt, who is playing really good basketball at this point in time. Coach (Kevin) Stallings does a tremendous job with his team and is one of the better coaches in the nation.
“I wanted to point out one thing before we move on and that’s the terrific play of Craig Sword for us as a basketball team. In SEC play right now he’s the 10th leading scorer and we’re the 10th highest scoring team in the SEC. The percentage of points that he’s generating for our team is really a significant number.
“Just looking at some stats, he’s taken 110 free throws in SEC play which is by far the most in the SEC. The next closest guy is Cinmeon Bowers, who is at 100. Michael Qualls is at 98 and Charles Mann is at 93.
“I’d be hard pressed at this point in time to see if there are any guys that do more for their team than what he does for ours. He deserves serious consideration for first team All-SEC.”
Vanderbilt has made 34 3-pointers in the past three games. Most coaches say it’s because of the quantity of their shooters. Why do you think they are so dangerous from the 3-point line?
Ray: “It’s pretty simple to me. First of all, they recruit guys who can shoot the basketball. I don’t think they seriously consider too many guys at those perimeter positions that don’t have the ability to make 3-point shots. I think it’s a recruiting philosophy for them.
“I think the second thing is the fact that Damian Jones is such a good basketball player that it’s hard to leave him down there 1-on-1. Because if you do that he’s going to have success for them in the post. If you end up helping in the post on a good player like Damian Jones then it opens up some of those guys that you don’t want to leave on the 3-point line.”