Howland happy to have players back

Mississippi State men’s basketball coach Ben Howland updates the teams progress in its second week of fall practices. Howland has both Fallou Ndoye and Demetrius Houston participating fully now.

Opening Statement…

“We just finished eight practices yesterday. We had three on and one off, then we went five in a row on, and now we have a two day break, so we will practice again on Friday and Saturday. One day off on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, then we go to Media Day in Charlotte, so we’re off that Wednesday. Then we are back to three or four days in a row again. Starting a little earlier is nice. It used to be, up until two years ago, you started on the Friday closest to the 15th. In that case, we have been starting later than the 15th this year. It’s nice to start a little earlier and get things in. It was a good rule change.”

On improvement so far…

“There are so many things. The thing that was best about this week’s practice than the first three practices was that Fallou (Ndoye) was able to practice. He has a padded splint that he has to play in. Demetrius (Houston) was able to go through all of the practices. It was the first time in quite a while that we have had 10 healthy players on scholarship all out there at the same time, and that makes a big difference for us. There are just so many things to put in; we are just building the foundation of our defense, trying to get better defensively and continue to improve offensively. Especially putting in press offense, we put in press offense last week; half court against half court-trapping zone, full court press offense. Then we have one more to put in against man to man somewhere down the road here. There are just so many things to do. We’re playing a game here in 30 days that counts on our record, so we’ve still got a lot of stuff to put in, trying to play different combinations. As of right now, the guy that really stands out and that’s had great practices consistently has been I.J.(Ready). He’s been really good thus far. He’s really practiced well, and is playing with a lot of confidence, so I can see there will be time when we will play small. We’re going to have I.J., Malik (Newman) and Chicken (Craig Sword) together at the same time on the perimeter. That’s going to pose challenges defensively rebounding wise, but it will also pose some problems for our opponents in terms of matching up with us because that’s a good offensive team. “

On improvement from I.J. Ready…

“I’ve seen just improvement here once we’ve started practice to where he was in the spring. He’s just got a really good focus right now and a really good commitment to what he’s doing at both ends. He’s being a good leader in terms of by example as well as being a good leader verbally. He’s been here for two years; he’s in his third year of college now. He’s the son of a coach. His dad, like Malik Newman’s father, coached basketball, and it really pays dividends because he’s been around it his whole life. He’s played well. I think Chicken  is really playing well. The thing I’m most excited with Chicken this far is he’s rebounding well. On of the things we’re doing is we’re committed to having him go to the offensive glass every time. He’ really excited about that. I’m on him about it, so he’s really getting better. The last two days he’s either tied for rebounds or been second in rebounding the last two practices, and he’s so athletic. We’re going to use him in different ways. We want to get him open in the open court. We want to post him up some. He’s really good around the basket because of his lift. If you can high jump Fallou (Ndoye) and dunk it, you’ve got good lift. We want to take advantage of that. He’s got a very good jump hook around the basket. He’s really got outstanding lift and touch around the basket, so we’re just trying to find different ways to be able to utilize his gift.”

I have covered Mississippi State in some capacity since 2004 and joined the Daily Journal staff in 2013. I enjoy short walks on the beach, performing concerts in my car and watching professional wrestling.

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