Howland preparing for another road test

Mississippi State lost its first true road game of the season 72-67 at Missouri-Kansas City over the weekend. Now Ben Howland‘s Bulldogs are back traveling to Tallahassee to take on Florida State Wednesday night. Howland previews the game with the Seminoles as well as injury updates on Travis Daniels and I.J. Ready.

Opening statement…

“We just found out that Travis Daniels sustained a concussion, so he will miss our game tomorrow night. His status for our game on Saturday is up in the air. I.J. [Ready], after the game against UMKC, told our trainer he had a pain in his toe. So we have another turf toe injury. He wasn’t able to practice today. He’s getting a steel insole in the bottom of his shoe. His status is still questionable based on how he does today. We will see how he responds to that steel insole.”

On closing games…

“In that game, we had opportunities going back and forth. I watched that game four different times. The biggest thing is that we have to do a better job defensively. We took bad shots down the stretch with the lead or with the game tied. I have to do a better job utilizing our bench. I thought I did a bad job of not using Quinndary [Weatherspoon] and Fred [Thomas] more. Our defensive intensity is just not good enough. I.J. played tired, and that’s understandable because he missed four practices so his conditioning wasn’t as good. We had a hard, spirited practice yesterday. I felt good about the intensity of our practice. UMKC shot 54 percent and scored too many points in the paint.”

On Elijah Staley…

“He’s got to get in basketball shape. It’s a big adjustment from being a football player to being a basketball player. That’s his biggest thing to being able to help us in games.”

On how the freshmen played in the first true road game…

“I thought Q [Weatherspoon] did a good job late in the game. Malik [Newman] got us off to a good start. Both are improving and I’m excited about both of them and their future.”

On reviewing games multiple times…

“When we lose a game, I like to study it really well. Every time you watch a game as I do, you always notice other little things. I sat down with team on Monday and watched the game, pointing out the details and seeing what we need to get better at. We got out-rebounded by one and that’s because we missed so many shots. Our attack of the zone was not that good. We have to get better at feeding the post and getting the ball at the high post.”

On who will get more minutes in Travis Daniels’ absence…

“We will give Fallou [Ndoye] more of an opportunity. [Florida State] plays really big. They start a 7-3 center and go to the bench with a 6-10 guy. They have size, which is a good game for him to match up in. Johnny [Zuppardo] will play more minutes. Fred and Quinndary will play more minutes as well.”

On Florida State…

“They have two outstanding freshmen that are tremendous players. They really get up and down the floor and will pressure with their man-to-man defense. They have great length. The number one thing that concerns me is their transition offense. We have to be committed to getting back in transition and getting set on defense. We have to do a really good job with the boards because they’re so big. Gavin [Ware] will have to work hard to get touches.”

On Fallou Ndyoe’s improvement as a player…

“He brings good energy defensively. He does get into foul trouble. He has to get better at catching the ball and finishing around the basket. My whole thing for him is to just be aggressive. If he makes mistakes, we want it to be because we’re being so aggressive.”

On Johnny Zuppardo’s development…

“He’s going to defend well in the post. He had a solid outing in our last game. He took a big charge late that gave us the ball back with the game tied. He works hard and wants to help his team. He really cares about his team and his teammates. It’s evident in how he plays and competes. He’ll definitely have more opportunities.”

On how Gavin Ware needs to step up with Travis Daniels out…

“We need Gavin to be successful every night. It starts with him. We will have to be smart and take good shots. Florida State is a much-improved team. This is a team that will be in the NCAA Tournament.”

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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