Howland preps for three-game homestand

Mississippi State begins a three-game homestand with Arkansas on Tuesday night. Head coach Ben Howland previewed the rematch against the Razorbacks during his weekly press conference on Monday afternoon.

On I.J. Ready…

“He has compared the pain of his back that he had the other day to the pain of last year. He was moving a lot better yesterday. This has happened several times on a road trip so I don’t know if it is the travel or if he moves wrong. The pain is coming from his upper back so I don’t think it is from his lower back. What he is able to do today is yet to be determined.

On playing the next three games at home…

“It is one game at a time. Our first opponent is very athletic and an extremely talented team. They have improved a lot in terms of their offense and how they move the ball. They are still a pressing team that is going to pressure the ball. They will play multiple players. It is a very good team that we are matched up with.”

On getting more practice…

“At this time of the year it is tough because we have been short handed. Yesterday we came in and watched our film from LSU. We did some mobility to get the elastic acid out of their bodies. The guys are playing a lot of minutes so I thought it was better for us to have our best chance to not do a whole lot physically. Today we will have a good practice and go hard so hopefully we will come out tomorrow prepared and ready to go.”

On playing man-to-man…

“When you look at the stats when we play man-to-man, we are fouling more. That was the problem in the last game. Malik’s [Newman] two fouls were easy calls to make. We have to play without fouling. I didn’t want to play zone against LSU, but we didn’t have Ready and we were in foul trouble so we had to. This will be a challenge for our man defense because they cut hard and move the ball. They are a good passing team. They have two great shooters with Dusty Hannahs and Anthlon Bell.”

 On staying upbeat…

“Our guys have been pretty good. Yesterday, we had a real intense film session. It is always a grind whether you’re winning or losing. Our first game was Jan. 6 and the last game is March 5. You have 18 games packed in there in less than three months. It’s a lot.”

On Gavin Ware…

“It is tough when you are on the losing side of it. He has done a good job for us offensively; he still needs to do a better job defensively for us. That is something that we have tried to emphasize.  There is no question that he will have a career beyond Mississippi State. He is having a good year. You look at his efficiency rating offensively and his rebound numbers, they are really impressive. The coaches recognize that because he is demanding double teams. We have to keep trying to get the ball to him because he is so good. He has great hands and a great touch. He is strong and has the ability to hold his position. His biggest issue is he is playing more minutes than he has ever played, so he gets tired towards the end of the game. He has come a long way since his freshman year. He has relied on his jumper in the past. I think he is doing better this year because he is playing with his back to the basket. He has a very nice jump shot, but he has made scoring in the paint a focal point for this season.”

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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