Mississippi State men’s basketball coach Ben Howland will practice with the youngest team of his career on Tuesday as the Bulldogs begin their fall work. Howland met with the media in advance of the first practice to talk about his team.
“Well, this is exciting. We are looking forward to this season. We’re obviously very young. I have probably the youngest team I’ve ever coached in my 21 years as a head coach. But, I obviously have some talented kids that we are really excited about their futures. The trip this summer to Italy and the opportunity to practice was a really good thing for this team because of our youth. I’m looking forward to getting started. Tomorrow for us is the first day we get 30 days of practice, out of 42 days prior to our first game which began September 30th. We’ve spaced out our practice times, and I like the rule way better. It used to be once October 15th every year. Now you get to choose and start a little earlier, which is much better.”
On the confidence of your young team
“I think that they’re very confident. They’re a confident bunch and they’re excited. There’s no question just to have a chance to practice, to have some situations where it’s already been organized for them at Mississippi State. But still, So, we’re going to be, if not the youngest, one of the youngest teams in the country and that’s going to both be fun and exciting and also excruciating.”
“The biggest year of improvement is between your freshman and sophomore year because of the experience you gain as freshman that summer in-between and then coming back that sophomore year. So, I’m excited about this group because we know there’s a lot of room for them to improve and get better players. You’ll see a big growth spurt in these kids especially receiving a lot of playing time. There’s no if, ands, or buts; they’re all going to play. Imagine over half of our squad playing major minutes are going to be freshmen. So, there’s a big learning curve and there’s a big upside as they grow.”
On Quinndary Weatherspoon
“He’s a very good player but you saw how much he grew during the year from where he was his freshman year to the end of our season. He grew as a player, just incredibly, and improved so much. He has a confidence now that comes with success and having earned success and knowing what it’s like to work hard, and he’s done a good job in his leadership role with our team. He was very good in both the practices and the games over in Italy, til he got ill for that last one. So, I expect Q to have a really good sophomore campaign and to take his game to whole other level because of his experience and positive experience. But, he’s got a lot of things that he’s got to get better at, a more consistent player in many different areas and I think he will.”