By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
ATLANTA – Dee Bost was a little offended.
When asked about being named All-SEC second team by the league’s coaches earlier this week, the Mississippi State point guard said, “That ain’t good enough.”
Then he smiled.
Bost has a chance to further state his case at the SEC Tournament this weekend. The Bulldogs (17-13), who earned a first-round bye as the No. 2 Western Division seed, take on Vanderbilt at 9 p.m. today at the Georgia Dome.
Bost might have earned first-team honors had he played the entire season. But an NCAA suspension – for belatedly withdrawing from the 2010 NBA Draft – and an academic suspension delayed the start of his season until Jan. 8, the SEC opener against Alabama.
So Bost has played in only 16 games, but he’s made the most of them, averaging 15.3 points and 5.9 assists per game.
His shooting has suffered lately because of a bad hamstring and strained Achilles’ tendon, but he’s still dishing it out: Over his last five games, Bost his averaging 7.8 assists.
“It’s hurting, and I can’t move like I want, but ain’t nothing I can do about it, really,” Bost said.
Hobbled though he is, Bost is a big reason the Bulldogs are finally starting to come together and have won three in a row coming in. Another is senior guard Ravern Johnson, who’s rediscovered his shooting stroke and is averaging 19.7 points over his last six games.
Also hot is senior forward Kodi Augustus, who’s recorded two double-doubles in his last three outings.
Those three, plus senior guard Riley Benock, have plenty of SEC Tournament experience and are a reason the Bulldogs have as good a shot as anyone at winning it.
“We don’t want to come out and say that we feel like we’re better than this team or that team,” Bost said, “but from playing everybody in the league and being around, we’re confident enough to know that we have what we need to get the job done.”
Bringing out the best
Besides setting up his teammates, Bost feels it’s also his job to prepare tournament newbies like junior college transfer Brian Bryant and big man Renardo Sidney. The Georgia Dome is a cavernous place, and it can be intimidating.
“Being close to game day, I’m going to talk to them, probably talk to the whole team,” Bost said. “Kodi and Ray, they’ve been there before, just talk to the people who haven’t and tell them what it takes and just make sure we go out there and play.”
Bryant and Sidney have both played better of late, as has sophomore Wendell Lewis, who played all of two minutes in last year’s SEC Tournament, when MSU reached the championship game and lost to Kentucky.
To make the NCAA tourney, State needs to win the SEC title. Coach Rick Stansbury said he’s not too concerned about his less experienced players hindering that effort.
“This stage brings out the best in you if you’re a player,” Stansbury said. “Brings out the best and worst. If you can’t get it done, if you don’t like the big stage, then you won’t get it done. Guys who want a big stage and to play against the best and compete against the best, this’ll bring out the best of you.”
It could well bring out the best in Bost, who’s eager to prove to the SEC’s other coaches that he’s among the best point guards in the league.
“I’m going to let them know, too,” he said.
Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571