By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
Where did it all go wrong for Mississippi State?
How did a team with two first-team All-SEC picks not do any better?
Why couldn’t Rick Stansbury properly motivate the Bulldogs?
These are questions I’ve heard many fans ask over the last several days. They deserve some answers.
MSU should have, in my opinion, been good enough to make a run at the NCAA tournament Sweet 16. It’s one of the most talented teams in the SEC.
Instead, it couldn’t string together three wins in a row after Christmas, lost seven of its last nine games, and ended the season with a first-round NIT loss to Massachusetts in front of a tiny crowd.
The atmosphere in Humphrey Coliseum on Tuesday night was an odd one. It felt heavy and forced. This was, after all, a postseason game, not an early season game versus Eastern Kentucky.
Freshman Rodney Hood traced MSU’s problems back to the summer, where he saw some character issues cropping up. He didn’t delve into specifics.
The summer is when Renardo Sidney, the troubled forward, took a pair of trips to Houston to spend time with former NBA great John Lucas. Not with his coaches and teammates, but with a mentor, separate from everything going on in Starkville.
And perhaps that’s what Sidney needed at the time. In October he claimed to be a changed man, with a better attitude and better work ethic. But on Tuesday, what we saw was a sloppy looking player who stood around with his jersey untucked.
Then we saw him on the bench for the final 23 minutes, 51 seconds. Coach Rick Stansbury said that was just a product of MSU “scrambling” to get back in the game – which it did with a 20-6 run – but it makes you wonder.
There was clearly a lack of chemistry with this team, and the words of Arnett Moultrie still linger. You’ll recall what he said on Feb. 27: “Everybody’s got their own agendas.”
Coaching must come into question when so much talent produces such modest results. The fan outcry against Stansbury is the loudest I’ve ever heard it, and fans made a statement Tuesday by not showing up – a season-low 2,507, turned out.
I have also seen and heard fans voice support for Stansbury while at the same time expressing the same level of frustration as those who want a change. So, regardless of their position on Stansbury’s job status, fans want answers.
Since Tuesday, athletics director Scott Stricklin has repeatedly declined to talk about Stansbury. Stricklin knows what we reporters want to ask, but right now he’s not ready to answer.
And so we wait.
Brad Locke (email@example.com) covers Mississippi State for the Daily Journal and blogs daily at DJournal.com.