Bulldogs hope European trip pays dividends

STARKVILLE – The food was weird, the sights were awe-inspiring, and the play was rough.
In all, it was a good trip to Europe for Mississippi State’s basketball team. The Bulldogs went 5-0 during the week-long excursion earlier this month to Amsterdam, Belgium and Paris, and they talked about the experience Thursday afternoon.
The trip, which the NCAA allows a team to do once every four years, gave State a leg up in several areas, although it must wait to see how the long-term benefits play out.
“I feel like we got a little bit of chemistry, but it’s still early,” senior point guard Dee Bost said. “We’ve still got a lot more to do. The competition, it was pretty good, but once you get into college play, teams do scouting reports, and they know all the stuff you do.
“We’ll see soon.”
The teams MSU played weren’t exactly SEC level, but they provided solid tests. Arnett Moultrie, the transfer from UTEP, averaged 16.8 points and 11.2 rebounds, and coach Rick Stansbury praised the improvement of senior guard Brian Bryant (7.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg).
The Bulldogs had to adjust to several things, from no practice opportunities to a very physical style of play by opponents.
“Overseas they’re not really as athletic as us over in America, so they use little tricks like grabbing your shorts, little things like that,” freshman guard Rodney Hood said. “It was a big adjustment for everybody, but as time went on we got better.”
While the on-court play was encouraging, just as important was the bonding experience of being overseas as a team. The Bulldogs took in sights like the Anne Frank house and the Eiffel Tower, and there were few worries beyond basketball.
“Time away from the classroom, time away from study hall, where it’s just basketball and hanging out – you don’t get a lot of chances to do that,” Stansbury said. “Even when we travel during the season, it’s get on that plane, travel, hotel, and play that game. Here’s a chance they got to go hang out and spend a lot of time together, so it was good.”
EKU, Akron games added
Stansbury said MSU hopes to have its 2011-12 schedule completed by today. He announced two opponents Thursday: Eastern Kentucky on Nov. 7 and Akron on Nov. 9.
Those are the first two games of the season and will both be played at Humphrey Coliseum. They are part of the 2K Classic, which for MSU also includes two games in New York City on Nov. 17-18.
State begins conditioning work Monday, and preseason practices start Oct. 14.
Gardner to redshirt
D.J. Gardner was the 2011 Daily Journal Player of the Year and a first-team Parade All-American, but he’s not quite ready for the big time.
The Okolona standout approached Stansbury before the Europe trip and asked to be redshirted this season. The coach said Gardner is simply behind in several areas.
“Most guys, you have to go them. Most of them will fight a redshirt,” Stansbury said. “It’s probably good he was able to evaluate some things and see he has a ways to go and wanted to redshirt.”
Gardner is one of five scholarship freshmen on this year’s squad. Hood, Deville Smith and Roquez Johnson are expected to contribute early, with Hood likely to start.
brad.locke@journalinc.com

Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal