By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
Don Maestri has a unique perspective on Rodney Hood.
For one season – 1979-80 – Maestri was an assistant basketball coach at Mississippi State, and that was the same season Ricky Hood played for the Bulldogs. More than three decades later, the coach watched Hood’s son, Rodney, score 12 points as the Bulldogs trampled Maestri’s Troy team last weekend.
After the game, Maestri told Hood, “I knew your dad. You’re better-looking than him, and you’re a better player.”
Maestri described Ricky Hood as athletic and hard-working, but, “His dad wasn’t as good as Rodney is as a freshman. He’s way ahead of the curve.”
That’s been evident so far during this season, in which Mississippi State has started 10-1 and earned a No. 17 national ranking. Hood hasn’t played like a freshman, especially in big moments.
When things got tight down the stretch against FAU on Tuesday, Hood had a putback and a leaner in the lane to help the Bulldogs stave off the visitors. That’s just the way he plays, because he’s concerned less with highlight plays and more with plain old good plays.
“He’s had good coaching from his dad,” MSU coach Rick Stansbury said. “He didn’t allow him to go in the gym and work on 3-pointers or dunks. He taught him about the finer points of the game. Most people don’t get that as a young kid.”
Stats tell story
Entering today’s game at Detroit (5-7), Hood is third on the team in scoring at 12.9 points per game. He’s shooting 54.6 percent from the field, a very close second to forward Arnett Moultrie (54.7). Hood’s also grabbing 5.5 rebounds and has 20 assists against 11 turnovers.
He’s started all 11 games and leads the Bulldogs in minutes per game (34.6). Hood played all 40 minutes against FAU – State was without Moultrie and guard Brian Bryant – and recorded his first career double-double (19 points, 10 rebounds).
That game gave Hood a taste of what it could be like in SEC play, even if MSU is playing with a full roster.
“I haven’t played SEC ball, but I know they’re not going to let Dee (Bost) weave in and out of the lane like that, and they’re going to double down on people, so I’ve got to be their missing link to knock down shots and make plays,” Hood said. “I’m glad we had games like this where I can work on that.”
MSU will have Bryant back today after his three-game suspension, and Stansbury expects Moultrie (knee tendinitis) to start. Detroit is led by Chase Simon (16.3 ppg) and point guard Ray McCallum Jr. (14.6 ppg).