By Brad Locke
STARKVILLE – Rodney Hood has already made up his mind that this isn’t happening again.
He’s just a freshman, but the Mississippi State guard has seen what kept his team from doing more. The Bulldogs exited the NIT with a first-round loss to Massachusetts, 101-96, on Tuesday night.
Count the 6-foot-8 Hood among those who felt expectations were not reached.
“Everybody knows we have a lot of talent,” he said. “It was the little things. It wasn’t things you saw on the court, it was the little things off the court, stuff like that. We’ve just got to go back and fix it. This can’t happen next year.”
Hood is one of the few certainties for MSU next season. Arnett Moultrie is pondering the NBA, Renardo Sidney could also leave a year early, and questions about coach Rick Stansbury’s job security have been persistent.
Stansbury, who’s in his 14th season, has deflected those questions all week.
“I haven’t given (it) any thought,” he said. “I think you know this, what we’ve done through 14 years speaks for itself. That’s all I can say about it.”
Moultrie said that if he does return, it’ll be to play with Hood. As for Sidney, he quickly exited the locker room before the media could speak with him after the game.
Sidney has been a microcosm of underachievement during his time at MSU. He averaged 9.7 points and 5.2 rebounds per game this season, and he was kept on the bench for the final 23 minutes, 51 seconds of Tuesday’s game.
MSU lost seven of its last nine games, and on Feb. 27, Moultrie said, “Everybody’s got their own agenda.”
Hood said character was an issue this season.
“It was a piece. It didn’t start in November, it started during the summer,” he said. “We’ve just got to go back and correct it.”
Hood said he saw some things amiss throughout the season, but he didn’t speak up because he’s a freshman. He said he’ll “most definitely” be a leader next season, no matter who’s around.
“Next year we’ve got a good group of guys coming in, good character guys. Next year we’re going to give a good, honest effort every single game – practice, conditioning, everything.”
Guard Dee Bost spoke with his teammates after the game.
“I just told them, get ready for another year,” Bost said. “It’s going to come fast. Go out next week or whenever they start back and get ready and be ready to bust their tail. It’s going to be a different environment.”