By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
Renardo Sidney’s first real college basketball game will be far, far from home in a tiny arena, with no TV cameras around.
The 6-foot-10, 270-pound sophomore, who made headlines in high school for his on-court play and then at Mississippi State for his protracted NCAA eligibility battle, joins the Bulldogs (7-2) for today’s game against Virginia Tech (5-4) at the Battle at Atlantis in Nassau, Bahamas.
The venue, Imperial Arena, has a capacity of 4,500, but at least the game’s a sellout. Tipoff is 7 p.m. Central.
Sidney played in an exhibition win over Belhaven on Wednesday, but cramps limited him to 15 minutes and 10 points. So just how effective he’ll be today is a big question.
He’ll be guarded most of the time by junior Victor Davila (6-8, 245), who’s blocked eight shots over his last three games.
“They’ve always been a team that tries to get the ball inside,” Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg told the Washington Post. “Sidney’s such a talented player, but it’s not like we don’t play against talented players.”
The Hokies have indeed faced some tough competition, with three of their losses coming to ranked foes: Kansas State, Purdue and UNLV. Last time out, Tech shot a season-high 54.5 percent in a 79-69 win over Penn State on Sunday.
This is a team that returns all five starters and 99 percent of its scoring from last season, when the Hokies missed out on an NCAA bid despite a 25-9 record. Their most dynamic player is senior point guard Malcolm Delaney, the ACC’s top scorer last year and again this season (20.1 points per game).
“Virginia Tech is a very strong, big physical team,” MSU coach Rick Stansbury said. “Delaney just manufactures shots for everyone. He just steps up and makes shots.”
For all the talk of Sidney, the backcourt battle could be the most important today. Ravern Johnson, after serving a one-game suspension, is back for MSU; he leads the team with 23.8 ppg.
But State is still without junior guard Dee Bost, who will return from NCAA suspension in January.
“Seth Greenberg sees us limping,” Stansbury said. “I’m sure he’s salivating. He’s probably down at the water park right now instead of worrying about us.amp”
Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571 or email@example.com.