STARKVILLE Mississippi State had two hotel options this week the Helmsley Hotel on 42nd Street in Manhattan or the Hilton in East Rutherford, N.J.
Coach Richard Williams selected New Jersey.
“We’re certainly not going up there to have a party,” he said. “Can you imagine Russell Walters in Manhattan? As for staying in New Jersey, my understanding is that there’s nothing to do there (smile).”
Coming or going: Star junior forward Dontae’ Jones, the MVP of the Southeast Regional, asked Williams the other day if he (Williams) was leaving MSU after the season was over.
“I told him if he was here I’d be here,” said Williams, whose name is being mentioned for a number of vacant jobs, including the one at North Carolina-Charlotte.
Will Dontae’ stay?: “You always think about getting a chance to play in the NBA,” he said. “If there’s a good opportunity for me to play in the NBA, maybe go in the lottery, then I’d have to go.”
Jones admits that going to class is not high on his list of priorities.
“You know my past history,” he said, then laughed. “That’s not one of my favorite things. Basketball is my first love. I try to put all my focus on basketball.”
Williams said he will sit down after the season and talk with Jones and junior center Erick Dampier about the options of staying or going pro.
To re-seed or not: The fact that No. 1 UMass and No. 2 Kentucky are in the same bracket and have to play in the semifinals has some folks in college basketball calling for change. They’d like to see top-seeded teams put in opposite brackets if they make the Final Four.
Kentucky was the Midwest top seed and UMass was the East top seed. Mississippi State was No. 5 in the Southeast and Syracuse was No. 4 in the West.
“I’ve never thought about it,” Williams said. “I know Kentucky and UMass are thought of as a marquee matchup. I’m a basketball fan and I think it deserves to be the marquee matchup.”
Style update: MSU is changing shoes for the Final Four. The Bulldogs have worn black Nikes all season, including the new black Air Max Uptempo starting in the NCAA Tournament.
During Tuesday’s practice, the team was wearing a white with black trim version of the same upscale shoe.
“We’re getting all kinds of stuff from Nike now that we’re in the Final Four,” assistant coach Owen Miller said.
The Bulldogs, being the lowest seeded team in the Final Four, will have to wear their maroon road uniforms in both games. They are 2-0 in the white in Indianapolis and 2-0 in the maroon in Lexington.
Injury update: Williams says a lot of players are sore, but everybody will be ready to play Saturday.
Russell Walters (shoulder), Marcus Bullard (elbow), Dontae’ Jones (foot) and Whit Hughes (ankle, knee) are on the list of the walking wounded.
“Russell’s shoulder is better,” Williams said. “Marcus’ elbow is sore. As for Dontae’s foot, there’s a direct correlation between the pain and how many people are watching him (laugh). Whit’s ankle’s not going to get much better until he gets some rest. He’ll just have to tape it up and play.”