We caught up with Mississippi State's assistant basketball coaches today. Those guys have been awfully busy trying to round up a decent recruiting class, and that's something I'll write about for the near future.
For now, let's hit some highlights from the talks we had. I've got some video of the new guys linked up below, so be sure to check that out.
• Flanigan came in from Nebraska, which had a coaching change this offseason. He played ball at Auburn and spent five years as an assistant at Northwest Mississippi Community College. He's quite happy to be back close to home and likes the staff that Rick Ray has put together.
"I think Rick, when he hired us as a staff, he kind of wanted to fit a puzzle together. Obviously we're all trying to figure out our roles now. Some of them are defined, some of them are not."
Flanigan did say that he'll be working a good bit with perimeter players – he was an All-SEC guard at Auburn. He knows Ray from the AAU circuit (Flanigan once coached an AAU team).
"I've been around him three weeks, and the first week here we went through individual improvement with the guys in workouts," Flanigan said. "It's going to be refreshing for our guys and obviously refreshing for me, to see a coach get out there in the workout with those guys, lace his shoes up, get down in the stance and defend those guys. It might entice me to get back in shape a little bit and try to do some of the same things."
For video of Flanigan, CLICK HERE.
• Hollender left an assistant's job at his alma mater, Evansville, to join Ray. Their connection is an interesting one.
Ray's first year as an Indiana State assistant was also Hollender's senior year as a player for Evansville (1997-98). Both schools are members of the Missouri Valley Conference. Hollender's roommate, Kareem Richardson, went to work at Indiana State. So when he had time off from playing pro ball, Hollender would hang out with Richardson and Ray in Terre Haute.
Hollender will work with the post players, of which there's a shortage at the moment.
"The guys have been super excited," Hollender said. "Their energy has been off the charts, and personalities are coming out big time, and … the young people that are here, the young guys that are here that are around are really, really excited."
MSU's most experienced returning big man is senior Wendell Lewis, who did not take a step forward last season as many expected.
"Wendell, he has been like a breath of fresh air for me," Hollender said. "He's funny. I think his energy level has been great. He comes in the office all the time. He's laughing, smiling all the time, so I'm excited about him."
For video of Hollender, CLICK HERE.
• Brooks was the lone holdover from Rick Stansbury's staff. He's helped the new guys adjust to new environs and in recruiting. When Ray asked about a good post player to go after, Brooks told him about Colin Borchert, the East Mississippi CC who recently signed with State.
"He visited Georgetown, and he visited Xavier, and they were just looking for a good fit. And this is a good fit for both parties," Brooks said.
He also spoke about Lewis.
"He needed to take more ownership in what's going on in this program, and I think he's done that. He feels like it's his time to be successful, and our teams are going to be predicated a lot on how he does. Right now he's working hard, and I've seen a different side of him."