By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Renardo Sidney, we are being led to believe, will do things the right way this time. I don’t believe it’s too cynical to say that I’m going to have to see it to believe it.
Like many of you, I’ll be watching throughout the season, waiting for something to go wrong for the Mississippi State big man. Is that fair? Sure it is, given Sidney’s past, both on and off the basketball court.
He understands this.
“I’m sure they’re waiting on me to screw up,” Sidney said on Tuesday. “Our team, I think we’ll have no problems this year. We finally have grown up, really. We were just childish last year.”
The 6-foot-10, 285-pound Sidney was the biggest child last year, the problem child who brought shame to himself and the program. He brawled with a teammate in Hawaii, was out of shape and had a general poor attitude.
Now a junior, we’re told he’s growing up.
“There’s no question, the biggest thing is he’s been the most coachable he’s been,” coach Rick Stansbury said. “For the most part he’s been a good teammate.”
Sidney has been making it through conditioning drills, and he’s apparently listening to Stansbury – without offering his own input. If that continues, then maybe there will be less drama and more production from Big Sid.
“Whatever he says goes,” said Sidney. “I just had to realize he was the boss, and I was the player. We bumped heads last year, but this year I’m trying to change and trying to be coachable and listen to everything he has to say.”
Maybe Sidney really has learned some lessons. He spent a lot of time in Houston over the summer working with former NBA star John Lucas, and Sidney talked more about his improvements in attitude and effort than in his game, which can be top notch when he’s dialed in.
Sidney said he spoke with counselors every day he was in Houston. He was taught how to deal with his anger, which has been a problem in full public view.
“I’m not crazy,” he said, “but sometimes I get overheated.”
Sidney is talented enough to be one of the best players to ever come through MSU. He has the physical tools, but he’s been so coddled throughout his career that his gifts are overshadowed by his faults.
He could make this team great, or he could tear it apart again. It’s up to him. Sidney says he wants to change, that he wants this to be a special season where MSU competes for a national title. He says he wants to leave his turbulent past behind.
“I love this team right now, the way we’re going right now, it’s like we’re ready to have a big year,” Sidney said. “To me it’s like a fairytale, because I lived the horror last year.”
I like happy endings as much as anyone, but I never assume they’ll happen. The story has yet to be written.
Brad Locke (firstname.lastname@example.org) covers Mississippi State for the Daily Journal and blogs daily at NEMS360.com.