By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Renardo Sidney has done this before. He’s had bursts of play where all of his dormant potential comes pouring out in waves.
But then the waters recede, and Sidney returns to his normal enigmatic state. So will this time be any different?
His Mississippi State teammates think so. They say what they’ve seen of the 6-foot-10 forward lately – especially in Saturday’s win over Vanderbilt – signals the arrival of a different Renardo Sidney.
Freshman Rodney Hood pointed to a key defensive stop in the second half at Vandy. Festus Ezeli appeared to have Sidney beat for an easy bucket, but Sidney recovered and made a nice block to preserve MSU’s 63-60 lead.
“The old Sid would have let him just dunk it,” Hood said. “He went after it. That’s when I really realized he’s coming along, he’s back.”
Dee Bost has seen this coming for a few games now. In a win over Alabama on Jan. 14, Sidney was tired and asking to come out of the game.
“We told him to stay in and keep pushing, and that’s what he did,” senior point guard Dee Bost said. “He came up with a big stop against them.”
Entering No. 18 MSU’s game tonight against LSU (12-7, 2-3 SEC), Sidney is averaging 10.5 points and 4.9 rebounds per game, while logging 21.6 minutes per game. He scored 17 points – his second-highest total of the season – in last week’s loss to Ole Miss.
Who can stop him?
Then at Vanderbilt, after sitting out all but two minutes of the first half with foul trouble, he scored six points during a 14-0 MSU run and finished with nine. He’s becoming more active on offense lately.
“I want him to attack and be aggressive, because we don’t feel like anybody can stop him in the post,” Bost said.
Sidney’s season high for minutes is 29, which he logged against Ole Miss. His teammates believe the more minutes he can play, the more dominant he can be.
“He’ll be unstoppable if he was able to go out there and do what he does for 35 minutes,” said Arnett Moultrie, Sidney’s frontcourt mate.
If Sidney can continue his progress, then perhaps he can silence his critics, who have been vocal about his attitude, effort and conditioning ever since he first stepped on the court for State last season.
Teammates say criticism doesn’t bother Sidney, but motivates him.
Bost said Sidney is “more mentally tough” than he used to be. Moultrie said Sidney understands what he could accomplish if he puts forth the effort.
If it’s indeed a new Sidney, then the Bulldogs (16-4, 3-2) are glad to see it.
“We’re just glad to see change,” Moultrie said, “finally see change.”