By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Three months before Mississippi State’s season begins, first-year coach Rick Ray is already having to juggle his lineup.
When freshman Jacoby Davis injured his ACL earlier this summer, Ray was left with only one point guard, junior college transfer Trivante Bloodman. He needs a backup, and it looks like that’ll be freshman Craig Sword.
“Ultimately I want to use Craig more as a combo guard, being a 2 and then a 1,” Ray said Thursday. “But now I don’t see him playing any at the 2-guard position, and I think he will strictly be a point guard this season.”
Sword starred at Montgomery Carver High School as a shooting guard and was expected to play a good bit this year. Now he’ll definitely have to, although right now he’s trying to move past a recent arrest.
On July 22, Sword was arrested for having a BB gun in his dorm room. Ray said he hasn’t settled on a punishment beyond some extra running right now. He said Sword is “remorseful” and willing to learn from the situation.
“His approach to basketball has always been good, and it hasn’t changed his work ethic or how he goes about his business,” Ray said.
on the road
MSU opens the season Sept. 9 at Troy, the first time in eight years it hasn’t played the opener at Humphrey Coliseum. Only five of State’s 12 non-conference games are at home.
“If I had my say-so in it, I would’ve wanted to play a home game first and then go play a road game,” Ray said. “But it was already there and we couldn’t do anything about it. But hey, you gotta go play them whether it’s the first game or the second game.”
Overall, Ray likes the schedule, which includes dates at Providence and Loyola-Chicago, the latter in honor of the 50th anniversary of the team’s historic NCAA tournament meeting.
This being his first head coaching job, Ray has had to deal with a lot more responsibility. On the court and on the recruiting trail, he said it’s not much of an adjustment.
Off the court is another story.
“The biggest adjustment has been dealing with the media and dealing with speaking engagements,” he said. “It hasn’t been anything that’s been a burden or anything like that or something I’ve felt like I’m not prepared for. Just more so than anything having that constantly on your agenda.”