By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – There is no black cloud of uncertainty hanging over Mississippi State as it opens its 100th season of men’s basketball. In fact, there’s a lot of reason to hope for great things.
The Bulldogs open their 2011-12 campaign at 7 tonight when Eastern Kentucky visits Humphrey Coliseum. There are notable concerns for MSU: Transfer Kristers Zeidaks has been suspended for this season plus the first 11 games of next season due to amateurism issues, and freshman point guard DeVille Smith is in the hospital after experiencing headaches and dizziness last week.
Nevertheless, the optimism this preseason has been palpable, with a five-game European exhibition tour in August a big reason fir it.
“We’ve just been rolling – no drama, no nothing,” sophomore guard Jalen Steele said.
The two previous seasons had enough drama to last 14th-year coach Rick Stansbury a lifetime. Renardo Sidney missed a season-plus due to NCAA issues, then was a distraction and off the court.
Plus, point guard Dee Bost missed the first half of last season because of NCAA and academic suspensions.
Now, Sidney is a reportedly changed man and ready for his first full season. Bost, a senior, is eager to lead this team to new heights, to fulfill the promise that’s evident when one considers MSU’s talent level.
UTEP transfer Arnett Moultrie will play a big role in the post, and freshman Rodney Hood is expected to step right into the starting lineup.
MSU has a tough non-conference schedule, and it starts tonight against an Eastern Kentucky team that runs a Princeton-style offense and went 15-16 last season.
“Our focus has been great,” said Bost. “Everyone is on the same page, and our goal is to win a championship.”