We have no Rick Stansbury for you today. The weekly press conference that had been rescheduled for today has again been pushed back to Thursday because of a funeral the coach must attend. But we did get to chat with assistant coach Phil Cunningham today on the first SEC coaches teleconference of the season.
No. 15 MSU (13-2) opens SEC play Saturday at Arkansas (11-3). The Razorbacks are playing a frenetic style under first-year coach Mike Anderson, and it’s a challenge to prepare for it.
“We haven’t played anybody this year who plays that way, who’s going to try to cause so many turnovers, particularly in the backcourt. It’s just different,” Cunningham said. “Fortunately for us we’ve got a whole week to prepare for them, so that’ll be to our advantage to have that kind of time frame in practice.”
Speaking of practices, those have been going well this week. Some guys who played with various illnesses in last week’s 66-64 win over Utah State are getting better.
“Most of them are over it. We had a few guys yesterday in practice still fighting some effects. We seem to be on the other side of those little sicknesses they had, and everybody was pretty good in practice yesterday. We probably had one of our best practices of the year yesterday.”
Let’s bullet-point some other thoughts from Cunningham.
• On the recent play of Renardo Sidney: “He’s either getting in better shape or he’s learning how to play with that weight and handling that weight better, but he’s becoming in the last four games more like he was last year in terms of if you look at his numbers and his consistency on the offensive end.”
• On defending ball screens: “If you ask any coach, that’s where they would point to where you have to improve, and you have to consistently defend, is in ball screen situations. We’ve got to get better there.”
• On junior forward Arnett Moultrie: “If I’m a young guy on this team and I see all the attention he’s getting, I see the numbers he’s putting up, I can look at his effort every day in practice, I can look at his effort consistently in the games, and I can look at his effort after practice ends and everybody else starts walking out that door. And I can say to myself, hey, there’s a reason why this guy is playing so well and putting up such good numbers.”
We also heard from Anderson today, so here are a few quotables.
• On the team adjusting to his style of play: “Of course with a young team, they’re going to be kind of up and down. They’ll take one step forward and take maybe a half-step backward. I’ve been pretty pleased with the effort of our guys.”
• On losing forward Marshawn Powell to a season-ending knee injury in November, right before losing to Houston: “It took our guys into a state of shock when your best player goes down. Now everybody’s kind of looking at each other, and I thought that really cost us the Houston game.”
• When asked about MSU having multiple ball-handlers: “They’ve got a good balance. They’ve got experienced guys, and we have got inexperienced guys.”