With football season a week away, we naturally had a basketball press conference this afternoon. Well, the MSU men’s team had that recent jaunt through Europe, where it went 5-0 playing games in Amsterdam, Belgium and Paris.
I’m disappointed to report that coach Rick Stansbury does not know what they call a Big Mac in France, nor has he watched “Pulp Fiction,” but more on that later on. We spoke with Stansbury for a good 26 minutes and spoke with several players as well, including Dee Bost and Rodney Hood.
For now, I’m just going to offer you some highlights of Stansbury’s session. I’ll hit up the players later, with video evidence.
• MSU made the trip minus Renardo Sidney, who made a return trip to Houston to put in some more work with former NBA star John Lucas. Stansbury wanted to be very clear on that decision to leave Sidney behind.
“It was not his decision to go to Houston. Everybody understand that. I made that decision, nobody else made that decision. I made the decision, OK?”
Stansbury said Sidney had to “fulfill some obligations” to the team and has done so. When asked by Brandon Marcello of the C-L if that meant punishment for something, Stansbury said, “‘Fulfill obligations’ are not punishment. That can be opportunities. Don’t be negative, now.”
• MSU’s schedule is nearly complete. Stansbury said today that the first two dates in early November have been filled: Eastern Kentucky will visit Nov. 7, and then Akron on Nov. 9. Those games are part of the 2K Classic, which also features two games for MSU in New York City on Nov. 17-18.
Stansbury said one more date has to be filled, hopefully by Friday.
• Stansbury confirmed that freshman D.J. Gardner, the Daily Journal’s 2011 Player of the Year from Okolona and a first-team Parade All-American, will take a redshirt this season. Stansbury said it was Gardner’s decision.
“He’s got to realize when you come to us realizing you’re way behind, it didn’t take him long to realize that in practice. It was just a little bit of everything. The thing you have to realize is you’re not redshirting not to work hard, but to try to catch up.”
Gardner saw limited action in three games in Europe.
• Back in the spring, Stansbury wasn’t sure if sophomore guard Jalen Steele would be able to play in Europe as he recovered from a late-season ACL injury. He played in all five games, averaging 5.8 points and 3.4 rebounds.
“Just having that game experience a little bit was invaluable for him and now he’ll be able to go through conditioning in practice,” Stansbury said. “I hope, come November, with no setbacks” – knocks on table – “he’s ready to go.”