Stansbury Speaks: On Sidney, Abolishing Divisions, Evaluation Period

The SEC’s basketball coaches had their annual summer teleconference this morning so that us media hacks could punch out some copy during a slow week, and for that we’re forever grateful. I’ll have more from the coaches as a whole later, but right now let’s listen to what Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury had to say.

One of the first things he was asked about, not surprisingly, was Renardo Sidney and what kind of shape the big man is in. Sidney is in Houston this month working with John Lucas and will return to school for the second summer term, which starts next week.

“He’s done well from what we’ve been told. We haven’t been able to watch him play, but I guess he’s had a good summer,” Stansbury said.

How’s his conditioning going?

“He’s progressing. Like I said, we’re not able to watch him. As far as we understand, it’s going OK.”

• Stansbury maintains his stance against abolishing divisions, which the SEC is doing starting with this season. The 16-game schedule won’t be affected until the 2012-13 season, and it could be anywhere from an 18- to 22-game slate then.

All the other coaches who were asked today said eliminating the Eastern and Western divisions will be good for the league. The SEC Tournament will be seeded one through 12, and the other coaches think this will help determine a “true champion,” as LSU’s Trent Johnson put it.

“How is it better?” Stansbury asked. “We talked about seeding for the tournament; we were going to keep divisions and seed for the tournament, but outside of that, how does it help?”

When asked about expanding the league schedule to as many as 22 games – everybody would play each other twice – Stansbury said that would be the only justification for abandoning the division format.

“If any of the reasons were for making it a true champion, then you can’t have a true champion unless everybody plays each other twice. That’s the only way there’s going to be a true champion come out of this league.”

• Stansbury doesn’t want to see the July evaluation period become more restricted, an issue the NCAA is considering.

“We coaches are held more accountable, but we’re given less time to recruit, less time to make decisions and make right decisions,” Stansbury said. “I don’t think that’s right. I’ve been at it long enough to know, hey, what it is is what it is. You’ve got to adjust to it.”

Click video to hear audio