I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a mediocre basketball team garner so many headlines in one season. And they haven’t been good headlines.
We all know what happened in Hawaii and how that story went national in a hurry. The fight between Renardo Sidney and Elgin Bailey was caught on camera and broadcast on TV and YouTube, and quite frankly, MSU basketball became a laughingstock of sorts.
More bad press came when Sidney remained on the team while Bailey transferred. The reasonable assumption was that Bailey was expendable, and that MSU had invested way too much in Sidney to just let him go. Remember, Sidney had already been suspended one game prior to that fight for conduct detrimental to the team.
Then Dee Bost returned from his 14-game suspension, and January became more about basketball. Not necessarily good basketball, but at least the off-the-court stuff quieted down. Until last night.
Following the Bulldogs’ 75-61 loss at Alabama, senior Ravern Johnson went on his Twitter page and put out a message critical of coach Rick Stansbury. (Poorly written as it was, I don’t see how anyone could conclude he wasn’t criticizing Stansbury.) Sidney – who unwisely took to Twitter after the Hawaii brawl – retweeted the message. Both players then criticized fans before deleting their Twitter accounts.
A team spokesman said Johnson deleted his account on his own but was not aware of Sidney deleting his.
A quick aside: Some people have been critical of the media even reporting on Johnson’s outburst, but him saying what he said on Twitter is no different than if he’d said it in front of reporters after the game. Either way it’s a public statement, and it’s a statement that speaks to the turmoil within this team.
Remember when Kodi Augustus criticized Stansbury after a game last season? Got himself a two-game suspension for that.
As of right now, Johnson does not face any discipline. I’ll let you know if that changes.
However you feel about the coverage of this incident, Johnson has created more bad headlines for MSU hoops. Sports by Brooks made some good points about athletes and Twitter – I’ll be echoing some of that for a column I’ve already written for Friday’s Journal – and Ryan Greene of Rivals.com basketball blog The Dagger put it in perspective.
Until and unless this team starts winning consistently, all of this off-court drama will be what defines the 2010-11 Bulldogs, if it hasn’t already.