By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – The bench keeps tugging at Dee Bost.
Mississippi State’s junior point guard spent so much time on it during his 14-game game exile, and there are times during a game that fatigue will catch up with him, and his legs and lungs will beg for rest.
“Truth be told, I try to come out of the game sometimes, but (coach Rick Stansbury) don’t want to take me out,” Bost said.
It’s not like Stansbury has many options at the point. Junior college transfer Brian Bryant started nine games there before Bost returned from academic and NCAA suspensions, but he’s not been very productive the three games that Bost has been back, totaling just two points and three assists over that span.
“That’s very critical,” Stansbury said of Bryant’s play. “That’s an important area on our basketball team. We need Brian to give us productive minutes – not just minutes, but productive minutes.”
Last season, Bost could get a break when Barry Stewart moved over to the point. Stewart’s gone, of course, and with Twany Beckham transferring to Kentucky earlier this month, there’s little depth there.
That’s why it’s important that not only Bryant improve, but that Bost reach the level he showed flashes of in intrasquad scrimmages and a Dec. 15 exhibition game.
“He’s one that from Day 1 you never worried about getting back there, just a little bit of time for him to do it,” Stansbury said. “But he’s closer.”
That could be scary for opponents, because Bost has been pretty good. In three games, he’s averaged 16.0 points, 7.0 assists and 33.3 minutes, and he had 25 points and eight assists at Ole Miss last weekend.
‘A matter of time’
Bost said he’d like to see himself get to the point where 25 points and 10 assists can be a regular occurrence. How close is he to being up to that level?
“Just a matter of time, probably one or two games, if that,” he said.
The sooner the better for MSU (10-7, 2-1 SEC), which travels to Georgia (13-4, 2-2) on Saturday for a 3 p.m. clash. Those other Bulldogs have a stacked backcourt led by junior guard Travis Leslie, who’s averaging 14.5 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, and Tennessee State transfer Gerald Robinson (13.9 points, 4.2 assists per game).
Two things could help Bost with his stamina: Georgia prefers a halfcourt offense over the transition game, and Stansbury has been running a lot of 2-3 zone on defense instead of his normal man-to-man.
That should give Bost a chance to catch his breath.
“My body’s got no choice but to hold up,” he said. “It’s just like any other game, any other guard I go against or whoever I’m guarding.”
Fortunately for MSU, Bost isn’t just raising his own game. He’s given everyone a boost, and that’s shown in practices and games alike.
“It’s way different,” freshman guard Jalen Steele said. “Since Dee’s been back, and then Renardo (Sidney)’s getting his game back, everybody’s coming (together) as one. We’ve finally got our pieces that we need to go deep in this SEC play.”
Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571