By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Rick Stansbury is eager to distance himself from the recent past.
Mississippi State’s 13th-year head coach deflected questions on Wednesday about the fight between forwards Renardo Sidney and Elgin Bailey and the reasoning behind the decision he made about their suspensions.
Sidney and Bailey engaged in fisticuffs on Dec. 23 in the stands of the Stan Sheriff Center in Hawaii, and both were suspended indefinitely. Both were taken off suspension Monday, after missing two games, and Bailey announced he was transferring.
That outcome resulted in harsh national blowback against Stanbury and MSU, but he declined to address it.
“Enough’s been said about it, and we’re going to move on past all that,” he said. “I don’t worry about things I can’t control, so hey.”
When pressed for details on the incident and what went into his decision, Stansbury again dodged, citing Monday’s press release.
“Whatever I said in that release that day is exactly what it is,” he said. “We’re not going to explain any more. I’ve explained enough over the last two weeks. We’re going to move on.”
The press release never offered an explanation for Stansbury’s disciplinary measures.
Moving on, though, is the only choice for MSU, which also saw backup point guard Twany Beckham leave the program on Wednesday as well. The Bulldogs (8-6) open SEC play Saturday against Alabama (8-6).
“We’ve got to take it not one game at a time, but one practice at a time,” Stansbury said. “Because we’re literally putting a new team together right here in SEC play. We’ve got to take every practice, come out of every practice getting better every day, and hopefully that translates into every game now.”
Stansbury did say he hopes Sidney has learned from his mistakes.
“We’ll find out in the future what he’s learned. … You hope any time someone experiences what he’s been through makes him a better person first. … After that, you hope it translates into becoming a better basketball player.”
Sidney has averaged 15.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in two games this season. He sat out the first nine games because of an NCAA suspension and then was suspended one game by Stansbury last month for “conduct detrimental to the team.”
– Junior Dee Bost makes his long-awaited return Saturday. He’s had to sit out the first 14 games with academic and NCAA suspensions, the latter a result of his withdrawing from the NBA Draft after the NCAA’s deadline.
Bost, the starting point guard his first two years, will start against Alabama, sharing point duties with junior college transfer Brian Bryant.
“I’m not nervous, I’m just ready to play, get the first game over with,” Bost said.
– Senior Ravern Johnson continues to lead the SEC in scoring (20.1 ppg). After a four-game stretch in which he averaged just 11.3 per game, he scored 26 in a loss to St. Mary’s last time out. … MSU ranks last in the SEC in scoring defense (69.2 ppg). … State is last in the league in assists (11.9 per game), but Bost’s return should help that. He averaged 5.2 last year.
Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571