By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Craig Sword is highly competitive – too competitive, sometimes.
It’s a reason Mississippi State’s freshman guard has battled the turnover bug and fouls all season. His 73 turnovers are most on the team, and Sword leads the SEC in foulouts with six.
“Craig is trying to figure out what’s going on with himself and where he fits in in the team concept,” MSU coach Rick Ray said Monday. “Craig Sword is a very competitive kid, but when we get down like we were against Arkansas, he tends to put his head down and just drive the basketball into trouble.”
Sword committed a season-high nine turnovers in MSU’s 26-point loss to Arkansas last week. Ray said it’s not a matter of being selfish, “but that’s his way to compete. His way to compete is to steal the ball from the other team, and so he gambles, and that leads to fouls.”
But in Saturday’s 82-47 loss to Florida, Sword committed no turnovers and was called for just one foul. Ray believes Sword is starting to figure some things out, and Sword agrees.
“Yeah, I’m getting comfortable, and I’ve been working on it in practice,” he said.
It’s looking more likely that senior center Wendell Lewis will stay off the court this season and try for a do-over next year.
Lewis suffered a fractured patella eight games into the season, and while there’s a chance he could be back in a few weeks, it might be best for him to get completely healthy and shoot for a full season in 2013-14.
“Right now it looks like he’s going to be a medical redshirt guy,” Ray said. “That’s something he needs to make sure he feels comfortable with, and I think he does feel pretty comfortable with that.”
He added, “It can’t just be because he hurt his knee and now he’s going to come back and play. No, do you want to be part of the program and what we’re trying to do here?”
Freshman guard Jacoby Davis, who suffered an ACL injury last summer, is participating in non-contact work on the practice court, Ray said. Davis isn’t expected to play this season.
Ware sucks it up
Freshman center Gavin Ware is a big guy at 6-foot-9, 270 pounds, but he had a tough night in the paint against Florida’s Patric Young and Erik Murphy.
Ware scored 10 points and grabbed three rebounds.
“Any bruises he gave me to the chest, to the back, head, I just had to suck it up and keep playing, because I know if I’d have been out, that would’ve been a minus for the team,” Ware said. “So I just had to suck it up and keep playing.”