Stansbury Making More Game-Week Calls

It's another new week for the Bulldogs. But before getting down to work on upcoming opponent Arkansas there are some items of remaining business from the past weekend that Rick Stansbury will be addressing today. Much like many other weeks so far this season, he admits. "It's been interesting, there's been some challenging moments," the coach said Monday morning.

At least Mississippi State and Stansbury can face the latest round of challenges with a bit of much-needed momentum on their side. Playing without a suspended Ravern Johnson, and playing with a gimpy Dee Bost, the Bulldogs managed to outlast LSU on Saturday in Baton Rouge. The win balanced State's SEC record at 4-4 which is a half-loss better than this Wednesday's opponent Arkansas (4-5).

In the two days between this afternoon's practice and Wednesday's 7:00 tipoff Stansbury certainly hopes leading scorer and top all-around Dog Bost has recovered from the painful foot problems that hampered him at LSU. Talking this morning to SEC media, Stansbury had no real update yet. "I haven't seen him today," he said. "I'll wait and see where we're at. It was a game-time decision the other day (at LSU) and obviously Dee wasn't himself. He played a bunch of minutes and played hard but wasn't himself."

Bost was still close enough to himself to make the key defensive stop at the end and prevent a last-shot Tiger attempt to upset State. But he also forced a few previous plays on the other end, either drives or shots, that resulted in turnovers and gave lowly LSU that slender opportunity to ruin MSU's day…and maybe remaining season. Still the effort shown signals that keeping Bost off the court against Arkansas will take more than a hurting foot.

Johnson's issues of course were self-inflicted by intemperate on-line comments made after last week's loss at Alabama. His suspension was announced Friday as the team was departing for LSU; his status for this game or week remains t.b.a.

"I don't have any other decision on Ray at this point," Stansbury said today. "We'll make it later as the day goes on." This was not the first time senior Johnson has run afoul of his coach. Last February the top MSU shooter was benched for a critical home game with Kentucky that State lost in overtime, and not started the next two games.

Suspending Johnson was not a surprise in light of his public critique, and Stansbury has issued a complete team ban on a social messaging system. Interestingly though, teammate and center Renardo Sidney did not suffer any penalties for passing along Johnson's comments and making his own additional critiques. Sidney started and played as usual at LSU.

Asked this morning about public perceptions of different standards for different players, Stansbury was clear. "I can't help what they think. I'm going to make decisions on what I think, that's all that matters." Which, he followed up by repeating regarding Johnson, "I'll make a decision when I visit with him some."

Stansbury will be meeting with local media this afternoon, by which time he could clarify a couple of these questions. And, afterwards, get down to what he hopes will be somewhat more routine game-preparation matters. "What it is is what it is," he said this morning. "They're not going to change games, we have to keep playing. We're just trying to make progress right now."

A Wednesday win would definitely be progress towards one of State's practical goals over the remaining schedule. With Alabama stretching their West lead, the Bulldogs and Razorbacks could very well be playing this week for second place in the final Division standings and the absolutely must-have, first-day bye in the SEC Tournament.


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