"Nah, we might not need to work on it!" agrees Bost. Yet he adds that there is a legitimate plan behind this play, this summer. "It's just helping us with our condition, for everybody else to push the ball."
It is entirely evident Bost and Bulldogs have just been running and funning on a July afternoon. Even the state-of-art climate control in their gleaming new Mize Pavilion hasn't stopped anyone from (fast)breaking a good summer sweat again. Why, this hurry-up approach to pick-up games could as easily been ordered by strength coach Richard Akins as any of the clipboard crew.
Exactly the point, says Bost. In another week the Bulldogs must transition, so to speak, from simple impromptu scrimmaging to real practices. Mississippi State leaves for a ten-day, five game European expedition in early August. Thus, the NCAA allows them to begin a pre-pre-season period by late next week.
So you might say Bost is in a hurry to make game-shape. "I actually gained weight and need to lose it, it's slowing me down," he says. "I'm not getting old, just slow with this weight!"
It's understandable if this old Dog, who turns 22 days before regular October practice begins, is a bit defensive about age already. Otherwise though he should be in playing prime this senior season and ready to write the name in some pretty prominent record-book places. Just don't tell Bost he's a finished product quite yet. In fact he plays to use the upcoming Europe tour "To become a better player and work on my weaknesses." Which would be?...
"Ummm, left hand, getting the floater, mid-range. And staying consistent with my jumper. My man Dave, he sets me straight, he works me out every day doing the little things. He's got some drills for us out on the court and we work hard every day."
Dave as in Glass, a team manager and in a real sense the informal ‘coach' of Bulldog summer games. He runs that 12-tick shot clock, pushes the pace in drills, and barks an order or two if needed. Hmmm, the players might welcome getting their regular coaches back based on comments about how Glass is running them ragged.
More seriously, it is Bost—who has been a starting guard his entire three-year State career already—who is expected to set a program pace in other ways. Point guards are supposed to be leaders anyway, yet Bost understands this is another area he has to speed the team up.
"Yeah, people doubted my leadership skills," he says, "because we haven't really went that far in two years. So I'm just working on that, out there staying positive and not getting mad." Fortunately this looks like a club willing to be led in a positive direction based on off-season efforts and attitudes. Bost attests to the improved MSU mindset this summer.
"I feel like it's all our team. When you see everybody work hard and do the same thing every day I feel like it's everybody's team. We've just become one team and we can just win." The one-team Bost refers to has some successful experience the last few seasons but not up to the level of mid-decade squads. So winning takes on even more meaning for an upperclassman.
Who freely admits at the same time the key is performance by all the underclass Dogs. Signs are entirely encouraging so far, such as how junior center Renardo Sidney has worked—and continues to—himself into the finest physical fitness of his college life. Or how redshirted transfer Arnett Moultrie has established himself as an all-purpose power forward. Then there are the youngest pups, one of whom Bost forecasts to play an immediate major role.
"Rodney Hood, he's already sold me. He's a player. He can shoot the ball, play off the dribble, defend." Meanwhile Bost finds himself as unofficial tutor to rookie guards, like Deville Smith and others. They are taking to the informal coaching just fine. "Yeah. I mean, all of them listen, you know, and work hard. He's a player so he's already got the knowledge of the game. He's just coming to play and work hard."
It might make for a longer year than usual, but the pending overseas trip will give these Bulldogs an early and thorough look at what they have and who they are. College coaches like to use these events as a shake-down of their squads; Bost has more ambition than that.
"You know, try to win every game there. I think it will be a good test, especially being on the court for the first time. We can just see where we stand." At the same time, the fast-paced summer scrimmaging has already given Bost and the Bulldogs a good idea of their preseason position. Which, Bost says, ought to be the best total team of his tenure here in Humphrey Coliseum.
"I think it is. We're more versatile, everybody can do more than just one thing. And I feel we're very deep on the bench, a lot of people have come in that really can start. So I feel like it's the best team."