Moultrie Honing Summer Shot For Winter Goals

Nobody questions the effort. It is the efficiency that draws queries, and Arnett Moultrie ain't telling. Nope. Try as media might, we are getting no specific figures on how his off-season shooting work is producing. "Uhhh…more than half!" he smiles.

Now since Arnett Moultrie is booked to play power forward for Mississippi State this coming season, a 50% rate of success sounds normal enough. Thing is, the junior isn't talking about the usual sort of shots for his power position. Moultrie has his eye on the goal from a little farther away. Or a lot farther away even.

"Yeah, I've got to be able pick-and-pop, play inside and outside, handle the ball, shoot the three and stuff like that," he says. Not want to, got to. Moultrie means to be an all-over Bulldog on the offensive end of the court, never mind what initials the lineup lists in front of the name.

So the past summer evenings have seen a revised regimen when Moultrie takes to the Mize Pavilion court for private shooting sessions.

"I try to make fifty from each spot," he explains. "Fifty mid-range, and fifty college-three." Note that he didn't say take, it was make. Which naturally invites enquiry about how long he lingers at the task. Sorry.

"I ain't going to say how many I shoot! But I have to make fifty from each spot."

However often he has to fire it, the image of Moultrie honing his perimeter prowess ought to fire Mississippi State imaginations. Certainly a 6-11 shooter will expand the offensive options. Yet Bulldog folk understand the outside game is sorta secondary on Moultrie's resume. He'll always spend most time around the rack and putting that big body to best use.

Or ought we say, ‘bigger body'? Because it is. The summer roster listing of 230 pounds is happily out of date already as Moultrie began practices for state's overseas expedition at 240. This isn't a stopping point either. Shooting skill was not Moultrie's only off-season ambition.

"Gaining weight was one of my biggest goals. I gained, like, twenty pounds right now. I plan to be 245. I could never imagine gaining that much, I've never been this big. I always wanted to get to this weight but never could. I'm finally at it."

More than maturing has added muscle in the past months. Moultrie says he burns through a whole case of M***** M*** supplement provided by the training staff each week. That's correct, each week. Besides drinking all that stuff, he's loaded up the plate with extras…and then attacked the iron under Coach Richard Akins' direction.

The obvious irony is that his frontcourt cohort, Renardo Sidney, is trying to take his numbers in the opposite direction. "Yeah, I wish he'd give me five extra pounds off him!" Moultrie laughs.

It's no joking matter though how Moultrie and MSU team have exerted themselves since the spring semester ended. In fact the individual shooting is the lightest of his daily duties. It came after the Bulldogs put in a morning workout prior to summer classes; then reported to the weightroom at 3:00 for afternoon lifts. "And then come back and shoot at night," Moutrie says.

"It went pretty good, we were working out twice a day along with lifting and then running on Tuesday and Thursday, getting prepared for August." It was surely a change of pace and likely a relief when organized, supervised practices began last Thursday, with Mississippi State allowed the extra sessions by the NCAA. They are to depart August 5 and return on the 15th with five real games booked in France, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

Nah, not much like road trips to Auburn, Oxford, and Fayetteville, is it? "We all can't wait," says Moultrie.

"Coach said he's trying to make it more fun than a business trip for us but we're still going to try to approach it as win every game." For that matter this Dog has successful experience in such things, albeit on an entirely opposite hemisphere. "Two years ago I was on a Team USA 19-and-under team that went to New Zealand and won a gold medal."

Two years ago Moultrie was also a Miner, the frontcourt star for Texas-El Paso. The Memphis native was all-CUSA as a freshman, then started all 33 games as a 2009-10 sophomore averaging 9.8 points with a team-best 6.7 rebounds and 70 blocks. A coaching transition and family matters back home led to a transfer, with Moultrie settling on Mississippi State. He actually had some legitimate hopes of eligibility last winter due to the grandmother's health, but had to settle for sitting the season.

"Yeah, last year was a little more frustrating, I mean not knowing if I was going to play or not while trying to get a hardship, for my grandmother. But now I know I can play and I'm more excited for it." Not, Moultrie wants it known, that he just went through the winter motions "Oh, I always approached practice like I was going to play. I came hard every day, I didn't take a day off. And now I make the transition to I can play."

The transition also means he can junk the old ‘gold team' jersey worn for practice games. It is worth remembering that at one point last season State's scrimmaging second squad was at least as good and often better than the starters, what with Sidney and Dee Bost serving varying suspensions. They were activated while Moultrie settled for making the varsity better. Hmmm, wouldn't it make sense now that he show some sympathy for the new gold team?

"Uhh, no, I don't take it easy on nobody!" Oh, well, soon enough Moultrie will be making things tough for real opponents.

"I can't wait, I'm really anticipating this Europe trip. It should be good for me to get a couple of games under my belt and get ready for the season."

It isn't just he getting ready of course. While Sidney will skip the trip to complete some private off-season conditioning, this otherwise is an excellent opportunity for the 2012 Bulldogs to take a pre-pre-season measure of themselves. Bost is a known quantity, but questions abound elsewhere for the likely lineup, such as second guard and small forward. Coach Rick Stansbury won't commit, yet, to how soon guard Jalen Steele can play for-real after recovering from knee surgery, but the soph is on a fast track back.

Two impressive new pups, Deville Smith and Rodney Hood, are very much in contention for those open jobs, too. "Rodney looks real good, like he can come in and help us right away," reports Moultrie. "Deville is looking good also."

As important as appearance, though, is how the Bulldogs feel about themselves and each other. They'll know much more about specific details upon return from Europe. The overall outlook, though, is pretty clear already. Moultrie says motivation and mindset alike are very different than going into last season.

"It's like we have our backs against the wall, we have to win this year."

Sounds like a high-percentage play, eh?

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