When people think of rivalries in sports what comes to mind? Most people would answer Yankees and Red Sox, Lakers and Celtics, Duke and North Carolina or Michigan and Ohio State; however, here in Mississippi we think Bulldogs Vs Rebels every time.
The Bulldogs played Ole Miss at home to complete the two game 2017 series in Humphrey Coliseum. Even though the Bulldogs lost they made every Bulldog fan proud. The team never quit even when down by nine points late in the game to come back and tie the game and force overtime.
Sadly, Ole Miss beat Mississippi State 87-82 in the extra period. Even with the loss to Ole Miss Tuesday night, Mississippi State can hold their heads high for next season to bring the basketball mojo back to Starkville.
When looking at the Mississippi State basketball team I see a lot of young players. This season there are nine players on the team that are freshman, that were inexperienced playing with each other. There is only one player leaving the team roster this year: I.J. Ready. With the loss of Ready, players like Lamar Peters and Tyson Carter will need to step-in and fill his role. Nick Weatherspoon, a talented 6’2” point guard recruit has the ability to score from almost anywhere on the court. Nick will be a huge addition to the Bulldog’s roster next season.
Next season could be the year we return to the dance. With all of our players returning besides Ready the team should have more experience playing with each other. Quinndary Weatherspoon the talented shooting guard, who injured his wrist earlier this year, will be back at full health. Weatherspoon should be the main guy to help guide this young Bulldog team to the top of the SEC and challenge the University of Kentucky and University of Florida.
All the returning players should make a significant impact next season. Our center Schnider Herard who is 6’10” 250 pounds should be one of the best big men in the SEC. The backcourt will be the strong point for the Mississippi State team with great player depth at the guard. Lamar Peters and Quinndary Weatherspoon will be a dynamic duo next year scoring from the three to anywhere inside the paint. Players like Tyson Carter who I mentioned earlier should be a great scorer coming off the bench if he does not start next year. Mario Kegler who is 6’7” 220 and Xavian Stapleton who is 6’6” 210 are two players that really started to hit their stride of late this season bullying other guards with their size and strength.
When Ole Miss and Mississippi State hit the floor next season the Bulldogs should have the upper hand when it comes to returning players and experience. Ole Miss loses senior center Sebastian Saiz who scored the second most points for Ole Miss in Tuesdays contest with 23, right behind Breein Tyree who had 24.
Being a Mississippi State fan you often hear at the end of many seasons “we will get them next year”. Next year’s basketball team has the potential to make a big run and hopefully into March Madness. With so many guys returning next season and Nick Weatherspoon joining the team, this team has what it takes to be not only be a great all around team but a team that stays in the top 25 all season long. Head Coach Ben Howland has a talented group of guys that needs to be pointed in the right direction to make a run next season. With Coach Howland’s direction and the support of the students and our fans behind them let’s see how far the Bulldogs can dominant the State of Mississippi basketball.