I attended the Tulane game and came away very impressed. There's no question this team has more offensive weapons than any other MSU team that I have ever seen. It has outside shooters in Timmy Bowers, Winsome Frazier and, to a smaller extent, Shane Power and inside scorers in Lawrence Roberts and 7-foot Marcus Campbell.
Defensively, the team is not quite up to the standards of the past two MSU teams but it has players who will continue to work to improve their defense. When it's all said and done, defense will wind up being a strength of this team.
Now, with that said, is it too early to pencil this team in as the SEC Western Division Champion and the SEC Tournament Championship title game? My answer to that is yes, it's way too early.
While there are reason to get excited, there is still a question mark as to how good this team really is.
I realize beating Western Kentucky and Santa Clara on the road is significant, especially the victory over Western Kentucky, a team that had won 39 straight home games prior to their loss against MSU. And beating a UAB team with a healthy Mo Finley was impressive even if it was in the Hump.
However, with that said, we all know that Western Kentucky and Santa Clara are not teams that can compete consistently with SEC teams, even when playing at home. And UAB, while a very good team with a healthy Finley, would probably not be more than a middle of the pack SEC team.
Basically, what I'm saying is this team really hasn't had a major test. That will come when the SEC teams start appearing on the schedule.
Does that mean we should not be excited about this team? No, because there are definite reasons for excitement and even high expectations due to the multiple offensive weapons and the ever-improving defense.
However, the main thing I want MSU fans to realize is this team is a work in progress.
Playing a pre-season schedule that didn't include any top-25 powerhouses is probably exactly what this team needed, especially when you consider only one starter - senior guard Timmy Bowers - returned from last year's SEC Western Division Champion team.
Despite one returning starter, there is no doubt there are some are very, very talented players on this team. And, as this team plays more and more games, those talented players will gain valuable experience and only get better, hence this team will get better.
Bulldog fans to make Oxford a home away from home....
MSU starts the SEC portion of its schedule on the road at Oxford on Wednesday, January 7th, at 7 p.m. Last year's game was a barnburner with MSU pulling out a hard fought victory. Part of the reason the Bulldogs pulled the game out was due to the support of a large contingency of MSU fans who made the trip to the game.
MSU once again needs that support. While this Ole Miss team is not on the same par with the good Ole Miss teams of the most recent past, it is still MSU's in-state rival, which means it will be a tough game.
No doubt, having 1,000's of MSU fans on hand will help our players play at their peak performance.
Based on the online Ole Miss TicketsXchange site, all individual tickets to the MSU game have been sold. However, you still may want to contact their ticket office at 1-888-732-8587 just to make sure they don't have any not listed on the internet.
If you can't find a ticket and still want to see the game, you can always ride over Oxford a couple of hours prior to the game and try to buy a ticket outside of the Tad Pad. With Ole Miss' basketball team not performing up to past standards, there might be a lot of Ole Miss fans selling tickets. If not, I feel fairly certain there will be a few non-fan ticket sellers like you see at every MSU game.
I highly recommend that each one of you check your Gene's Page/TheInsiders account if you haven't done so recently or haven't ever done so. About once or twice a day, I receive an email from someone asking me to send their password or update their email address. One of the reasons I moved over to TheInsiders was because they made it much easier for folks on my page to update their account or have their password sent to them within seconds.
How to update your account:
How to have your password sent to you:
Have a great Bulldog week!
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.