You shot the 3 well today.
"Yes sir. I just had to get back in my groove. In the first couple of games, I was just trying to feel my way through. Now, I feel kind of comfortable with it."
Did you lack game stamina the first couple of games?
"Just a small bit, because I had to sit out for a couple of games. I just had to get my wind back. But, I'm okay now."
You are playing point guard. Is that what you played in junior college?
"I played off guard in junior college. That's kind of an adjustment, but it's coming along good."
Has it been much of an adjustment?
"No, not really. Playing the 2 guard in junior college, I handled the ball a lot."
Normally, point guards don't shoot 3's. Have they told you if you've got a shot to shoot it?
"Yes sir. They told me to take the open shot if I can score because that's what I do well. When I was in junior college, that was my main focus. They told me to do what I do best. Now I'm working with my teammates and also looking for the open shot."
You had a 6"8" guy that had more assists than you, Lawrence Roberts. Have you ever played around a guy that's quite like Lawrence?
"No, that's why he's a national player of the year candidate, because he can do so much. He's a good player."
What do you think this team still needs to work on? I know there are a lot of new guys, including you, and young guys, who are having to get used to each other. Is that something you think ya'll really need to work on more so than anything else?
"Yes. A lot of people are trying to find their roles, how to play the game and how to shoot the ball. That's all."
Did you have a triple double at Baylor?
"No. This was my first one in college career."
What about high school?
"Yes, I think I may have had, at best, maybe two."
It's such a rarity, first in school history here. Talk about that.
"I have great teammates. We did a good job of passing and spacing. I told the guys to keep looking for me in the post and just cutting, knowing that they were coming double. If they kept moving, we'd get some open shots."
Is this the way it's going to be if they double you? Is this what we are going to now see from the offense?
"Oh yes. Most definitely. We just want to keep all options available and let teams know that we have more than one option. We can beat a team by passing or by defense."
How's it hurting you, the mask? I mean, you had a triple double. What part of the game is it hurting?
"I'm just off a little bit."
Off which part of your game?
"As far as getting in the rhythm. I always, in the back of my mind, know that my nose is very sensitive. I want to stay away from any hard contact, because if I bang it again, the longer I'm going to have to wear that mask. That's the only thing I'm thinking about. Protecting it, so I can throw this mask off. There's a tremendous amount of sweat. I have to change headbands and make sure it's dry underneath. I try to wipe underneath it so it will stay fresh. Basically, just do my best to keep it on and not fidget with it too much."
How do you think you're coming together as a team?
"I think we're coming along good. It's a long process and I think we're moving pretty fast. We've got some good guys off the bench contributing, and finally getting in to play. Jamaal did a great job for us off the bench. Everybody's just stepping up right now."
It looked like in the first half you were having a little trouble, because they were keying on you. Are you going to have to change your game because so many people are going to key on you?
"No, a lot of teams double team me. It's not new. It's just one of those things where you just have to look for your teammates early and get them involved. You'll get yours eventually if you just keep playing hard."
How's your conditioning right now. Are you starting to get to where you want to be?
"A little bit. I didn't get any practice, so it's just tough. Then adjusting to the mask, sometimes it's hard to breathe. I think it's one of those things that's going to keep getting better and better."
You really seemed to be excited today, really emotional. What was the reason for so much emotion?
"A lot going on--from being suspended, broken nose, to my grandfather passing away. One of the last things he bought was a college magazine for me, with me on the cover. That was one of the very last things he bought before he died. When I was thinking about going to the NBA or staying in college, he was just talking to me about how glad he was going to be to be able to come to all the home games. He really wanted to be able to come to all of them. That's all I was really thinking about. The first home game, looking up and he's not there."
When you threw that mask off, was that for him? It almost made me think you're saying "I'm taking this thing off. I'm back"?
"Just frustrated and excited at the same time. Just hoping that I'd be able to go without the mask. In next game, hopefully, I'll get cleared, but I doubt it. It's just one of those things. I just want to play without it. I just want to throw it, and hide it, and hope they don't find it. That's what I do every time. I try to hide it somewhere so they can't find it."
What are you, about 85, 90 percent now?
"About 80 percent. It's tough, getting in the flow of things, with all that's been going on."
Is your nose sore?
"Oh, yes. Every game, it gets bumps and bruises, and it tends to get a little sore."
You still don't seem to be too afraid to go inside because you're still getting a double in rebounds.
"No, I am a little bit. I find myself missing rebounds here and there, and not being as aggressive as I can be. It's just little things that I know that I'm not doing."
Talk about the game, the good, the bad, the ugly.
"I guess the good is we got some guys some time that haven't gotten a lot of time recently. We needed to get Jamall out there. I think he showed everyone his shooting ability. He was 4 from 7 from the 3-point line. We need to get him into shape and get him really pushing that ball and get him some defense time. I think he can be a huge contribution off of the bench that we haven't had the past 3 or 4 games. Other than that, it was a win. I wasn't real happy with our first half. It's our coaches' jobs to be positive, and they do a good job of that. But, I think it's our leaders' jobs to tell the team the truth. If you asked our seniors 'Are we happy with where we're at right now?', I think you would get a resounding 'No.' I'm not happy at all with where we're at. I think we just need to keep getting better."
Are you talking about the shooting specifically?
"I'm just talking about everything. During warm-ups, everyone's jumping around. We're extremely happy to be home here at The Hump. Then we came out flat. That's not our persona. That's not the way we play. We need to come out intense for 40 minutes. We just haven't put together 40 minutes yet this year. That's something we need to work on, need to get better at. Otherwise, it's going to get us. We have two tough games, two really tough games, next week. We have a really good team coming in here on Tuesday. We need to get better in a hurry."
Do you think the typical Bulldog team defensive intensity is not there yet?
"It's not there yet. I mean to give up 68 points to Nicholls State, I mean nothing against them, but we should not have given up 68 points to Nicholls State. I thought it was better in the second half. During the first half, we gave up way too many points."
There were a couple of times where there were some missed opportunities.
"It's early in the season, and we're playing like it's early in the season. I think for us seniors, we're a little frustrated with that because we thought we'd be further along than what we are now. It's alright, but we need to keep getting better, and know and be realistic with ourselves with where we are."
Is it a little too much living in the past, and not realizing there are two guys that are not here this year, and you've got to find those pieces?
"There's no question. I think you're seeing that Timmy Bowers and Branden Vincent were two team players that made the Bulldogs a great team last year. And we're missing them right now. But Gary Ervin's doing a good job. He's getting better with every game. We really need someone to step up and do the dirty work of Branden Vincent. Someone to step up and get 10 rebounds besides Lawrence every night. Right now, we just don't have that."
Mary Ann Swindoll is the editor of Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.