Talk about your incoming freshmen.
"They are freshmen, for sure. As I've said several times, we spent the first couple of days making sure they put on the right socks, how to put the socks on, how to tie your pants up so that your shirt-tails stay in...just little things you take for granted. And that's before you even get to the court. You can imagine what it was like when we got them on the court.
"But I like my six freshmen, five true freshmen and one redshirt freshman. Forget basketball, what I like about them is in 12 weeks of summer and regular school, I have yet to have the five freshmen not do what they are supposed to when they are supposed to do it or be late. That is amazing. I couldn't do that. I am convinced that there is a great correlation that what happens off the court carries onto the court.
"I think Jamont Gordon is a special freshman. He possesses two things that most freshmen don't have, the mental toughness and the physical toughness. He is 6-4 and 230 and has the attitude to go with it. The Delk twins (Richard and Reginald) from Jackson, Tennessee have a great bloodline. Their uncle is Tony Delk, who played at Kentucky. I love what they are going to be. As I told some other (media) people, I have never had a player, in my 16 years at Mississippi State, after the first five days of two-a-days come to the gym on their off-day to get some extra shooting in. I had one of the Delk twins come in and get some extra shooting in. Vernon Goodridge is probably behind the other guys in understanding the game. He didn't start playing until he was about 18 years old. But he's a great person who listens and wants to be good. He missed five of the first seven practices due to an injury. But since he's practiced five straight days in a row, he's gotten better. The key to recruiting is the players who aren't the All-Americans. That is what separates the great teams from the good teams. You have to be right more than you are wrong with those type players. We weren't wrong on Bernard Rimmer. He keeps impresses us everyday. He's as good of an athlete as there is on the team, but he has to continue to learn how to play the game."
Is there a possibility that you will redshirt any of your freshmen?
"We don't expect to redshirt any of them. There might be one that will redshirt, but I don't expect it right now."
Is it invigorating, as coaches, to be teaching the new guys?
"It is. But that's fun to a point. Would I rather have kids who know what to do? Absolutely. But since we've got them, we have to teach them. It's a fine line between drilling them and getting them ready for the game. That game is coming. And they aren't going to hold the game up because they don't know how to play yet. So, while you are putting drills together, you have to be able to play those drills in a game."
How does it feel to have all those freshmen on campus and not in the NBA?
"Actually, we did lose one to the NBA, Monta Ellis. We felt all along that he was coming to Mississippi State. He kept telling us that. I think, looking back, if he had listen to our advice and not others, he would be here. But he will be a terrific NBA player. He was the best player to come out of the state in 16 years. He's that good."
Do you feel your team will be the darkhorse in the SEC West due to the lack of experience and al the youth you have on the team?
"What is darker than the darkhorse (laugh)? You can call me the darkest darkhorse that you want to call me. We will definitely be a darkhorse."
What has changed in your life since you became a head coach?
"I think the biggest balance in my life since I've become a coach is having my children, my three boys. That has put the best balance in my life. When I come home at night and that beeper goes off in the door, you can forget everything else because there are going to be three little boys running to the door hollering daddy. What other little problems you have, you are going to forget them for a few minutes, at least. I like that. Before I had children and that beeper would beep and we had lost a game, momma wouldn't come hollering."
What do you think about Kentucky?
"Kentucky is Kentucky. They are always good. Besides having one of the best programs in the country, they have one of the best coaches in the country. A lot of folks in Kentucky want Kentucky to win every game, but that's not the way it is anymore. Back in the 50's and 60's, when Kentucky did that consistently, the lay of the land and game were different. That's why the people in the state of Kentucky need to appreciate the job that Tubby does consistently. No team will do what UCLA and Kentucky used to do."
Some of the kids who came out for the NBA received some bad advice this past draft. Is there anything that can be done about that?
"I learn this during my first year as a head coach. Jonathan Bender, who was my first recruit, was the first high school player that I lost to the NBA. I learned that no matter what I said to him, it came out sounding selfish. I've learned since then to stay out of the process. If they want advice, I will give them advice or tell them to call somebody to get some advice. I do that because what I am telling them is not what they want to hear. They are being told what they want to hear even though it's not the truth. But, unfortunately, that's what they want to hear. I have been through it a lot. Besides the three high school players that I have lost to the NBA, I also lost Mario Austin, as a junior, to the NBA. He was told that he had a guarantee at number 13 (in the first round). So, if I told him that the NBA had 10 mock drafts and he wasn't a first-rounder, do you think he wants to listen to me or the agent? It was the same way with the past draft. Monta could have called NBA people, but with agents and kids, they don't want to listen to that. That's the sad thing about our sport right now. You can't fault the kids. We would all do the same thing if we thought we had a chance to go play in the NBA. As long as the system allows them to do it, kids will continue to do it."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.