Watching From The Sidelines

Mississippi State junior basketball player Barry Stewart, thanks to a broken foot, has had a lot of time to observe this year's players from the sidelines. So far, he likes what he sees.

"I broke my foot about three weeks ago," said Barry Stewart. "They did surgery on me (about a week and a half ago) and I have a pin in my foot."

But as things look now, he should easily be ready for preseason conditioning and preseason practice.

"All I'm doing right now is lifting weight for my upper body but I'll be ready for conditioning and all that kind of stuff," said Barry, who should be running up and down the court by mid-September if all goes well.

Despite being the first injury that he's ever suffered that has kept him out of action for more than a few days, Barry's handling the injury well mentally and emotionally.

"I've never had an injury before that's kept me out (for an extended amount of time)," noted Barry. "But everything happens for a reason."

With the loss of senior Charles Rhodes to graduation and underclassmen Jamont Gordon and Ben Hansbrough to the pros and transfer, Barry is taking a new role on the team.

"I've got to be more of a leader," said Barry, who along with Jarvis Varnado are the most experienced players on this year's team. "Since I can't lead by example right now, I just have to be there for the guys. So, anytime I see there is a need for instruction I kind of give them that."

So far, Barry likes what he sees from this year's players. And he has high expectations for the team if they keep doing what they've been doing this summer.

"Realistically, I think we will be better just as a team," said Barry. "I can't say how good we will be because that will be determined by how hard we work. But right now, we have a lot of hard workers."

But with the loss of three major components from last year's team (Rhodes, Gordon and Hansbrough), it's going to take more than hard work to be successful. Guys who didn't see a lot of playing time last season are going to have to step forward, as are some of the newcomers.

"I think the key is going to be (newcomers) Twanny (Antiquawn Beckham) and Dee Bost because that is the point guard," said Barry. "Both have confidence and that is what you need. Ravern Johnson has to step up. And Phil Turner has the skill and has been in the system, so we are going to have to have him step up. And Brian Johnson, Kodi Augustus, Elgin Bailey .... we are going to need everybody."

With the loss of a lot of the offense from last year's team, a key could be sophomore Ravern Johnson, who was known as a major offensive threat in high school. So far, Barry likes what he has seen from Ravern.

"I see his whole game improving," said Barry. "I know he has the reputation of shooting the ball, but he's been driving to the basket and attacking it a lot lately, and he's being alert on defense."

As for what the team should look like on the court this year, MSU fans don't need to be going to the concession stands too often or they will miss a lot of action.

"Based on what I've seen from watching the guys (this summer), it's going to be a lot of up and down (the court), a lot of quick guys who are athletic," said Barry.

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on sports network. You can contact him by emailing

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