"As a coach you can't be anything but very pleased with that effort that you just saw. Louisiana Tech is a very good basketball team. I thought that our team, defensively, came out and absolutely took away all of their strengths. (Antonio) Meeking is a heck of a post player. And I thought that all of our post players did a terrific job all day long. But the key was that our guards put so much pressure on their guards that they never got into the ballgame. I thought that we reacted well and adjusted well. We changed defenses a lot and our kids were really into it. Anytime you look at a stat sheet and see that you outrebounded a basketball team 56 to 29 - a very good rebounding basketball team, a team that was second in the nation in rebounding margin last year - you know you are playing with some tremendous effort."
Q&A with Rick Stansbury:
I guess it was good after looking sluggish against JSU the other night.
"You can look at the stats again. Today, we had turnovers. That tells you the mental focus of your basketball team. There was no question that physically and mentally we weren't very sharp Wednesday night. It was the third game in five days. It just wasn't there. Today was a totally different attitude both physically and mentally."
What magical thing did you tell the team that caused them to be so unrelenting?
"I gave them a day off. There is no magic to this game. I gave them a day off which freshen them back up and got ready to go again. That is it."
Are you going to give them a day off before you play Xavier?
"We got a lot of academics this week. We will give them off tonight, tomorrow, all day Monday, then come back Monday night. They will basically have two and a half days off before we practice again."
Have you had a better defensive stretch than you did at the beginning of the second half (20-0 run during the first 9 minutes.-Gene)?
"I don't know if I've had a group of guys who have been struggling defensively on the inside and come out and do some things (defensively) that we really wanted them to do. I saw some guys step it up to another level. To go on a 20-0 streak against a very good basketball team, I don't know if that's ever happened. Maybe against a team that wasn't very good, but Louisiana Tech is a good basketball team. Three minutes to go in the first half against (7th ranked) Florida it was a four-point game."
How important was it to have a game like this prior to the break?
"I thought it was very important to have a game like this that had some urgency about it. The players understood the urgency of this game; they understood the urgency of playing Louisiana Tech, and how good Louisiana Tech is. And we were still playing without Mario Austin. We knew we had to have some guys step up. I thought that Lincoln (Smith), (Marcus) Campbell and Branden Vincent, guys that have been struggling, picked it up. When Iggy (Michal Ignerski) picked up two fouls early, that meant that we had to play those guys the rest of the half. That was a concern. But I though that Lincoln, Campbell and Branden really stepped up and played big for us."
How much has Winsome Frazier improved since last season?
"I don't know if it is as much Winsome's development this season or the coaches not playing him last season. I think we saw early last year that when he played, he played pretty good for us. But just because of rotation, with Timmy and Marckell (Patterson) I couldn't get him in that mix. There is no question that the year of experience and practicing has helped him a lot. I think that he is this team's best shooter. I think, as you can see when it leaves his hands, it looks like it has a chance to go in. He knows he is coming off the bench to shoot that basketball and he is not afraid to shoot it."
Once Mario comes back, what do you think this team will lack? You have great defensive players, you have inside and outside shooters, you have rebounders, you have depth. What else will this team need once Mario is back?
"Let me say this to answer your question. When we get Mario Austin back, I think there is no question that we have a chance to be a pretty good basketball team.
"I think that the time that Marcus Campbell has been able to get has helped him. He has gained a lot of confidence, but more importantly I think the team has gained confidence in him. I think that he has stepped up his energy another level. Being able to play through mistakes has allowed him to do that. He probably wouldn't have been able to do that as easily if we had Mario Austin."
Talk a little about the effort of Ontario Harper.
"Ontario Harper had some good stats, 15 rebounds. He was all over those backboards. Those are the kind of things that Ontario Harper has to do for us. He is an energy player. When you look at stats, you immediately see energy in rebounds. We harped hard to our threes and fours that they have to become better rebounders for us. Gholar and Patterson were our second and third rebounders for us (last season). Our fours and threes have to be that on this team. I thought that Iggy came in on those backboards in the second half. He had 10 for the game and only played 19 minutes for us."
La. Tech coach Keith Richard:
"I told Rick (Stansbury) right after the game when I shook his hand - and I do believe this - they have a chance to be great. I really believe that. We played (7th ranked) Florida two weeks ago. (Mississippi State) gets Austin back, they are a legitimate top 10 team. They have a chance to be great.
"The thing that stuck out for me on the floor was how athletic they are. It is unbelievable how athletic they are and they are playing with great confidence. They are very, very good and really overwhelmed us. We didn't help our cause missing some open shots that we really needed to make for our team to stay with them as close as we could. We guarded them pretty decent in the first half for a while, but then we really got overwhelmed offensively on our end of the floor. Then it really snowballed in the second half."
Q&A with :
Not taking anything away from Mississippi State, but do you think your guys also just had a bad game today?
"I don't know. I don't think we are this bad, but I'm not sure that we are good. Everybody tells us that we are supposed to be pretty good. You have to remember that we lost two very good guards last year, our two leading scorers. Even though we have a lot of guys back, we have a lot of guys who were complementary players back. Even Meeking was only our third leading scorer last year. We have some work to do to figure out how to maximize what we have. You really shouldn't do that at Florida and at Mississippi State."
The first ten minutes of the second half it looked like nothing would go right for you guys.
"No, but some of it was talent. It wears on you. A team like ours playing a team like theirs really got overwhelmed. You can only hold on so long defensively if talent is wearing on you. My hats off to them."
Does it help you figure out what you need to work on by playing the Floridas and Mississippi States during your pre-conference schedule?
"It does do what you just said. It clearly shows some areas of concern that we have. That's what it done for me. Our guard play is not near what it was last year; it's not even close. We have to figure out how to get it better and get it the best that it can be."
Did this team want to show today that it is better than it showed last Wednesday night?
"We were happy that we won but we weren't happy with the way that we played. We may have taken Jackson State for granted but we can't do that."
Did coach Stansbury say something special to you guys prior to this game to cause you to be so intense?
"He talked a lot to us after the Jackson State game. We took what he told us into this game."
Talk a little about Louisiana Tech.
"They went to Florida and really got blown out, but we knew they are a really good team. Coach told us that they are capable of finishing .500 in our league. We took that to heart and wanted to come out and jump on them early."
26 turnovers last game, 8 this one. What was the difference?
"I think the difference was our concentration coming into the game. We were very focused coming into the game. We knew in order to beat a team like this we couldn't turn the ball over 26 times."
Other than the shooting percentages, do you feel this is what this team can play like the rest of the season?
"Well, I think tonight was one of our better games. We put everything together offensively and defensively."
Talk a little about your next opponent Xavier.
"They have an All-American similar to Mario. They have a good overall team. It is going to be a challenge for us to play against a top-25 team in Xavier."
Do you think it will be a barometer as to where your team is?
"With or without Mario we are going to come ready to play. If he does play it will be a plus for us. Even if he doesn't play, it will be a plus for us because we are still going to be ready to play. It will be a chance for us to get tested before we jump into conference play."
Although their coach was very complimentary of your team, what areas do you think you need to improve on?
"We constantly have to improve on defending and rebounding the basketball. I don't think we are rebounding the basketball well. Ontario Harper had 15 rebounds today, probably his career high. We had 56 overall so rebounding was a big plus for us."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher and owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial site for Mississippi State sports since October, 1996. He can be reached by email at email@example.com