I look forward to our future together as I share with you my basketball perspective on some of the conversations being held around the office about Mississippi State Basketball. Let's start off by laying a few basic ground rules that I intend to follow. I call this my WILL and WON'T list. There ares three of each.
My WILL List
1) I will promote our program because I am passionate about MISSISSIPPI STATE and I love MSU BASKETBALL. Therefore, there will be times (I can only imagine) that I am one of only a few individuals to see the positive aspect of an obviously bad situation.
2) I will give great consideration to the things that you want to talk about. Most of the dialog will be categorized in the old format of THE GOOD, THE BAD and THE UGLY. However, my version will probably consist of THE UGLY, THE BAD and THE GOOD because I like ending on a good note.
3) I will try to consistently provide a basketball perspective on a discussion and give you an inside look at an otherwise average conversation.
My WON'T List
1) I won't call names when I talk about a situation that we choose to discuss because I am not a referee (regardless of what some of you readers think) who identifies error by pointing fingers and calling out numbers.
2) I won't compare our bulldogs to other teams because my limited time does not permit me to research all of our opponents.
Lastly, 3) I won't bash Mississippi State via player, staff or administration (even if my seating arrangement changes or something is not to my satisfaction).
With that out of the way, let me start off by saying that each player wearing the maroon and white is a quality player. Our coaches must recruit the best player on a high school team. That is required in order for our program to continue to compete not only within the Southeastern Conference but nationally.
Fortunately or unfortunately, when these great high school players come together on a college campus and then compete for playing time against other great players of like talent levels, there are other factors that determine which individuals rise to stardom.
There are several of these.
The first, mental toughness, cannot be measured by the stature of a player and if a young man does not show up at MSU with this quality, he probably won't develop mental toughness in the first three months of college. Another factor to consider is basketball "IQ". Talent-level has been at the forefront of most freshmen basketball background, and at this level they are being asked to make decisions based on the flow of the game. Some players will outshine all others in a game of pick-up basketball, but those same players may struggle with the strategic decision-making of SEC basketball due to the difference in basketball IQ.
Now, my opinion about the current basketball team based on my early observations.
Keep in mind that the 2008-2009 roster is comprised of only two seniors, three juniors, six sophomores and four freshmen. As the season is about to get kicked off, there were some consistencies associated with the inter-squad and exhibition games leading up to the season-opener.
THE UGLY: Turnover has reared its ugly head up again and this crew tends to commit the act excessively. Even more disturbing is the large number of turnovers committed while going up against mediocre defenses.
THE BAD: There are a number of areas I had to label as not so favorable from my vantage point. Heading the list is poor free throw shooting. In addition are woes associated with transition defense as well as one-on-one defense and offensive execution.
THE GOOD: Individual play got my attention in a very positive way. I was equally impressed with the rebounding mentality. At each position the player was talented enough to beat his opponent and this quality is extremely important since it can't be taught. The spread offence, which they run well, enhances this positive. I was also impressed with our three-point shooting and team defense. Additionally, this group runs the floor like Gazelles. The beauty of watching these young guns is a reflection of history when another youth-laden group stepped on the floor some fifteen plus years ago and ultimately won an SEC CHAMPIONSHIP.
As I draw to a close, I'm glad to inform you that the bad and ugly things that were mentioned will all get better with time. This group will not quit. They step up their game when others may say that the game is over and they have thus far proven that they have a heart to WIN.
We look forward to occasionally speaking with you throughout the upcoming season.
Now, are you ready for some ROUNDBALL?
Carl Nichols, a former Mississippi State basketball player, is the MSU basketball columnist for GenesPage.com.