Barry Stewart Has High Expectations

With most of the Mississippi State men's basketball team back, including the top defensive player in the nation, Jarvis Varnado, and one of the nation's top freshmen, Renardo Sidney, Jr, coming in, the expectations are very, very high for this year's men's team among the MSU fanbase. Add senior Barry Stewart to the list who have those same high expectations.

This past season's team played extremely well down the stretch, winning six of their last seven, including four straight to win the SEC Tournament and advance to NCAA Tournament play. Add in possibly the most heralded recruit in Mississippi State men's basketball history and you have plenty of reasons for the optimism.

"I know the expectations are going to be high for this team, we are expecting to win a championship," said Barry Stewart. "We expect that every year but we think we can take it a notch further than we have in the past. You can't just expect to make the tournament and then fall short."

Stewart sees a talent level on this team that will allow it to be more than a one or two wins and out NCAA Tournament team.

"We definitely have that kind of talent and we'll have the chemistry to work with each other," said Stewart. "We have a lot of returning guys and a lot of guys who have been through it for a season now.

"I don't think we will have a feeling out of each other as we have had the past years. We'll know what each other can do. Then, when practice comes around it'll be us coming together as one."

One newcomer who should impact the team the first time he sets foot on the court is incoming freshman Renardo Sidney, Scout.com's 7th ranked player in the class of 2009.

"It's going to help Jarvis down low tremendously (with Renardo playing)," said Stewart. "He won't have to worry about doing all the rebounding and all the shot blocking. He's already superb at it but it's going to take some of the load off of him defensively."

Sidney will not only help Varnado but also the guards.

"I think it will make teams be more conscious of our inside," said Stewart. "Some teams like LSU let Jarvis score down there one-on-one and beat up on the guards and tried to deny us the ball. But having another big guy down there will cause them to have to worry about him, too. That will free up more space on the perimeter."

But it's not just Sidney who will help this team improve. Several players on last year's team showed improvement as the season progressed. And they should do nothing but get better.

"(Sophomore) Kodi (Augustus) definitely impressed me down the stretch." said Stewart. "He hadn't played much at all except for the first nine or ten games of the season. He came in and put forth the effort and helped us out a lot.

"(True freshman) Twany (Beckham) also impressed me. I think he got a good feel for the game and made some big plays for us down the stretch.

"Those two in particularly. Dee, also, as a freshman, helped us out a lot, but he did that the whole season."

With few seniors on the team, one of Stewart's primary roles will consist of being one of the leaders on the ballclub. And he's ready for it.

"This is Jarvis and my last year and we'll be ready," said Stewart. "It's going to be fun."


Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.


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