Is This A Final Four Team?

While many fans think this Mississippi State team has a chance to make it to the Final Four, what does MSU head coach Rick Stansbury think - does he believe this team has a legitimate chance to make it to the Final Four? He answers that question and he also compares this year's team to the 1996 Mississippi State Final Four team.

This may be a tough question to answer, but do you think this team can make it to the Final Four this year?
"It's not a tough question. I think everybody that goes into the season has dreams of that. But it's a fine line. You have to be good and lucky. The only thing we are in control of is what we do in between those lines. We don't talk about Ws and Ls. With hard work, all those Ws and Ls will fall into place. We aren't going to get ahead of ourself. I like our team. That's very obvious."

The bottom line - do you think this year's team has the chance to make it to the Final Four?
"There are probably 15 to 20 teams, when they line it up, that have that potential to get there. And I think we are one of the best 15 to 20 teams in the country. Whether we are that now or not, I do think we can become that. The way we finished up last year and what we did in this league and with everybody back, we have a chance. But you have to be good and lucky (to make it to the Final Four). You have to get lucky along the way. You have to win some games that you aren't supposed to win. Two years ago, I thought that team had a chance. We beat Memphis and what did Memphis do? They go blow everybody else out and get to the Final Four. All we had to do was make a couple of more shots and we win that game. So, it's a fine line."

You were an assistant coach on the Mississippi State Final Four team. You know the strengths of that team and you know the strengths of this team. How was that team different from this team and how are they similar?
"They are totally different. That team was a big, strong, powerful team. Erick Dampier, Russell Walters, Marcus Bullard - guys who were big, physical guys. The resemblance is not even the same. Then, you had a wildcard in a Dontae' Jones. And you had two lottery picks, two high first-rounders in those two cats (Dampier, Jones). And Darryl Wilson may have been your best player that wasn't a pro player. It was just different in so many ways."

But wouldn't you say this year's team has more depth than that team did?
"No, I don't know about more. They are just totally different teams. They are always put together differently."

Big, strong and powerful was the strength of that team. What is the strength of this team, then?
"This team's strengths is its ability to make shots and Jarvis (Varnado) in that post. They are totally different. We are smaller, quicker. We aren't the physical team that team was. And one other thing we aren't as good at is that we aren't as defensive-minded a team as that team was. There is no comparison with the defensive presence that team had."

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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