Are you ready for some ROUNDBALL?

Former Mississippi State basketball player Carl Nichols, a member of the 1991 SEC champion basketball team, gives Gene's Page readers his thoughts about this year's Mississippi State men's basketball team.

A good portion of what you are about to read is a repeat/reminder of what I've said before. Since I have not changed in mindset, a lot of my information remains.

I look forward to our future together as I try to share with you my basketball perspective on some of the conversations being held around the office about MSU 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 are three of each.

  • 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.
  • 3) I will try to consistently provide a basketball perspective on a discussion and give you an inside look at an otherwise average conversation.

  • 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.
  • 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).

    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.

    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. This is required in order for our program to continue to compete within the Southeastern Conference and 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 a couple of other factors that determine which individuals rise to stardom.

  • 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 thing to consider is basketball "I Q". Talent-level has been at the forefront of most freshmen basketball players 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 the same player may struggle with the strategic decision-making (basketball IQ) of SEC basketball.

    With those things now etched into your mind, let's get to the heart of the matter and talk about this year's basketball team.

    As the season is about to get kicked off, there were some consistencies associated with the intersquad and exhibition games leading up to the season-opener.

    The ugly, the bad and the good for the 2009-2010 team sometimes can be labeled as interchangeable... When this occurs, it would be more appropriate to identify the situation as "The CHALLENGE."

    THE UGLY: Turnovers continue to plague this group of talented players. Even more disturbing is the large number of turnovers committed while going up against mediocre defenses. Being loaded with talent causes individuals to try exciting things that often don't work. Therefore, while we can look forward to the excitement of an occasional successful daring play, we hope that this team will more often be mature enough to complete the simple play rather than attempt a play to dazzle the crowd.

    THE BAD: There are only a few areas of the game that this team has to guard against. No proven leader is among my list. Several guys have the respect of his teammates to serve in the "Leader" role. None that I can see have taken that opportunity upon his shoulders. Without a leader, how far can we go?

    Additionally, a tendency to become passive or lackadaisical is prominent. This type of play disallows the Bulldog faithful from shaking their keys just because the BULLDOGS are ahead by 15 with 3:00 to go in the 4th quarter.

    In addition are woes associated with the mindset to keep the postmen as an important part of the offense.

    THE GOOD: This may be the most talented team, 1 through 12, to ever wear the MAROON and WHITE. We have depth at each position. Those considered to be on the "2nd Team" could easily be the starting lineup.

    Rebounding and defense will set the tone for our success but at each position the player is talented enough to beat his opponent. And this quality is extremely important since it can't be taught. Due to that, the opponent will not be able to key in on a given player and disrupt our gameplan because any given player could be the star for the night.

    I was also impressed with our three-point shooting and unselfishness.

    Additionally, this group runs the floor like gazelles. It is a thing of beauty to watch this group of talent-laden athletes run the court.

    As I draw to a close, my gut feeling leads me to believe that we'll be dancing in March (No Doubt). If this group has the heart and qualities of previous teams, believe in each other and stay focused and committed. WE COULD GO ALL THE WAY! GO DAWGS.

    We look forward to occasionally speaking with you again during the season.

    Carl Nichols, a former Mississippi State basketball player, is the MSU men's basketball columnist for

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