"We hope that we are going to play our best basketball at this time of the year. If you look back at the past few games, we basically have found a way to win. They haven't been real pretty at times, but there have been some exciting games and we have won a couple on the road that we had to have. I am very pleased with that. Hopefully, we can continue to improve.
"When you go into the (SEC) tournament, it is like a whole new season. The intensity is there and anybody can win it. We hope we take our next step."
Talk about how this team compares to your 2000 club that you took to the NCAA.
"During the regular season we had some success and have won more league games than we won (in 2000). We finished with more regular season wins. We've have a very challenging schedule throughout the season. This team doesn't have quite the leadership and experience of that class. From a defensive standpoint, we are quick, but the communication that needs to be there, that is something that we will need to be more consistent (with). We have to talk to each other a lot more on the floor if we are going to make things happen. There were a couple of games that I think, if we had had that communications, we could have won."
Do you feel that you are playing the best that you have played all season?
"I think (our best) is ahead of us. We are finding ways to win and different people are stepping up. Some folks have come off the bench. LaToya (Thomas) has been very consistent, but she had just over 20 points a few games and Tan (White) was below 20 and some other folks stepped up. That is important. As people key on those two young ladies, then somebody else is going to have to step up and make some big plays. And that is what we have seen."
Do you think that this (SEC) tournament field is a little more up for grabs than it has been in recent years?
"Every year anybody can win it. There are a lot of surprises come tournament time. Everybody is focused. It is like a new aspect of the season. I think that the league is as strong and deep as it has been. You see that by the rankings."
How is your team different this year compared to last year's team coming into the SEC Tournament?
"We have seven new kids on the basketball team. In terms of that, this is a new experience. But I think they have had a lot of preparation relative to games outside of the league early on. Hopefully, the success that we have had will help their confidence going into this tournament. A lot of times, as you play games early in the season, if it was a good win, you can talk about that. If it was a loss, a tough loss, then you can learn from that. I would say a couple of our losses have helped us to win games down the stretch because we have been able to refer back to certain keys that may have cost us a ballgame. Hopefully, we have learned enough to know how focused you have to be and how hard you have to play and how you have to do it together."
Talk about where your program is right now.
"In order to win, you have to put it on the line. You can't fear losing. You can't get tight. You have to go for it. There is a look of a winner. You can see it in their eyes. The other thing is a team has to weather a run. You may have a real good mindset prior to a game relative to what your expectations are. A couple of things may happen that may make you question (your mindset). The maturity of the team (determines) at that point on how (the team) responds. If you are ready to fight a battle in this league, they you are in a position to win. That is the team that is going to step up and respond."
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