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MSU, Stansbury Lose To Akron… Yet Another Mid-Major

Last night at about 9:15 ET, I received an email from a Mississippi State fan wondering how Rick Stansbury still has a job.  A quick check of the scoreboard and, yep, Mississippi State had indeed dropped its game with Akron last night. 

At home. 

By 10 points, 68-58. 

In front of an announced crowd of less than 5,000.

“They came in here and they were better than us in every area and we tried to get our guys to understand just how good they were,” Stansbury said afterward.  “I never felt like, from the get-go, we were ever in control of the game — ever.  I thought we were a step slow and they were quicker to every loose ball.”

None of that will sit well with what’s quickly becoming an apathetic fanbase.

As Brandon Marcello points out in The Jackson Clarion-Ledger, this is now the third straight season in which MSU has lost to a mid-major foe at home before December.  In fact, over the past four seasons the Bulldogs have lost games to Florida Atlantic, East Tennessee State, Rider, Richmond, Western Kentucky, Charlotte, Southern Illinois, Miam of Ohio, South Alabama and San Diego (twice). 

Stansbury is entering his 14th season as the skipper at State.  As Georgia’s Mark Richt has found out in football, SEC coaches start to wear out there welcome after about 10 seasons.

Stansbury’s teams have also been less successful of late.  From 2002 through 2005, MSU reached four consecutive NCAA Tournaments.  Since ’05, the Bulldogs have gone to the Big Dance just twice and they’ve missed out each of the last two seasons.

While State has averaged 20.5 wins over the last six seasons, they’ve also averaged 13 losses.  And losses stick in the memory longer than wins do.

On top of all that, Stansbury used up a good bit of capital by signing Renardo Sidney when others were backing away.  The big man sat for one year as the NCAA sorted out his pre-MSU dealings.  Then he looked overweight and lazy for much of last season.  He also bickered with teammates, openly fought with one on national TV, and tweeted criticisms of his coach.

This offseason, Sidney dedicated himself to being a better, more fit teammate.  But during the final 4:29 of last night’s game he was not on the court for the Bulldogs.

“We were trying to fight from behind defensively,” the coach said when asked why Sidney was on the bench.  “They went small.  You knew the answer to that.”

If you’re looking for positives, Stansbury’s teams often start slow and finish fast.  There’s no better coach in the conference when it comes to prepping his team for SEC Tournament play.

But at some point, Stansbury’s going to dig himself a hole he can’t climb out of… and it could be that Year 14 will be the season when it happens.



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