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MSU Hoops Roster “Loaded” Next Season

Mississippi State has officially signed Roquez Johnson to its 2011 basketball class, but the odds of Rick Stansbury adding anyone else seem to be diminishing.

According to Brandon Marcello of The Jackson Clarion-Ledger, the Dogs’ roster next season “will, frankly, be loaded,” even if no one else signs with State this spring… or departs this summer.

Stansbury’s class was ranked in the Top 25 pre-Johnson.  The four-man class includes a Parade All-American and one Mr. Basketball.  With Dee Bost and Renardo Sidney back, expectations will be high in Starkville again next year.

But don’t expect much wiggle room for the coach if he fails to meet them for a second straight year.

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SEC Headlines – 3/18/11 Part One

1.  This writer says Alabama’s receiving corps can be just as good as last year.  (Without Julio Jones?)

2.  Auburn will be turning to new receivers — and new everything else — this spring.

3.  Mizzou’s Mike Anderson sorta/kinda shot down Arkansas talk last night.

4.  Kevin Minter is ready to make his mark at linebacker for LSU.

5.  Former Mississippi State football coach Murray Warmath — who went on to greater fame at Minnesota — died this week at 98.

6.  Renardo Sidney has confirmed his plans to return to MSU next season.

7.  Walk-on quarterback Evan Ingram is still on the Ole Miss team after being arrest for shoplifting a $60 swimsuit.  (For all the second chances Houston Nutt has handed out to more serious offenders, here’s hoping he gives this kid a chance to redeem himself.)

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SEC Headlines – 3/14/11 Part Two

1.  MSU’s five-year postseason tournament run is over.  (AD Scott Stricklin says he expects Rick Stansbury to return next year.)

2.  Dee Bost said last week that he will return to Starkville.  And now Renardo Sidney has announced his return to via Facebook.

3.  Ole Miss’ NIT game at Cal on Wednesday will give Chris Warren a chance to reach the 2,000-point plateau for the Rebels.

4.  Win and UM will like play at Colorado in the second round.

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SEC Headlines – 3/1/11 Part Three

1.  A first-round bye in the SEC Tournament is on the line for Arkansas this week.

2.  Tomorrow’s game with Mississippi State will play a big role in determining the West’s #2 seed.

3.  LSU’s Aaron Dotson is doing his best on the basketball court… as his mother battles breast cancer.

4.  Rick Stansbury says Renardo Sidney is feeling better after dealing with an illness and sore toe last weekend.

5.  Wendell Lewis filled in nicely with Sidney on the bench for much of Saturday’s win over Tennessee.

6.  Stansbury says Dee Bost is “one of the best” point guards to ever play at MSU.

7.  This writer wonders if coaches aren’t going overboard in their “protection” of their players from the big, bad media.

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SEC Headlines – 2/16/11 Part Two

1.  Florida’s Scottie Wilbekin is making his mark on defense.

2.  UF linebacker Neiron Ball remains in ICU, but his condition is reportedly improving. 

3.  Georgia needs to finish strong in order to polish up its NCAA Tournament resume.

4.  Mark Fox believes a 10-6 league record would put UGA in “a real comfortable position” tourney-wise.  The Dawgs are currently 6-4.

5.  The stretch run starts tonight with a key home game against Vanderbilt.

6.  MSU’s Rick Stansbury dared Kentucky’s Darius Miller to shoot last night… and paid for it.

7.  This writer says Stansbury’s missteps led to UK’s victory.

8.  Kentucky fans flooded Renardo Sidney’s cell phone with calls and texts.  Ha ha.  (Can we finally grow past this one?)

9.  South Carolina’s coaches are ready to make good use of Jadeveon Clowney.

10.  Carolina will head into Knoxville tonight with three starters dealing with injuries.  (Lakeem Jackson is definitely out.)

11.  Tennessee’s Scotty Hopson says his team “is not done.”

12.  The Vols are just 9-5 at home this season.

13.  Bruce Pearl says his team can play its way in or out of the NCAA Tournament.

14.  Kevin Stallings isn’t particularly worried about Jeffery Taylor’s recent offensive hiccups because Taylor “bails us out on defense.”

15.  John Jenkins has won over this writer.

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MSU’s Sidney Getting Blasted From All Sides; A Lesson For Enablers Everywhere

At, we usually take it pretty easy on college athletes.  You can’t cover college sports without talking about bad plays, turnovers and — sadly — arrests these days, but we try not to bang away too hard at men in their early 20s and younger.

Unless they’ve asked for it.  Showboats and loudmouths tend to flip our ignition switch.  So too do trouble-makers who are handed one opportunity after another by coaches who would normally boot less-talented players for similar/lesser offenses.

Renardo Sidney fits in that last category.  So while we think some of the following pundits are treating Sidney as though he were a high-paid professional (hold your jokes about his high school career), it’s hard for us to argue with their assessments of Mississippi State’s big man.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal compiled some of the shots fired at Sidney after last night’s 11-point, 8-rebound performance against Kentucky last night:

Jeff Goodman,  “I am not sure I have watched (a) lazier player than Renardo Sidney.  Really sad because a few years back, kid was as fun to watch as anyone.”

Dana O’Neil,  “Don know how Rick Stansbury tolerates Renardo Sidney.  No defense then jacks a brick of a three.  Selfish and awful.”

Evan Daniels,  “Wow … ESPN just crushed Sidney.  Dude is super lazy.  Can’t believe he just backed away like that.  It’s sad.  Kid has so much talent.”

Cecil Hurt, The Tuscaloosa News:  “Not a fan of ESPN SkyCam but it is at least a new vantage point from which to be disappointed in Renardo Sidney.”

The Jackson Clarion-Ledger also took note of the Sidney-bashing last evening.

Brad Locke of The Journal took Sidney to task for “grabbing his shorts while standing in the lane on defense.”

After the game, Locke asked Stansbury what he thought about Sidney’s, um, effort.

“I thought Sid played hard,” Stansbury said.  “Does that mean every minute he was on that floor he’s fresh?  No.  That’s kind of where it is with him.  It’s just where he is in his game right now.  Just to say he went out there and (had) a lack of effort because he wasn’t trying, that’s not true.  I think he tried to the point he exhausted himself, and I like that.”

Locke even suggests that Stansbury is “not in charge of him.”

“Sidney decides when he’s ready to come out and go back in — pay attention, and you’ll see him signal to the bench for a sub, and other times he’ll just up and walk to the scorer’s table to check in, unprompted by Stansbury.

Stansbury isn’t coaching Sidney.  He’s enabling him, and he’s enabling him right into basketball oblivion.”

A number of folks took issue with our recent comments regarding Jadeveon Clowney’s decision to Lebron James his way into the focus of media frenzy.  “What’s wrong with a kid taking all the time he wants,” a dozen emailers asked.

This is what’s wrong with it. 

The more players are praised, coddled and allowed to act as rulers of the universe, the more likely they’ll go belly-up in college when the competition gets tougher and they have to A) work harder and B) listen to their coaches.

Stansbury has looked the other way when Sidney got into a fight with a teammate.  He’s looked the other way when Sidney’s tweets insulted MSU fans.  He even looked the other way last night while Sidney sat on the court during play and watched his teammates continue to battle.  It seems that in Sidney’s life the much-vilified NCAA is the only group that hasn’t looked the other way when it comes to his and his family’s shortcuts.

Now granted, not all players are Renardo Sidney.  But the more high-schoolers are put on pedestals as Sidney has been — allowed to do anything they like because of their talent — the more likely they’ll become either lazy or cancerous to their college team. 

Or both.

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SEC Headlines – 2/7/11

1.  Alabama point guard Trevor Releford has been named the SEC’s Freshman of the Week.

2.  The MSU basketball team now needs to set its sites on second place in the West.

3.  ESPN’s Andy Katz wonders why Ravern Johnson was suspended for a tweet while Renardo Sidney was not suspended for his re-tweet.

4.  Ole Miss is playing better, but they still need to improve at home.

5.  The Rebels are better when Reginald Buckner gets more minutes.

6.  Some folks can’t/won’t let go of Colonel Reb.

7.  This writer believe coaching changes should be made before signing day, not after.

8.  Bob Davie and Lou Holtz have some words of advice for Urban Meyer.

9.  Florida’s Chandler Parsons was the SEC’s Player of the Week.

10.  Can Isaiah Crowell help make Georgia “Tailback U” again?

11.  Joker Phillips has added two former Kentucky players to his staff as student assistants.

12.  Bruce Pearl is ready to return from his 8-game suspension.

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Pelphrey, Kennedy And Stansbury All Sit On Hot Seats

Each week, we here at do about 20 radio interviews across the Southeastern Conference footprint.  In recent days, we’ve been asked numerous times by talkshow hosts in Arkansas and Mississippi whether or not John Pelphrey, Andy Kennedy and/or Rick Stansbury should be fired.

The fact we’re being asked those questions tells you that those three coaches are feeling some real heat these days.

Pelphrey has lost two home games in a row in an arena that is no longer filled to capacity.  That includes the luxury seats at Bud Walton Arena, a sign that some significant donors are off the Pelphrey bandwagon.

But Arkansas’ coach will likely be back next year — barring a total collapse — because he has one of the nation’s top signing classes coming to Fayetteville.  Some fans and some media members won’t want to wait ’til next year, but it’s likely AD Jeff Long will do just that.  The school is throwing millions at football and its doubtful UA’s administration will want to buy out a basketball coach, too.  Add it up and Pelphrey will likely face a put-up or pack-up year in 2011-12.

Kennedy is on a two-game winning streak with a home victory over Kentucky and a road win at Arkansas in tow.  But his Rebels still sit at just 3-5 in the SEC West (four games behind Alabama) and Kennedy has yet to take Ole Miss to an NCAA Tournament.  In addition, he’s had his struggles against Mississippi State.

Despite the fact that this hasn’t been the breakthrough year most expected, Kennedy will still probably record his fourth 20-win season and secure yet another NIT bid in the process.  Knowing that his program has the worst gym in the SEC, will AD Pete Boone blow up Kennedy and go hunting for another mid-major, up-and-comer who’ll take the job?  Or will he give Kennedy one more year?  Best bet right now: He’ll give him one more year.

The hottest seat in the conference belongs to Stansbury.  The Bulldogs’ coach is in his 13th year at State — and that’s too long for most coaches to stay in one place.  In that time he’s taken the Bulldogs to six NCAA tourneys, but only two in the last six seasons.  And he’s never progressed past the second round.

Stansbury, until now, has been a solid coach.  His teams tend to improve just as February and March roll around and the Bulldogs are usually one of the tougher outs in the SEC Tournament.  The coach will need for that pattern to repeat in 2011.

State was expected to win the SEC West easily.  Instead they sit three games behind Alabama and turmoil has surrounded the program all season.  From NCAA suspensions for Dee Bost and Renardo Sidney to fist fights between players to insubordination via Twitter to in-season transfers to the latest suspension of leading scorer Ravern Johnson… State’s season is imploding.  And while Stansbury made the right move by suspending Johnson and banning his players from Twitter — all coaches should follow suit — he has not spent much time addressing the internal strife that appears to be holding his team back this year.

MSU would likely have a hard time finding a replacement for Stansbury who would match his successes over 13 years.  But the coach used up a lot of goodwill in fighting for Sidney.  To date that fight hasn’t been worth the effort.

It all comes down to new AD Scott Stricklin.  New bosses like to put their own people in place.  But is the first-year athletic director ready to put a long-standing coach on ice so early in his tenure?  The guess here is no.

That said, Stansbury had better start winning some games.  And he’d better hope there are no other embarrassing episodes that land him and his team on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” for the wrong reasons.

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Tweets Deleted In MSU Rant Story

Earlier today we told you that Mississippi State basketball player Ravern Johnson had used his Twitter account to unleash an unpunctuated rant against Rick Stansbury’s work as the team’s coach.  Brad Locke of The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal wrote about the dust-up here.

But now the story has taken another turn.  It seems Renardo Sidney — who can’t seem to stay out of the news… except when it concerns his so-so play — actually re-tweeted Johnson’s “Starting to see why people Transfer” blast.

Since Locke reported the story of Johnson’s tweet, both players have deleted the posts and their Twitter accounts altogether.  (That might have been on orders from their coach.)

Naturally, Locke has been portrayed as the villain of the story by some.  One Twitter twit said that he won’t be buying Locke’s newspaper.  Yes, because how dare a reporter actually report on player dissension that’s already first been reported by the players themselves via Twitter.

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Stallings’ First Win In Starkville Leaves Stansbury On The Verge Of Trouble

There is no better tournament coach in the SEC than Rick Stansbury.  Year-in, year-out, Stansbury always seems to get the most out of his Bulldogs come tourney time. 

It’s the months leading up to the SEC Tournament that cause problems.

Last night in Starkville, Vanderbilt’s Kevin Stallings got his first win ever at  Mississippi State 81-74.  The win keeps Vandy in the race for the overall SEC championship.  The loss effectively slams the door on MSU’s hopes for an NCAA at-large bid.

The game was — in case you didn’t watch it — excellent from start to finish, featuring 16 lead changes.  State trailed the 19th-ranked Commodores by only three before a turnover and a Jeffery Taylor dunk salted the game away with 15 seconds remaining.

For Stallings and the ‘Dores, it’s onward and upward.  For Stansbury and State, fan unrest will only grow worse.  The Bulldogs are 10-9 overall and just 2-3 in the SEC. 

The preseason West Division favorites — by far — State was expected to jell once Renardo Sidney and Dee Bost returned from their NCAA suspensions.  But the team hasn’t.  Desperately needing wins over SEC East foes with good RPI rankings, the Dogs have lost back-to-back games at Georgia (by 22) and at home to Vanderbilt.  Florida comes to town tomorrow.  Who knows how hard MSU’s players will fight… or how many State fans will be in the arena?

Stansbury went all-in when he signed NCAA pariah Renardo Sidney in 2010.  So far that move has been a bust.  The player sat out all of last season as well as the first nine games of this season.  Upon his return he immediately drew an MSU suspension for insubordination and then got into a fight with teammate Elgin Bailey.  Bailey eventually left the program.

For all the trouble he’s meant for State, Sidney scored six points, grabbed five rebounds and fouled out of last night’s game.  Asked about his play, Stansbury said: “Sid was no factor in the game.  All I remember was him checking in and out.”

And now State fans will begin to wonder if their coach of 13 years is about to be checked out, too.

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