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MSU’s Stansbury Needs To Upset UK Tonight… Badly

If ever a coach needed to pull an upset, it’s Rick Stansbury.  Tonight.  Against the #1 team in the country.  Against a school that hasn’t lost to an SEC foe since last season.

When Kentucky takes the court at Humphrey Coliseum tonight, they’ll face a man who entered the SEC basketball season just as Mark Richt had entered last football season — as a man too long at one place, with fans grumbling about underachievement.  Unlike Richt, Stansbury’s troops haven’t rallied ’round him to “gruntle” the disgruntled.  Instead they’ve lost three games in a row and the 14-year head coach is feeling heat from the Bulldog fanbase.

After losses to Auburn, LSU and Georgia, the coach angered a few more fans by claiming that his team was the “underdog” in its games at Auburn and at LSU:

 

“Let me say this about the road: I don’t know if anybody figures out how to win on the road.  There aren’t many teams across the country who figure out how to win on the road. That’s Number One.

You go to LSU and you go to Auburn, those are two hard places to win.  The one home game is the one you hate lose. Home games. Road games are hard to come by. They’re hard to come by. Like I said the other day, we’re the underdog in all these road games so far.”

 

Actually, the coach’s words are honest.  On the season, the home team’s winning percentage in conference play has fluctuated around 70-75%.  Kentucky and Florida and Vanderbilt — the top three teams in the league — all have four or more road wins in the SEC.  Everyone else struggles on the road.  And only Georgia and South Carolina have poorly defended their home turf.

So a case could be made that, yes, MSU really was an underdog on the road.  But fans don’t want to hear that and Stansbury did himself no favors by saying it.

Yesterday, all the pressure might’ve gotten to Stansbury a bit when he took a pair of shots at former State player Twany Beckham who transferred to Kentucky this year:

 

First:  “I saw his stats the other day in SEC play. Did he make one or attempt one shot?”

 

And then:  “He’s seeing some pretty good basketball. He’s getting a front-row ticket every night. Yes, sir.”

 

After his comments hit Twitter, Stansbury attempted to put the toothpaste back into the tube via his own Twitter feed:

 

“I’d like to clear up the comments I made earlier today about Twany Beckham. First off, they were taken out of context. I’ve never said anything negative about a player, nor will I. Again, those comments were taken out of context. Earlier tonight, I called Twany and had a great conversation with him. He’s a great kid and I would never say anything to hurt or embarrass him. I wish him nothing but the best.”

 

How his comments were taken out of context is anyone’s guess.  There’s a large difference between “out of context” and “I thought they were off the record.”  But if Stansbury wanted his remarks be kept off the record, he’d have been better off not making them during a media session.  And — just in terms of showing some class — he shouldn’t have made them at all.

The bottom line is this: Stansbury has overstayed his welcome in Starkville.  The man is averaging 20 wins per year and he’s taken the Dogs to six NCAA Tournaments and four NITs in his thirteen seasons.  Doesn’t matter.  Ask Richt.

Once a coach has been at a school for more than a decade, all of the losses add up.  ”He lost this one in ’03 and that awful one in ’07 and he didn’t even have a winning conference record in ’09,” etc, etc.

For years we’ve said on this site that wins are like haircuts.  You can get a great one, but pretty soon, you’re going to need another one.  And another.  And another.  Losses, on the other hand, are like tartar on your teeth.  They just continue to build up and build up until all anyone sees are yellow teeth (or in this case, a gaggle of losses).

Richt survived 2011 with a 10-4 season.  But losses in Georgia’s last two games have left a certain segment of the UGA fanbase upset again.  Yes, he’s getting a contract extension, but if his Bulldogs go 8-5 or worse in 2012 — against what looks to be an easy-esque schedule on paper — folks will be screaming for his noggin just as they were post-2010.  He’s been in Athens too long.

Stansbury might survive this season at State.  Handing Kentucky its first league loss of the season would certainly help his case.  And who knows if AD Scott Stricklin is as eager for change as the many MSU fans who are emailing this site on an hourly basis?  But eventually, it’s just going to take one bad year to unseat State’s long-tenured coach.

There are just too many losses in the collective memory.

Now that’s not fair in this writer’s view, but it is a fact in our instant-gratification, 24-hour media cycle world circa 2012.

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SEC Headlines – 1/19/11 Part Two

1.  Florida will look to regain its defensive edge tomorrow night against Auburn.  (Against Auburn?  Here’s guessing they regain it.)

2.  New Gator defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is expected to arrive in Gainesville this week.

3.  Mark Fox said Tennessee made one more play than his Georgia team in a 59-57 loss last night.

4.  Backup offensive lineman Tanner Strickland is ending his Georgia career early.

5.  Georgia had to report a pretty small secondary violation in football recently.

6.  For you animal lovers out there (and I am one, too), Uga VIII is responding well to chemotheraphy being used to treat lymphoma.

7.  Following last night’s 68-66 loss to Alabama, John Calipari said (among other things) his Kentucky team doesn’t have the same “will to win” this season.

8.  UK’s youth has led to a roller-coaster ride in 2010-11.

9.  Twany Beckham — who’s transferring to UK to walk on — left Mississippi State due to “all the turmoil” in Starkville.

10.  Darrin Horn wants his Carolina team to be focused when Arkansas hits town tonight.

11.  The Gamecocks are off to a mildly surprising 2-1 start in league play.

12.  Tennessee’s buzzer-beating final play didn’t go as scripted in last night’s victory over Georgia.

13.  Brian Williams wants everyone to know that on his last-second bucket he “shot it like Kobe.”

14.  Kevin Stallings needs for Vanderbilt to play to the final buzzer tonight.

15.  The Commodores host Ole Miss as John Jenkins and Chris Warren try to out-gun one another.

16.  VU quarterback Jordan Rodgers was on ESPN today to talk about Sunday’s Bears-Packers game with fill feature his brother, Aaron Rodgers, quarterbacking against his pal and former Vandy QB Jay Cutler.

17.  The SEC is selling “5 Football National Champions In A Row!” T-shirts at its website…

18.  And naturally someone is taking issue with that decision.

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SEC Headlines – 1/19/11 Part One

1.  Alabama survived a furious rally to knock off Kentucky 68-66 last night.

2.  Tide players and fans celebrated in an on-court frenzy. 

3.  This writer says Anthony Grant outcoached John Calipari.

4.  Auburn basketball has a long way to go.

5.  So old Miami booster (and NCAA renegade) Luther Campbell was supposed to headline a party featuring Auburn football players?  Good thing it was canceled cause that wouldn’t look too good.

6.  Offensive tackle Anthony Oden has re-enrolled at Arkansas.

7.  Arkansas hits the road to face South Carolina tonight, Florida on Saturday.

8.  Former LSU basketballer Dennis Harris is headed to Arkansas State… to play for former LSU coach John Brady.

9.  UPDATE — Les Miles says stability at LSU “is more important than any amount of money you can make in a year.”

10.  Ole Miss will be at Vanderbilt tonight looking for its first SEC win of the season.

11.  Andy Kennedy wants his team to focus on the opportunity at hand.

12.  Rick Stansbury’s MSU team needs more time to jell.

13.  Former Bulldog hoopster Twany Beckham will walk on at Kentucky.  He calls his arrival at UK “the happiest day of my life.”

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MSU’s Beckham Heads To UK; Bailey To SE Louisiana

It looks like two former Mississippi State basketball players are well on their way to restarting their careers elsewhere.

Two weeks ago, junior forward Elgin Bailey left the MSU program following a televised fistfight with teammate Renardo Sidney during a trip to Hawaii for a holiday tournament.  He is already enrolled at Southeastern Louisiana.

At about the same time as Bailey’s departure, sophomore guard Twany Beckham announced that he was leaving Starkville, too.  Beckham was spotted yesterday attending practice at Kentucky.  The Louisville native started the first five games of the season at point guard for the Bulldogs.

Both players will have to sit out a year before playing at their new schools.

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