2008 Mississippi State Bulldogs Basketball Preview
Last season, the Mississippi State Bulldogs (23-11 overall, 12-4 SEC) finished first in their division and then in the NCAA Tournament defeated Oregon 76-69 and, in round two, lost to Memphis 77-74. In the past five seasons, the Bulldogs have made it to the Big Dance three times and the NIT once. This season, coach Rick Stansbury will guide a team comprised primarily of sophomores and freshmen.
Junior forward/center Jarvis Varnado (28.5 MPG, 7.9 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 0.5 APG, 64.1 FG%, 50.0 FT%) can score, rebound and play defense. He will be an essential part of this year’s Mississippi State team. Last year, he had a national-best best 4.6 BPG. Varnado is a force with which to be reckoned. Three players—Kodi Augustus (4.7 MPG, 1.5 PPG, 1.1 RPG, 0.2 APG, 38.5 FG%, 57.1 FT%), Elgin Bailey (6.8 MPG, 1.7 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 0.0 APG, 47.5 FG%, 39.0 FT%) and Brian Johnson (9.6 MPG, 2.3 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 0.2 APG, 62.5 FG%, 77.3 FT%)—all return to provide depth and experience in the paint.
Junior guard Barry Stewart (35.7 MPG, 11.5 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 2.6 APG, 38.3 FG%, 69.6 FT%) is a hardnosed player and but he must refine his shooting skills to be a major contributor. Sophomore guards Phil Turner (16.6 MPG, 4.0 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 0.8 APG, 33.1 FG%, 55.6 FT%), Ravern Johnson (6.4 MPG, 2.5 PPG, 1.0 RPG, 0.3 APG, 47.7 FG%, 40.0 FT%) and Riley Benock (8.1 MPG, 1.8 PPG, 0.7 RPG, 0.8 APG, 40.5 FG%, 62.5 FT%), all of whom saw action last season, will be asked to step up this year.
The 2008-2009 season looks to be disappointing for the Bulldogs.
A fifth or sixth-place finish seems likely. There’s certainly
talent on board but not a lot of experience. State has taken the
division for two straight seasons but a third division crown is
very unlikely. The Bulldogs have lost a lot of talent, including
the output of guard Jamont Gordon and his 17.2 PPG and guard Ben
Hansbrough and his 10.5 PPG. The NIT looks to be in their future.