2009-2010 Mississippi State Bulldogs Basketball Preview
In 2008- 2009, the Mississippi State Bulldogs (23-13 overall, 9- 7 SEC) finished third in the SEC West and then went to the Big Dance where they were eliminated by Washington 71- 58 in round one. Over the past five seasons, the Bulldogs have been to the NCAA Tournament three times and have never been past the second round. This year could be different.
Statistically last season, the Bulldogs were primarily average. They were sixth in the league in scoring offense (74.4 PPG) and in scoring defense (68.9 PPG). The team was fourth in threes (36%) and fifth in frees (71%). But from the field, they placed 11th, hitting 43% and their rebound margin was also 11th, coming in at minus-1.0. This year, expect to see improvement in every area.
The frontcourt is the purview of forward/center Jarvis Varnado (12.9 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 0.8 APG). Varnado, a senior, is a fine defensive player and a solid offensive force who continues to improve. Another solid performer, is junior forward Kodi Augustus (6.2 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 0.3 APG), who showed a lot of progress as the season went on. Defense and rebounding are the primary areas in which sophomore Romero Osby (4.1 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 0.3 APG) and junior Elgin Bailey (3.9 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 0.2 APG) excel.
Dee Bost (10.9 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 4.3 APG) was new to point guard when he came to MSU last season. But he managed to become a first-rate performer at that spot in his freshman season, learning quickly how to run the show. However, he needs to improve as a marksman. The best shooter in the backcourt is junior Ravern Johnson (12.1 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 1.1 APG), hitting 39.5 of his three-point shots. However, his ball handling was suspect last year. Senior Barry Stewart (12.4 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.8 APG) offers solid offensive play. Junior Phil Turner (8.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.6 APG) rounds out a deep backcourt.
Coach Rick Stansbury is about to start his 12th year as the head coach of Mississippi State. This season, he will oversee the best team that he’s ever had at that institution. Everything is on hand to win the division, conference and go deep into the NCAA Tournament. They possess depth, size, shooting, experience and talent. These guys should make it to the Sweet 16. They could go even further.