2013-14 Basketball Preview

Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

Well, since it’s a bye week, I thought that would be as good a time as any to take a look at the upcoming basketball season.

Truth be told, I’ve always gotten a lot of enjoyment out of the basketball team. That could be due to the fact that we have probably had more success in it over the last 20 years than we have had in football. That’s what has made the last few years (and especially last year) so painful. I’m hoping that Rick Ray can get our program back to relevancy, but I don’t see it happening this year. Most people are predicting us to come in next to last, which is better than what they predicted last year, which was dead last. We ended up 13th, one spot better than we were predicted to finish. Best case scenario this year is we scratch out some wins and end up 10th. Worst case scenario we finish dead last with just a few wins. Let’s take a look at the schedule:

Date

Opponent

Location

Prediction

  Fri, Nov 08 Prairie View A&M Starkville

W

  Thu, Nov 14 Kennesaw State Starkville

W

  Tue, Nov 19 Mississippi Valley State Starkville

W

  Sat, Nov 23 Utah State Logan, UT

L

  Wed, Nov 27 Jackson State Starkville

W

  Sun, Dec 01 Loyola-Chicago Starkville

W

  Thu, Dec 05 TCU
Big 12/SEC Challenge
Starkville

W

  Fri, Dec 13 Southeastern Louisiana Tupelo, MS (BancorpSouth Arena)

W

  Tue, Dec 17 Florida A&M Starkville

W

  Thu, Dec 19 Florida Gulf Coast Starkville

W

  Sun, Dec 22 South Florida
Las Vegas Classic
Las Vegas, NV (Orleans Arena)

L

  Mon, Dec 23 Santa Clara/UNLV
Las Vegas Classic
Las Vegas, NV (Orleans Arena)

L

  Thu, Jan 02 Maryland Eastern Shore Starkville

W

  Wed, Jan 08 Kentucky * Lexington, KY

L

  Sat, Jan 11 Ole Miss * Starkville

W

  Wed, Jan 15 Alabama * Tuscaloosa, AL

L

  Sat, Jan 18 Texas A&M * Starkville

L

  Wed, Jan 22 Auburn * Starkville

W

  Sat, Jan 25 Ole Miss * Oxford, MS

L

  Thu, Jan 30 Florida * Starkville

L

  Sat, Feb 01 Vanderbilt * Nashville, TN

L

  Wed, Feb 05 Texas A&M * College Station, TX

L

  Sat, Feb 08 Kentucky * Starkville

L

  Wed, Feb 12 Georgia * Starkville

W

  Sat, Feb 15 Auburn * Auburn, AL

W

  Wed, Feb 19 LSU * Baton Rouge, LA

L

  Sat, Feb 22 Arkansas * Starkville

L

  Wed, Feb 26 Tennessee * Starkville

L

  Sat, Mar 01 Missouri * Columbia, MO

L

  Wed, Mar 05 Georgia * Athens, GA

W

  Sat, Mar 08 South Carolina * Starkville

W

You can debate some of my predictions, but I think they won’t be too far off. If I am correct our record would be 16-15 with a 6-12 conference  record. A decent showing in the Conference tournament with that record MIGHT get us an NIT bid.

Where We will Improve

Ballhandling: We were one of the worst teams in the SEC last year when it came to turnover to assist ratios. Trivante Bloodman did the best he could do, but he isn’t a pure point guard. Jacoby Davis and Andre Applewhite were brought in to be the point guards for this team and they both suffered season ending injuries before the season started. I’m hopeful they are both healthy and can help out with the ballhandling duties.

Three Point Shooting: I think Fred Thomas will get even better as a three point shooter, and that can only help. We were terrible at the three last year, which made life difficult on Gavin Ware. If we can space the floor more with outside shooting, It should allow Ware to be more productive on the inside.

Where We will Struggle

Free Throw Shooting: It drives me nuts when I see guys shoot around 50% at the free throw line. I just don’t get it. We struggled at the line last year, and I see no reason why that will get better.

Turnovers: I think this will be better, but it will still be a problem. We are young and that isn’t going to get a whole lot better until we get some more experience under our belt.

Why You Should be Hopeful About the Future

I have no idea what kind of a coach Rick Ray is going to end up being, but I do know that he is trying to get everything out of these players that he possibly can. With Steele giving up his basketball career and Wendell Lewis being dismissed from the team, Ray has all of his players in place. Every suspension from last year, except for one from Borchert, was a guy who was a holdover from the Stansbury era. I loved Stansbury, and I believe that his mostly successful coaching career will forever be overshadowed by the fact he couldn’t get a team past the second round of the NCAA tournament. But the discipline and effort from the last few teams he coached was abysmal and that is why we made a change. I hope Ray works out, but we won’t have a good idea of what kind of a coach he can be until next year at the earliest. If you want a good parallel, this is like what the baseball program was when Cohen first took over. We have to be patient and give Ray time. The guys play as hard as possible and give it all for 40 minutes every game. It’s hard to ask for much more than that of this particular group.

Topics: Mississippi State Basketball

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