Sometimes you just have to suck it up and take your medicine.
Such was the case of the Mississippi State Basketball team last year and is the case this year.
When Rick Stansbury was fired (excuse me, retired), it was expected that the Mississippi State basketball team was going to face a complete rebuilding job from the ground up. Rick Ray won’t really be evaluated until at least year three. Expectations were as low as they have ever been for the program, as almost every publication and website was predicting a last place finish for the Bulldogs in the SEC.
The good news for the basketball team is they actually did play better than many thought they would. They gave 100% all 40 minutes, there was steady improvement from the beginning to the end, and they won more games than anticipated and actually finished one spot ahead of where they were expected to. The problem is, they still lost a lot.
Entering their game on March 2nd against Ole Miss, the Bulldogs had lost 13 straight contests. Ole Miss was bringing their best team under Andy Kennedy to Starkville for what most believed would be an easy win. They were led by the leading scorer in the SEC in Marshall Henderson. But has long been the case, the Rebels just don’t know how to win in Starkville.
The Bulldogs were led by Colin Borchert that afternoon, who scored 21 points. More impressive, the Bulldogs held Marshall Henderson to 16 points, but it took 4-19 shooting to get that many points. They played their most complete game of the season that afternoon.
The win against Ole Miss did three things for the Bulldog program.
1) It showed that they still can compete with Ole Miss in basketball even when they have one of their best teams and we have one of our worst.
2) It demonstrated that we can still compete against a quality opponent.
3) Allowed the team to win 3 of their last 5 games, providing some much needed momentum heading into this season.
The basketball team is going to take their lumps again this year, and it will be a miracle if they even make it to the NIT. But there is hope that Rick Ray is going to be able to take this team to a better place. Most of that hope is alive and well because of this win.