An Argument For and Against Rick Stansbury


Whether you love Rick Stansbury, you’re ready for him to move on or you’re somewhere in the middle, there’s no denying his impact on the history of MSU basketball. He is State’s all-time winningest coach (291-159) and the 9th winninest coach in SEC history. He only needs six more victories to reach 7th place, and 17 more wins will place him above Tubby Smith for 6th all-time.

Not only that, but Stansbury was an assistant coach under Richard Williams from 1990-1998. During that time period Williams experienced his most success. While Stans has been on the MSU coaching staff, the Bulldogs have made 9 of their 10 NCAA tournament appearances (although that number should be 13 if it weren’t for Mississippi segregation laws in the late 50s & early 60s), won all three of their SEC tournament championships and two of their six SEC championships.

But with games like Saturday vs. Georgia people scratch their head and wonder why this seems to happen with his teams. They lose a game they no doubt should have won. As objectively as possible, I’ve tried to come up with an argument for both sides.


1. He can’t keep continuity. For one reason or another players leave all the time. Discipline problems, misunderstandings, transfers, etc. Romero Osby is averaging 12.3 PPG and 7.7 RPG at Oklahoma this year, he would have been a senior on this team.

2. His teams are inconsistent. Just like with what happened Saturday, MSU always loses two or three games during the year that they have no business losing. An example from last year was at Auburn, a team that ended the season 11-20.

3. Stan’s is in his 14th year, but he’s never been past the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Out of his six tourney appearances, State has been seeded #3, 5, 2, 8, 8, and 13. They’ve made it to the 2nd round four times, but never to the Sweet 16.

4. Not a good in-game coach. Deciding against calling timeouts, not getting it to the best players, allowing the team to throw up 3’s whenever and wherever, insert your beef [here].


1. He is a consistent winner. The next win this year’s team gets will give him ten 20-win teams. In the 86 years before he was the coach, State had seven 20-win seasons. He never finished in last place of the SEC West, and was in the top half of the division 10 out of 13 years. MSU won the West five times (would be in 1st place now if there were still divisions).

2. He is a good recruiter, and has brought in good transfer players. Stans locks down the best players in Mississippi and brings in outsiders like Gary Irvin, Jamont Gordon, Vernon Goodridge, Ben Hansbrough, Kodi Augustus, and Dee Bost. He also had three high school-to-NBA players committed to State. He brought in key pieces Shane Power, Lawrence Roberts, Brandon Vincent (Juco) and Arnett Moultrie via transfer.

3. His teams get better as the season goes on. This is hard to qualify, but I will use these stats (through 2010-11 season): in the first half of the SEC schedule, his teams are 52-52 (.500). In the second half of the SEC schedule, they are 62-42 (.596). The SEC Tournament was re-established in 1979, and MSU was 7-19 (.269) prior to Stansbury. Under his leadership, State is 16-11 (.593) in the Tourney.

4. Most players improve while they are at Mississippi State. This is a hard one to qualify too, but think about guys like Jarvis Varnardo, Dietric Slater and Charles Rhodes. Arnett Moultrie wasn’t half the player at UTEP that he is this year. The players that actually stay all four years typically show solid improvement each year.

Hopefully I’ve provided a fair assessment of both sides of the debate. I’ll leave you to decide if Rick Stansbury is doing an adequate job or not. But whatever you feel, we should all support him for the rest of the season and hope this team has a great finish; we can assess his status when it’s over.