October 14, 2009

Stansbury gearing up for the start of practice

Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury is counting down the days until Friday.

The veteran Bulldog coach will get his first look at his 2009-10 squad when practice begins that afternoon. After a season of uncertainty with so many new faces on the roster, he is glad to have all five starters and a wealth of experience returning.

"It feels much different this year than it did last year," Stansbury said. "This time last year you only had two players returning in Jarvis (Varando) and Barry (Stewart) and everybody else was unknown elements and factors that you just didn't know. I liked some of the guys but you never know how they will respond. Naturally at this point we know a whole lot more about our basketball team. We've got five starters back so there is a lot of familiarity for them with their strengths and weaknesses. We should be this year as opposed to last year, a year ahead of the game."

Stansbury applauded his team's work ethic of the summer working with strength coach Richard Aikens.

"I think we've had some guys that have had good summers," Stansbury said. "Some guys have worked hard this summer. You expect improvement from everybody. The freshmen for sure always seem to make big jumps. I'm expecting improvement from all of those guys because last year was the first year that they gained experience. Everybody but Barry and Jarvis were new and had no experience so the experience they gained last year from playing and winning are things we hope carry over."

MSU's 2009 signing class is one of the more anticipated classes in recent memory. The Bulldogs signing class was ranked No. 21 in the nation with five-star power forward Renardo Sidney, four-star center John Riek, three-star power forward Wendell Lewis and three-star shooting guard Shaunessy Smith.

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