STARKVILLE, Miss., - For the first time since early December, Mississippi State's Renardo Sidney talked with the media on Tuesday afternoon. Naturally, many questions ranging from the fight with Elgin Bailey to his conditioning problems were discussed. The following is what was asked and what Renardo had to say:
b>Q: So, your thoughts about meeting with us (media)?
Sidney: It's been a long time coming and I've thought about every question ya'll are going ask me and I think I am ready for it.
Q: What would you ask yourself if you were in our shoes?
Sidney: I think everybody is gonna ask me about the fight.
Q: Well, go ahead and talk about it and get it over with then.
Sidney: Well, it was a big mistake and me and Elgin were very close. He was my roommate and I am sad that it happened. I just wanted to get that (talk) over with and focus on this SEC Tournament.
Q: Have you reached out to Elgin since then?
Sidney: Well, we've talked one time but not like we usually talk. But we did talk and we apologized to each other, wished each other good luck and moved on.
Q: After the fight, was their any inner-soul searching that you did and what did you think needed to change?
Sidney: Everything. I think I have changed my attitude and the way I talk to people, just trying to be a better person and be the younger Renardo Sidney from Artesia (Calif.) and just love the game of basketball.
Q: You received a lot of criticism from commentators about your play and conditioning on the court. Does that hurt you to hear that when you hear it?
Sidney: Yeah, it hurts everything people say about me because I am still a young kid. But I try to take it as motivation when I am practicing. I try to take all the negative things people say about me and try to turn it into a positive and keep working on it.
Q: Would you admit that you are out of shape?
Sidney: Yes, I would admit to that and I put myself in that predictament by coming into the season not in shape, overweight and (my) attitude was bad. Right now I am just trying to stay focused and keep moving forward.
Q: Did you ever think about giving up basketball and did you lose that love?
Sidney: I think I did my freshman year when I was told I wouldn't be able to play. It was a stressful freshman year for me and I thought about quitting. But the coaches here love me and I love them and I love this team. Right now I am just proud to be a Bulldog.
Q: When all that happened in December, did you ever think what you would do if you didn't have basketball?
Sidney: All I could think about was not getting kicked off the team and what I would do afterwards if I was kicked off the team. So I am just glad to still be a Bulldog.
Q: You have obviously played better of late. How far do you think your game shape has come this season?
Sidney: It has gotten better but it's not 100 percent. But like I said, I am working towards getting back to a younger Renardo, getting up and down the floor, having a good attitude and playing the game that I love to play.
Q: You had an entire year to get in shape. Why were you out of shape coming into the year?
Sidney: Like I said, it was a stressful freshman year for me knowing that I was supposed to play along side of Jarvis (Varnado) and with the team we had last year. They told me I couldn't play, I just thought I didn't love the game no more.
Q: Where is your level of passion for the game now?
Sidney: It has gotten way better now and I think I am getting back to the younger Renardo but not all the way yet.
Q: When we last talked to you, you said you could not be stopped on the low block. Were you prepared for what you were gonna face in college basketball?
Sidney: I wasn't. I thought I was in shape. The first SEC game showed me that I was not in shape. I thought I was working hard but after that game, I just said I had to work harder and work on my conditioning.
Q: What was it like having teammates or just being on a team, period, this year?
Sidney: Well it wasn't new because I've been on several teams before but it was new in college and just learning to play the college game and the fast-paced game.
Q: You face a new experience again with the SEC Tournament. How much have you asked your teammates about the SEC tourney?
Sidney: We talk everyday and we will probably be the most prepared team in the SEC (Tournament). We are on a three-game winning streak and have gotten together and said 'hey, let's go do it'.
Q: Coach (Rick) Stansbury has noted you had to get used to getting bad calls and not mouthing off to official. In some ways, has been learning the little things been the hardest part?
Sidney: It has and I am way better than I was in high school. I used to get a bad call and then argue and say little things. But I have gotten better. Sometimes I will throw my hands up and say little stuff but I try to run back down the court so I won't get a tech.
Q: You talk about being that younger Renardo again. What is it about your game you are trying to get back?
Sidney: Well I think I was about 60 pounds lighter and could get up and down the floor and I loved the game back then. I am trying to get back to loving the game again.
Q: What do you have to do in order to get back into that shape?
Sidney: I think it is just running, conditioning-wise. The weight is going to come off but getting up and down the floor and being effective on the block is going to come from running every day.
Q: Does being out of shape hurt you more on offense or defense?
Sidney: It does (hurt on defense) cause I think I work harder on offense rather than the defensive end, like trying to get open. Like I said, it is a new experience for me working on both ends and I am just trying to get better.
Q: How is your (right) big toe?
Sidney: It's good and right now I am about at 90 percent. I've been getting treatment every day and Scotty our trainer has been doing a great job with our injuries. It is getting better and it is not affecting me right now.
Q: How much are you looking forward to the SEC Tournament with all the eyes on the team and know the run ya'll have to make to reach the postseason?
Sidney: I am excited and I think we are in a good position with the bye. We've been working hard every day and trying to get ready for the tournament.
Q: Through all the good and bad, how much have your teammates helped you?
Sidney: A lot and they've been helpful a lot, the captains. I think it was at Tennessee where Riley (Benock) came up to me and said 'hey, we got your back and we know you are sick and we are gonna win it for you'. I think that was a big thing because I've never had teammates have my back like that before.
Q: How big is Dee (Bost) in your life?
Sidney: Dee is like the second dad out there. He runs the team and the majority of the (shots) I get are coming from him. We hang out a lot and we don't just practice a lot together because we are on different ends. But he is a big part of my game.
Q: Other than teammates and coaches, who helps you make decisions or who else do you depend on?
Sidney: Coach (Marcus) Grant and he calls me throughout the day probably at least five times before practice, just checking on school and if I need to talk. He is like a second dad, too, and anything I need or anything I am going through I talk to him.
Q: There is a perception out there that you sometimes get lazy on the court. Is that more of a reflection of being out of shape?
Sidney: It is and it is more of conditioning. When I get tired I almost just lose my mind and just want to go sit down. But like I said, I am working on my conditioning right now and just trying to get better.
Q: Was there one game where it hit you that this was tougher than you thought? Was it that Alabama game?
Sidney: I think it was all of them and the SEC is one of the harder conferences to play in. We have a lot of good teams in the SEC and they come to play every night.
Q: Who is your roommate right now and how does he help you?
Sidney: Kodi Augustus. He has grown up in my eyes a lot and after the games, we will just sit out there and talk about things I need to work on and things that happened in the game. When I am down he will come in and just talk to me.
Q: What changes do you have to make to be in better shape next year?
Sidney: Those things are beginning and they haven't started all the way. As soon as the season is over with I will get with Coach Akins and go from there. I know it is not going to happen over night but I am working on it.
Q: Will you be back next year?
Sidney: I haven't thought about it yet and I am just focused on the SEC Tournament and where we stand from there.
Q: Kinda take us through what we going through your mind with the fight.
Sidney: Like I said it was just a big mistake and I wish it never would have happened.
Q: On defense it seems like you have to pick your spots. Is that because you don't want to get in foul trouble or not to get too tired?
Sidney: I think it's both. The team needs me out on the floor so I try to stay out of foul trouble. But most of it is my conditioning and I have to work on that during the summer.
Q: How much did you prepare for meeting with us today and how much did the mock interviews prepare you for this?
Sidney: Well, my hands are not under the table (laughing). During practice (for this) I just kept moving and was nervous. But I thank them for preparing me and it helped out a lot.
Q: You are obviously good talking to the media. Do you wish you could have talked earlier?
Sidney: I do and I never understood why they wouldn't let me and I wasn't nervous or anything. I guess it was just their opinion and I had to go with it.
Q: Talk about how you come into games and then have to get some rest. Try to clear up any misconceptions out there that you come and go as you please.
Sidney: I think it is a good idea and it keeps me fresh off the bench and not have me out there long. As you see, when I get tired I just stop and that is one of the main reasons people say those things about me when I get tired and how I play on defense. We both agreed on it and when I get tired just throw my hand up.
Q: If you and Dee come back next year, how good can this team be?
Sidney: We will be better but I am not going to say we will win it. But we will be a better team with Rodney Hood and Deville (Smith) coming in. We will have Arnett (Moultrie) coming in and I think we will be experienced enough to make a run in the tournament.
Q: How much do you talk to your parents about this season and how hard is it on them?
Sidney: It has been hard. My mom is kinda emotional and my dad is kinda strong. I had to listen to my mom cry all the time after listening to what they said about me on tv.She had to cut the game off sometimes because of the harsh things they would say about me. But we are trying to stay strong and trying to keep it together.
Q: What did you tell your mom to calm her down?
Sidney: Just stay strong mom and I got this.
Q: What was the biggest thing off the court you had to learn once you got to college?
Sidney: The little things. You know, people commented about my shoes not being tied up at Kentucky and that I wasn't ready for the game. So it's just the little things and there is a big microscope on me so I have to stay low key. Anything I do they are going to write about it so I have to stay low key.
Q: You may play three games in three days at the SECT. Are you worried at all about that?
Sidney: No, I am taking this whole week to push myself a lot harder than I've pushed myself because I know they are gonna need me so we can get on a run. I am just looking forward to the SEC Tournament.