July 3, 2013
No assumptions for Ray in year two
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Most would assume Rick Ray's second year at the helm at Mississippi State will go much better than his first.
After all, the Bulldogs should have the use of its full allotment of 13 roster scholarships instead of the six active players that were used for the majority of the year.
But Ray is not one to make assumptions and he does not want his players doing so either.
"I told our team not to make any assumptions," Ray said. "Don't assume just because you played a lot this past season that you're going to play a lot this upcoming season. Don't assume because you were injured that you're going to get a chance to play a lot of minutes just because you were injured. Don't assume you are going to make jumps in your game from your freshman year to sophomore year just because you're a year older and more mature. You actually have to put in work to get better. Also don't assume just because we have 13 scholarship players instead of six that we're going to be a better team. We actually have to work as a team and individually in this offseason to improve."
Attrition, injuries and suspensions plagued MSU last season and finished with a 10-22 record and a 4-14 mark inside the Southeastern Conference. Ray returned only three scholarship players from Rick Stansbury's squad the year before and none of whom where consistent starters.
Senior center Wendell Lewis was lost for the remainder of the year in mid-December with a knee injury while junior shooting guard Jalen Steele missed the final three games of the season with another ACL tear. Freshman guards Jacoby Davis and Andre Applewhite missed the entire year with knee injuries.
Sophomore forward Roquez Johnson also lost time due to a concussion and suspensions.
Due to the lack on inexperience and depth, The Bulldogs had to rely on first year players Colin Borchert, Trivante Bloodman, Gavin Ware, Fred Thomas and Craig Sword to play pivotal roles. It also meant a lot of minutes for walk-ons Tyson Cunningham and Baxter Price.
Every player on the roster outside of Price averaged over 20 minutes per game. They also were responsible for 17 turnovers a game which is something Ray hopes to rectify in year two.
"We didn't really have anybody returning that had experience on our team," Ray said. "That year of maturity will help. This was also a new system for all of our players so it was a catch 22 in that regard. I think at the end of the day though the most important thing we can do is take care of the basketball and I think we did a poor job of that. Just because we are a year older it's not going to solve our turnover problem so I want to make sure we're addressing
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