October 20, 2008

Stansbury's Preseason Press Conference

Losing three starters from a season ago, Rick Stansbury knew his team would lack in the experience department.

But that does not necessarily mean Mississippi State will not compete for another SEC West Championship.

"There is nothing frustrating with the situation, because that is my job to find ways to make it work," Stansbury said. "It is obvious we have a different team than last year's team. This year we are leaning to play two bigs and not playing small. There are positives and negatives with being inexperienced. Do I wish we had more experience? Absolutely. I would love for all these guys to have another year for an experience but it is what it is, and I cannot control that. I am excited about the youth, their attitudes and their work ethic. We will find a way to pull it altogether and get better in a hurry."

The Bulldogs will have to find a way to replace the departed Charles Rhodes, Jamont Gordon and Ben Hansbrough and the 45.1 the trio averaged last season. Stansbury will lean on the experience of Jarvis Varnado and Barry Stewart to lead the team.

"We are still trying to find out about this basketball team," Stansbury said. "Jarvis and Barry are our only two guys that are back with any significant playing experience. We already started practice going into our 5th or 6th practice since Friday afternoon. We are still trying to put those pieces into place, and it is an ongoing process. So far we have stressed energy effort and toughness and that is what our players have given us. It is a learning process for us, but the kids are working hard."

Stewart was third on the team last season averaging 11 points per game along with 4.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists. Stewart was forced to play small forward last season but projects to go back to his natural shooting guard slot this season.

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