October 28, 2008

Bailey ready for sophomore season

The Mississippi State Bulldogs have several holes to fill this season.

Replacing their leading scorer Charles Rhodes may be the hardest. But sophomore Elgin Bailey plans on doing just that.

"I'm just looking to take C-Rhodes spot," Bailey said. "I just want to do what I can to provide for the team. I have to get up and down, get more rebounds and score more points. I've been working on my defense too."

Bailey has also shed several pounds in the offseason knowing he would be logging several more minutes than the 6.8 he averaged last year.

"I lost the weight by Running and conditioning," Bailey said. "Coach (Richard) Akins has a good program. I just bought into it and it worked. I feel much lighter. I can get up the floor easier. I feel real good."

Bailey saw action off the bench in 31 games a season ago averaging 1.7 points and 1.5 rebounds per game. He shot 47-percent from the floor and 39-percent from the line last year.

Bailey was one of the most improved Bulldogs last season. In the first 17 games, he logged just 86 minutes and totaled 20 points and 26 rebounds. In the final 17 games, he was on the floor 130 minutes and collected 30 points and 20 boards.

"I have experience underneath my belt," Bailey said. "I have experience now and they expect for me to do more and I expect to do more."

The 6-foot-8, 265-pounder from New Orleans is still only in second season in Starkville so he is still trying to pick up on things.

"I still ask questions," Bailey said. "I'm trying to get better everyday each minute, every second. If I'm not doing something right I'm going to ask."

Bailey has plenty of offensive ability, which he showed during Saturday's scrimmage scoring 23 points. He averaged around 18 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks per game as a senior co-captain at Belaire High School and earned Class 4A All-State Honorable Mention.

Bailey is anxiously awaiting the upcoming season and saw flashes of how good this team can be during summer workouts.

"I have a good feeling of excitement," Bailey said. "Last year I was the new guy coming in. I didn't know what to expect. You just go from what you know in high school and build on top of that. Everything is at a fast pace. Everybody encourages you and tells you to come on. They are not going to let you down. Over the summer, everybody has been catching on quick. We don't have to slow down for anyone. It's just learning at a fast pace."

Bailey got his first NCAA Tournament action last season getting a total of 10 minutes of playing time in the Bulldogs two games against Oregon and Memphis. He said the experience only left him eager for more of the same this year.

"We plan to take it all the way," Bailey said. "That's our goal. We are one heartbeat on the team. That's everybody's mindset and our goal. We had a taste of it last year and that enthuses you more to get more excited and prepared for it. You already have the experience of what to expect. That's where my excitement comes from."

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