It’s not like no one could see it coming. Mississippi State’s roster was blatantly lacking talent.
If you had North Carolina minus-45 tonight, please collect your winnings, the Tar Heels demolished the Bulldogs 95-49. And frankly, it wasn’t even that close.
It’s going to be a long season for first year head coach Rick Ray. The biggest problem that Mississippi State in the aftermath of Rick Stansbury “retiring” (I’ll continue to use the quotes until someone admits he was forced out) is that they didn’t realize how much his players loved him. Arnett Moultrie was on the fence about leaving until Ol’ Stans got fired. Renardo Sidney, as much of a raging pain in the [neck] as he was, loved Stansbury. He had to, the guy basically sacrificed his career for him.
Guys like Rodney Hood and Deville Smith were Stansbury guys. This was evident. They were all gone before Rick Ray could even get to know them.
With that, Ray inherited a roster that had one impact player left on it from last season in Jalen Steele. Now Steele is out six weeks with a wrist injury.
Now it’s almost a crap shoot as to who is going to be able to give quality minutes to the Bulldogs on a nightly basis.
It wasn’t just the score that said so much about Mississippi State’s incredibly quick fall, it was the way it happened. North Carolina, while a legitimate threat to crash a Final Four, was getting easy looks down low as guys like James Michael McAdoo (10 points on 4-for-8 shooting) and Desmond Hubert (3-for-3) dominated. The perimeter shots came even easier with North Carolina hitting 15-of-32 three’s.
Granted, UNC has the talent this season to do great things. This performance was in part a show of how good they are and how possibly some underrated them and undervalued Roy Williams as a coach.
The effort for Mississippi State, it was definitely there. Roquez Johnson (12) and Wendell Lewis (10) finished in double figures. They were only out-rebounded 45-38. They got to the foul line 19 times, making 13. The want-to is definitely there. Trouble is, the talent is not.
Things will get better for Mississippi State. Ray already has a great recruiting class coming in for 2013. He’s got the roots and the track record of winning. The hope may be that he gets enough time to work out of this. If he’s given it, Ray will.
You just have to feel for Mississippi State. It’s going to be a tough season, by no fault of anyone currently on the team.