Usually, media day quotes are worthless.
Its coaches and players giving typical coach-speak and player-speak. They are quotes that feed the starving masses of hoops fans looking for filler to read about their team. Its nothing but the kind of cliches you expect to hear at the start of every season — “I really like this team” or “I think we’re better than all the so-called experts do” or “we determine our own future”. You’ve all seen them, you know what I’m referring to.
But every once in a while you get something juicy. Cue Rick Stansbury. Clearly, the hot-topic heading into Mississippi State’s media day was Renardo Sidney, and Stansbury had a couple of enlightening quotes about Sidney’s conditioning and teamwork. Like, for example, the fact that Sidney is finishing conditioning drills for the first time in his career.
“That doesn’t mean he was winning every race,” said Stansbury, “but he made it through it. For him, that’s a step in the right direction. We’ve just got to keep stepping the right way and not step back.”
Stansbury also lauded the fact that Sidney is finally being a “good teammate” by saying “We haven’t had any blow ups.”
“Call it maturity, call it whatever you want to call it,” Stansbury said. “That’s what we want. I don’t care what you call it. Thats what we expect and need from him.”
Think about that for a second. Stansbury is calling it a step in the right direction that Sidney is finally able to finish conditioning drills and that, in mid-October, he hasn’t gotten into it with a teammate or a head coach. What does that say about Sidney, the kind of teammate he was and the kind of effort he gave last season? Its not exactly high praise.
But, as Stansbury said, it is a step in the right direction. It is a good sign that Sidney is apparently starting to accept the fact that he has to work on his game and work on his body if he wants to make a career out of basketball. That he is starting to get along with his teammates may be even better news.
If you’ve forgotten, Sidney spent the summer working out with John Lucas down in Houston. He was supposed to return to Mississippi to travel with the Bulldogs on their trip to Europe, but Stansbury made the decision to send Sidney back to Houston for more face time with Lucas. This summer was Stansbury’s last chance at getting through to him. After all of the embarrassment that Sidney has put the Mississippi State program through over the past two years, he no longer has a margin of error. He no longer has room to make a mistake. By sending Sidney back to Houston and banning him from the trip to Europe, Stansbury was trying to send the message that anything less than full and complete dedication to the team and to bettering himself as a person and a player would not be tolerated.
It looks like Stansbury may finally be starting to get through to Sidney. There is a long, long way to go this season and there is no guarantee that Sidney doesn’t regress.
But at least the season is starting on a positive note. You can’t ask for anything other than that.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.