Time to accept Renardo Sidney for what he is — mediocre


NEW YORK – Mississippi State doesn’t need Renardo Sidney to be a good basketball team.

They can make the NCAA Tournament team with their most talented player filling a role. They don’t need Sidney to be an all-american — or even an all-league — caliber player to compete with anyone in the SEC, save Kentucky. They don’t need their 6’11”, 290 lb big man to utilize his quick feet, soft shooting touch and powerful body on the block to win games; they only need him to be 6’11”, 290 lb.

The Bulldogs proved as much on Thursday night at the Garden.

Mississippi State hit five threes and forced six turnovers in the first 10 minutes as they opened up a 31-9 lead on Texas A&M. The Aggies made a push at the end of the first half, cutting the lead to nine, but they were never able to get closer than eight down the stretch. When it was all said and done, Mississippi State earned a trip to tomorrow’s Coaches vs. Cancer final on the heels of a 69-60 win over the No. 18 Aggies, one that wasn’t as close as the final margin indicates.

The game was never in doubt, meaning that its fair to say Mississippi State beat the pants off of a top 20 team.

Sidney’s line? Three points on 0-8 shooting from the field, five boards, a block (on the first possession of the game) and three fouls in 22 minutes.

“I thought he played with pretty good effort,” Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury said of Sidney after the game. “What he didn’t do was finish some shots. He’s going to finish those shots. He goes 0-8, but only two of those shots were out of the paint.”

“I’m not concerned about him finishing shots. Its the last thing on that check list.”

He’s got a point. Sidney missed five or six point blank shots, one of which was a put-back dunk. Lazy or not, out of shape or with the endurance of a Kenyan marathoner, Sidney is not going to miss those shots too often. It was just one of those nights. That should give you an idea of the kind of performance that the Bulldogs had tonight.

But where Stansbury errs is when he says Sidney played with pretty good effort. Sidney lolly-gagged up and down the court. He looked allergic to contact, content to stand on the weak side of the floor offensively and simply become a space-eater defensively. The fact that performance is considered a “pretty good effort” for Sidney should provide a glimpse into why he is a non-existent entity on NBA Draft boards.

“If I can get him to play hard,” Stansbury said after the game when asked about what he needs from Sidney. “[Tonight] he didn’t give up much in transition, he was playing with pretty good effort on ball screens, and one of the best things I liked? Late in that basketball game there’s a loose ball and he dove on the floor right in front of our bench. That’s what I need from him.”

But how often is Stansbury going to get that out of Sidney? Every other game? Every other week?

At this point, Sidney is a known quantity. Instead of talking about his potential if this, that and the third happens, its time to accept the fact that he will never reach the level of superstardom he experienced at a 15 year old on the AAU circuit. Sidney is a role-player, plain and simple. For whatever reason, he just doesn’t have the desire to be a great player. Maybe he doesn’t like basketball. Maybe he’s burned out on the public attention. As of today, Sidney’s approach to basketball can best be described as apathetic.

But apathy on the part of Sidney is acceptable as long as he isn’t a trouble-maker. If he is able to keep the peace in the Mississippi State locker room, the Bulldogs are going to be just fine this year.

Dee Bost is a terrific point guard, and while he tends to get a bit out of control — ill-advised shots, difficult passes, too many turnovers — he’s a go-to player and a guy that is capable of scoring and creating shots for his teammates. Arnett Moultrie is a rebounding and shot-blocking presence that has shown to be an improving, albeit inconsistent, scorer on the block. Freshman slasher Rodney Hood has emerged as a secondary scoring option on the perimeter, freshman point guard Deville Smith is an exciting penetrator that allows Bost to spend time playing off the ball and Brian Bryant is a do-it-all glue guy.

There are plenty of pieces on this roster, enough that it isn’t necessary for Sidney to be in a featured role.

Mississippi State fans are allowed to be disappointed and frustrated by Sidney, however. I don’t blame them; he’s frustrating for me as well.

Because if Sidney ever decided that basketball, that this team’s success, was a priority for him, the Bulldogs would have a much, much higher ceiling than they do today. A top five finish in the SEC and an NCAA Tournament bid should be expected for this group with the current version of Sidney; winning a tournament game would make the season a success.

How good would they be if Sidney played to his potential? Would a second-place finish in the SEC be out of the question? Could that group make a run to the Elite 8?

That’s a question we’ll likely never get an answer to, which means that it is a question we need to stop asking.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.

Biden celebrates LSU women’s and UConn men’s basketball teams at separate White House events


WASHINGTON – All of the past drama and sore feelings associated with Louisiana State’s invitation to the White House were seemingly forgotten or set aside Friday as President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcomed the championship women’s basketball team to the mansion with smiles, hugs and lavish praise all around.

The visit had once appeared in jeopardy after Jill Biden suggested that the losing Iowa team be invited, too. But none of that was mentioned as both Bidens heralded the players for their performance and the way they have helped advance women’s sports.

“Folks, we witnessed history,” the president said. “In this team, we saw hope, we saw pride and we saw purpose. It matters.”

The ceremony was halted for about 10 minutes after forward Sa’Myah Smith appeared to collapse as she and her teammates stood behind Biden. A wheelchair was brought in and coach Kim Mulkey assured the audience that Smith was fine.

LSU said in a statement that Smith felt overheated, nauseous and thought she might faint. She was evaluated by LSU and White House medical staff and was later able to rejoin the team. “She is feeling well, in good spirits, and will undergo further evaluation once back in Baton Rouge,” the LSU statement said.

Since the passage of Title IX in 1972, Biden said, more than half of all college students are women, and there are now 10 times more female athletes in college and high school. He said most sports stories are still about men, and that that needs to change.

Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in federally funded education programs and activities.

“Folks, we need to support women sports, not just during the championship run but during the entire year,” President Biden said.

After the Tigers beat Iowa for the NCAA title in April in a game the first lady attended, she caused an uproar by suggesting that the Hawkeyes also come to the White House.

LSU star Angel Reese called the idea “A JOKE” and said she would prefer to visit with former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, instead. The LSU team largely is Black, while Iowa’s top player, Caitlin Clark, is white, as are most of her teammates.

Nothing came of Jill Biden’s idea and the White House only invited the Tigers. Reese ultimately said she would not skip the White House visit. She and co-captain Emily Ward presented team jerseys bearing the number “46” to Biden and the first lady. Hugs were exchanged.

Jill Biden also lavished praise on the team, saying the players showed “what it means to be a champion.”

“In this room, I see the absolute best of the best,” she said, adding that watching them play was “pure magic.”

“Every basket was pure joy and I kept thinking about how far women’s sports have come,” the first lady added, noting that she grew up before Title IX was passed. “We’ve made so much progress and we still have so much more work to do.”

The president added that “the way in which women’s sports has come along is just incredible. It’s really neat to see, since I’ve got four granddaughters.”

After Smith was helped to a wheelchair, Mulkey told the audience the player was OK.

“As you can see, we leave our mark where we go,” Mulkey joked. “Sa’Myah is fine. She’s kind of, right now, embarrassed.”

A few members of Congress and Biden aides past and present with Louisiana roots dropped what they were doing to attend the East Room event, including White House budget director Shalanda Young. Young is in the thick of negotiations with House Republicans to reach a deal by the middle of next week to stave off what would be a globally calamitous U.S. financial default if the U.S. can no longer borrow the money it needs to pay its bills.

The president, who wore a necktie in the shade of LSU’s purple, said Young, who grew up in Baton Rouge, told him, “I’m leaving the talks to be here.” Rep. Garret Graves, one of the House GOP negotiators, also attended.

Biden closed sports Friday by changing to a blue tie and welcoming the UConn’s men’s championship team for its own celebration. The Huskies won their fifth national title by defeating San Diego State, 76-59, in April.

“Congratulations to the whole UConn nation,” he said.

Marquette’s Prosper says he will stay in draft rather than returning to school

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MILWAUKEE — Olivier-Maxence Prosper announced he is keeping his name under NBA draft consideration rather than returning to Marquette.

The 6-foot-8 forward announced his decision.

“Thank you Marquette nation, my coaches, my teammates and support staff for embracing me from day one,” Prosper said in an Instagram post. “My time at Marquette has been incredible. With that being said, I will remain in the 2023 NBA Draft. I’m excited for what comes next. On to the next chapter…”

Prosper had announced last month he was entering the draft. He still could have returned to school and maintained his college eligibility by withdrawing from the draft by May 31. Prosper’s announcement indicates he instead is going ahead with his plans to turn pro.

Prosper averaged 12.5 points and 4.7 rebounds last season while helping Marquette go 29-7 and win the Big East’s regular-season and tournament titles. Marquette’s season ended with a 69-60 loss to Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32.

He played two seasons at Marquette after transferring from Clemson, where he spent one season.

Kansas’ Kevin McCullar Jr. returning for last season of eligibility

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Kevin McCullar Jr. said that he will return to Kansas for his final year of eligibility, likely rounding out a roster that could make the Jayhawks the preseason No. 1 next season.

McCullar transferred from Texas Tech to Kansas for last season, when he started 33 of 34 games and averaged 10.7 points and 7.0 rebounds. He was also among the nation’s leaders in steals, and along with being selected to the Big 12’s all-defensive team, the 6-foot-6 forward was a semifinalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award.

“To be able to play in front of the best fans in the country; to play for the best coach in the nation, I truly believe we have the pieces to hang another banner in the Phog,” McCullar said in announcing his return.

Along with McCullar, the Jayhawks return starters Dajuan Harris Jr. and K.J. Adams from a team that went 28–8, won the Big 12 regular-season title and was a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where it lost to Arkansas in the second round.

Perhaps more importantly, the Jayhawks landed Michigan transfer Hunter Dickinson, widely considered the best player in the portal, to anchor a lineup that was missing a true big man. They also grabbed former five-star prospect Arterio Morris, who left Texas, and Towson’s Nick Timberlake, who emerged last season as one of the best 3-point shooters in the country.

The Jayhawks also have an elite recruiting class arriving that is headlined by five-star recruit Elmarko Jackson.

McCullar declared for the draft but, after getting feedback from scouts, decided to return. He was a redshirt senior last season, but he has another year of eligibility because part of his career was played during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a big day for Kansas basketball,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. “Kevin is not only a terrific player but a terrific teammate. He fit in so well in year one and we’re excited about what he’ll do with our program from a leadership standpoint.”

Clemson leading scorer Hall withdraws from NBA draft, returns to Tigers

clemson pj hall
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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson leading scorer PJ Hall is returning to college after withdrawing from the NBA draft on Thursday.

The 6-foot-10 forward took part in the NBA combine and posted his decision to put off the pros on social media.

Hall led the Tigers with 15.3 points per game this past season. He also led the Tigers with 37 blocks, along with 5.7 rebounds. Hall helped Clemson finish third in the Atlantic Coast Conference while posting a program-record 14 league wins.

Clemson coach Brad Brownell said Hall gained experience from going through the NBA’s combine that will help the team next season. “I’m counting on him and others to help lead a very talented group,” he said.

Hall was named to the all-ACC third team last season as the Tigers went 23-10.

George Washington adopts new name ‘Revolutionaries’ to replace ‘Colonials’

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WASHINGTON — George Washington University’s sports teams will now be known as the Revolutionaries, the school announced.

Revolutionaries replaces Colonials, which had been GW’s name since 1926. Officials made the decision last year to drop the old name after determining it no longer unified the community.

GW said 8,000 different names were suggested and 47,000 points of feedback made during the 12-month process. Revolutionaries won out over the other final choices of Ambassadors, Blue Fog and Sentinels.

“I am very grateful for the active engagement of our community throughout the development of the new moniker,” president Mark S. Wrighton said. “This process was truly driven by our students, faculty, staff and alumni, and the result is a moniker that broadly reflects our community – and our distinguished and distinguishable GW spirit.”

George the mascot will stay and a new logo developed soon for the Revolutionaries name that takes effect for the 2023-24 school year. The university is part of the Atlantic 10 Conference.