SEC Basketball Media Day: Mississippi State

Mississippi State coach Ricky Ray inherits a squad missing much of its talent from last year and admits he’s still adjusting to being a first-time head coach in a premier basketball conference. Without All-SEC staples like Arnett Moultrie, Rodney Hood, Dee Bost and Renardo Sidney in the lineup, the Bulldogs were picked to finish last in the SEC by the media this season.

Mississippi State coach Ricky Ray:

On what it means to play hard:

“It used to be, when I first started in this business, that playing hard was taken for granted. Now playing hard and playing tough has almost become a skill level, its something that you check off when you go and evaluate kids. That’s the one thing I feel that our guys have embraced, is the fact that they have to go out and play hard”

On Jalen Steele:

“The biggest thing is that I think Jalen is a great person as far as the way he handles his business, he has a business like approach to the game of basketball. He comes in and he shoots early, then he stays and he shoots late. Another thing too, is that you need a guy out there who’s a leader, that can shoot and space the defense and he’s taken on that role. He’s an unbelievably hard worker and is going to be a good player for us. Now, it’s if he can take the attention that he will receive. It used to be that he was probably the third or fourth guy on the Scouting Report. Now he’ll probably be the first guy on the Scouting Report, so can he handle those duties”

Biggest challenge since he got the job:

“I think the one thing that I want to make sure I always do is establish a culture of accountability, that’s been the biggest challenge so far. The guys haven’t fought me on that, but sometimes want a pat on the back for doing things their supposed to do. I think having a culture of accountability and trying to establish things as far as doing them the right way, handling your business on a daily basis is important. First and foremost you’re there to be a student and the next thing is to be an athlete, and it’s hard to manage those things at times. So when you’re in a blessed opportunity, take advantage of it”  

Courtesy of SEC Digital Network