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By LEE ADAMS
Mississippi State forward Renardo Sidney's past is well documented, but he is trying to put all of that behind him.
Sidney is mostly remembered for punching a teammate on national television in Hawaii. After spending the offseason with former NBA player and current Nigeria national team head coach John Lucas, Sidney appears to be a changed man.
"I've changed more than I ever did since my freshman year," said Sidney. "My attitude got better, my work ethic got better and I'm just focusing on conditioning and listening to coach tell me to work everyday."
During his time with Lucas, Sidney not only worked on getting into shape, but he got to work on controlling himself with counselors.
"Everyday he had me go to a counselor to express my feelings and they taught me how to control my anger," said Sidney. "I'm not crazy, but sometimes I just get over-heated."
Being in shape was something that appeared to be holding Sidney back last season, but he made it through conditioning this preseason, but he's still not exactly where he needs to be just yet according to MSU head coach Rick Stansbury.
"His conditioning is a work in progress," said Stansbury. "It's better than it was, but it's not perfect."
Even though his conditioning is better, Sidney says passing his conditioning wasn't easy but he was proud of his accomplishment.
"I was proud of myself," said Sidney. "I don't think I missed a conditioning practice this year where last year I missed five or six. I got through it and they (teammates) had my back when I was tired and they all picked me up to keep me going."
Not being in shape last season affected his play at times and forced him to be on the bench more than he would like, but since he has committed to getting in better shape, he feels better.
"My body don't hurt," said Sidney. "Last year my body hurt every day in practice and games, but I feel 100 percent better."
Since he has gotten in better shape, Sidney's abilities have appeared to have gotten crisper.
"He does everything better," said junior center Wendell Lewis. "He can run the floor, he can play (defense), he's quicker in the post so everything he does is better and quicker."
Sidney is listed at 285 pounds on the current roster, but says his actually weight will be a surprise during Saturday's exhibition game. He still has some work to do to be in the "perfect" shape Stansbury is wanting, but he is happy where he is and how Stansbury pushes him.
"I'm in the best shape I've ever been in," said Sidney. "I talk to coach Stansbury every day and he pushes me every day and tells me we got to have you this year and I have to be more focused than I've ever been. I think I took that role and I'm trying to get everybody on this team better."
This season, Sidney wants to be able to get a double-double every game while playing 30 minutes a game.
Stansbury isn't as concerned with the number of minutes Sidney gets though.
"I want him to play productive minutes," said Stansbury. "It's not about the amount of minutes you play, it's how productive you are in those minutes. Can we get him so he can play those minutes and not have to have rest? We'll see and I hope so."
His goals might be to play 30 minutes a game and get double-doubles but that is not all he focusing on.
""My main focus is to get everybody on the team and myself better," said Sidney. "Everyday I try to be a leader and try to be a big brother to everybody. I'm just trying to change."
Another thing he is trying to change is his relationship with Stansbury. Last season, the two bumped heads a few times, but Sidney doesn't feel that will be the case this season.
"I let him talk now," said Sidney. "I don't say anything and whatever he says goes. I'm trying to change and be coachable and listen to everything he has to say. I say 'yes sir' and just keep moving. I know sometimes he made bad calls or I know he's not right, but like I said he's the coach and I'm the player."
Sidney is trying to change and be the best player and teammate he can be, but there appears to be some people who think it's only a matter of time before he messed up again.
"I don't think we are going to have no problems this year," Sidney said. "We've finally have grown up, we were just childish last year."
Sidney appears to have taken all the right steps to change and Stansbury sees change in him.
"Sid's not perfect yet, but he's made a lot of headway," said Stansbury. "I think every part of his game has gotten better and he is the most coachable he has been and for the most part, he has been a good teammate. Everything about him is better, but we have to try to make things better every day."
The Bulldogs will play an exhibition against Florida Tech Saturday at 2 p.m. With two-a-days wrapping up and the season about to get underway, Sidney is happy with his team and is looking forward to forget last season with the help of his teammates.
"I love this team," said Sidney. "Where we going right now it's like we ready to have a big year and to me it's like a fairy tale because I lived the horror last year."