By MATTHEW STEVENS
Obviously, Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury is hopeful his star inside-out duo of Renardo Sidney and Dee Bost plays better than they did Saturday.
The problem his team had is two fold: he doesn’t know when that’s going to be and he realizes they can’t wait much longer.
“I wish I had the answer to that one….sooner than later for sure,” Stansbury said Monday during the Southeastern Conference coaches’ teleconference.
The combination of the two players, who gave themselves the nickname ‘Denardo’ replicating celebrity couples, didn’t provide the best marriage for the MSU men’s basketball team Saturday in its 75-57 home loss to Alabama to open up league play.
Bost and Sidney combined for this total stat line: 6-for-24 FG, 1-for-7 3PT, 3-for-9 FT, 12 rebounds, six assists, eight turnovers, four steals and 25 combined points.
The Bulldogs junior guard finished his first regular season game of the 2010-11 season with a team-high 14 points but Stansbury used the word ‘rhythm’ often to describe Bost’s game Saturday saying he did a lot of things poorly early on that the Bulldogs have become known for counting on him to do.
“I still think Dee’s timetable will be quicker and I think his rhythm will come quicker because mentally the next game he plays won’t be as much of a struggle without playing (during the suspension), physically it will still be a struggle for him,” Stansbury said.
The NCAA issued State’s floor leader a nine-game suspension after he became academically eligible in the spring semester. The suspension by the NCAA Student-Athlete Reinstatement Staff is specifically for Bost failing to properly withdraw by May 8 NBA draft deadline.
“He played the way I hoped he wouldn’t play," Stansbury said. "I wasn’t really concerned about him playing the way he did though. Not that he tried to do too much and turning the ball over (but) he had no rhythm. From the first third of that basketball game, his quickness wasn’t the same and then he went to free-throw line and was 0-for-5 on his first five free throws. That’s just not like Dee Bost.”
Even while Sidney was missing eight of his nine shots Saturday, the 6-foot-10 sophomore was showcasing some solid post defense on Alabama’s JaMychal Green in a battle of former McDonald’s All-Americans. However, Green was able to step out and make some jump shots in the second half forcing the out-of-shape Sidney to guard further away from the basket than he would prefer.
“(Sidney) is going to be a work in progress,” Stansbury said. “He’s still a freshman and sometimes kids don’t realize things till they experience them and there’s no substitute for experience. You can talk about it all you want to want but if I’m a freshman I don’t know. Hopefully, he can learn from that and get better going on throughout the season.”
Members of the Bulldogs (8-7. 0-1 in SEC play) team, who have now lost five of six games, continually say publicly they’ll figure it out to make a run at another Western Division championship but a trip to Oxford’s Tad Smith Coliseum awaits MSU Thursday night (8 p.m., ESPN2) where Stansbury is a even 6-6 in his head-coaching career.
“We’re going to make a run, so no worries right now,” Bost said after Saturday’s game.
Pearl felt “helpless”
watching Saturday’s loss
Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl essentially found out what it’s like to be a fan of the Volunteer program Saturday – and he doesn’t like it one bit.
Pearl sat in a hotel room in Fayetteville, Ark., watching his team lose its SEC opener to the Razorbacks as his eight-game league-mandated suspension began.
“It's hard as you can possibly imagine, harder I ever dreamed it would be,” Pearl said Monday. “You’re preparing the team but in the midst of that, you’re preparing yourself for the game and going over and over again the situations in your mind. There's an aspect that’s really missing for me right now.”
Pearl, who said his routine will be to watch home games at his house in Knoxville and road games in his hotel room, is serving a punishment handed down from league commissioner Mike Slive for violating NCAA rules and misleading investigators in regards to photos taken of him and recruit Aaron Craft, when Pearl improperly hosted the prospect at his home in 2008. Tennessee also revealed Pearl and his staff made excessive calls to recruits.
Pearl is restricted from having conduct with the team two hours before and one hour after the first eight SEC games of the season.
“This is a severe penalty as were all the penalties handed to this university,” Pearl said. “This is serious and harsh obviously because I let the guys down and can't help them during games.
Tennessee (10-5, 0-1) has back-to-back home games this week as they host Florida tonight and then welcome ESPN’s College Gameday crew for a contest at Thompson-Boling Arena against Vanderbilt.
Ineligible center Enes Kanter
will practice with Kentucky
The University of Kentucky’s objective for freshman Enes Kanter has now changed.
With the NCAA Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee declaring the native of Turkey permanently ineligible for receiving more than $33,000 in impermissible benefits while playing for the Turkish club team Fenerbahce two years ago, Wildcats head coach John Calipari said he’s intent on getting him ready for the 2011 NBA Draft.
“I'm more worried about it helping him," Calipari said. "I'm not worried about it helping our team. He's the youngest player on our team by four months and this has been a shock to him and his family. I told him, 'You're part of our family, you're part of my family and I'm going to be there for you.’”
As a newly-hired student assistant, Kanter is allowed to practice with the team and travel for road games in the hope he can be a lottery pick in next year’s draft without playing a minute for Kentucky.
“I saw in the preseason that he was supposed to be the greatest player in the history of college basketball so maybe he ought to be the number one pick,” Calipari said. “They're (NCAA) forcing him to put his name in the draft even though he and his family absolutely didn't want to.”
Last week’s ruling ended what resulted in two different attempts by the University of Kentucky to get Kanter an amateur status to compete.
The NCAA initially ruled Kanter ineligible on Nov. 11 by the NCAA reinstatement staff. The reinstatement committee upheld that decision on Dec. 2, but the school was granted permission to have the case reconsidered because of new information on Dec. 8.
“It was a shock to him and his family,” Calipari said. “I read something where a guy wrote this case was pretty black and white. So they took eight months to decide black and white. Wow.”
UK officials and the NCAA agreed that Kanter received $33,033 in 2008-09 while playing for the Turkish club team. The NCAA bylaws consider a player who receives money above necessary expenses a professional.
"The final decision of the reinstatement committee is completely compatible with the collegiate model of sports our members have developed, since he received a significant amount of money, above his actual expenses, from a professional team prior to coming to college," said Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president of academic and membership affairs.