By Danny P. Smith
Another basketball season has come and gone locally.
The Mississippi State men's team was the final one left standing and its year ended with an 87-81 loss to the Vanderbilt Commodores in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament last Friday.
The Bulldogs were not invited to the National Invitational Tournament and they decided not to accept bids to the College Basketball Invitational or CollegeInsiders.com postseason tournaments. Can't say as I blame them.
The CBI, CIT or even the NIT are not the desired destinations for Mississippi State. Anything less than the NCAA Tournament can be considered a disappointment and that has been the case the last two seasons.
Coach Rick Stansbury has taken the Bulldogs to six NCAA Tournaments in his 13 seasons and he may be becoming a victim of his own success. He doesn't need to wait too long before getting MSU back to the Big Dance.
The Bulldogs can't afford to have another season like they did in 2010-11.
The 17-14 overall record isn't what MSU is used to, but the final mark wasn't what most people will remember about why the season was so sour.
It was the time that Renardo Sidney and Dee Bost missed because of NCAA suspensions that caused them sit through most if not all of the non-conference schedule, then there was the fight between Sidney and Elgin Bailey in Hawaii, and there was the suspension of Ravern Johnson for inappropriate comments made on his Twitter account.
The first thing the Bulldogs must do is grow up during the offseason and put the unfortunate incidents of the just-concluded season behind them.
Mississippi State does lose some good players in Kodi Augustus, Riley Benock and Johnson, but still has a chance to be a good squad next season if Bost and Sidney are true to their word and return to school.
Bost told the media departing the Georgia Dome at the SEC Tournament that he was coming back for his senior season and Sidney indicated on his Facebook page that he had no plans to leave the Bulldogs early.
Those two players have shown flashes of what they can be, but it's time for them to take it to the next level. The future of MSU hoops depends on it.
Bost has a chance to be the greatest point guard ever for the Bulldogs in terms of numbers, but he's going to have to have some help if the team is going to be successful. Magic Johnson may be the top point guard in National Basketball Association history, but even he had teammates around that made him better.
Players like Brian Bryant, Jalen Steele, Wendell Lewis, Arnett Moultrie, Sidney and others can do the same for Bost at MSU next year.
It would benefit Bost greatly if he had an improved Sidney in the paint to get the basketball.
Sidney played most of last season sluggish and out of shape, but he did seem to get better and finished strong with a good game against Vanderbilt. He said all the right things down the stretch of the season about his commitment to the team and where he wanted to go.
On his Facebook account, Sidney wrote "Watch out for them DOGS next season!!!"
Don't worry, we will.
Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.