[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIIPTvL0D4o[/youtube]STARKVILLE – Mississippi State held its first men’s basketball practice Monday afternoon starting the second year under head coach Rick Ray.
The Bulldogs will scatter 30 practices over the next 42 days in preparation of their Nov. 8 season opener against Prairie View A&M.
“I thought our guys played hard and the pace of play was really good,” Ray said. “There were some times during a two hour practice where it drags down a little bit and that’s going to happen. But there was always someone who is a veteran like Tyson (Cunningham), Fred (Thomas), Roquez (Johnson) or Colin (Borchert) that got it going again. I thought the practice was very spirited. The thing I liked about it most was when we competed, guys got after each other and that’s what you need.”
It was also the first time during Ray’s tenure in Starkville that he was able to hold a 5-on-5 scrimmage without the aid of assistant coaches filling in. But MSU was still without scholarship players Wendell Lewis and Jacoby Davis as both continued to rehab knee injuries that ended their seasons a year ago.
“It looks like a lot of options but if you look at it, a lot of those guys are walk-ons,” Ray said. “It’s good having those bodies out there but having bodies that are going to play for you, that’s where it gets misconstrued a little bit.”
The increased numbers this season should allow Ray to full showcase his motion offense. He structures his practices at the same pace he hopes to play with during the season.
“It’s kind of like the offenses in college football now,” Ray said. “The only way you can play fast is to practice fast.”
Monday was also the first official practice for freshman point guard I.J. Ready. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound former three-star prospect played for MSU assistant coach Wes Flanigan’s father, Al, at Parkview Magnet School in Little Rock, Ark.
“He’s unique and goes at a great pace already,” Ray said. “That’s part of his high school coaching. Coach Flanigan is a real good coach and demands those guys to practice hard and play hard. He’s coming in with a pretty good pedigree already so he hasn’t really been a problem at all with his pace of play.”