Mississippi State’s Rick Ray joined the rest of the league’s head coaches on the SEC Teleconference on Monday.
Here is a transcript of what Ray had to say…
Ray: “We’re finally getting to the point where we’re going to have a full roster and I think that bodes well for our upcoming season. I think the most important element of us having a full roster is just the fact that we’ve been here for two straight years and have had no depth on the front line at all. We’ll go from having three guys on the front line who are 6-foot-7 or above to having seven guys on our team who are 6-foot-7 or above. Obviously that gives us a chance to compete on an even playing field with the SEC.
“The other thing that is really encouraging it’s become a situation where you have to have some experienced guards or NBA ready guys at the guard position right away. The fact that we’ve got Craig Sword and Fred Thomas coming back as juniors and Trivante Bloodman being a senior, we’ve got some experience at the guard position too.”
How is I.J. Ready doing after they cleaned out his knee in the offseason?
Ray: “There’s no problems with his knee, no setbacks at all. He’s at 100-percent right now going forward with no limitations in the weight room or on the court. Obviously it’s taken him a little while to get back to 100-percent but there’s no limitations to what he can do on the court or in the weight room.
How will I.J.’s role change with (Sword) and Bloodman in the backcourt as well?
Ray: “I don’t think his role will change at all. He’s still going to be a point guard for us and we expect him to be an integral part of the team. What it does change is if we’re playing somebody like a Kentucky, who has big point guards, or Georgia, who has a big point guard like Charles Mann, and Trivante or I.J. are experiencing problems having a guy like Chicken who does have the size to contend with big point guard gives us an opportunity to maybe guard.
“We played South Carolina last year and Sindarius Thornwell was playing the point and we had to put Fred Thomas on him in order to keep him out of the lane. I just think (Sword) gives you more options as far as what you’re doing with your backcourt positions. Plus it adds competition for minutes at that point guard spot. It becomes a premium and that’s what you want. You want competition for those minutes.
“I don’t expect Chicken to be solely a point guard but I do expect him to be a combo guard.”