Ben Howland is their Head Coach
He was the Naismith Coach of the Year for Pittsburgh back 2002 before leaving for greener pastures at UCLA. He took UCLA to three consecutive Final Fours from 2006-08, but never brought home a title with Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love and Co. It didn’t take too long before everything fell apart for Howland, stooping to the lowest of lows in a damning Sports Illustrated report. He was fired from UCLA in 2013 and is using MSU as a rebound.
They have the #1 Point Guard from the Class of 2015
Few people expected Malik Newman to pick Mississippi State, but he decided to stay in his home-state for his college career. His decision was expected to make the SEC more balanced, but the Bulldogs haven’t proved to be a contender this year.
The #1 Point Guard in the Class of 2015 isn’t their Best Player
The guard-oriented team has seen success from their 6’9″ post player. Gavin Ware has emerged as the Bulldogs’ best player, averaging 17.2 points and 8 rebounds per game. He scored more than 20 points four times in their first six games and has four double-doulbes on the season. Coach Cal said last night that Ware “has played himself into being a pro.”
They Play Zone, Zone and More Zone
Ben Howland is the opposite of John Calipari. Cal refuses to play zone, Howland refuses to play man (at least at Miss. State). If the Cats aren’t hitting outside shots (which wouldn’t be the first time this year), it could become a serious problem.
However, it does give Skal Labissiere an opportunity to shine. Maybe not rebounding the ball, but Skal is at his best facing the basket. Finding gaps in the middle of the zone and hitting jumpers 6-10 feet from the basket should be Skal’s bread and butter. You never know with Skal, but I’m saying there’s a chance.
It’s where Rafael Palmeiro got his Start
Before he hit 500 Major League homeruns and 3,000 hits. Before he was sitting in a Congressional hearing for juicing, Palmeiro was swinging his big stick in Starkville. The only SEC player to ever win the elusive triple crown, he was the better half of “Thunder and Lightning” alongside Will Clark. He’s still idolized to this day, part of the reason why his name is on their indoor baseball and football facility (and because he donated a buttload of dollar bills).
Even though it’s appeasing to the eye, it’s still in Starkville, which brings me to my next point.
Is the word “sucks” too harsh? No. I let Freddie Maggard convince me that it wouldn’t be that bad, only to experience the harsh reality when I made the trip for this year’s football game. It was doable until I had to suffer through four hours of cowbells. There’s one “strip” that is somewhat attractive/modern, but that’s it. There is nothing there. If they didn’t have a university, there might be 1,000 people in the town. If you ever plan on driving through Starkville, do exactly that — drive through the town.
Cowbells Aren’t Allowed in Rupp Arena
It doesn’t explicitly say “no cowbells” but included in the updated Rupp Arena security policies is a ban on “unauthorized noisemakers.” I don’t expect any MSU fans to get in, but if they do, it will be without an obnoxious cowbell.
They have a fan that is Kentucky Joe 2.0
The Mississippi Stingray might be the most infamous fan in the Southeastern Conference. The Tuscaloosa native graduated with a broadcast degree from Alabama, but is a die-hard, cowbell-ringing Bulldog. His weekly rants to Paul Finebaum are epic, but come with a price…
Who’s ready to do the dramatic Kentucky Joe biopic?