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MSU men's hoops hosts Media Day

The Bulldogs are ranked among the pre-season top 20 in the Associated Press and the USA Today Coaches polls for the first time since the 2009-10 season.

Posted: Oct 30, 2018 8:17 PM

STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) – The Mississippi State athletics department revealed plans for renovations to Humphrey Coliseum as part of men's basketball on-campus media day Tuesday inside Mize Pavilion.

The Bulldogs are ranked among the pre-season top 20 in the Associated Press and the USA Today Coaches polls for the first time since the 2009-10 season.

Mississippi State faces a challenging non-conference schedule highlighted by nine teams who reached postseason play and finished in the top three of their conference last season. The Bulldogs returns its top six scorers from last season, who combined for 2,264 points and 83.4 percent of the team's scoring.

Quinndary Weatherspoon (14.4 PPG), Aric Holman (10.9 PPG) and Nick Weatherspoon (10.8 PPG) are coming off averaging double figures, while Lamar Peters (9.6 PPG) and Tyson Carter (8.9 PPG) combined to connect on 107 three-pointers a season ago. Abdul Ado (7.8 PPG) was a strong force on the defensive end with a team-leading 67 blocked shots.

The program's incoming recruiting class is a consensus top 25 group, which features McDonalds All-American Reggie Perry along with D.J. Stewart and Robert Woodard II.

Mississippi State takes on Georgia Southwestern in a 2 p.m. CT exhibition tilt on Sunday, Nov. 4, at Humphrey Coliseum. Then, the Bulldogs square off with Austin Peay to open the regular season on Friday, Nov. 9. Tipoff is slated for 6:30 p.m. from the Hump. Both games will be streamed by SEC Network + and available online only via the WatchESPN platform.

The Mississippi State Athletics Ticket Office is selling season tickets for as low as $199. Fans can purchase tickets online at www.HailState.com/Hoops, in person at the MSU Athletics Ticket Office located at the Bryan Athletic Building or via the phone at (662) 325-2600. Information on single-game tickets and mini plans will be announced at a later date by the ticket office.

Below is a transcript of Wednesday's media session.

Mississippi State Men's Basketball Media Day
October 30, 2018 – Mize Pavilion

Head Coach Ben Howland
Opening Statement
BH: "Nice crowd today, thanks to you all for being here. We're getting close to tipping it off a week from Friday. We've got the exhibition game coming up on Sunday and seven real practices left before we play Austin Peay. It already has me nervous hearing how good they are from everybody. Their best player is a friend of Aric Holman's. Both are from Kentucky, and they played with each other during the summer. The guys is really a good player, and I'm thinking down the road to our first of the year. Our schedule, our non-conference schedule has purposely been much tougher from where it was a year ago. It's a much harder schedule, and we have no easy games on there."

"(Nick) Weatherspoon is due to be back in practice today. He's spent the last 16 days with a sprained ankle he sustained in a scrimmage game. We're excited about having him back. It's actually a little earlier than we anticipated from when he initially hurt it. We will see how he does today, and it's still a fluid situation. Hopefully, he'll feel good after he practices today. We feel like we've been pretty conservative and patient in, hopefully, getting this thing right before we put him back out there."

Q: The renovations – talk about the process, and how involved you were?
BH: "We've been talking about it since I arrived here. [It's] an incredible job they've done here in renovating the football stadium, the addition of the football practice facility and the baseball stadium. What's going on here is really incredible. We're really excited about it. Since I've been here, they've done the softball stadium. They've done incredible stuff with the golf program and the facilities – the same thing with soccer. This is just part of the overall plan for Mississippi State athletics, and we're excited that it's basketball's time."

Q: You talked about consistency at the point guard position. There were times where Lamar (Peters) was great and not so great. Do you think you're going to see improvement in his consistency this season?
BH: "I think the last half of the season he was pretty consistent all the way through. I thought early on, absolutely, there was a lack of consistency for him. Part of that was missing two months right before we started the season. He didn't get to practice for two months because of an injury issue. I expect him to have an improved consistency from where he was a year ago and better play. He's shooting the ball better than he's every shot it. He's stronger, and he's more mature. I have no doubt you're going to see a great year out of Lamar Peters this season.

Q: Where do you see the freshmen like Robert (Woodard II), Reggie (Perry) and D.J. (Stewart) fitting into the rotation?
BH: "Well, they're competing for it right now. It's all about competition. They've done a good job. I'll give you an example, we keep stats for every practice. Right now, in all of our practices, Robert is the second leading rebounder in all of our practices, and Reggie is third. That was a weakness for us last year. Guys who rebound are definitely putting themselves in the opportunity for playing time. I said that from the onset with this team. Guys who show up every day and get rebounds, they have to play. We need to be a better rebounding team than we were a year ago. All three of those freshmen are good players, and they are going to be good players here at Mississippi State. No question."

Q: You're talking about consistency and getting better throughout the season. I thought Abdul (Ado) did that, how much of a jump can he make into year two as a sophomore?
BH: "It's funny that you ask that. After our last practice on Saturday, because we've had two days off in a row, as we're getting back to practice again today. I said 'You're so much better than you were a year ago at this time', and he recognizes that. He's just so much more comfortable. He has that experience factor having played a whole year now in most every game. He missed the first couple games of the season. He's definitely a more polished player at both ends of the floor – better offensively and more comfortable. He can make another big jump, and I expect that he will. He's really an incredibly hard-working kid who cares so much. It's really, really important to him. When it's really important to you, you put the time in and you have the kind of talent he has. He's going to make a jump from where he finished the season to where he is now and to where he's going to be as we progress through the season, I think."

Q: Talk about expectations about being ranked in the pre-season polls this season.
BH: "I think rankings are always nice going into the season, but in reality a week from Friday they mean absolutely zilch. It's good notoriety for the program, and I think it's nice that people have high expectations for this team and this group. You still have to go out and prove it. You have to prove it every day in practice, you have to prove it through your preparation and you have to prove it through your work. As long as we understand that and provided that we stay healthy, I think we're in-store for a fun season.

Forward Abdul Ado
Q: Does being ranked have any effect of how you prepare for the season?
AA: "Regardless, you have to bring it day in and day out. A lot of teams are probably just as good as we are if not better. We have to compete every day. It always starts in practice.

Q: How did playing in the NIT effect the team?
AA: "Well, we wanted to make it to the [NCAA] tournament, but the NIT was a great experience for us. We could use it as motivation for this season, which we definitely did. I feel like [the NIT] helped us a lot. Going to New York and experiencing what we did helped us out a lot."

Guard Tyson Carter
Q: What was your biggest emphasis offensively in the offseason?
TC: "Just taking shots. We put up a lot of shots per day. If we take good shots, they will go in at a high percentage. We just have to make sure we put our legs into it and get a lot of arc on it."

Q: How much does confidence come into the shooting process?
TC: "It means a lot, but I feel like confidence comes with the work you put in. If you put in a lot of work, then the confidence will come."

Q: What have you noticed about the newcomers?
TC: "It is a really, really good freshmen class. They came in ready, and they have SEC ready bodies. I think they will help us a lot."

Forward Aric Holman
Q: Does being ranked have any effect of how you prepare for the season?
AH: "At the end of the day, we still have to go out and do what we have to do. We can't get locked in and focused on things like that. We're still a program that has to go out and fight every night. We have to keep thinking like that and take it one day at time."

Q: What are your personal expectations for this season?
AH: "Just working hard and being the best player I can be. Working on the little things like conditioning, staying confident and getting a lot of reps in."

Guard Lamar Peters
Q: Do you feel you improved with your leadership role as the season progressed last year?
LP: "Yeah, I had to get better at that. I had to stop getting distracted and start being a leader. I'm the point guard of the team so I had to take some of that responsibility. Coach [Howland] is always telling me to take credibility and not to whine when he coaches me hard because I'm the engine. I'm the point guard. I've been working on that and working hard to lead this team. "

Q: What has changed for you during your three seasons at Mississippi State?
LP: "It was hard for me. This is only the third year I've ever played point guard. I was used to being a scorer. I was used to being aggressive. Now, Coach [Howland] has me making plays for others. He has made me realize that I'm the guy who wants to set guys up and get them shots. When I bought into that, that's when things started going well for me and the team."

Q: How has your relationship with Coach Howland grown over the years?
LP: "I was a little hot-headed at first. I was not use to hard coaching. He sat me down. We had a lot of meetings. He told me a lot of things. Once I figured that those things worked for me, the game started slowing down. The game got easier for me because I was playing the right kind of basketball."

Guard Nick Weatherspoon
Q: Does being ranked have any effect of how you prepare for the season?
NW: "We talk about it sometimes, but it's not like that's one of the main things we worry about. We want to go out, compete and show guys why we are ranked. We want to show how good we can really be."

Q: Do you think that your team has improved in the offseason?
NW: "Yeah, I think we've got way better. Last year, we were good too. If only we play like we played against Louisville against some of the other teams. We're going to try and start the year off like we played Louisville"

Guard Quinndary Weatherspoon
Q: How does having an extremely competitive roster help the team?
QW: "It makes practice great. It makes everyone else better. When you play against good competition every day, it makes you go even harder. It makes you love the game more. Having 10-to-12 guys that can really play is helping us out a lot."

Q: Do you feel confident going into the season with the guys in the locker room?
QW: "I do. Our chemistry together and the runs we had last year, plus the new guys have come in and have learned really quickly. I feel very confident going in with this team when the season starts."

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