The UMass Minutemen started out fast, quick and sharp - jumped out to a big lead before a State rally pushed this game into double overtime in the first round of the NIT Tournament but in the end, UMass (23-11)held on to defeat Mississippi State (21-12) 101-96 before a slim crowd - ending what has been one of the worst collapses in sports these eyes can remember in recent years.
Arnett Moultrie paced the dawgs with career high 34-points in what could be his last game in maroon and white as the rising junior will likely test NBA waters in the coming months. “I was out there trying to compete for a win, nothing out of the ordinary,” Moultrie said. “Same game, just trying to get a win.”
When asked about his future Moultrie responded, "Yeah, I have a timetable,” Moultrie said of his future decision. “The next few weeks. If I do come back, it will be to play with Hood for another year.”
Notice nothing was said by Moultrie about playing with center Renardo Sidney as I am sure many hope the trouble buffet eater has put that maroon on for the last time.
Also many wonder if Rick Stansbury has walked the courtside at Humphrey Coliseum for the last time. Athletic Director Scott Stricklin has a tall task ahead of him in the coming weeks. Does he bring the tenured Stansbury back for one more try or cut the chord on what many State fans would call an out of control program. With players galore leaving the program over the last few years, lack of defense and discipline on the court, players eating their own on twitter and facebook and the Sidney Hawaii fight broadcast all over the world wide leader (ESPN), many feel its time for a change.
One player who is not shy of speaking out for change in the form of production, maybe not a head man so much is true freshman Rodney Hood who is the future face of the program.
“It was the little things, not the things you saw on the court. It was the little things off the court. And we just have to fix it. This can’t happen next year.” Hood said, when looking back on the season that was.
Hood continued, “I think next year we’ve got a good group of guys coming in, good character guys. So next year I look to give a good, honest effort in the game, practice, conditioning, everything.”
When asked about the character of this years team Hood said, “It was a piece. It didn’t start in November, it started during the summer. We just have to go back and correct it.”
Hood I believe was calling the character on this team a piece of crap or garbage to put it nicely - which he isright. So now the question is how do you correct it? Does Stricklin crack the whip and put Stansbury on a short leash or does he clean house and start over? There are many questions that need to be answered over the next few weeks as there are many uncertanties at this point.
The only thing I can promise you is that over the next few days and weeks, Miss. State fans will watch and wait and dissect every move made by this administration as this is the biggest move yet that Stricklin has had to make in his young promising career.