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MSU's Stansbury still wants divisions in SEC

June 28, 2011

Mississippi State basketball coach Rick Stansbury still believes the Southeastern Conference should be broken up into two divisions. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)

Mississippi State men's basketball coach Rick Stansbury had many shaking their head with the quirks of last season’s non-conference schedule and would agree with tinkering with future league schedules.
The 13-year veteran of roaming the men’s basketball sidelines is still a bit confused at being the lone defector in the 11-1 vote during the coaches’ meetings at Southeastern Conference spring meetings in Destin, Fla., and made that point again during the offseason media teleconference Monday.
“I’ll ask you, you give me reasons why,” Stansbury said when asked by a reporter. “How is it better? It takes away from your fans in February."
Stansbury attempted to make the argument for divisions by suggesting during the morning teleconference that the Big Ten Conference went to two, six-team divisions. Similarly to his viewpoint months ago, Stansbury was willing to agree to re-seed the SEC Tournament 1-through -12 but wanted to keep the divisional formats intact.
“I think there were schools and teams that benefited by the divisional play a little more than others, but I think from the league's overall perspective it's the right thing for us to do,” Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings said.
Stansbury then made an incorrect comparison to the Big Ten Conference going to six-team divisional formats. The Starkville Daily News immediately sent a courtesy text message to Stansbury politely correcting his argument saying the Big Ten is having one, 12-team league and an 18-game schedule for the 2012-13 men’s basketball season.
The Bulldogs head coach said in a reply conversation that he’s not concerned with how a 22-game league slate wouldn’t affect his ability to organize a shorter non-conference schedule.
“I’m totally in favor of a 22-game league schedule. Those four or six games in non-league that go away come from the Southland or SWAC,” Stansbury said. “I’d rather add four or six more SEC games to improve our RPI than play the mid-majors in our area of the country that don’t help us.”
It is Stansbury’s stance that the only way to properly crown a regular season champion in the league is to “play everybody twice,“ which would involve an unprecedented 22-game schedule. Mississippi State’s head coach is concerned over the idea of an unbalanced schedule benefited a school that doesn’t have to go on the road to face traditional, blue-blood programs of the SEC.
“What I don’t want to hear from others in the league is how no divisions and an 18 or 20 game schedule produces a real champion,” Stansbury said over the phone. “At that point, we’ll all be talking about who from the former West has to play four games against Kentucky and Florida compared to who has to just play them twice.”
Stansbury was asked Monday morning during the teleconference about junior forward Renardo Sidney but did not go into details because the Bulldogs coaching staff has been unable, due to NCAA rules, to witness his summer workouts with former NBA head coach John Lucas in Houston. Stansbury said reports he’s heard is that the workouts “have gone OK” and he expects Sidney to enroll for the second-term of summer session that opens on July 5.
Stansbury confirmed the only member of the five-man 2011 recruiting class that has not enrolled in summer school yet is point guard Deville Smith but says the 6-foot tall prospect from Callaway High School will be enrolled in the second term next week.

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