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SMITH COLUMN: MSU hoops continues in state of flux

April 11, 2012

There appears to be a great deal of work to do for men's basketball coach Rick Ray and his staff.

Not only have players Dee Bost and Brian Bryant graduated, but Arnett Moultrie, Renardo Sidney and DeVille Smith decided to leave the Bulldogs for one reason or another prior to Ray's hiring.

Ray wasn't even on the job at MSU one week when he got word that freshman Rodney Hood was going to depart the program after only one season. Ray made that announcement late Sunday night.

This turn of events really hurts the Bulldogs because Hood had all kinds of talent and was someone Ray was looking forward to building around.

Hood was really the only player Ray mentioned by name when he was introduced as the MSU coach on April 2.

Without Hood, guard Jalen Steele and forward Wendell Lewis will be the only returning Bulldogs with significant playing time. Certain players like Shaun Smith and Roquez Johnson received spot duty, but certainly don't have much experience.

The challenge will be real for Ray and one he seems to be embracing.

"I look forward to putting together a team with the current members, rolling up our sleeves and recruiting new Bulldogs," Ray said in a statement released by the school on Sunday in announcing Hood's decision.

From the "when it rains it pours" department, Ray and MSU got more bad news recently.

WCBI reported Wednesday afternoon that MSU signee Josh Gray of Wheatley High in Houston, Texas, was granted a release from his scholarship.

The reason Gray gave for his action was he committed to former coach Rick Stansbury and left because he's no longer in charge. Stansbury announced his retirement on March 15.

Gray was rated a three-star prospect by and was believed to be able to provide some help at point guard.

After losing Bost and Bryant, the Bulldogs are going to need some people that can handle the basketball. It won't be Gray.

There's no way of knowing for sure how many more signees or commitments will decide to make similar choices as Hood and Gray did over the next few days.

Soon Ray will be able to bring in some of his signees that will be the future of MSU.

The one bright spot of Gray's leaving means there will be one additional scholarship for Ray to use so he can find a player that best fits his style.

The main thing Ray is going to need, and he talked about this in his first press conference, is patience.

More than likely, there will be no one-year miracle performed here.
It's going to take some time to develop a team under Ray and the Bulldogs are going to need as much support as possible to get through the difficult times.

Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.

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