by Hunter Richardson
After months of waiting, the time has finally come. Basketball has returned to The Hump in Starkville, Miss. And with the start to the 2011-12 season comes the beginning of a new tradition.
Mississippi State’s version of midnight madness, the kick-off to the basketball season, debuted last Friday. And the event brings a new feel, hope, and look, with some familiar faces returning. Back is Dee Bost, the electrifying guard, and Renardo Sidney, the powerful and dominating big man down low. New to Starkville is a highly touted recruiting class, including guards Rodney Hood and Deville Smith.
Sidney began the night with a missed three-pointer, but made up for it with a game-leading nine points, including a game-winning dunk off a missed Dee Bost three-pointer, capping a 30-29 victory for the White team. The biggest issue concerning Sidney coming into this season has been his conditioning, something he found great criticism for last season. Sidney eased some of the worries, playing roughly 18 minutes of the 20-minute scrimmage.
As for the rest of the Dawgs, it looks to be a promising season. Bost finished the contest with six points, including an impressive drive to the hoop on one play, finishing with a patented acrobatic layup. Backup center Wendell Lewis lead the Maroon team with eight points. The star of Rick Stansbury’s freshmen class, Rodney Hood, had flashes of greatness and finished the night with six points.
But, possibly the most anticipated debut for those diehard MSU fans was that of Arnett Moultrie, the transfer from UTEP who had to sit out last season because of the NCAA’s transfer rules. Matched up against Sidney, Moultrie finished with five points and a solid defensive showing.
With the first showing of the season in the books, the team gets down to business preparing for their first contest of the year on October 29, as they take on Florida Tech in The Hump. The exhibition match will be the first chance for fans to see the team run a full-game at real speed. Hopes are high in Starkville and there’s a feeling that this could be the team, should expectations be reached, that could outdo the famed 1996 Bulldog team that reached the Final Four. One thing is for sure, Bulldog Basketball is back and is wrap the season in Maroon and White.
Tickets for the Championship Rounds of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coach vs. Cancer at Madison Square Garden can be purchased by calling 866-448-7849 or at ticketmaster.com.