The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Chemistry essential to the Bulldogs

Olivia Zeringue | The Reflector

Joe Strugg dunks the ball in the annual Maroon Madness event. MSU open up exhibition play against Delta State tonight at 7 p.m.

Mississippi  State University   men’s basketball will showcase their 2016-17 basketball team this Friday in their opening exhibition match against Delta State University at 7 p.m.

Leading up the tip of the season, head coach Ben Howland talked about how much better the team’s chemistry is this season. 

“A year ago you had guys, especially seniors, that are thinking about their years coming up past their senior year,” Howland said. “There were definitely some jealousies early on towards Malik (Newman). I don’t feel any of that now. I feel like everybody is on the same page.”

Howland stated how the chemistry grew and how the team had gotten close towards the end of last season. 

Howland and the players said their Italy trip was a big help in growing their chemistry. Last August, the MSU basketball team traveled to Italy, except for Mario Kegler and Abdul Ado who were not, and in Ado’s case, are still not, cleared by the NCAA.

On the trip to Italy they went 4-0 in exhibitions against Italian professional teams and the players said it was a team bonding experience.  Senior point guard I.J. Ready was one of those players.

“The Italy trip helped a lot,” Ready said. “You spend that week and half there with each other every day with nobody else to talk to. We were close before we went but now it is like everybody is brothers, everybody is together on and off the court all the time. Just the chemistry we have in incredible right now.”

A number of the younger players played with or against each other on the AAU circuit in high school. Aric Holman, a sophomore forward, talked about how much it helped knowing everyone before coming to MSU. He said it makes building team chemistry quicker and easier.

“Last year when we came in we didn’t really know those guys, but we still built a relationship with them,” Holman said. “These guys that came in this year, we have played against them, we have played on teams with them so it was easier to get along with them.”

Holman said he played with and against Eli Wright as well as against Schnider Heard and E.J. Datcher. Freshman Lamar Peters expanded on  playing together.

“A lot of us played on the same AAU circuit,” Peters said. “Eli Wright, Mario (Kegler), and Tyson (Carter), so we saw each other every week during the summer and built off of that.”

MSU played significantly better towards the end of last season compared to the beginning. Howland said that was largely because the team bonded and improved their chemistry. With the season officially starting next Friday, Nov. 11, against Norfolk State, Ready talked about how team chemistry will help them play. 

“When you are that close you can talk negative and positive to somebody, sometimes you can get on to somebody without getting to their feelings and them being mad at you,” Ready said. “It helps even more when you are doing good, because you know you have your boy beside you and have somebody to back you up.”

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Chemistry essential to the Bulldogs