Mississippi State’s coach Ben Howland joined the rest of the league’s head coaches on the SEC Teleconference on Thursday to discuss the Bulldogs’ upcoming game against Auburn.
Here is a transcript of Howland’s time on the call:
Howland: “We’re excited to get started. We’re glad to have Nick Weatherspoon back with us. He’s played in two games now so that’s kind of altered our rotation. We had to figure that out. It was better for us in this last game than it was his first game. We figured that would take a little time to get that done.
“I’m excited about our group, excited to have them all together now for the conference games as we come into this very difficult time of the year of SEC play. We’re excited about the opportunity.”
What is your take on the conference race?
Howland: “I think Kentucky is still like it was going into the season, the team to beat. I think it’s really open know that there are a lot of good teams and I think there’s no bad teams. I think it’s going to be similar to last year where every single game you play – all 18 games – you’re going to have a chance to win and a chance to lose. It’s all dependent upon that night and coming out and playing your very best and executing what you do.
“The league is so balanced with good players and is really well-coached. It’s just going to be Bataan Death March from here until March.”
What do you think of Reggie Perry’s season and your team rebounding overall?
Howland: “Our offensive rebounding has been very good. Where in the top five when you look at the percentage in the country. We’ve got to do a better job on the defensive glass and that comes from doing a better job blocking out and getting more rebounds out of our guard play. That’s something we’ve been emphasizing a lot in practice.
“Reggie has played very well for us. He’s been very consistent in his last two games. He was 17 (points) and 10 (rebounds) and 26 (points) and 17 (rebounds). I like to see those numbers, especially the rebounding. He’s scoring the ball and I think he’s really improved his shot.
“I think the people that watch him this year see the passing skills and not just realizing what a gifted passer he is. He’s one of the best passers on our team, if not the best passer. He’s very, very skilled. For us, the key for him is keeping him out of foul trouble and keep giving him touches.
“He’s a willing passer and is one of those guys that would rather make the pass than score to be honest. He loves making the right play. When your best player is a willing and unselfish player it sure makes everything else is easy on offense.”
How much do college players overreact to the positives and negatives a team goes through during the season?
Howland: “Quite a bit. Handling success and being able to learn from and grow and improve from adversity, there’s always that every season for every player at every level. That’s really an important lesson that you learn. The good ones really get better from learning from adversity and not overreacting and needing to be motivated or pushed.
“Nothing is more painful than losing. When you win, you have to continue to understand how you did that and continue to work hard and earn it. There’s no question that’s a big part of learning how to be a good player.”
How do you tell if a player is not handling success or failure in the right way?
Howland: “You see it at practice. You can see how you’re practicing on a daily basis and how you’re carrying yourself, your disposition and how you’re playing with others. It’s not hard to spot. Don’t be too loosey goosey when things are going well.”