Issuu on Google+

METADATA MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD

1


METADATA MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD

2


VOL 02

MISSISSIPPI

www.msscoreboard.com

NO 01

(601) 953.9774

COVER | Photography by Hays Collins. Creative Direction by Rori Eddie Herbison. Graphic Design by Jonathan Yablonski. THE BATTLE TO BE NO. 01 | Rebels’ guard Terrence Henry (No. 1) outleaps Mississippi State’s big-man Renardo Sidney (No. 1) at the start of play in the first of two regular season meetings between the in-state rivals. The Bulldogs blanked Ole Miss on the hardwood, defeating the Rebs 69-64 on Jan. 13 and 71-58 on Feb. 19. (PHOTO BY HAYS COLLINS)

FEATURES 04 DAN THE MAN BY BRYAN DAVIS

With a Bowl Game victory in January, a new crop of recruits and a new multi-million dollar contract in hand, Mississippi State head football coach Dan Mullen seemingly has it all. All, except that illusive national championship and he’s working on that. 14 ICE KINGS BY DANIEL HAWTHORNE

Southaven’s Mississippi RiverKings are not only good hockey players, they are good guys. 18 DEFLATED? BY CHRISTIAN STECKEL MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD poses the question – has the air gone out of big-time basketball? 22 NOT JUST TALK BY RORI EDDIE HERBISON

It’s not just talk when Delta State University women’s basketball coach Sandra Rushing demands respect for her top-ranked program. They’ve earned it. History proves that. 30 TALKIN’ BASEBALL BY JAMES O. COVINGTON MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD previews the 2011 collegiate baseball

season.

CONTENTS 08 HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT-ATHLETE SPOTLIGHT BY CHRISTIAN STECKEL 10 10 ON 10 BY CHRISTI B. STECKEL 12 AROUND THE STATE 22 PROVE ME WRONG BY JOHN C. COX 32 RICKY’S RENDERING BY RICKY NOBILE 33 JUNIOR COLLEGE SPOTLIGHT BY JAMES O. COVINGTON 34 THE EXTRA POINT BY CHRISTIAN STECKEL FUMBLE | MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD apologizes to quarterbacks Micah Davis (Delta State) and Austin Davis (Southern Mississippi) for an error in its statistical graph accompanying the cover story (Anatomy of a Quarterback) in its last issue. These young men (obviously) did not throw for 109 and 332 interceptions, respectively. We made ourselves run 441 wind sprints as punishment for our carelessness. It won’t happen again. MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD is designed by Jonathan Yablonski, under the direction of N9NEDESIGNS (www.n9nedesigns.com).

01


METADATA MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD

02


COLLEGE FOOTBALL MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD

BULLDOGS LEASH WOLVERINES IN GATOR BOWL 52 Mississippi State

14 Michigan

(9-4)

(7-6)

BULLDOG DOMINANCE The 66th playing of the Gator Bowl this past January in Jacksonville, Florida, will be remembered by many Mississippians as the Bulldogs’ coming out party with Dan Mullen at the helm, while many in Michigan will remember the game as now former head coach Rich Rodriguez’s going away party, as the Wolverines suffered their worst bowl defeat in the program’s storied history. Bulldog quarterback Chris Relf accounted for four touchdowns, running back Vick Ballard ran for three scores, as Mullen coached his 21st-ranked Bulldogs to a 52-14 drubbing of their Big Ten opponent. With the lopsided victory, Mississippi State finished the gridiron campaign, having scored 45-plus points four times. The only other year the Bulldogs had that many games with 45-plus points was in 1914. Relf and Ballard posed problems all day. Relf completed 18 of 23 passes for 281 yards and three touchdowns and added 30 yards and a score on the ground. Ballard ran for 76 yards. The Bulldogs (9-4) finished with 485 yards, had five fourth-down conversions and capped a surprising season (to some) with a dominant victory. “We went from average to good and now we want the ability to go from good to great,” said Mullen, the secondyear coach who went 5-7 in his first year in Starkville. “Hopefully that [win] catapults us into the step from good to great. “I’ve been involved in a lot of games and this is easily as big as any of them,” he continued. “It’s such an accomplishment. It is such an accomplishment to our young men. I told them it’s a good thing in your life to be credited as an overachiever. That means as an individual you achieve more than anybody thought was possible.” FAN SUPPORT | Mississippi State fans’ clanging cow bells took over

EverBank Field, as the Bulldogs scored early and often in front of a crowd of 77,497. The 52 points scored by Mississippi State are the most in a bowl game in school history. The previous record was 43 points in a 4341 win over Texas A&M in the 2000 Independence Bowl. (PHOTO BY MANSEL GUERRY)

03


METADATA MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD

PHOTO BY ROBERT SMITH | PHOTO ILLUSTRATION JONATHAN YABLONSKI 6


COLLEGE FOOTBALL MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD

Danthe man With a Bowl Game victory in January, a new crop of recruits and a new multi-million dollar contract in hand, Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen seemingly has it all. All, except that illusive national championship and he’s working on that. BY BRYAN DAVIS

Less than a fortnight from the 2011 High School our time off in the summer. That's how you rejuvenate Signing Day, Mississippi State University head the batteries.” football coach Dan Mullen sat in his office, anxiously awaiting the start of spring practice. BACK TO BUSINESS A quick phone call to his wife Megan to check on In his second year with MSU, Mullen coached the things at home, and then he's ready to field the end- Bulldogs to a 9-4 record, which included a second conless parade of questions about the bunch that recent- secutive Egg Bowl win over Ole Miss, a New Year's Day ly joined the MSU family. How do you rank this class? Gator Bowl win over Michigan and a No. 15 national Who will have an immediate impact? Are you satisfied with this crew? A question about the “off” season evokes a look from the two-year head man as if to say, “What offseason?” Between recruiting, signing day, the mounds of paperwork – neatly clasped in binders and stacked on his desk – and Spring Practice, there is not much time to unwind for the coach who will bring a No. 15 ranked Bulldog team into next season. Mullen will be the first to admit that vacations mostly come in increments of a couple of days spread throughout the year, but the coach, his wife and son, Canon do find time recharge. ranking. “When we take a vacation, even though they're not “It's a neat thing, coming in ranked,” Mullen advery long, we like to go where we can get away and mitted. “I guess that's kind of a reward. The ranking see something different,” Mullen said. “We try to go to that matters are (the ones) in December and January quiet, private settings.” – those are the ones that are really important to me The New England native says that he spent a cou- and those are the ones that I really care about. Ask ple of days with his family in Jamaica, just after sign- Auburn how important their preseason ranking was ing day. He and the wife entertained their son, while last year. It really didn't matter. The one that matthe busy coach managed to complete a book over the tered occurred in January. That's the one you want.” weekend. Mullen does not just reference Auburn because “When I go to shut it down, I like to shut it down,” they were national champions. In week two of the Mullen said. “We'll do the same for Spring Break for a season, his team played the No. 1 Tigers and lost only couple of days. We try to get a couple of days during by three points.

“Hopefully, everybody saw how close we were,” Mullen said. “When you lose by three to the team that eventually wins the national championship, that's close. We needed to make one play in that game – like intercept a pass, stop them one time, block a kick, make one more catch, get one more first down – and maybe we're the team that catapults after that week two to a national title.”

“Defensively, you're not going to see too much different this year than you did last year. There'll be a little bit here and there, as we continue to grow, develop and add some fresh ideas, but our foundations of our defense are going to be the same.” No matter the ranking of his opponents, Mullen coached with the best of them in 2010, and his players played right alongside the best – a testament to the hard work the team put in last offseason. Mullen and his players, however, are not satisfied with a bowl win or a top 15 ranking. They want it all. “That final step is the hardest step to take,” he asserted. “That is what we're trying to get accomplished this year. What we did last year wasn't enough. We missed it. We gave up that one play we needed to make. The one thing you have to figure out is, you don't know which play it's going to be, and so if you decide to take the play off, what if that was the play?”

05


COLLEGE FOOTBALL MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD

A HAPPY BUNCH | Dan Mullen addresses his victorious squad after the Jan. 1 Gator Bowl. The Bulldogs handily defeated Michigan, 52-14. (PHOTO BY MANSEL GUERRY)

Having the 2009 Egg Bowl trophy to propel the Bulldogs into 2010 was big, but there's nothing like coming into September, owning that Gator Bowl trophy. “It's huge,” Mullen said. “The big positive is that it leaves a good taste in everybody's mouth, and creates a ton of excitement. It's a little bit different. We won a New Year's bowl game. There's a little bit of a different challenge for us this offseason.”

“That final step (winning a national championship) is the hardest step to take. That is what we’re trying to get accomplished this year. What we did last year wasn’t enough. We missed it. We gave up that one play we needed to make.”

A DREAM CONTRACT The first challenge Mullen faced, even before his team You wake up with a smile on your face every day and ing to see too much different this year than you did played their final game, were the rumors that he was that's something that's really important. There is a last year. There'll be a little bit here and there, as we packing his bags and leaving Starkville. Mullen re- very good quality of life outside of football.” continue to grow, develop and add some fresh ideas, spectfully scoffed, renewing his devotion to MSU on While Mullen, himself, did not depart from MSU, one but our foundations of our defense are going to be multiple occasions. of the men responsible for the Bulldogs' success on the same.” Not too long after the bowl victory in Florida, MSU defense during 2010 did. In early January, Manny Diaz Mullen has a lot to be proud of after two years unfans were able to breathe a collective sigh of relief, announced that he was leaving MSU for the same job der his belt. He took a 5-7 team in 2009 and turned as the Bulldogs officially locked Mullen in for four at as defensive coordinator at the University of Texas. those players into a nationally-ranked squad last fall. $10.6 million. The things the 14-11 coach are most proud of, however, “It's a sense of stability for the coaches, the pro- NEW COACHES ALWAYS MEAN FRESH IDEAS are not all necessarily on-field achievements. gram, our fans, our players and our recruiting,” Mul- Not long after that, Bulldog fans once again breathed “Our young men have bought into our program,” Mullen added. “They know there's a lot of stability. They a sigh of relief, as MSU promoted Chris Wilson to the len said. “It's not just seeing the results of our kids see the success that's happening here, but they also defensive coordinator position. Wilson had been Di- winning on the field, but seeing the results of the guys know there's stability with that success. I think that's az's co-defensive coordinator and this move allowed who have moved on from the program. It's not just a big advantage for us, as we build for the future.” for an easy transition – without a whole lot of shakeup. the guys who are having success playing professional Not only has the Mullen family been thoroughly ad“We haven't really skipped a beat,” Mullen con- football, but it's the guys who didn't go on to play pro opted by the MSU family, they find that they have a firmed. “The negative of losing coaches is that you football. It's the success they are starting to have in good fit in the Starkville community as well. lose continuity. The positive is that you bring in some their lives.” “I’ve liked a lot of places I've lived, but when you're fresh ideas sometimes, to tweak some things. Manny Mullen says that hard work attitude will result in a here (in Starkville), we have great fans, we have a great did a great job while he was here, and he's a great lot of degrees and corporate success, but rest assure, community, and the players that we recruit to come football coach. The opportunity to bring somebody he is a man who desires a national title out the 2011 play for us are high-character young kids,” Mullen said. in to make their mark – with as minimal disruption as Bulldogs, and he might just get that one play this fall “It makes it enjoyable. We just like living here in town. possible for us – is great. Defensively, you're not go- which will give Mississippi State that chance.

06


COLLEGE ATHLETICS MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD

A LEGEND RETIRES

After nearly six decades, Mississippi State radio broadcaster Jack Cristil retired in late February as the voice of the Bulldogs, citing health issues. Mississippi State responded in grand fashion, defeating SEC foe Tennessee on a Wendell Lewis dunk with 3.4 seconds left inside UT’s Thompson-Boling Arena. Bringing a close to a 58-year run as Voice of the Bulldogs, Cristil enthusiastically certified the victory with his trademark “Wrap it in Maroon and White!” after a mid-court heave from Scotty Hopson missed the mark with time running out. The 85-year-old Cristil was hired before the 1953 football season and has been a fixture on Mississippi State radio broadcasts since. He added basketball play-by-play duties in 1957 and has broadcast more than 2,000 athletic events during his career. He’s been named the Mississippi Sportscaster of the Year 21 times and was named the SEC Broadcaster of the Year in 1988.

In his own words, Cristil addressed his retirement, explaining, “The reason I am stepping down at this particular point, in conference with my physicians, Dr. Martin Lee in particular of Tupelo, Miss., it’s been determined because of a deteriorating health situation in which I’m experiencing, that it is necessary of me to immediately start some kidney dialysis and in so doing, this treatment will restrict me to the point where I can not represent this university the way it should be represented. “And when I cannot do that, I have told many people over the years that I would step aside and now it’s time to step aside. Please, ladies and gentlemen, accept my genuine, my honest, my heartfelt thank-you for all the kindness, the courtesy and the encouragement that you have given to me and to my family over these years. The Mississippi State University family is second-to-none, and as a family, I know you understand. Thank you very much. May God’s blessings be upon you and your family. Thank you.”

Long-time Bulldog announcer Jack Cristil ends 58-year career

COMPILED FROM MSU ATHLETICS AND ASSOCIATED PRESS REPORTS

BEHIND THE MIC | Jack Cristil has announced more than 2,000 Mississippi State athletic events, including his final broadcast on Feb. 26. (PHOTO BY MANSEL GUERRY)

9


HIGH SCHOOL BOYS BASKETBALL MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD

HISTORIC

Madison-Ridgeland Academy senior Caleb Miskelly writes his own history, becoming the first four-year starter to win four overall championships.

BY CHRISTIAN STECKEL

ty to start as a freshman at MRA, and jumped at the chance. He contributed by running the point and distributing the basketball, but others were called upon to score. The Patriots won MAIS Academy (AAA) and Overall Championships that year, and

the following year. But heading into the summer before his junior year, Miskelly knew something was missing, he wasn’t a complete player. “I attended a summer camp in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri called

HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT-ATHLETE SPOTLIGHT

The pressure of his senior season began to build before his junior year on the basketball court had even come to an end. But that’s the price you pay when you agree to play for Richard Duease – the legendary basketball coach and athletic director at Madison-Ridgeland Academy – which has won eight boys overall titles in his 29 years at the school. “I remember right after the state overall championship game last year at Mississippi College, I walked over to the bench and Coach said, ‘You’re not done yet. You still have one more’. He was telling us that we’ll be remembered for our senior year, and we understood the importance of that,” recalled Caleb Miskelly, Patriots senior point guard. The young man with a recognizable family heritage has been making his own name in the game of basketball well before his final year of high school arrived. Caleb Miskelly is, in every sense of

country in AAU basketball and proved he belonged. In fact, if basketball is in the air, Miskelly, often accompanied by his father, Oscar, will sniff it out. Many a time, the Miskelly twosome attend Jackson Public School games, completely unphased by being the only two white people in the building. Instead, Miskelly sees other’s unwillingness to attend as “their loss, my gain.” What others fail to see, the senior Miskelly does not. wf“My dad and I love going to JPS games,” Miskelly said. “I remember the first player that I saw was Darius Rice who went on to Miami, and then after him we would always go and watch Monta (Ellis).” He continued, “I have a lot of friends

SURVEYING THE COURT | His ability to see the court and find the open man has helped propel Madison-Ridgeland Academy senior point guard Caleb Miskelly into one of the most respected floor generals in the state. (PHOTO BY WILL SMITH)

“I learned (there) that if I’m disciplined with my mind and body, that I’ll have the drive to really excel in what I’m passionate about.” the word, a basketball junkie. He loves to practice, can be found playing pickup games wherever and whenever two hoops and a round ball are present, and despite the stereotype for a private school kid, took the floor this summer to compete against the best in the

08

from AAU ball like Deville (Smith) so I like to go see my old buddies play. It’s always a good time.” To completely understand Miskelly’s road to the history books, you have to understand where the journey began. He was presented with the opportuni-


HIGH SCHOOL BOYS BASEKETBALL MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD

“I regret not working hard all four years. If I would have, I would have gotten a lot of offers. But I didn’t and I’m at where I’m at now, and there’s a reason for that. So, I’m waiting for God to open up some doors.” Kanakuk, led by Joe White, and I gave my life to Christ there. I learned (there) that if I’m disciplined with my mind and body, that I’ll have the drive to really excel in what I’m passionate about,” Miskelly explains. He returned home, realizing the clock was ticking. “I worked harder than I had ever worked before – I was in the weight room, getting shots up whenever I could. People would always say, ‘Caleb is good, but he can’t hit an outside shot to save his life,’ so I worked hard on that.” His newfound faith and dedication paid off. MRA ran the table again in his junior campaign, taking home another MAIS (AAA) State and Overall title. But as his senior year approached, Miskelly knew the moment was at hand, and so did his coach. “Entering the year, he had an opportunity to do something that nobody in the history of the private schools had ever done, and that’s win four straight overall titles as a starter,” said Duease. The coach also knew his point guard had become the team’s go-to perimeter scorer. “We had some close games, and when it came down to it, he was going to take the shot and produce at the end. He had that much confidence.” It showed on the court, as Miskelly averaged over 16 points, eight assists

DOUBLE TEAMED | As the Patriots’ go-to-guy from the floor, Miskelly spent much of his senior campaign double- and triple-teamed by opposing defenses. (PHOTO BY WILL SMITH)

and six rebounds on the season. MRA finished the year with a 77-game winning streak against MAIS competition as they rolled to both State and Overall tournament titles. The Patriots have now won ten straight postseason tournaments, and 19 of the last 21 – not to mention five straight overall championships and six of the last seven. Like any great player, Miskelly is his worst critic, and admits there were moments of doubt during the climb to the top. His dream still remains to play college basketball, and experts agree he will, but the question of where is yet to be decided. “I regret not working hard all four years. If I would have, I would have gotten a lot of offers. But I didn’t and I’m at where I’m at now, and there’s a reason for that. So, I’m waiting for God to open up some doors.” Then without hesitation, like his play on the court, he concluded, “I’m very confident those doors are going to be opened.”

11


HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD

10 ON 10

10 QUESTIONS ON PAGE NO.10 BY CHRISTI B. STECKEL

He wasn’t expecting it. He admits he didn’t keep up with the application process and he sure didn’t see it coming when he was announced as a Wendy’s High School Heisman Finalist. Jackson Academy’s Davis Rogers became only the second student from Mississippi to be named as one of 12 national finalists since the inception of the award in 1994 that recognizes the nation’s most esteemed high school senior boys and girls for excellence in academics, athletics and leadership. Among 50,000 applicants, Rogers stood out. Maybe his signature bowtie and his mop of curly hair helped folks first take notice, but it has been his friendly personality and competitive spirit that keeps folks looking. MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD recently caught up with the three-sport athlete and physics-loving student. SB: So, you’re a Wendy’s High School Heisman finalist? That’s a pretty big deal. What has this experience been like?

and motivating for them.

DR: Shocking. I was told they were going to do this thing for me after they make the football championship announcement and then bring me up and acknowledge you won state. Both the announcer and I didn’t know what was going on. Then cameras came out of nowhere, my family showed up and they announced I was a Heisman finalist. It’s been exciting.

DR: I can’t single out anyone, but probably the first one is Mrs. (Anne) Keenan, my seventh grade math teacher. I was a much different kid in elementary school than I am now. I got in trouble all the time. We had this thing called the black bench for kids who got in trouble and I owned that thing. I was on it all the time. The first day of seventh grade, I didn’t know where to go and Mrs. Keenan was the first person I saw who helped me find my way, and since then I’ve been going to her. She’s gotten me involved in math competitions and showing me I could do something if I kept at it. Ever since then she’s pushed me on. I owe a lot of my success to her for getting me started.

SB: Who did you tell first?

DR: I called my girlfriend on the coast and said, “You will not believe what’s going on. I’m going to New York City.” SB: Who encouraged you to apply?

DR: Mrs. (Amy) Bush, my counselor. They announced at school that no one had applied, so I went into the counselor curious if I should apply and they said, “Yeah, give it a shot.” So I filled out the application on the last day it was due. We submitted it and it just happened. SB: What does it mean to represent Jackson Academy and the state of Mississippi on a national level?

DR: That’s one of the things I was most excited about. I went to a lot of places in the Delta where my family lives and people kept saying how excited they were for me, but also for the state of Mississippi. I don’t want to sound cheesy, but it was a redeeming moment for them. It was a chance to show that a person from Mississippi, from Jackson, from this small private school can be recognized on a national level for such an achievement. It was heartwarming

10

SB: Who has made a difference in your life?

SB: What was the award presentation like in New York City?

DR: I sweated the entire time. I was nervous. I understood that the chances of me winning were as equal as everyone else there and I accepted that. I thought it would be awesome if I could bring the award back with me. It was my first time I had been to New York City and it was incredible. We went to Broadway plays like Wicked…it changed my life. SB: Who do you share this award with?

DR: Everybody in Mississippi. The plaque said this is awarded to Davis Rogers and Jackson Academy, and I agreed. I dedicate a lot of what I’ve made to this school; the teachers and the coaches that led me, the people who gave me a chance, my friends and the state of Mississippi. SB: Who do you look up to as a role model

and why?

TIED WITH A BOW | Styling his trademark bowtie

DR: Recently, a lot of people have said my life has been on a similar track as my grandfather. I really didn’t know him that well when he was alive, but I’ve learned more about him since he passed away. I’m being looked at by the Navy, and he was in the Navy. The path that defines us both is the way we don’t quit at anything and strive to succeed. I guess without me knowing it, he’s been a role model for me.

at the presentation, Jackson Academy senior Davis

SB: How have you balanced athletics and academics?

DR: I haven’t decided. I’m 50/50 between the University of Mississippi and the Naval Academy. They’re such polar opposite schools you can hardly compare them. They’re both going to offer different opportunities. I just have to make that decision.

Rogers was one of 12 national finalists – six boys and six girls – to be awarded the Wendy’s High School Heisman. He becomes only the second studentathlete to represent Mississippi. (PHOTO BY HAYS COLLINS)

school. Athletics offer me another way to succeed and so does school. SB: What do you plan to do next?

DR: I push through the seven hours of school plus hours of homework knowing I have athletics where I can release stress and have fun. I enjoy athletics. It gives me a chance to be with friends in a different environment rather than just


NEWS MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD

AROUND THE STATE URBAN SOCCER PROJECT TAKING SHAPE

Mississippi Brilla FC has begun planning this summer’s Urban Soccer Project, an inner city ministry coordinated with community program partners such as the Sanders YMCA on Farish Street and the Boys and Girls Club on Capitol Street, both in Jackson. Last summer, there were over 250 school-age participants that partook in daily soccer instruction and games. There were many highlights during the summer for both the participants and the coaches. One of the highlights was a weeklong Vacation Bible School at the Sanders YMCA. Each day the kids learned a new Bible story, made a craft, learned a song, and played some soccer

as the theme was centered around the summer’s World Cup. If you would like to be involved in the Urban Soccer Project, contact Dave Dixon in the Brilla office at (601) 924-3475. DELTA STATE’S WALKER NABS HARDWARE

Presented annually to the state’s top collegiate women’s basketball player, Delta State University junior forward Veronica Walker was recently awarded the 2011 CellularSouth Gillom Trophy. Walker beat out Mississippi State senior Mary Katherine Govero and University of Mississippi senior Kayle Melson for the award. Averaging 18.4 points and 9.8 rebounds this season, Walker was named Gulf

South Conference Player of the Year for the second year in a row and became the second Lady Statesmen to claim the trophy since Jennifer Rushing was the inaugural recipient in 2008. The award is named in honor of former Ole Miss All-American Peggy Gillom. GOLDEN EAGLE’S FLOWERS TOPS IN STATE

Becoming the school’s first award winner in the history of the Cellular South Howell Trophy, senior forward Gary Flowers capped his final season with the Gold and Black by beating out Ole Miss’ Chris Warren and Mississippi State’s Dee Bost. Flowers leads the Golden Eagles with 19.0 points and 7.8 rebounds, good for third and sixth in the league, respectively. Earlier this year, he became the fourth fastest, and 35th player overall, to score 1,000 points.

NEW BATS TAKING SWING College baseball’s pings will have a little less zing this season. New aluminum bats designed to improve player safety will be in full swing as the road to the College World Series begins to take shape in the 2011 campaigns. And don’t expect to see as many big blasts when you head to the ballpark. The new bats mandated by the NCAA replace the lightweight composite models used in recent years, when the focus was on the differential between bat weight and length. Now, they’ll perform even more like wood, with shrunken sweet spots that will decrease the exit speeds of the ball off the bat. That means lower power numbers and ERAs while everyone learns to adjust. (PHOTOS BY HAYS COLLINS AND CHRIS MAUL)

13


METADATA MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD

SOLE SEARCHING

FIND THE RIGHT RUNNING SHOE

It has been said that in our increasingly complex world, running and walking offer an island of tranquility. You don’t have to join a fancy country club or invest in any expensive equipment. In truth, the most complicated decision a runner will face is his/her shoe choice. Your chances of finding a comfortable, quality pair of running shoes greatly increases if you shop at a running specialty shop. Employees of most running specialty shops typically are people who run or walk themselves. Knowledgeable running store employees will most likely ask you the following questions before they try to fit you in a particular shoe: — How much running experience, if any, do you have? — How many miles a week do you run? — What type of surface do you run on? — Do you have any short-term goals for your running program? For example, are you training for an upcoming race? Or do you simply want to get around the block three or four times a week? The answers to such questions can

14

help steer you in the right direction. Shop for your running shoes in the afternoon. Why? Because your feet tend to swell slightly throughout the day, and Rule No. 1 is to avoid buying shoes that are too small! (Your feet also swell slightly during a training run.) And be sure to wear athletic socks of the same thickness that you’ll wear when you run. Since shoes are the only primary investment in the sport of running, most runners do decide – wisely – to spend a little more on a good running shoe. Typically, you are looking at a price tag of $69 to $129 for your first pair of training shoes. Your first pair should accommodate long runs and easy running days. Be sure to bring along your most worn pair of shoes (any shoes) and a pair of running shoes that has worked well for you. By examining the wear patterns (the places on your shoes worn smooth by repetitive use) of your old shoes, a knowledgeable staffer may get some clues about particular models that will fit you best. Reading wear patterns isn’t an exact science, but the more


METADATA MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD

Don’t miss out on the first annual Stinky “DU” Duathlon and 5K coming up on April 2 at the Fannin Landing Boat Ramp. The proceeds will benefit The Little Lighthouse and The Mustard Seed of Rankin County. The race will consist of a 3.1 mile run, 11 mile bike, and a 2 mile run. Great race for beginners! We will have prizes from The Mustard Seed for top male and female, plus top male and female in age groups. This is going to be a fun race that anybody in the family can do and you help out some great organizations at the same time….you just can’t beat that! Register now at stinkydu.com.

Check out Stinky Feet Athletics’ monthly product reviews at www.msscoreboard.com beginning April 2011.

information you start with, the better your chances of getting fitted in a toprate shoe. Foot strike is also a term that you may hear bantered about in a running shoe shop, as in, “Are you a heel striker or a forefoot striker?” Most runners tend to be heel strikers who land on the outside of the heel and then roll up to push off the ball of the foot and the toes. A few runners are forefoot strikers and land more on the ball of the foot. Wear patterns on shoes can tell a lot about foot strike. A forefoot striker (the wear pattern typically results in a smooth area around the ball of the foot) may need a shoe with plenty of forefoot cushioning. An ultra-heavy heel striker requires extra cushioning in the heel. Remember, when the design of the shoe matches the function and shape of your feet, running is easier. You’ll also reduce blisters, foot fatigue and most importantly, injury. So quit soul-searching, y’all and get to sole-searching. Find that shoe and go…

TRACK CALENDAR 2011 APRIL 2 | Run With The JAGS 5K -- Madison 9 | Run for the Roses 5K Run/Walk – Prentiss 23 | Run With The Marines 5K - Jackson 29 | Brick Street Firefly 5K -- Clinton 30 | Natchez Trace Festival 10K/5K Run/5K Walk/1 Mile -- Kosciusko MAY 7 | Okatoma Festival 5K Run/Walk -- Collins 14 | Christ United Methodist Church 5K Run/Walk -- Jackson 21 | Heart of Mississippi 5K Run/Walk -Carthage 28 | 8K On The Parkway - Ridgeland JUNE 4 | Clinton Main Street 5K - Clinton 11 | Gluckstadt-Madison Rotary 5K - Madison 17 | Miles For Missions -- Clinton 25 | Tomato Festival 5K -- Crystal Springs 7:30 Starting Time

For more information, please visit www.mstrackclub.com.

Sources: Galloway’s 5K/10K Running by Jeff Galloway; Runner’s World, March 2011; Running for Dummies.

15


METADATA MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD

ICE KINGS BY DANIEL HAWTHORNE

16


HOCKEY MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD

In a state where high school superstars leave their legacies on Friday nights, cow bells pierce the ears opponents in Starkville and camping for the Grove starts Wednesday morning in Oxford, it might be safe to assume that most Mississippi residents are not hockey fans. Here football rules.

VENERABLE VETERAN | Louis Dumont, 37, has consistently been near the top of the scoring charts for the RiverKings over his

But for nearly two decades, the Mississippi RiverKings have educated, embraced, engaged and entertained fans about Canada’s beloved pastime. THE HISTORY One of the Central Hockey League’s “Original Three” when the league was reformed in 1992, the RiverKings (founded in Memphis, before moving to Southaven in 2000) are the oldest professional sports franchise in the area with hockey roots that date to the 1960s as farm teams for the Detroit Red Wings and Minnesota North Stars of the National Hockey League (NHL). The Memphis Wings and Memphis South Stars lasted only a handful of seasons. Since returning to the South, the RiverKings have been a developmental team for the most part – a stepping stone for players fresh out of college or the junior ranks and who have decided to go pro. Basically, it’s the AA of professional hockey. THE TEAM This season, the roster touts several players who were drafted by the NHL but have made a career in the lower tiers of the hockey world. The latest is goaltender Alexander Pechurskiy (pronounced peh-CHUR-skee), a native of Russia, who was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2008 and continues to be one of their prospects for the future. “Certainly this is an opportunity for guys to showcase their skills,” said Bob Bakken, media coordinator for the team. “Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. But in the CHL, we can give them that chance to be seen.” Player contracts are for only a season, after that teams must recruit and resign again. Thus, it’s rare to find any player on the roster for more than two years, three at best. And during the offseason, most of the players go back home to work for the other six months of the year. CHL hockey is a part-time, full-time job. The RiverKings are an exception to the norm with three players – Derek Landmesser, Louis Dumont and Darrell Stoddard – on the roster for at least four years. “It’s not one hundred percent for the entire year,” said Dumont, who has been one of the top scorers in the RiverKings organization since his arrival in 2006. “They can waive you or release you. And even if you get a better offer to play in Europe, you can leave. They’ve been good to me and offered me a contract every year. I’ve never been worried about my paycheck, as long as I’m doing my job.”

(PHOTO BY HAYS COLLINS | PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY JONATHAN YABLONSKI)

five years in the Mid-South. (PHOTO BY HAYS COLLINS)

“To be fortunate to play in one place, we’ve been lucky,” said Landmesser, who was voted the CHL’s outstanding defensemen in 2000-01. “When you look at players in minor leagues, it doesn’t happen that often where a player gets to play someplace for 10 years.” The seven time all-star holds numerous records on the ice including season points by a defenseman (81, 2005-06), career assists (430), career penalty minutes (880) and career points by a defensemen (521). AT HOME IN THE COMMUNITY The team over the last decade has had great success on the ice with back-to-back Ray Miron President’s Cup championships in 2001-02 and 2002-03, but it’s what they do off the ice – their desire to support their community – at local schools, hospitals and charity events that sets them apart. “We are probably more purposeful in our community outreach than a lot a lot of other teams,” Bakken said “We try to marry ourselves into the community.” With a loyal fan base of about 3,300 a game and growing each season, the RiverKing’s M.V.P philosophy – raising Money, encourage Volunteerism and generate Publicity about their efforts – has become the backbone of the organization. Numerous programs include “Assists for Autism” which helps raise money for autism education and family support initiatives in DeSoto County and the greater NHL OR BUST | RiverKings goalie Alexander Pechurskiy, a native of Memphis area and “Pink the Rink” sight to support breast cancer, as well as a most recent partnership with Russia, was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2008 and continues the Warrior Center – an effort dedicated to overcoming to sit high on the organization’s prospect list. (PHOTO BY HAYS COLLINS) drug addiction, homelessness and hopelessness. Bakken says there are a handful of players who make Dumont, 37, has made a living scoring goals. Before Southaven their permanent home because they want to coming to Southaven, he was lighting the lamp and get involved in the community anyway they can. setting records in the ECHL (formerly the East Coast “They are very approachable, more so than you would Hockey League) for 12 seasons. He’s the all-time leader find with any other professional athletes,” Bakken said. in points (891), assists (566) and second in goals (325) “They want to be a part of the outreach programs with and games played (771). our schools to introduce them (students) to hockey and The Calgary, Alberta native admits he didn’t expect to to our players.” have that kind of impact. At best, he figured he’d play a What better way for kids to learn about hockey than few years and then hang up the skates. to actually watch it in person? This year marked the “It became my thing to do,” he said. “I enjoyed it eighth annual “Face-Off Field Trip.” so much, year after year just went by. I was pretty Imagine 8,000 screaming elementary school kids consistent playing in that league and was just lucky from across north Mississippi and the Memphis area, enough to be healthy and play that long.” eating popcorn and drinking soda at 10 a.m. while sitting The RiverKings captain Landmesser is in his 10th in a cold rink watching grown men dance around with season with the organization, the most among active sticks chasing a rubber puck across a sheet of ice. players on the team. Meanwhile, at every break, math questions appear on

15


HOCKEY MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD

POSITIVE PLAY TIME | RiverKings players R.G. Flath (No. 20) and Brennan Sarazin (No. 27) supervise a game of floor hockey for kindergartners at St. Michael’s Catholic School in West Memphis, Arkansas. RiverKings visit area schools, enforce the importance of education and teach basic hockey skills at assemblies called “Sticks Are for Kids.” (PHOTO BY WHITLEY RIVES)

the JumboTron, while classmates take turns reading sentences about what a zamboni is. “It’s definitely a noisy atmosphere that day,” Bakken laughed. “We like to call it a unique hockey/education experience for the kids. And for some, it’s their first-ever sporting event.” For Dumont, the fact the RiverKings are so committed to the community has only reaffirmed his decision to call Southaven home. “It’s a great place to raise a family while making a living on the ice,” he explained. “We do lot of promotional work, non-profit charity work in the area,” the veteran iceman continued. “And I’ve always liked doing that sort of thing with the fans and people who don’t know much about hockey.” As for Landmesser, he describes himself as “one of those pieces to the puzzle” in folks better understanding the game of hockey. He is the director for the Junior StreetKings Roller Hockey program in Hernando which is host to about 150 kids a year in the spring and fall. Landmesser contends other teams he’s played for have had nowhere near the impact the RiverKings have had.

18

“I don’t think we’ve ever turned down an appearance, whether it’s a school or the Boys and Girls Club or YMCA,” he said. “We do a ton here and that’s what it is all about.” The RiverKings will probably make the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season and look to win their third CHL title in franchise history. But anyone would

agree their accomplishments on the ice won’t mean as much to the fans as what they have done in their schools, hospitals and in their hearts. And for players like Dumont and Landmesser, it’s more than being kings of the ice. It’s about being Mississippi RiverKings – on and off the ice.


COLLEGE BASKETBALL MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD

IN REVIEW 2010-11 MEN’S BASKETBALL (THRU MARCH 14)

MS STATE

RECORD: 17-14, 9-7 SEC

TEAM FG PCT 3PT FG PCT FT PCT

.439 (739-1701) .362 (246-680) .723 (441-610)

NOTES: Bulldogs were outrebounded on the year 1119 to 1141 by opponents. Bulldogs were called for 471 personal fouls, compared to opponents’ 549. Bulldogs committed 439 turnovers, compared to opponents 339.

TOP PERFORMERS # PLAYER

FG-FGA

PCT

3FG-FGA

PCT

FT-FTA

PCT

PTS

AVG

02 Ravern Johnson

162-377

.430

83-206

.403

85-109 .780

492

17.6

03 Dee Bost

84-216

.389

38-113

.336

54-77

.701

260

15.3

01 Renardo Sidney

105-203

.517

7-24

.292

52-74

.703

269

14.2

24 Kodi Augustus

117-262

.489

29-94

.309

114-138 .826

377

12.2

OLE MISS

RECORD: 20-13, 7-9 SEC

TEAM FG PCT 3PT FG PCT FT PCT

.443 (843-1904) .349 (248-710) .757 (505-667)

NOTES: Rebels outrebounded their opponents’, 1191 to 1112. Rebels were called for 619 personal fouls, compared to opponents’ 592. Rebels committed 418 turnovers, compared to opponents 429.

TOP PERFORMERS # PLAYER

FG-FGA

3FG-FGA PCT

FT-FTA

PCT

PTS

AVG

12 Chris Warren

185-460 .402

PCT

90-265

.340

166-178

.933

626

19.0

32 Zach Graham

157-370 .424

44-135

.326

108-124 .871

466

14.1

12-36

.333

70-99

318

9.6

01 Terrance Henry 118-240 .492

.707

HEAD TO HEAD JAN. 13 AT OXFORD | MS STATE 69, OLE MISS 64 GAME-HIGHS: Points: 25, Dee Bost, MSU; 25, Chris Warren, UM Rebounds:

14, Kodi Augustus, MSU DIFFERENCE-MAKERS: Bulldogs

outshot the Rebels 49.0 to 34.8 from the

field, including a 57.1 percent clip in the second half. Mississippi State outrebounded Ole Miss 38 to 33, including a 32 to 20 advantage on OUT OF ARM’S REACH | Rebels’ forward Zach Graham (No.32) sails high for two against Mississippi State big man Renardo Sidney (No.1)

defensive rebounds.

FEB. 19 AT STARKVILLE | MS STATE 71, OLE MISS 58

inside the paint. Sidney’s Bulldogs eked past the Rebels in Oxford, 69-64,

GAME-HIGHS:

but easily pushed past their SEC foe in Starkville, 71-58.

Sidney, MSU

(PHOTO BY HAYS COLLINS)

Points: 21, Renardo Sidney, MSU Rebounds: 12, Renardo

DIFFERENCE-MAKERS:

Bulldogs outshot the Rebels 46.2 to 34.3 from the

field, including a 50 percent

17


DEFLATED? METADATA COLLEGEMISSISSIPPI BASKETBALL SCOREBOARD MISSISSIPPI

SCOREBOARD

BY CHRISTIAN STECKEL

“(Mississippi State’s) Rick Stansbury has been decent and always interesting; and if (Mississippi’s Andy) Kennedy doesn’t get fired this year, he’ll have to win big next year because they finally put money in the program and built a new practice facility. Their jobs are incredibly difficult, because, though, there are local players, they don’t have passionate fan bases and the support the football programs have.” — ESPN MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL ANALYST DOUG GOTTLIEB

20


METADATA MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD

In the United State of America, several things pass the burden of proof test. First, you are what you eat. You need no more proof than your next trip to the grocery store. Just look around. Second, we love a winner. As the conference that has taken home the last five Bowl Championship Series (BCS) national championships, Southeastern Conference – better known as the SEC – football is hailed as the “King of College Sports” in this country. Third, money is the driving force behind everything. Revolutions in Libya and Egypt have increased gas prices to over three dollars here in Mississippi, and if we were really honest, it’s caused many of us to question how much we’re really concerned about the freedom of others. Finally, if you’re an afterthought... well, you’re simply

that. Just ask the Chilean Miners. Or those associated The best basketball conference in America is the Big with SEC basketball. East. Its last national title came courtesy of Syracuse Kentucky is the lone exception – the P90X®, freak- in 2003, but for basically the last decade, the teams buying fruits and vegetables at Fresh Market – while in that league can barely stand up in March because everyone else is stocking up on cheese puffs and Cap’n they’ve been inflicting pain on each other all year. They Crunch® cereal. The Wildcats are an institution unto set the standard in big-time college hoops. As of print, themselves and you could convince a majority of the eight teams were in the Top 25 and three other schools people in the Southeast that the game of basketball in the Big East conference had been ranked this year. was invented there. Explain that James Naismith creat- The Big 12 had four representatives, the SEC and Big ed the game in Springfield, Massachusetts, and many Ten only three each. will connect the dots to their pre-conceived notion of But the real lack of local relevance is found in the East Coast bias. SEC West, where its best team – Kentucky has won seven national championships Alabama – finished the regular season 10 games and 46 conference titles in its illustrious history. They over .500 and 12-4 in league play, yet the Crimson Tide feast on everyone. To put it in context, only two other is a pure bubble team and may miss the NCAA TournaSEC schools have ever won a national title and Florida ment altogether. That speaks to the lack of respect has done it twice in the last five years. nationwide for the SEC and opens up a flaw in how the

21


COLLEGE BASKETBALL MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD

BOST THE BOSS | Despite posting a double-double in SEC tourney play, junior guard Dee Bost could not push his Bulldog teammates into postseason play. (PHOTO BY HAYS COLLINS)

league conducts business. The SEC implemented a two-division system when the conference expanded to 12 teams in 1991, and as a result, the league doesn’t follow the regular season and postseason tournament format like the other power conferences in college basketball. The Big East and Big Ten, and starting next year the newly realigned PAC 10, all play 18 regular season conference games, thus creating equal opportunity to compete against the best and worst teams in the league. It also doesn’t cost you when the postseason arrives. “The dirty little secret to the Big East and Big Ten is they play all the teams in their leagues twice. So if you’re having a decent year RPI wise, you have a better chance on loading up on wins,” explains ESPN college basketball analyst and nationally-syndicated radio host Doug Gottlieb. “If you want to help the (SEC) conference get a better RPI, and thus more teams in the tournament, play 18 conference games. So teams from the SEC West could play Kentucky and Florida twice every other year.” Currently the top two seeds in the West receive first round byes in the SEC Tournament, meaning it only takes three straight wins in mid-March to punch a ticket to the Big Dance. That’s hard to accept for teams in the East who battle Kentucky, Florida, and Tennessee twice a year, when they know the West has no Top 25 presence. In the end, though, it’s all about making money for athletic conferences and players who dream of NBA

20

fame and fortune. Last year, when 15-year contracts with ESPN and CBS worth a combined $3 billion were announced, most fans overlooked the cash factor and instead focused on the news that every single league game would be televised. It was great for the programs and coast-to-coast exposure right? Maybe not. If you break down the attendance figures so far this season, you’ll see the numbers are well short of where they were last year. With one week remaining in the regular season, SEC schools averaged a crowd of 10,962 per home game. That number was roughly 650 people less per contest from the previous season. Attendance is down at eight of the 12 schools, and Mississippi State has taken a hard hit, dropping 1,308 paid attendees to 5,570 per game. LSU (down 1,765), South Carolina (down 1,549) and Arkansas (down 1,327) are proving that success on the football field and a tough year on the hardwood doesn’t add up to a for-

THREE SHORT | Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury led the Bulldogs to a mediocre 17-14 overall record and failed to surpass 20 wins for the first time since 2005. (PHOTO BY HAYS COLLINS)

mula that fills arenas. The recent Ole Miss-State game last month in Starkville at Humpheys Coliseum drew 8,063 in announced attendance. Keep in mind, these numbers reflect tickets sold, not bodies in seats. So if you watched it on TV, there’s no need to run and have your vision checked. Gottlieb points to another economic factor hurting the SEC on the hardwood – the lure of turning professional for many young players who come from low-income homes. “I think the NBA draft has hurt the South worse than any other region because of the inherent poverty, where many kids turn pro as quickly as they can, because of the burden to provide for their family,”


COLLEGE BASKETBALL MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD

SENIOR LEADER | Rebels floor general Chris Warren led Ole Miss with a regular season average of 18 points-per-game and shot just over 40 percent from the floor. His efforts were not enough to lift Ole Miss into the Big Dance, as the Rebels failed to make the expanded NCAA tournament field. (PHOTO BY HAYS COLLINS)

But financial security arrived and Ellis had no choice. In this country, the fine line between winning and relevance is shrinking even faster than the number of brain facing a formidable task. The Rebels were a program with only seven 20cells in Charlie Sheen’s head. In 13 seasons, Rick Stanswin seasons in its nearly 100 years of existence. (PHOTO BY HAYS COLLINS) bury has never reached a Sweet 16 at Mississippi State. After five years in Oxford, Andy Kennedy is still trying to he notes reach the NCAA Tournament as the head coach of the Exhibit A: Monta Ellis, who this past offseason signed Rebels. Yet only Kennedy has had to answer the media – a six-year, $66 million dollar contract with the Golden one time – about job security this season. State Warriors. Ellis, who starred at Lanier High School in “To be honest, these are tough jobs. Kennedy seems Jackson, made the jump straight from prep basketball to to have been a player away. Stansbury’s record against the NBA – before the league implemented the mandatory his archrival, the Western Division and overall is hard to one-year waiting period from high school graduation to dismiss,” says Clarion-Leger columnist Rick Cleveland. draft eligibility. Gottlieb is more direct with his thinking, offering, “My dad coached Monta in AAU ball and he spent time “Stansbury has been decent and always interesting; at my home. If Monta plays one year at Mississippi State, and if Kennedy doesn’t get fired this year, he’ll have to who knows how that affects the program in the short win big next year because they finally put money in the and long term,” Gottlieb questions. program and built a new practice facility. REBEL ROUSER | When Andy Kennedy returned to his home state in March

2006 to take over as head basketball coach at Ole Miss, he was admittedly

“Their jobs are incredibly difficult, because, though, there are local players, they don’t have passionate fan bases and the support the football programs have,” he continued. Mississippi State earned the lead on SportsCenter once this season, but it had nothing to do with an actual game, and everything to do with tabloid headlines. While playing in a holiday tournament in Hawaii, teammates Renardo Sidney and Elgin Bailey were captured fighting in the stands before tip-off between two other teams in the event. It placed the Bulldogs’ program in the national spotlight – for all the wrong reasons. Sidney was suspended, but returned after missing just two games. Bailey was the captain of the team at the time of the brawl and subsequently transferred. “I honestly thought at the time that both players would be dismissed,” says Cleveland. “Sidney has been coddled and treated differently than other players. I think that’s pretty obvious to anyone who has watched. He will never become the player and person he should be until he is held accountable for his actions.” Sidney has been criticized heavily for his actions on and off the court this year, and once March Madness is over, most in Mississippi will have forgotten the entire episode. Much like the Chilean Miners, who captivated the nation after spending 69 days underground, and we forgot about them in less then a week.

21


COMMENTARY MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD

PROVE ME WRONG BY JOHN C. COX

The inmates are running the asylum in the majority of intercollegiate athletics. The remainder of the asylum is being run by blood-sucking leeches and money-hungry whores. Harsh, you say? Take a look around. It is true. I am a die-hard sports junkie and I have just about reached the point that I cannot stomach it anymore. Let’s see. Where should we begin? How about the current state of Mississippi State basketball? In this season alone, they have had their best returning player (Dee Bost) sit out because he didn’t withdraw his name from the NBA Draft in time last June; they have kicked off their team captain (Elgin Bailey) because he got in a fight with his roommate (Renardo Sidney, who happens to be State’s most talented player) over a seat in the bleachers; and finally, they had to ban the use of Twitter on their team because of players openly questioning Coach Rick Stansbury’s decisions via the social networking site. Dear Lord. I didn’t even mention that Sidney’s usual defensive effort makes the guys in Kuwait surrendering to CNN during the Gulf War look aggressive. I have honestly never seen a college basketball player with a lower “give a damn” factor than Sydney at times. There’s not enough Xanax in the world that would enable me to get through practice in Starkville. I will move over to Ole Miss basketball for a moment. Like many of us, I watched the Rebels manage to blow a big lead against Mississippi State earlier this year in Oxford. But I left that game simply shaking my head. Not at the blown lead, per se. But at the last shot taken by the Rebels in the game. The Rebels were down one point with 30 seconds to play when Coach Andy Kennedy called a time-out to talk about the last possession. It would appear that the stage was set for a last-second shot by senior All-SEC point guard Chris Warren. I’m not privy to AK’s wisdom in that huddle, but I have a feeling that he didn’t spend 60 seconds of valuable

22

time-out time to tell Nick Williams – probably his third or fourth best scoring option on the floor – to heave up a 23-foot jump shot with 22 seconds left. The look on Kennedy’s face as he watched Williams’ shot sail over the entire goal into the arms of the Mississippi State player was priceless. Team be damned. Let’s just worry about the name on the back of the jersey. Here’s one final story from the realm of basketball. In the last month, I have heard, on good authority, the story of a college basketball player who refused to ride the bus with his team to an away game, thereby missing the game. Really?

request was a counter-offer in response to a smaller offer. But that’s another story. What is astounding to me is that Cam remained eligible even though it was apparently admitted that he was bought and sold by his father like a used car. I am smart enough to understand SEC Commissioner Mike Slive’s point that no existing rules were actually broken. Yeah, Mike. Good call. As a lawyer, I appreciate his definition of the word “broken.” But as a long-time fan, I think that the integrity of the game was not just compromised. Rather, it was blown to oblivion. Truth be known, the NCAA

The inmates are running the asylum in the majority of intercollegiate athletics. The remainder of the asylum is being run by blood-sucking leeches and money-hungry whores. Harsh, you say? Take a look around. It is true. I’m sorry. Is that an option now? To be frank, I cannot decide which is worse– the fact that the player believes that to be a decision for him to make or the fact that he remained on the team after the occurrence. Either way, we have some sort of disconnect – a disconnect that is only getting wider by the moment. Let’s leave basketball for a moment. My dear editor does not give me enough space to discuss the Cam Newton saga. I guess Auburn is living proof that if you are going to buy a player, then at least buy a player who will enable you to win and win big. Mississippi State has been wrapped up in that story for some time now, and if you think that the bidding for Cam began at $180,000, then you are as delusional as former Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead at the 2010 NFL combine. In legal terms, I have a good feeling that Reverend Newton’s $180,000

simply did not need its biggest story and biggest player to go down in flames mid-season. Cam Newton disappears, and the NCAA might just lose some dollars and fans. Likewise, the BCS just became a whole helluva lot less interesting without the heavy hitter of the SEC school in its championship game. Yeah, yeah. I know that the NCAA and the BCS are separate entities. You betcha. That’s as preposterous a story as the Elf on a Shelf. Do you really think that the shape-shifting NCAA would have punished the starting quarterback at USM the same way that they did.... err, did not punish Cam Newton and the Auburn Tigers? And while not specifically relegated to the fine boundaries of Mississippi, it warrants the ink. How about the guys at Ohio State? We all know that four players, including star quarterback Terrelle Pryor,

were suspended by the NCAA for selling personal items given/awarded to them in exchange for cash and services. FYI– that’s a “no-no” in amateur athletics. But here is the kicker. First, the NCAA decided that it would suspend these athletes for the first five games of next season, and allow them to be eligible for the Sugar Bowl this January. Bear in mind that these transgressions by Pryor, et al. were committed some two years ago. So heaven forbid the NCAA punish the kids and not allow them to play in a bowl game this year. I wonder if it is a coincidence that Ohio State happens to be the largest athletic department in the country. Or that it’s President, Gordon Gee, is a true power-broker in university administration circles? Hmmm. Well, because apparently that story is just not wild enough on its own, Ohio State head football coach Jim Tressel then made the suspended players “pledge” to return in 2011 in exchange for allowing them to play in the Sugar Bowl. You have really got to love Jim. He said to the NCAA, “I will see your insanity, and raise you extortion.” Why would Tressel make such a ludicrous move? Think about it. He saves face by “punishing” the players, he guarantees himself players returning next year to help him win games, and best of all, he gets to put his best team on the field for the Sugar Bowl. And through all of three of those moves, Jim Tressel’s value as a football coach can only increase. Yep, right when you think that the student-athletes are the problem, we get a good example of their authority figure deciding to “out-selfish” them. Tressel has not hid his actions from the NCAA or his university. Yet the Ohio State and the NCAA both sit on their hands, condone his actions, and watch the money roll into the university. One last thing– Ohio State won the Sugar Bowl with the help of game MVP Terrelle Pryor. Awesome. I just love it when a plan comes together. So what do I suggest? A massive boycott? The end of the NCAA? Well,


COMMENTARY MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD

it’s obviousthat our rogue’s gallery of characters in suits, as well as sweat suits, are killing intercollegiate athletics. Our athletes are being coddled beginning at the age of five and convinced that they are “special” and they can all play in the League, the Show, or whatever you choose to call professional sports. A very small percentage is actually professionalcaliber athletes. The rest of the group are merely above-average players living a fantasy, chasing a dream, and doing so without any real regard for education. So here’s my radical idea. Let’s let our imagination run wild. I can already hear the argument that players don’t need an education if they can make millions by simply going pro and playing their chosen sport. Contrary to popular belief, college is not and should not be a trade school– rather, it is a place where students should learn to think critically and acquire the skills that will enable them to become productive citizens of the world community. It cheapens the value of a college education for these studentathletes to breeze into our universities

for a year or two, and then breeze out with a toned body and a dulled mind. Yes, I realize that there are those student-athletes who are topnotch students, and they should be commended for their efforts. But there are a great number of players who could

fact that an overwhelming majority of amateur athletes are simply not good enough to play professional sports. With that in mind, it is irresponsible and morally reprehensible for these same leagues to continue to allow young men and women to throw their futures away

Team be damned. Let’s just worry about the name on the back of the jersey. care less about their education, and our schools just allow them to come through and waste everyone’s time, including their own, by going through the charade of a college education. I am proposing a revolution. I believe that the professional leagues need to establish uniform rules for draft eligibility. At the minimum, a studentathlete’s class must have completed four years of college. Sure, I can already feel some lawsuits being filed if that rule were adopted, but I think that the future of our nation’s youth depends on such standards. Professional leagues don’t hide the

and major in “sports” in school. What happens to these same athletes when they can no longer run fast or throw hard? Quite simply, we must put the value back in a college education. Likewise, our universities need to crack down from the top down. Bearing in mind the rule change I am advocating for the pro leagues, it is time for university administrators to step up and demand accountability from the coaches and the players. It’s time to quit selling out the university in pursuit of the almighty dollar. Maybe if these players and coaches

know that the university will kick them to the curb if they act like petulant brats, then they might straighten up their act. It will take a revolution of the highest order to convince everyone that there is a world larger than sports– a world where we must teach our children that actions have consequences, a world where fame brings responsibility and a world where we actually care about our children’s future. And by future, I do not mean the next game or the next season. I mean the future where there is no longer a P.A. announcer and adoring crowds. Maybe I’m wrong. If so, let me know about it. Let’s hear what you think.

RESPOND

OPINION@MSSCOREBOARD.COM

John C. Cox is a practicing attorney at Cox & Moore, PLLC in Cleveland, Mississippi, as well as a Municipal Court Judge. He has been a sideline reporter for CSS Sports football television broadcasts, and is a part-time color analyst for the Delta State Sports Network.

25


METADATA MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD

26


COLLEGE BASKETBALL MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD

Delta state women’s basketball head coach Sandra Rushing proves ‘doing things right’ still wins championships. BY RORI EDDIE HERBISON PHOTOGRAPHY BY HAYS COLLINS

An exuberated high-five, an uplifting, warm pat on the back, a fiery slap of the hardwood below to call for more defensive pressure – all sure-fire signs of a basketball team coming together, “gelling,” as their head coach might call it. But those are just first-blush looks. No-brainer indicators. Look closer. Do you see the socks – black socks, of course because nobody in college basketball wears white anymore? All pulled uniformly to the same mid-calf height. See the mandated black ankle braces? To a woman, they are there – coach’s orders. Again, nothing a pedestrian observer couldn’t say about any other cohesive program in the country. But do it once more. Look at this team, really look at this Delta State University women’s basketball team and the way they link hands — one to the teammate in front of them, one to the teammate to the back of them — during the playing of the national anthem. Look at the way they sub in – teammates meeting on court, looking straight into one another’s eyes, the substitute handing the departing player a towel and taking instructions intently. They listen, they communicate. Be present in the locker room when a new face is welcomed by each and every member of the 2010-11 Lady Statesmen squad. Watch as they introduce themselves – the eye contact they maintain, the firm and confident handshake. Take note of their embraces to one

another – not a “cool” and “casual” that probably a lot of people don’t shoulder to shoulder tap or unauthentic understand.” sideways squeeze. These are genuine, Not only are there the pressures two-armed hugs – hugs that carry the of being a Division II student-athlete message of care and concern. in the one of winningest programs in “This team cares deeply for one the country – men’s or women’s, there another. We care so much about are the pressures of being a college one another,” head coach Sandra student-athlete – emphasis on college Rushing admits. “It is one of the most and student. unique groups of young ladies I’ve “It’s about time management and ever coached. Truthfully, it is a family we have to teach that to our younger atmosphere.” players, but we also have excellent role And, just as is with any family, there models in our senior leadership,” the are roles and there are rules. “Here’s ninth year head coach boasts, bragging the thing with this team, we probably “on her girls,” again, like any proud mama have rules most other programs would. wouldn’t agree with, and that’s OK,” “We also get that they are collegeRushing maintains, her inflection age girls,” a realistic Rushing deadpans. stern and steady – like most “mothers” “We want them to have a full college when explaining the rules. “Being a experience, but when you are a Lady Lady Statesmen isn’t for everybody Statesmen, that includes doing the right and that’s OK, too. There is a lot that thing. Being accountable. Being on time. goes into wearing the Green and White Being dependable – life lessons.”

That also means surrendering what many would consider their most valuable possession – especially those in the 18 – 22 demographic – their cell phone. “We are pretty strict. We limit the distractions and take up the phones when we get on the bus, when we’re on the road. We need to stay focused and control what we can.” And by “controlling” the 20-plus year sideline veteran means “working.” “We can control how hard we work, how hard we practice. We will not be outworked. We will make the choice to be the hardest working team in the country,” Rushing, less “motherly” now, more intense and focused, levies. “I will not coach effort. I will not coach heart.” At 28-3 thru March 13 and now appearing in their sixth straight Sweet 16 under Rushing’s tutelage, heart has rarely been a problem. “We’ve had no problems. We have a group that not

25


COLLEGE BASKETBALL MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD

only understands their role and accept their roles, but we’ve got a group that has bought into the philosophy of our program.” A philosophy Rushing, herself, admits was confounded in her first years with Green and White. “I took over for a legend (Lloyd Clark) and change is scary. I had to prove myself and expectations were high. They are always high here at Delta State, I knew that coming in. That is one of the reasons I wanted the job – for the challenge. Winning is expected and I think, at first, I tried to please everybody. “You can’t do that. You’re just not going to be successful and you’re going to stay confused. When I made the decision to do it my way, with players that fit my personality and my philosophy, and stop trying to please everybody, that’s when I got it,” a very frank, very honest Rushing reveals. And, by “it,” she means peace – peace that come win, lose or draw, she could look at herself in the mirror because she knew she couldn’t do it any better, that she was doing it with no regrets. About the time she found “it,” coaching

28

hardware found her, as Rushing stands as the only coach in Gulf South Conference history to have claimed fivestraight Coach of the Year Awards. The Lady Statesmen are 232-50 since her start in 2002. At home inside Walter Sillers Coliseum, the Lady Statesmen are unblemished in 63 games – the second longest streak in women’s basketball behind NebraskaKearney’s 87-game streak. But, the streak is one thing Rushing admits to not discussing with her players. “If they knew about it, it’s not because I told them. I think, as coaches, we can put too much pressure on situations. We can over-talk. When we play at home, I right on the board, ‘Defend Home Court,’” Rushing explains. “We keep it simple. Winning is good and winning more is only better, but it’s also about the little steps that it takes to get there.” Before the words even settle to the air, Rushing is adding her disclaimer, “We know what our ultimate goal is, though, and I know how badly this team wants to win a national championship.” In its legendary history, Delta State has captured six national championships

“Hear me clearly. I want (to win) a national championship. I still get chills every time I walk out onto our floor and see all the banners hanging. I know Margaret Wade has three of the banners and Coach Clark, three. Sandra Rushing, none. I take pride in this program’s tradition, the hard work that everybody before me and everybody now puts in.” (1974-75, 1975-76, 1976-77, 1988-89, 1989-90, 1991-92) – three under the iconic Margaret Wade – the matriarch of modern women’s basketball and the same Margaret Wade for whom the Wade Trophy, presented annually to the best women’s basketball player in the country, is named; and three under Rushing’s predecessor, Lloyd Clark. “Hear me clearly. I want a national

championship. I still get chills every time I walk out onto our floor and see all the banners hanging. I know Margaret Wade has three of the banners and Coach Clark, three. Sandra Rushing, none,” she discerns, again levying unabashed desires to win. “I take pride in this program’s tradition, the hard work that everybody before me and everybody now puts in.


COLLEGE BASKETBALL MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD

“Coach Clark taught me the Xs and Os of this game and I was privileged enough to speak with Margaret Wade when I was a graduate assistant here,” she continues. “We talked more about the way you treat people. We talked less about basketball and more about dealing with people. If I could talk to her today, I would want her to know how much of an impression our talk had on me.” Rushing echoes Wade’s sentiments, in that, yes, this is a game and, yes, unquestionably, she wants to win, but she wants just as much for her players to become better “people, not just players in their four, five years with us. “I don’t want a player here just to play basketball. I want student-athletes that are seriously working toward a degree, toward bettering their life,” the University

EAGLE EYE | Delta State Lady Statesmen head coach Sandra Rushing is intense as they come and her meticulous attention to detail has helped pilot the Green and White to six consecutive Sweet Sixteen appearances. (PHOTO BY HAYS COLLINS)

of Alabama graduate advocates. “It’s just not talk when I tell you my proudest moments as a coach are watching my players walk across that stage to accept their diploma.” Ironic that the stage Delta State University graduates walk across to accept their diplomas sits just ten steps left of the women’s basketball locker room. Now that’s a home-court advantage. FOR EXTENDED INTERVIEW WITH SANDRA RUSHING MSSCOREBOARD.COM

29


METADATA MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD

TALKIN’ BASEBALL 2011 COLLEGIATE BASEBALL PREVIEW

STORY BY JAMES O. COVINGTON | PHOTO BY CHRIS MAUL PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY JONATHAN YABLONSKI

30


COLLEGE BASEBALL MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD

“Baseball is a red-blooded sport for red-blooded men. It’s no pink tea, and mollycoddles had better stay out. It’s a struggle for supremacy, a survival of the fittest.” TY COBB And in that “struggle for supremacy, a survival of the fittest,” Mississippi’s collegiate baseball ain’t servin’ no pink tea or dotin’ on mollycoddles. It’s the best of the best in these parts, and Mississippi Scoreboard is traveling the state to preview the top-ranked programs. UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI Biloxi native B.A. Vollmuth knows that with a good 2011 season, come June, he’s got a shot at being a millionaire. The talented Southern Miss junior shortstop is one of the top players in the nation this spring and a projected Major League Baseball (MLB) first-, to second-round draft pick. “We’ve got big goals this year,” said Vollmuth, the 6-4, 212-pound sparkplug. “Goals I feel we can definitely accomplish.” Considered by many a five-tool player (hitting for average, hitting for power, base running skills and speed, throwing and fielding), Vollmuth had a sophomore season that garnered respectable attention and MLB consideration – batting .386 with 20 homeruns, 17 doubles and 76 RBIs. During the fall MLB scouts, crosscheckers and general managers flocked by the dozens to check him out at Pete Taylor Park as the Golden Eagles were going through drills and scrimmages. Vollmuth is rated the No. 2 shortstop in the nation by Baseball America and the No. 5 overall prospect nationally. Vollmuth, alone, makes USM baseball a hot ticket this season, and reigning Conference USA Champions are eager to prove themselves. Talent runs deep in Hattiesburg this season, and many fans are hopeful for a possible return to the College World Series for the Golden Eagles. “I am excited about the potential of our 2011 baseball team,” said head coach Scott Berry. “We have a number of players who have been a part of a Conference USA championship team, a College World Series team and NCAA regional teams and that experience should prove valuable to us this season.” Berry and his coaching staff know that the Eagles must earn their stripes first and foremost. Out of conference, USM plays Alabama twice, Ole Miss twice, Mississippi State and LSU. “We have an outstanding mix of veteran players and talented newcomers that should give us a chance to TOP PROSPECT | University of Southern Mississippi shortstop B.A. Vollmuth is expected to be a sure-fire MLB draft choice following this season’s collegiate baseball campaign. The Golden Eagles are poised to make another deep postseason run.

be successful this season,” added Berry. “There are no guarantees in this world, but I know we are going to work hard every time we step on the field.” Paced by the return of ace pitcher Todd McInnis, the Golden Eagles pitching staff returns nine hurlers from a year ago. McInnis, a senior preseason All-American right-hander, was an all-Conference USA selection last season. He will be the team’s No. 1 starter again in 2011 after posting a 6-5 record in 2010 with a 3.30 earned run average and team-high 87 strikeouts. The Brandon native returns for his fifth season despite being drafted by the Oakland Athletics following last season. He is regarded as one of the top pitchers in Conference USA and was voted the top pitching honor by the league’s nine coaches heading into the campaign. “He competes,” said Berry. “He’s won some big games for us over his career.” Still, a balanced attacked is a better attack and Southern should have plenty of offensive arsenal in its line-up this season. USM returns a variety of hitters – which includes six starters from last year’s squad including Vollmuth, first baseman/designated hitter Adam Doleac (.352, 57 hits, 7 HR), outfielder Tyler Koelling (.333, 61 hits, 4 HR), first baseman Mark Ellis (.304, 62 hits, 7HR), outfielder Kameron Brunty (.305, 72 hits, 9 HR) and outfielder/pitcher Dillon Day (.355, 44 hits, 1HR). UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI At Ole Miss, life without a departed Drew Pomeranz – now with the Cleveland Indians organization – begins and a rotation by committee seems certain come SEC play. The Rebels slipped a little bit last year after winning the SEC West the season before. Ole Miss still managed a 16-14 SEC record and the good news is they return some very good pitchers this season. The anchor of that group of pitchers is going to be in the bullpen as the Rebels welcome back closer Jake Morgan. Also returning to the hill for Ole Miss are Matt Crouse and David Goforth – both pitchers with valuable game experience. Crouse made 21 appearances (six starts) as he went 5-1 with a 3.74 ERA in 53 innings pitched last year. Goforth struggled on the hill going 1-6 with a 9.43 ERA in 22 appearances (11 starts) totaling 56.1 innings. The upstart for Goforth – he has a tremendous fastball that sets in the mid 90s. If the starters can keep the Rebs in the games, the bullpen will be very successful this year. The Rebels are hoping that success results in another shot at the SEC West title. But their bats must come alive. The lineup must produce especially against SEC West opponents, which will ultimately decide if this year’s Rebels are

IN THE GAME | Mississippi’s collegiate baseball programs all seem to have to the stuff to make them contenders in their respective leagues, but baseball can be a fickle game and the teams will have to find some breaks and pull out a few close ballgames to see the light of postseason play. (PHOTOS BY HAYS COLLINS AND ROBERT SMITH [MS STATE])

29


COLLEGE BASEBALL MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD

pretenders or contenders among the nation’s elite. Ole Miss returns its top three hitters from last year’s squad in Matt Smith, Matt Snyder and Tanner Mathis. Smith played in 58 games while leading the team with a .348 batting average, 12 homers, and 54 RBI. Snyder had a .347 average in 42 games while jacking 12 long balls and driving in 40 runs. “I like our chances,” said Smith. “I really do.” If Ole Miss gels, than another deep run could take place. The Rebels have some question marks, but they also have the talent to go very far. MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY Over at Mississippi State, another almost guaranteed rebuilding campaign begins. After years of being at the top, the Bulldogs now find themselves at the very bottom and having to scratch and claw to regain some momentum. The Diamond Dogs finished SEC play a lowly 6-24 last season and it doesn’t look much better this year as the coaches in the SEC picked them dead last again in their SEC preseason vote. The Bulldogs have been recruiting very well and are looking for those players to step in and contribute immediately, especially freshman Hunter Renfro, whose fastball has been clocked as high as 98mph. State lost out on its top recruit Corey Dickerson, who was drafted by the Colorado Rockies last June and signed. The Bulldogs were looking for Dickerson to replace Connor Powers in the lineup with power, but are now back to small ball and line-up maneuvering. Head coach John Cohen remained positive and pointed to State’s Starkville-friendly schedule as a stepping stone, offering, “We are fortunate that we’re playing as many home games (as we are) for our fans. “Playing so many home games early in the season is good for a couple of reasons --- it means our players won’t be missing a lot of class and it gives a lot of young players an opportunity to play early in the season.” Look for sophomore pitcher Chris Stratton and senior infielder Nick Vickerson (.328, 8 HRs 10 stolen bases) to shoulder much of the pitching and offensive responsibilities, respectively, this season. SWAC ROUND-UP Jackson State’s Kendall Logan – a 2010 Atlanta Braves draft pick out of Copiah-Lincoln Community College – is one player that highlights this year’s crop of always talented Southwestern Athletic Conference baseball

32

2010 COLLEGIATE BASEBALL STATS TEAM

2010 RECORD

2010 BATTING AVG.

2010 ERA

2011 PLAYERS TO WATCH

ALCORN STATE

27-27

.307

7.08

BELHAVEN

44-17

.327

4.34

DELTA STATE

34-16-1

.327

3.96

JACKSON STATE

36-17

.316

5.37

MILSAPS

25-15

.335

6.45

MS COLLEGE

39-11

.347

4.06

MS STATE

23-33

.296

6.87

MS VALLEY STATE

23-30

.284

6.48

OLE MISS

39-24

.289

4.96

SOUTHERN MS

36-24

.324

5.96

WILLIAM CAREY

31-27

.292

5.60

KIRBY PERDOMO (OF) MUNDO SANCHEZ (RHP) JIMMY GILFORD (OF) ALAN MCHENRY (P) MICHAEL NIEMANN (OF) BRANDON HARBIN (RHP) CHARLES EPPERSON (OF) QUINTAVIOUS DRAIN (RHP) WILL HAWKINS (INF) JASON RIGGINS (RHP) STUART MAGEE (OF) STEPHEN BYRD (RHP) NICK VICKERSON (INF) CHRIS STRATTON (RHP) JERRY HILDRETH (OF) ERIC DOWELL (RHP) MATT SMITH (OF) JAKE MORGAN (RHP) B.A. VOLLMUTH (INF) TODD MCINNIS (RHP) JAVIER ORTIZ (OF) CORY WILLIAMS (RHP)

players. – of the elephant in the room. He knows the last two years Logan, who some describe as a raw outfielder, is a at Delta State haven’t been what the Statesmen are freakish athlete with quickness and range, plus bat known for, and that’s championship baseball. speed. The junior is one of many of JSU players that pro “We are disappointed and frustrated with the last two scouts will be checking out this year. years,” said Kinnison. “Our ultimate goal every year is a At Alcorn State and Mississippi Valley, a solid national championship and we feel like we are capable of recruiting class has each school hungry for a shot at obtaining that.” the SWAC title. The Braves return a solid group of arms, First baseman Kellen Bozeman, leftfielder Michael while Valley has its usual blend of hitters and pitchers to Vinson, and centerfielder Michael Niemann will provide give teams fits. pop for the Statesmen, while the pitching staff will be Last year, Jackson State sent shockwaves through one anchored by committee. Closer Brent Hallmark has the Magnolia State by beating Mississippi State. exceptional stuff, and left-handed relief pitcher David Recruits took attention, and the Tigers signed a solid Mooney returns after missing last season with Tommy class. John surgery. Expect all three to vie for SWAC season-ending “We are excited about getting David Mooney back,” said bragging rights. Kinnison. Still the Statesmen will have plenty to prove, despite DELTA STATE UNIVERSITY being ranked high early in the polls. Kinnison knows it isn’t Statesmen skipper Mike Kinnison is aware – fully aware about where you start; it’s about where you finish.


COLLEGE BASEBALL MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD

RICKY’S RENDERING FROM BY RICKYTHE NOBILEDESK OF RICKY NOBLE

31


COLLEGE SOFTBALL MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD

DETERMINED TO MAKE IT

Co-lin shortstop Kacey Smith not stopping short of JUCO softball

JUNIOR COLLEGE SPOTLIGHT

Copiah-Lincoln Community ColSmith prepped at Franklin County High lege freshman shortstop Kacey School – where her parents, Mickey and Smith, an All-State softball prospect Dana Smith of McCall Creek, serve as in the high school ranks last year, is softball coaches – from 2008-2010. Her hoping two seasons with the Lady senior year was a memorable one, batting Wolves will help her reach her ulti- .412 and carrying a fielding percentage of mate goal of playing Division I soft- .981. Dynamic as those numbers were, ball. she missed out on the big time offers, Smith, whose roots run deep in soft- despite drawing interest from Louisianaball, is quite the competitor, finding ref- Lafayette, Southern Mississippi, William uge on the diamond year-round. From Carey and Louisiana Tech. age eight to 18, she played travel ball in “I’m just settling in and getting use the summer. In the fall, she played slow to the speed of college softball,” she pitch and with the warmer weather of said. “I like Co-Lin and I like our team spring, she moved her attention to fast this year. I think we can go very far.” pitch. Co-Lin is an annual junior college Blessed with quickness and solid hit- powerhouse – not just statewide but ting skills, Smith’s game is a crafty one. nationally. The Lady Wolves have won Her glove work in the field is instinctive several state titles under head coach and precise, as she turns the double Allen Kent and have made trips to the play with veteran confidence and finds regional and national title tournaments, the ball deep in the hole on pretty back- as well. This year, Co-Lin is loaded once hand stops. again and ranked nationally in the polls.

34

Smith, “a country girl,” at heart with a big city grin, should play a key role as the season progresses for the Lady Wolves. She admits that she wants a championship ring before she’s done playing – one she might get sooner than later.

GUNNIN’ FOR IT | Kacey Smith, freshman starting shortstop for Copiah-Lincoln Community College, has hopes of continuing of her collegiate softball career at the Division I level. She says she “is adjusting to the speed of college softball,” but is hitting .325 on the season, thus far. (PHOTO BY JONATHON ALFORD)

BY JAMES O. COVINGTON


COMMENTARY MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD

THE EXTRA POINT

The Trip of a Lifetime

THE BY CHRISTIAN TRIP OF STECKEL A LIFETIME

LIFELONG MEMORIES | Jackson Prep’s boys basketball team traveled to Guatemala this past summer for a mission trip and in the process made long-lasting memories with teammates and new friends alike. (SPECIAL TO MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD)

The term team chemistry is an oftenused cliché in the world of sports. But there’s no denying its effect on the Jackson Prep Patriots, both on and off the basketball court, after packing their bags and traveling to Central America last summer to serve on a mission trip. “We went to Guatemala and El Salvador for a week. We took 14 juniors and seniors and our coaching staff. The guys worked to raise money with their friends within the community, and also prepared through Bible studies and learning about cultural differences, it was definitely a trip outside of their comfort zone,” said fourth year Prep head coach David Horner. The team worked in an orphanage, taught basketball clinics in local schools and neighborhoods, and toured the country by bus playing games against all ranges of competition, including semi-pro teams from the region. “It really opens your eyes not just to basketball, because they aren’t afraid

to play physical down there, but it’s just a different culture and a different group of people,” said senior forward Clay Hubbard. “The truth is, we were

ber, “At first, it’s a little intimidating because you are giving your testimony to a big group of people, but then you realize that you are talking about Christ

“My goal is to help mature these young men to a point where they can go out and be a positive influence in their community and glorify the Lord with their lives.” trying to touch the people down there, - someone you love. You’re just kind of but they also touched us. You come sending your message out as best you back changed.” can, hoping you can help one person To grow, you have to be stretched. So out.” while at the orphanage, during the clinTo the players’ amazement, they did. ics, or at halftime of the competitive “There was one story where we went to games, the players voluntarily shared a gym and someone gave their testimotheir faith, albeit through translators, ny, and at the end of it the interpreter with the natives they were there to in- asked ‘has anyone given their life to fluence. Christ today?” recalled junior forward Explained junior point guard De Grae- Thomas Dunbar. “Everyone was dead

silent and no one raised a hand until a 10 or 11-year old kid did. He was the only guy in the gym, with like a couple of hundred people there. That was pretty special. He came to know the Lord that day and that made it worth going to that gym. For that one kid.” In the end, sports are about more than the final score, and high school provides the opportunity to shape young athletes in the game of life. “It doesn’t translate into buckets scored per say, but it translates to those guys’ trusting each other and working together. My goal is to help mature these young men to a point where they can go out and be a positive influence in their community and glorify the Lord with their lives,” proclaimed Horner. “We hope we win some basketball games and championships along the way as well.” You will Coach, and you’re winning new fans in the process.


METADATA MISSISSIPPI SCOREBOARD

36


MS SCOREBOARD ISSUE #2