August 10, 2012

Plenty of change for Ray, Bulldogs

Both the non-conference and SEC schedules are out and college basketball is on the horizon.

There have been plenty of changes over the offseason at Mississippi State where the Bulldogs have a new head coach for the first time in 14-years and an entirely revamped roster.

Rick Ray was brought in to take over the helm at MSU following Rick Stansbury's retirement at the conclusion of the season. Ray, a first time head coach and former Clemson assistant, will be tested early in just the third game of the season facing North Carolina in the Maui Invitational and taking on either Butler or Marquette the following day.

"I think any young man that watches college basketball grows up dreaming about playing out in Maui," Ray said. "Obviously the tournament is very difficult and a very daunting task as far as the opponents out there. I think our guys look forward to that opportunity and have a chance to say they went out and played in the Maui Invitational. I think that's huge."

When the Bulldogs take the court there will be plenty of fresh faces to learn. Nine players from last year's roster have either graduated or left the program making room for six scholarship newcomers this season.

Junior shooting guard Jalen Steele and senior forward/ center Wendell Lewis are the only two main contributors left from last year's squad. Ray has turned to each of them to help lead the rest of the young pups.

"I think Jalen Steele is about as professional a kid as I've ever been around with his approach to basketball," Ray said. "He comes in and puts his hard hat on and works. More importantly he brings other guys in calling guys like Andre Applewhite to come get some shots up. I've been very pleased with Jalen Steele's approach to the game.

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