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MSU coaches are players at practice
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On January 16, 2013 @ 2:00 pm In All,Wirenews | Comments Disabled
by Brandon Marcello, USA TODAY Sports
STARKVILLE — Wes Flanigan could barely catch his breath.
The 37-year-old Mississippi State assistant coach was drenched in sweat and his body ached when a two-hour practice ended Monday with wind sprints at Humphrey Coliseum. He slapped the top of the scorer’s table and lowered his head onto the padded table.
It was not unlike other Mondays for Mississippi State, which has been depleted by injuries. Seven healthy scholarship players (six at Monday’s practice) are available for Rick Ray’s first year as head coach, and student managers, assistants and even Ray have practiced at times this season.
“I promised Coach Ray when he gave me the job and this opportunity that I would do anything I could to help the program,” said Flanigan, a former All-SEC guard at Auburn. “I had no idea I’d be out here at practice, 12 to 15 years later, and here it is. I’m 30 pounds overweight but I’m doing what I can to help the team a little bit.”
Mississippi State hosts Alabama (9-6, 1-1) today on CSS at 8 p.m. in Humphrey Coliseum.
The practice plans have worked so far — MSU (7-7) is 2-0 in SEC play and riding a three-game winning streak.
“We go hard at practice. The coaches go at us,” said freshman guard Craig Sword. “They’re moving like they’re still young.”
MSU lost guards Jacoby Davis and DeAndre Applewhite to knee injuries before the start of the season.
Two games in, the most experienced player on the roster, junior Jalen Steele, broke a wrist. He returned to the lineup Dec. 30 and played a big part in the 72-61 win at Georgia on Saturday.
Still, the Bulldogs are far from complete — starting center Wendell Lewis fractured his right kneecap on Dec. 12 and might be out for the season.
“I’ve never seen anything like it before,” assistant Chris Hollender said. “Our guys have really responded pretty good and come together. Having Jalen come back has really helped us with our togetherness and our leadership.”
“All of those guys got hurt in non-contact drills,” Ray said of the knee injuries. “You start questioning if are you doing things the right … [For more on Mississippi State coaches become players at practice, click here.]
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