Mississippi State Sports Blog


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The Lunch Counter - Bringing MSU news during lunch break



Matt Stevens


STARKVILLE - Without further ado:  




Item No. 1 - Mississippi State men's basketball news -  




At his introductory press conference on Monday, Mississippi State men's basketball coach Rick Ray said he'd like to retain a member of the former staff. On Thursday, he did just that with the announcement George Brooks will return as an assistant coach. It's the first of what might be multiple hires announced today for the former Clemson University associate head coach. 




"I always had the intention of keeping somebody from the former staff for continuity, and George was a guy who did a great job of recruiting me to Mississippi State," Ray said. "That showed me how good of a recruiter he is. I really needed someone that can point me in the right direction of recruiting in our state, and I know George is very well connected in Mississippi because of his long time as a head coach at Meridian Community College." 




Brooks, who played at MSU from 1992-94 and earned his degree in 1997, returned to his alma mater in 2010 after spending 12 years overseeing the program at Meridian Community College, where his teams won numerous conference championships. During his tenure at Meridian, he coached standouts Jamario Moon and Ronald Murray, who went on to enjoy NBA careers. He also had more than 20 players sign with NCAA programs. 




"I'm just thankful I get to stay at the university I love, and one that is home for me," said the 38-year-old Brooks, who was also a student assistant coach for the 1996 Final Four team. "I'm really excited about the opportunity to work with one of the top up-and-coming coaches in the country and continue to build on the tradition at Mississippi State." 


It is assumed Brooks' connection to MSU star sophomore guard Rodney Hood, who is also from Meridian, is also a huge selling point for Brooks to remain on staff.  


According to multiple reports, MSU assistant coach Marcus Grant was interviewed for the position with Ray and The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog has already reported MSU assistant coach Phil Cunningham declined an invitation to remain with the Bulldogs staff.  


MSU men's basketball spokesman Gregg Ellis has told us on Twitter to "stay tuned" on other hiring news that could be announced very soon.  




MSU officials later announced the hiring of Wes Flanigan after he completed his first season on the Nebraska bench before Cornhuskers head coach Doc Sadler was fired and Colorado State coach Tim Miles was hired to replace him two weeks ago. 


Flanigan brings a variety of experiences and a history of success throughout his career, which includes coaching at UAB, UALR and in the junior college ranks. He was also an All-Southeastern Conference point guard at Auburn in the mid-1990s.  


Flanigan spent two seasons in Birmingham, Ala., where he helped UAB to 47 wins and a pair of postseason appearances under head coach Mike Davis. Overall, Flanigan has been associated with three straight 20-win teams, including the last two reaching the National Invitation Tournament (NIT). 


The Blazers went 25-9 in 2009-10, including an 11-5 Conference USA finish, before reaching the quarterfinals of the National Invitation Tournament. UAB defeated Coastal Carolina and NC State before falling to eventual runner-up North Carolina. Among the 25 victories was a December win over NCAA runner-up Butler, the Bulldogs' last loss of the regular season.  


With the Blazers, Flanigan worked primarily with the perimeter players, helping UAB rank in the school record book. In 2008-09, UAB connected on 228 3-pointers, the third-highest total in school history. 


Prior to his stint at UAB, Flanigan worked four seasons at UALR (2004-05 to 2007-08). In his final season with the Trojans, Flanigan served as associate head coach/recruiting coordinator, helping the UALR squad to a 20-11 record. It was the teams' second campaign with at least 18 wins with Flanigan assisting from the bench. 


Flanigan is a native of Arkansas (Little Rock) and has a strong background in the junior college ranks. Flanigan spent five seasons as an assistant coach at Northwest Mississippi Community College, working with both the men's and women's squads. They combined for a 199-90 record, including an impressive 119-39 mark by the men's team. The NMCC men won two MACJC North Division titles and three Region XXII championships to advance to the NJCAA Tournament in Hutchinson, Kan. 


Flanigan was named the 1992-93 Gatorade High School Player of the Year for Arkansas, Flanigan earned four letters at Auburn (1993-94 to 1996-97). He was team co-captain for three seasons and finished his college career averaging 10.1 points, 4.8 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game. He graduated from Auburn with a degree in health promotion in 1997.  


As a junior, Flanigan had a stellar season, averaging 13.4 points and 6.7 assists while earning All-SEC honors and being named the team's MVP. He was honored as Auburn University's top student-athlete in 1997 and was twice recognized by the university with awards for his leadership abilities. Flanigan still ranks in the top 20 all-time for scoring (1,228 points) and ranks second in Tiger history with 573 assists.  




Item No. 2 - Mississippi State baseball news -  




MSU baseball coach John Cohen has almost gotten desperate in his statements about how the injuries to third baseman Daryl Norris and outfielder/pitcher Taylor Stark.  


"I like our club when we have the use of all of its facilities," Cohen said Thursday during his media teleconference today. 


While Stark "could" be available to pitch this weekend, Norris will not be on the active roster as MSU hosts Vanderbilt for a three-game series starting Friday night at 6:30 p.m.  


Norris is reportedly taking batting practice and could be available in the next couple of weeks. 


Sophomore center fielder C.T. Bradford will be a "game-time decision" as he continues to play with pain after separating his shoulder.  


"We need (Satrk) back," said Cohen. We need these guys back." 


Senior outfielder Brent Brownlee continues to deal with his knee injury and if he's not starting Friday night, could be used as a late-inning defensive replacement.  


I asked Cohen this morning if senior LHP Nick Routt could be a situational left-handed role in a matchup situation. 


"I don't think anything off the table (for him)," Cohen said.  


Cohen said he actually thinks with his changeup that Routt could be dangerous to right-handed hitters.  


We'll have more about what has to be considered a critical series for the Bulldogs (18-11, 3-6) as they try to win its first Southeastern Conference series. 






Item No. 3 - Mississippi State football news -  




Unless weather threatens this as well, I'll be out at MSU spring football practice today (starting at 4:30 p.m. and open to the public but stay tuned to my Twitter account - @matthewcstevens - if anything changes in that regard) and I'll be focused on the role for backup quarterback Dak Prescott. It will be featured in Friday's Dispatch because the redshirt freshman has yet to take a snap in a Division 1 college football game but with only two scholarship quarterbacks active for the spring (Prescott and projected starter Tyler Russell) he is getting significant amount of snaps in practice. It'll be interesting to hear from MSU coach Dan Mullen to see if they'll be plans for a specific package for Prescott to use during games like has been tradition for Mullen's offensive style at MSU and at the University of Florida. 




All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.



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