December 6, 2013 5:12:08 AM
STARKVILLE - Just three games into his college career, Mississippi State guard IJ Ready is already fed up with the play of his team.
The Bulldogs freshman point guard returned from a severe hamstring injury Thursday night and called out himself and his teammates for poor play after a 71-61 loss to TCU Thursday night at Humphrey Coliseum as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
When asked what Ready saw on the final box score that stood out to him, Ready was quick to point out that MSU (5-2) "took 18 three pointers and (Ready) made the only three for the team". MSU's inability to shoot their way out of TCU's compacted 2-3 zone was a major component to the Horned Frogs second half 18-point lead.
Ready was highly critical of his teammates work ethic saying MSU was "basically a team filled with guards except for Gavin Ware" and the Bulldogs weren't putting the time in before and after practice to make quality open looks by the time the games roll around.
"We need to get (Craig Sword) more help on the offensive end," Ready said. "If we are going to shoot 18 3-pointers in the game, but we have to make more of them. We have to get to the gym and make shots. Some of us aren't getting in the gym and practice them. Not just shoot them in a game."
MSU coach Rick Ray said after the loss, which he called the Bulldogs second major test and failure in the 2013-14 season, had no problem with Ready calling out his teammates after the loss. Ready is the only freshmen in the starting lineup and on the active roster but more important a major component to how Ray and the MSU staff plan to try and turn around the Bulldogs program in the future.
"I think IJ is a winner and sees what's going on so he's somebody that's not going to put up with not competing especially on the defensive end," Ray said. "As a coach, I don't know how you would describe 'it' but IJ Ready has what it takes to win. That's what that is about for him."
Ready said he was particularly frustrated with MSU's defensive effort that led to the Bulldogs inability to get key stops. Once MSU was allowing easy baskets, TCU was able to more easily set up its zone defense and turn the tempo into a half court game.
"It starts with our defense," Ready said. "We have to get in practice and work harder at getting stops. Some of the guys on this team have to know our wins will come when we decide to play better defense. That's when our offense will turn around."
Ready was making his return to the MSU roster after being out for nearly a month with a severely strained hamstring in the second game of the season against Kennesaw State. In 23 minutes Thursday night, Ready failed to have an assist but scored nine points by finally nailing open three-point shots late in MSU's comeback victory. Ray said after the game he was cautious with Ready's playing time in his first game back from injury.
"The one thing I'm not going to do is risk further injury with IJ and that's why you saw me constantly asking him 'Are you okay' and 'Do you need to come out?' during the game," Ray said. "I didn't think he had the explosiveness as before but I thought he did fine considering it was his first game back.
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.
4. A Stone's Throw: Beware COLUMNS