October 22, 2012 10:58:39 PM
Matthew Stevens - firstname.lastname@example.org
STARKVILLE -- The new men's basketball coach at Mississippi State University doesn't want his players paying attention to preseason projections.
After what came out Monday, Rick Ray may be on to something with that philosophy.
MSU was projected to finish last of 14 teams in the preseason Southeastern Conference media poll Monday and had no players named to the first or second-team all conference honors.
Ray inherited an MSU program after coach Rick Stansbury retired last March following 14 seasons as the Bulldogs head coach no returning starters and just 10 healthy scholarships players on the roster.
"Just because somebody picks you to be good or to be bad, so now you are motivated to be better -- I don't understand that," Ray said on Oct. 12. "To me my goal as a player would be to go out and be the best player I could be and help my team win, whatever that is."
Ray, who is entering his first season as a college basketball head coach at the Division 1 level, was hired on April 1 after the resignation of Rick Stansbury with one of the objectives being a culture change at MSU.
"I don't think there's a rallying cry or anything like that," Ray said. "I think guys signed on to play Division I college basketball and so the first day they can get out and play 5-on-5 basketball, you would think they'll be enthusiastic about going out and playing."
After winning their eighth national championship, the University of Kentucky was predicted to win the 2013 title in a voting by a select panel of both SEC and national media members. Each SEC school selected media members that cover their team and additional media from across the nation were selected by the conference office to form the voting panel.
The Wildcats earned 17 first-place votes while the University of Florida earned five first-place votes along with the University of Missouri and University of Tennessee each receiving one vote.
Missouri junior Phil Pressey was the choice of the media for league player of the year with six votes. Florida senior guard Kenny Boynton finished just behind second with five votes while University of Arkansas sophomore guard BJ Young, Kentucky freshman forward Nerlens Noel and Tennessee sophomore forward Jarnell Stokes each received three votes.
MSU has already begun preseason practice and will have its first exhibition game Nov. 4 against William Carey. The Bulldogs will open the 2012-13 season on the road five days later at Troy University to open their new $31 million Trojan Arena on Nov. 9.