January 14, 2010 10:41:00 AM
Adam Minichino - [email protected]
STARKVILLE -- One time was enough for Sharon Fanning-Otis.
The veteran Mississippi State women''s basketball coach has been a part of enough blowouts to know not to make too much of one game.
But Fanning-Otis couldn''t help but be curious, so she decided to watch a replay of the Lady Bulldogs'' 75-48 loss to No. 4 Tennessee.
Nothing had changed from the performance she witnessed Sunday.
"You can''t be worried about what already has happened," Fanning-Otis said. "You have to get better and prepare to win the next ballgame."
MSU (11-5, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) will need to have a short memory because it plays at 7 tonight at Arkansas (8-8, 0-3).
The game will be an Internet only audio broadcast available on Maroon to the Max at Mstateathletics.com
Fanning-Otis knows the importance of this game, one the Lady Bulldogs would be favored to win on paper, especially coming off a disappointing showing Sunday at home.
Last season, Arkansas surprised MSU 65-62 in Starkville, and Fanning-Otis hopes her players remember that result and do something to shake off a trend of slow starts. She said she planned Tuesday and Wednesday to address that in practice.
"We played, I don''t know whether it was scared or whatever the mind-set was, it wasn''t every possession," Fanning-Otis said. "If you don''t play every possession against a great basketball team, you''re not going to find a way to win."
Fanning-Otis had several of the key points at the top of the schedule for Tuesday''s practice. In a box at the upper left hand corner of the page, Fanning-Otis wrote "Team: How to figure out how to start with more focus and intensity."
Fanning-Otis isn''t sure how the players will respond in their fourth true road game of the season. The Lady Bulldogs also went 0-3 in November in the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands.
Fanning-Otis said putting in the hard work in practice is the key to getting off to faster starts no matter the location.
MSU trailed 34-19 Thursday against then-No. 17 Vanderbilt before rallying in the second half for a 90-76 victory. She said the Lady Bulldogs can''t continue to dig themselves holes like that because each game in the SEC will get tougher and tougher from this point.
"Everybody wants to win on game day," Fanning-Otis said. "What do you do when things don''t fall your way? How do you also have that focus and that composure and communication as a team where you''re ready to take those great shots and are ready to beat somebody. You have to be ready to beat somebody. You can''t be waiting. You have to attack them."
This will be MSU''s fourth game without senior guard/forward Tysheka Grimes (foot injury). Fanning-Otis said Tuesday that Grimes will be out a couple of more weeks. She said other players need to continue to get comfortable in new and different roles if the Lady Bulldogs want to rebound.
"Whatever the score is and whatever game it is, you won''t surrender," Fanning-Otis said. "That''s what we have to emphasize again."
Senior guard Alexis Rack leads MSU in scoring at 20.3 points per game. She has had three 30-point games this season.
Sophomore guard Lyndsay Harris (11.9 ppg.) leads Arkansas in scoring. Charity Ford (11.2) and C''eira Ricketts (10.8) are close behind.
Arkansas is coming off an 86-71 loss Sunday at Ole Miss. The Razorbacks rank eighth in the league in scoring offense (68.6 ppg.) and 11th in scoring defense (66.8 ppg.).
MSU will play host to Florida at 2 p.m. Sunday. Fox Sports South will televise the game regionally.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.