March 2, 2010 10:21:00 AM
David Miller -
STARKVILLE -- While Mississippi State men''s basketball fans wonder what''s up with freshman forward Renardo Sidney, head coach Rick Stansbury isn''t worrying about his gem recruit helping the team this season.
It makes sense, seeing as the Bulldogs (21-8, 9-5 Southeastern Conference) have clinched the SEC West and are on the bubble to make the NCAA tournament, according to NCAA bracket experts.
Sidney wasn''t on the bench for the team''s game against Alabama, but the yet-to-be-reinstated player''s attorney, Don Jackson, said he was sick and did not attend.
Currently, Sidney, Jackson and MSU are awaiting the NCAA''s decision on possible punishment and possible restitution for what the NCAA called "false" answers given by Sidney regarding a trip he and his father took to California when he was a high school freshman.
In recent media gatherings, Stansbury has lumped Sidney''s name with the team''s group of injured players that haven''t been available this season. But given where the Bulldogs are with two games left in the regular season, Stansbury said the team has moved on as if Sidney won''t play.
"It''s a (foregone) conclusion that we''re not going to have him this season," Stansbury said Monday. "It''s very obvious; I''ve got two games left. We hadn''t talked about it because it hasn''t been part of the conversation, but if it was because of where the season''s at, it wouldn''t have mattered this late.
"When you had eight games left, we''d probably be talking about it because he still could have made a difference. We anticipated -- you can get the quote from (MSU associate athletic director for compliance) Bracky (Brett). We''ve anticipated that. They''ve (NCAA) pretty much made the decision by not making the decision.
Three weeks have passed since MSU filed for reinstatement instead of opting for appeal, which was assumed to take longer than the reinstatement route.
A decision has yet to come about this season, but the immediate question for Sidney is next year. What are his options? Does he remain at MSU? What punishment will the NCAA decide for Sidney and how will that affect his status for next season?
Stansbury didn''t have the answers to those questions and preferred not to talk about Sidney''s unclear status with MSU basketball.
"Not even no thoughts about it right now," Stansbury said. "You can''t talk about something if you don''t know what it is. I don''t know what the situation is. Too many things uncertain about it. Once we figure out what it is we''ll talk about it."
Augustus'' deja vu
About this time last season, MSU forward Kodi Augustus emerged from Stansbury''s doghouse to play a pivotal role in the Bulldogs'' SEC tournament title run.
He''s getting heated up at the same time this season.
Augustus scored all 13 of his points against South Carolina in the second half and has averaged 11.7 points per game the past four games in which the Bulldogs have gone 3-1. He''s been efficient from the floor, too, making 14-of-27 shots during that span.
"I can''t control the position I''m in," Augustus said. "When I get in, I just try to do what I do to help this team win. Me playing more right now, I don''t know why it''s like that. It happens I guess. I just try to fulfill my role even more."
Augustus said he isn''t sure why his play has picked up recently, other than just gaining experience from game to game.
"There''s no substitute for being out there," he said. "A lot more confidence. You''re no stranger to it and you feel more comfortable in that position."
Stansbury''s out-spoken forward is a match-up problem at 6-foot-8 because of his perimeter shooting. The coach lauded Augustus'' versatility on offense, but also as an anchor in zone defense.
"He is one guy who can dribble in there and get fouled," Stansbury said. "We were able to play probably six to eight minutes of zone that second half. I like him in that zone better, it makes us a little bigger on that backline.
"I thought he played well. He had a couple of silly turnovers, but you know, most of us do that. For the most part, he was very good offensively for us."
Varnado gets birthday surprise
After a historical week for MSU center Jarvis Varnado, the senior forward turned 22-years old Monday and was chosen the Southeastern Conference Player of the Week.
In a week that saw Varnado break the NCAA career blocks record and set a new record of 536 this past Wednesday, Varnado averaged 18 points and 11 rebounds in MSU''s wins against Alabama and South Carolina to earn his second Player of the Week honor of the season.
Varnado leads the SEC with 10.9 rebounds per game and is second in the nation in blocked shots with 143.
He is second in the SEC with 17 double-doubles.
It was great mid-day news for Varnado after roommate and friend, Barry Stewart joked that all he got the Naismith Trophy finalist was "a happy birthday text (message)."