October 15, 2009 8:10:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State men''s basketball coach Rick Stansbury will return to his comfort zone Friday.
Stansbury, who will begin his 12th season with the Bulldogs, has the most fun when the players and coaches get together for the start of practice.
For the past five or six weeks, Stansbury and his assistant coaches have been recruiting, and he never knows where that road will take him.
But Stansbury is at home now inside Humphrey Coliseum preparing for the start of practice.
"The good thing about starting practice is you know where you''re at every day," Stansbury said.
MSU will have one practice Friday afternoon and two workouts Saturday and Sunday. The Bulldogs will have two weeks of practice before their first exhibition game Oct. 31 against Oklahoma City.
Stansbury liked the way the players worked in the summer and believes last year''s freshmen and the other Bulldogs have improved.
"Freshmen have a tendency to make big jumps because they gained experience," Stansbury said. "What they gained from playing and winning are something you hope carried over into the offseason."
Stansbury will try to establish toughness and a high energy level at practice. As always, he''ll stress defending and rebounding.
Stansbury said junior forward Elgin Bailey hasn''t fully recovered from the dislocated ankle injury he suffered last season against Florida, and hasn''t participated in offseason conditioning.
"He is very questionable to play this year," Stansbury said. "The time frame right now would be not to have him."
Offseason injuries also have hit hard in the backcourt.
Sophomore backup point guard Twany Beckham will be out for the year after surgery to remove bone spurs in both hips, while junior guard Riley Benock has a stress fracture in his foot that is expected to keep him out two more weeks.
"At that point we''ll take his progress and see where he''s at," Stansbury said. "We''ll get him back at the start of the season somewhere."
Stansbury also is anxious to see how the surgically repaired knee of 7-foot-1 freshman John Riek responds in practice.
"From a weight room standpoint, he''s probably done better than we had anticipated," Stansbury said. "He''s had some soreness, but it hasn''t kept him from doing anything he''s been asked to do."
Junior guard Phil Turner sprained his ankle a couple of weeks ago, but isn''t expected to miss practice.
Sidney not discouraged
Stansbury said the uncertainty surrounding the eligibility of freshman Renardo Sidney hasn''t been a distraction.
An NCAA investigation is on-going about Sidney''s status as an amateur athlete.
"He hasn''t let what''s around him or the unknown affect his effort, attitude, and work ethic," Stansbury said. "He''s probably handled that better than we anticipated considering everything that''s going on around him."
Sidney will practice with the Bulldogs, but he won''t play until the NCAA clears him.