January 7, 2011 9:03:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- Dee Bost''s anxious wait to return to the court ends Saturday.
His on-the-court impact for the struggling Mississippi State men''s basketball all-league ability at point guard, where they''ve starved for points and consistency this season.
But MSU, losers of four of its last five, need more than points and minutes from Bost, who will make his regular-season debut against Alabama (8-6) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in Humphrey Coliseum.
The Bulldogs'' two-week road swing from the Bahamas to Hawaii was marred by teammate quarrel, public embarrassment and player suspensions.
When Bost met with the media Wednesday, he did so with two less teammates and expectations quickly fading for a team voted to win the Southeastern Conference''s West division.
MSU needs him to be the man, and then some.
"There wasn''t a whole lot of verbal leadership on the court from a standpoint of somebody who could really talk and get somebody going," MSU head coach Rick Stansbury said. "Dee gives credibility to all of that on the team, for sure."
With a limited role in practice and the inability to travel because of his suspension, Bost admits guilt for not being able to play.
The junior point guard sat the entire fall semester because of being academically ineligible, then served a nine-game, NCAA-levied suspension for missing the NBA Draft withdrawal deadline.
His unavailability was part of the reason MSU (8-6) scheduled a five-games-in-five days stretch before the team departed for the Bahamas.
Renardo Sidney''s nine-game suspension was the other reason for MSU''s radical scheduling.
Bost is positive he''ll still have an active voice in the locker room and on the court.
"There''s been two tough parts: when it comes to practice, not practicing the whole practice, sitting over there watching, knowing I should be practicing," Bost said. "The other part is while they''re on the road struggling, knowing I should be there to help them."
Bost hopes to help the Bulldogs move past the negative headlines created by the nationally-televised fight between Elgin Bailey and Renardo Sidney, both of whom were suspended and sent home from Hawaii.
After both were reinstated Monday, the team announced Bailey would transfer and Sidney would be available for his regular-season home debut against the Crimson Tide.
Bost''s mere return to the lineup shook up the roster, influencing backup guard Twany Beckham to announce his transfer on Wednesday.
It''s far from the situation Bost expected to step into.
"We just try to block it out and worry about what we can control," he said, "and that''s to try and get better during practice."
Bost averaged 13 points and 5.2 assists per game last season, averaging close to 35 minutes per game.
Stansbury welcomes the experience and ability to create in the lane Bost provides, but much Sidney is cautious of expecting too much too soon.
Until Monday, Bost hadn''t practiced with the team since Dec. 9.
"He played in Jackson that one game, and he''s had practice time this week," Stansbury explained. "That''s tough. I don''t care how hard you work out individually, there''s going to be adjustment for Dee. There was adjustment in Jackson for him, even though he made some shots and played pretty well, he had some turnovers."
Bost''s experience of playing high-minute games will give him an advantage in jumping into league play after not playing the first two months.
"Every minute he''s able to play and be effective, he''s going to play," Bost said. "I''m not trying to gradually work him in."
Bost will start Saturday, while Brian Bryant goes to the bench after starting the last nine games. He''ll serve as Bost''s backup, and Riley Benock retains his starting two-guard position. Jalen Steele will serve as Benock''s backup.
Bost said he will slide to two-guard in lineups when Benock plays power forward.
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