January 21, 2011 10:53:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- Dee Bost''s return to the lineup for the Mississippi State men''s basketball team solidified the point guard position but also re-introduced a familiar problem: Depth.
Bost has played without an experienced backup in his two-plus seasons at MSU. His primary backup in his freshman year -- Twany Beckham -- also was a freshman and played the first half of this season before finalizing a transfer earlier this week to the University of Kentucky. Barry Stewart serves as Bost''s backup last season.
Three games into his suspension-shortened junior season, Bost again finds himself without a backup on the bench.
He hopes that situation will change.
Junior college transfer Brian Bryant started nine games at point guard while Bost served his NCAA-mandated suspension but has since seen his minutes drastically decrease. Bryant has played 15 minutes in the past two games, and has scored only two points since Bost''s return.
Bryant scored 14 and 22 points against Washington State and Nicholls State, respectively. With two-guards Riley Benock and Jalen Steele lacking some of the skills needed to give Bost a rest at the point, the Bryant needs to increase his productivity.
Bost missed nearly three weeks of practice while the Bulldogs (10-7, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) played five straight games in the state of Mississippi and then played five more in a two-week road swing.
Bost''s conditioning is far from ideal, though he has played more than 30 minutes in each of his three games back and earned SEC Player of the Week.
"I try to come out the game sometimes but (MSU coach Rick Stansbury) don''t want to take me out," Bost said. "It''s up to Brian. He''s got to step up for us. Jalen stepped up big last game, but we just need (Bryant) to do that every game.
"I don''t know what it is, but hopefully he can find his game because he''s capable of doing it."
Bost played more than 31 minutes a game as a freshman and a little less than 35 a game last season.
With games against SEC East teams Georgia (3 p.m. Saturday, SEC Network), Vanderbilt, and Florida next up, Bost could see his minutes increase from the 33.3 he''s averaging.
Bost expects a physical match against Georgia''s three-guard attack, led by Tennessee State transfer Gerald Robinson, who has taken over at point guard role in his first season of eligibility.
"My body ain''t got no choice but to hold up," Bost said.
Bost''s biggest advantage playing extended minutes comes is defense, where Stansbury has opted for a zone defense to help keep Bost and sophomore forward Renardo Sidney in games longer.
Ideally, Stansbury would like to get Bost minutes at two guard to exploit his quickness and scoring ability.
Benock is a spot-up jump shooter, while Steele has proven to be a versatile scorer who can shoot from the perimeter and attack the basket.
Though Steele doesn''t figure to spell Bost at point guard, Stansbury hopes Steele can continue to be productive at the two. Steele scored 10 points in MSU''s rout of Auburn and has two double-figure scoring games in the past five games.
After making just 28 percent of his field goals in the first 10 games, Steele has made 43.6 of his shots in the last seven. He credits the leadership of Bost and Benock for making his transition easier.
"Dee has been on me since the summer time when I first got here," Steele said. "Dee was like, ''We need you. We need you to play tough. We need you to come out there and help us out, big-time.''
"Riley, he''s directing me on offense, telling me where to go defensive-wise, who to look out for, who''s the shooter. They''re always vocal to me, and in practice, too, so I won''t be lost."
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