October 5, 2015 6:50:25 PM
STARKVILLE - First-year coach Ben Howland went longer than he wanted to in Mississippi State's first practice Monday.
He focused on fundamentals.
"We're starting at ground zero, so it's slow," Howland said. "It's jumping to the ball, it's how to pressure the ball, it's how to trail ball screens, it's how to extend screens, it's how to bump cutters legally where you're there before they get there."
The Bulldogs only had nine healthy scholarship players participate in the first practice. Sophomore guard Demetrius Houston was there for most of it, but he tweaked his hip flexor on a dunk. Sophomore forward Fallou Ndoye practiced, but he is not allowed contact with a wrist injury. Senior guard Craig Sword had a sore hamstring last week, but he felt fine in practice.
The players didn't mind the fundamentals being taught in the first practice.
"That felt like a real, real live practice the whole time."
Highly-touted freshman guard Malik Newman said: "It's still great because you always have to go back to the fundamentals of the game. No matter what you do, you still have to have the fundamentals. For him to go back and teach them to us, I think that can only improve us and make us better as a team."
The Bulldogs open the season at home Nov. 13 with Eastern Washington. Tip is set for 8 p.m. on the SEC Network.
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