Inside the SEC: Oct. 11

11 Oct

By Matt Fultz
National Hoops Report

“Madness” Festivities Kick-Off Season on Friday

The start of the college basketball season is nearly here, and teams can officially start practice this Friday. Nine teams from the SEC will get straight to work on Friday, while three schools Kentucky, Auburn, and Mississippi State have opted to have one more night of fun before getting down to business.

The three schools will all have some sort of “Madness” event on Friday night, giving their fans of preview of what to expect in the upcoming season.

Kentucky’s annual “Big Blue Madness”, which sold out Rupp Arena in just over ten minutes, will highlight both the men’s and women’s basketball teams. Both teams will go throw drills and finish up with an intra-squad scrimmage.

Auburn’s “Tiger Hoops Madness” will include everything from an autograph session to a dunk contest. Both the men’s and women’s teams will also play an intra-squad scrimmage.

“It’s a great way to welcome back the guys and meet the new players,” Auburn coach Tony Barbee said. “Get there early for a seat.”

While Kentucky and Auburn will focus solely on basketball, Mississippi State’s “Maroon Madness” will be an evening long affair.

The first activity will be the annual “Pumkinapalooza,” which is the football’s annual pep rally before playing South Carolina, in downtown Starkville. After the pep rally is over, Bulldog fans will be encouraged to attend the volleyball team’s match against Kentucky, in an attempt to set a new SEC attendance record. At the conclusion of the volleyball game, the basketball teams will get their shot on the floor of Humphrey Coliseum.

“There’s a lot of hype going into the basketball season,” the Director of Athletic Marketing, Chris Thomas said. “It’s the 100th year of basketball, so we really want to do something to kick off the season in true-maroon fashion.”

In an attempt to make sure The Hump is rocking Friday night, Mississippi State is giving away and iPad 2, courtside seats to a non-conference game, and $500 book scholarship.

Alabama’s Grant Talks New Faces; Gueye Injury Update

Not many coaches have the luxury of having JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell playing in the same frontcourt, but it isn’t all going to be easy for Alabama coach Athony Grant, who  will have to bring six newcomers into the mix as well.

Alabama’s high profile recruiting class featured shooting guards Trevor Lacey, Levi Randolph, and Rodney Cooper, point guard Retin Ojomoh, and centers Nick Jacobs and Moussa Gueye.

“We have got a lot of new faces. We have six new guys that need to learn the system, expectations, and each other,” Grant told Don Kausler Jr. last week before a speaking engagement. “We have to be able to blend the guys, who are returning, with the newcomers in a very quick order. But that is no different than any other college team is facing right now.”

Once practice starts on Friday, the Crimson Tide will have just over three weeks before their first exhibition game against Alabama-Huntsville. The first regular season game will be just four days later against North Florida.

Gueye, a 7-footer from Lake Land College, tore his ACL just after arriving in Tuscaloosa is a pickup game.

“I’m not a doctor, so it is really hard for me to judge where his is at, but I think he is progressing as expected,” Grant said. “And for his sake I hope he is able to continue on that path to a full recovery.”

Grant hope that the Gueye will be able to play later in the season, but he said it is too early to tell if that will be the case.

“It is way premature for me to even talk anything about that,” he said. “The biggest issue is getting him healthy, where he needs to be from a physical standpoint.”

Calipari Thinks Kentucky Is One Program State

Ever since arriving in Lexington, Kentucky coach John Calipari has not wasted a chance to throw a shot at the University of Louisville or Rick Pitino, but his latest jab may be the biggest yet.

While visiting the fans waiting in line for “Big Blue Madness” tickets, Matt Jones of Kentucky Sports TV caught up with Calipari to talk about how unique Kentucky basketball is.

“It’s a unique thing,” Calipari said. “There’s no other state, none, that’s as connected to their basketball program as this one. Because those other states have other programs. Michigan has Michigan State, California has UCLA, North Carolina has Duke. It’s Kentucky throughout this whole state, and that’s what makes us unique.”

Louisville coach Rick Pitino obviously didn’t like the statement and offered a not-so-subtle jab at Calipari in return.

“Four things I have learned about people in my 59 years about people. I ignore the jealous, I ignore the malicious, I ignore the ignorant, and I ignore the paranoid,” Pitino told Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com. “If the shoe fits anyone. Wear it.”

The two sides will play their annual meeting on December 31st at Rupp Arena.

Gamecocks’ Harris Out Four Weeks

South Carolina sophomore forward Demontre Harris is out four weeks after suffering a right big two sprain a little over a week ago.

The 6-foot-9 forward sustained the injury in a pickup game on September 30th.

Like the rest of the college basketball, the Gamecocks will begin practice on Friday, but their first regular season game is not until November 15th against Elon, so it doesn’t appear that Harris will miss any games. He could, however, miss the team’s two exhibition games against Kentucky Wesleyan and Western Carolina.

No Jail For Florida’s Larson

It appears as if Cody Larson is one step closer to rejoining the Florida men’s basketball team.

Larson will not have to serve any jail time for a violating his probation, when he and fellow Gator Erik Murphy were arrested in April. Instead he will face two more years of probation and his license is suspended for 120 days. He is also not allowed to consume alcohol or any other controlled substance.

Murphy was reinstated to the team last month, but Florida coach Billy Donovan refused to comment at that time.

Sina Opens Up recruitment

Jaren Sina, one of the better point guards in the class of 2013, is back on the market after de-committing from Alabama.

“Yes, I de-committed,” the 6-foot-1 guard from New Jersey told Zagsblog.com

According to reports, Sina was just not sure about his decision to join the Crimson Tide and wanted to check out his other options.

“I visited the campus a couple times and I still have a good relationship with the coaches and everything. I want to have the opportunity to get a better look at some other schools and some other options just to compare it to.”

While Alabama is still among his list of suitors, that list now also includes Rutgers, Seton Hall, St. Johns, and Cincinnati, among others.

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