Value the basketball. It sounds like a simple concept, but that mantra is at the heart of everything the Northern Iowa women's basketball team does. That mind-set helps explain how a team that is 229th in the nation in field goal percentage (38.6 percent) is still alive to be a part of March Madness.
STARKVILLE -- If one sees Brent Rooker pacing in the dugout in between at-bats, it's not because he's nervous. The gesture is part of a routine that is working.
Like many aspiring basketball players, Doug Bruno thought he was going to move on to a career in the NBA. As a player for DePaul men's basketball coach Ray Meyer, Bruno and his teammates had an advantage in that the NBA's Chicago Bulls practiced in the Blue Demons' gym, so Bruno had a chance to go against greats like Jerry Sloan and Norn Van Lier.
STARKVILLE -- Three hours before taking the mound for his first collegiate starting pitching appearance, Jake Mangum was in the dugout with a bat in his hand, practicing his swing piece by piece.
STARKVILLE -- Back in February, Mississippi State baseball coach Andy Cannizaro could look forward to Southeastern Conference play as a far away object, one which gave him plenty of time to decide bullpen roles.
STARKVILLE -- The line said it all.
STARKVILLE -- The feeling around the Mississippi State baseball team was noticeably more optimistic Sunday following a 5-4 victory against Columbia and an 8-6 victory against South Alabama at Dudy Noble Field. The victories helped MSU (10-6) improve to 6-5 in games decided by three or fewer runs.
STARKVILLE -- The work started at 6:36 p.m. Monday. Within minutes of learning the second-seeded Mississippi State women's basketball team would play 15th-seeded Troy at 1:30 p.m. Friday (ESPN2) in the first round of the NCAA tournament, Skylar Collins, the squad's director of scouting and video coordinator, was compiling clips and video of the Trojans as well as seventh-seeded DePaul and 10th-seeded Northern Iowa, the other teams slated to come to Starkville.
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State baseball coach Andy Cannizaro asked Brent Rooker at 6:30 a.m. Monday to do something he hadn't done all season: play first base. Rooker agreed because MSU's injuries have expanded from its pitching staff to its position players.
OXFORD -- The Ole Miss, Alabama, and Southern Mississippi women's basketball teams were selected Monday to participate in the postseason Women's National Invitation Tournament.
STARKVILLE -- The Mississippi State women's basketball team earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament on Monday night and will play host to 15th-seeded Troy at 1:30 p.m. Friday (ESPN2) in the first round at Humphrey Coliseum. Seventh-seeded DePaul will take on 10th-seeded Northern Iowa at 11 a.m. Friday (ESPN2) in the first game of the doubleheader.
KATY, Texas -- Maggie Proffitt scored 21 points to lead the Central Arkansas women's basketball team to a 60-35 victory against Stephen F. Austin on Sunday in the Southland Conference Tournament championship for its 17th consecutive victory and a repeat appearance in the NCAA tournament. Proffitt, a former standout at Columbus High School and Starkville Academy, was 9 of 12 from the field. Former Columbus Christian Academy and New Hope High standout Taylor Baudoin added 13 points and nine rebounds, and Southern Mississippi transfer Kierra Jordan had nine points, 13 rebounds, and three steals.
STARKVILLE -- The waiting is the hardest part. After falling to South Carolina in the championship game of the Southeastern Conference tournament in Greenville, South Carolina, the Mississippi State women's basketball team will learn its postseason fate at 6 tonight (ESPN) when the 64-team field for the NCAA tournament is unveiled.
NEW YORK -- The Ole Miss and Alabama men's basketball teams accepted bids to the 81st version of the National Invitation Tournament on Sunday night.
STARKVILLE -- Starting pitching has been a moving target for the Mississippi State baseball team through its non-conference schedule. On most weekends, MSU coach Andy Cannizaro went into Fridays without announced plans for at least one slot in the rotation. This weekend, he ended Friday night with three games scheduled in the next two days and one starting pitcher decision made. The scheduling shuffle has been indicative of MSU's struggles to find production and length on the mound.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- De'Aaron Fox took charge and made plays during a critical stretch on the way to a career performance. An early-morning shootaround helped remedy Malik Monk's recent scoring woes. Those initiatives by Kentucky's talented freshmen duo positioned the No. 8 Wildcats to claim another Southeastern Conference tournament championship.
OXFORD -- Redshirt sophomore Brady Feigl threw eight scoreless innings Saturday to lead the No. 21 Ole Miss baseball team to a 5-0 victory against Furman at Swayze Field. Feigl (2-1) struck out 10 in the longest outing of his career to help Ole Miss improve to 10-5. He allowed only three hits and one walk. The Chesterfield, Missouri, native retired 24 of the 28 batters he faced, while reaching double digits in strikeouts for the first time in his career.
STARKVILLE -- Fresh off a year quarterbacking in NFL Europe and two more in the Arena Football League, Brett Elliott came to Starkville to work as an offensive quality control assistant for his former quarterbacks coach in college. Back in 2004, current Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen saw the potential in Elliott when he coached the quarterback as an assistant coach for Urban Meyer at Utah. He saw that same promise when Elliott was a member of his coaching staff from 2012-14.
STARKVILLE -- It's not easy to forget former Mississippi State wide receiver Fred Ross. "It's different not having that blond hair out there," MSU wide receiver Donald Gray said. Ross' production also is unforgettable. His 72 catches for 917 yards and 12 touchdowns accounted for 31, 33, and 50 percent of the team's 2016 production in those categories. Life without Ross in 2017 will be difficult on multiple fronts, but it won't be lonely because the Bulldogs return multiple players at the position and will have several more coming off redshirt seasons to compete for playing time as Ross' successor.
Even in hindsight, Wells Davis maintains his perspective. Davis knows now, and knew at the time, the uphill battle a freshman faces to earn playing time in a South Alabama baseball program with eight NCAA tournament appearances in the last 16 years. All of that withstanding, Davis expected to get more than four at-bats as a freshman.
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