Missouri State hosted its annual men’s basketball media day this Thursday, Nov. 12. Head coach Dana Ford and a few players spoke to the media over Zoom.
With the season quickly approaching, here are five things we took from the day:
1. Rockbridge duo Ja’Monta Black and Isiaih Mosely are on course for breakout seasons
Sophomores Ja’Monta Black and Isiaih Mosely came in last year as freshmen from Columbia Rock Bridge. Ford initially did not expect to use them much. However, they became staples on the team, with both playing 32 games and becoming starters as the season progressed.
“They’re so much more advanced probably than most sophomores,” Ford said. “They’re already considered veterans on our team. They’re talented players — in-state players. They bring a lot of value to our program.”
Mosley said he thinks Black has made significant strides in his shooting and confidence.
“In Year Two — a better shooter than what you seen Year One,” Mosley said. “Really confident player this year. Last year he could dribble, but he really couldn’t do it aggressively. He’s worked on that.”
Black said he expects Mosley to continue to be a player who can score.
“He’s scoring at a higher level than he was last year,” Black said. “He’ll be even better.”
2. Team chemistry is better than what it was a year ago
Last year's squad appeared to have issues trying to gel as a team. This year’s iteration of the Bears has 10 new players, but a couple of them said it feels like more of a team than last year.
“It’s just fun playing with this group of guys,” Black said. “That’s the difference between this year and last year — just way more fun.”
According to Mosley, the bond happened the first time the team got together as a group.
“I feel like this year’s group is more connected as a family,” Mosley said. “When we first met, it wasn’t like ‘oh they’re the new kids over there.’ We just gelled then. I feel like this team is going to be really special.”
3. Lu’Cye Patterson could have a sneakily-good freshman campaign
Freshman Lu’Cye Patterson comes to MSU by way of Minneapolis, and the point guard has managed to stand out in the early stages of the year.
“He’s been doing what he’s supposed to be doing in practice,” Black said. “He’s getting better each day. I’ve been trying to help him, and he’s a player you need to be watching.”
At the preseason scrimmage the Bears hosted in October, Patterson was able to stand out as a quick ball distributor.
Ford likes him, too.
“His dad’s a coach — great kid,” Ford said. “He really wants to be here, loves to pass the ball and make plays.”
4. The non-conference schedule was ‘pay-to-play’
Ford said the Bears’ eight-game non-conference schedule has been completed for almost a month. All eight games are at home. Ford made a point to refer to it as a “plan” and not a schedule because of COVID-19.
“There’s no sense in releasing anything in the middle of a COVID world,” Ford said. “The only reason we’re going to release it is because we want to get our season ticket holders their tickets in the mail on time.”
Ford said all of those games required some amount of money paid to the other school in order to make the games happen.
“We decided we wanted to play at home our entire non-conference schedule,” Ford said. “There’s only a select amount of teams that you can play — teams that you can afford to buy.”
5. Ford and co. have paused recruiting for the time being
Ford has prided himself and his coaching staff as aggressive recruiters during his time at MSU, but with COVID-19, they have taken a step back.
“COVID has changed everything,” Ford said. “Especially how we recruit. We’ve had a lot of Zoom calls. We’ve adapted a mentality of a pause in recruiting.”
That pause has a couple motivations: the extra year of eligibility the NCAA has given winter athletes and transfer players that will be able to play next year.
“Our players that have exhausted eligibility have the opportunity to come back next year, as well as Division I transfers that would be eligible right away next year,” Ford said.
That pause could help explain why the Bears had only one player commit on Nov. 11’s national signing day. That commit was Isaac Haney, a senior at Kickapoo High School in Springfield.
The Bears’ full schedule will be released soon, along with plans for fans to be at JQH Arena.