Ben Howland discusses starting lineup, possible Hump capacity and more

Joel Coleman

One day after the NCAA finalized a November 25 start date for this year’s Division I college basketball season, Mississippi State head coach Ben Howland met with reporters on Thursday to give an early look at the Bulldogs. Here were a few notable takeaways from the session:

Possible starting five

A lot can change before the season tips off in a couple of months, but Howland essentially revealed his current thoughts on a starting five. If the Bulldogs played a game today, here seems to be the likely lineup based on Howland’s comments throughout the media session:

  • PG: Deivon Smith (Freshman)
  • SG: Iverson Molinar (Sophomore)
  • SF: D.J. Stewart (Redshirt Sophomore)
  • PF: Tolu Smith (Redshirt Sophomore)
  • C: Abdul Ado (Redshirt Senior)

Again, it bears noting that lineup is far from set in stone with plenty of time between now and the start of the season. Howland also noted that the plan is for Molinar to serve as the backup point guard when Smith is out of the game and that there are multiple options for the Bulldogs when Stewart slides over to play the two.

“We would start small, but quick, on the perimeter and there’ll be matchup difficulties in those respects,” Howland said. “But I think we also have a lot of advantages. That’s a very quick, explosive lineup with those three guys (Smith, Molinar and Stewart) on the perimeter.”

Nothing on Davis yet

Howland also revealed on Thursday that the NCAA hasn’t yet ruled on whether or not Alabama transfer Javian Davis will be deemed eligible for the upcoming season. However the leader of the Bulldogs said he’s optimistic that the redshirt sophomore forward will indeed be on the floor for State in 2020-21.

“That’s still processing, his wavier,” Howland said of Davis. “I have a lot of optimism that will all work out.”

Davis averaged six points and 3.8 rebounds per game as a redshirt freshman for the Crimson Tide last season.

Season opener date

Nothing is finalized yet, but it seems Mississippi State might indeed open up the season on the first date possible - November 25. The Bulldogs were originally slated to play against Clemson in the Cancun Challenge – hosted in Melbourne, Florida – on November 24. Howland noted Thursday it has recently been in the works to simply bump the tournament back a day since it was likely the NCAA would settle on the November 25 start date.

“They said we’d be able to do that,” Howland said. “Now we have to finalize that and see if in fact that is what is going to happen.”

No word on Hump capacity

Howland said he isn’t sure how many fans will be allowed into the Humphrey Coliseum for Mississippi State home games this season.

“Only thing I know is that our state government will determine that,” Howland said. “It’s 25 percent (of capacity allowed in) for football, so I would assume right now we may have as many as 25 percent. I think that’d be the max…but I really don’t know.”

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