Mississippi State University men’s basketball may be one man down to open the season against Alabama State University, as head coach Ben Howland does not know when Abdul Ado will play after his quad injury in practice this month.
“I don’t think he is going to play, but we don’t know for sure,” Howland said. “He has actually done well here the last three or four days running, doing individual work and is showing a lot of progress, but we are not rushing it or anything. It was three weeks ago yesterday that Abdul strained his quad.”
Ado is a redshirt freshman from Lagos, Nigeria, who was suspended last season, but is expected to be a major contributor on the defensive side of the court. Howland shared his excitement for Ado in past press conferences and will be missed in the season opener.
Beyond Ado, Howland said he has seen improvement in the sophomore point guard Lamar Peters, as his year of SEC playing experience has paid off.
“He is much improved from where he was a year ago, when he got here he was a kid who hadn’t played strictly as a point guard,” Howland said. “He had a really good summer, and I think he has improved a lot in terms of understanding the position and being more of a leader. So I’m really excited for him.”
One of the ways Peters has shown leadership is working out on his own early in the morning to improve his fitness. This extra effort is something Howland is really proud about.
“He ran a mile, on his own, by himself, showing initiative at 8 a.m. in the morning, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and I think Thursday, four days in a row he is running on his own,” Howland said. “He is doing it on his own, the trainers are like, 'What are you doing, Lamar? You are all sweaty and it is 8 a.m.' I love that, that really made me excited.”
There is also a great chemistry with the guards, as Peters, from New Orleans, Louisiana, describes how they pushed each other to become better this summer and going into the season.
“We get out there every day and push each other, but we also talk to each other and tell each other what we need to work on and what we need to get in the gym and do,” Peters said. “So everybody has been working hard. People have been getting out on their own running, working out. Just grinding out since summer, and I think it is going to pay off.”
The team will need this chemistry as they take on a well-coached ASU team. Howland said ASU should not be taken lightly, because of their talent.
“They have a lot of new guys, they have eight new guys who are very well coached, they also have a number of older guys, everybody has redshirted for a year or come from somewhere else,” Howland said.”They’ve won both of their exhibition game[s]. They are skilled, athletic, play a lot of number of guys, good size. They have a good point guard, and a freshman coming in, so they have some good players.”
The game is in Humphrey Coliseum and is the front-end of a doubleheader. Tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m. The back end of the doubleheader will be the women’s team’s game against the University of Virginia, which is set for 8 p.m.