By MSU Media Relations
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Monday marked the 50th day on the job for new men’s basketball coach Rick Ray. In those first 50 days, he hired a staff, signed four players and has visited with alumni groups across the state. He also found some time to sit and talk about his first 50 days at the helm of the Mississippi State basketball program.
Q: How would
you describe your first 50 days on the job?
A: In one word, a whirlwind. But the most important thing was that I was able to hire a staff that I feel confident in their abilities to go out and recruit quality student-athletes, and that will also be able to help develop and mentor those kids once they arrive on campus. I am really happy about the type of kids our assistants were able to go out, identify and recruit in such a short amount of time. The other thing I have come to learn in these first 50 days is how much the community and the fan base care about Mississippi State and the basketball program. It has been really encouraging.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish in the next 50 days?
A: Now, the most important thing is to get the high school recruits, coaches and their families on campus once high school lets out. I think it is important that we have face-to-face contact with the recruits in the 2013 and 2014 classes. We need foot traffic on campus. Also, they changed the rule that we can now workout with our players in the summer time. This is going to be huge for our program as we try to install what we want from our guys from a basketball standpoint right away.
Q: When out recruiting, how did yoiu sell the program and how was has the new staff been perceived?
A: Recruiting for the most part is about relationships and establishing relationships. I think the biggest thing in establishing relationships is trust. The No. 1issue with trust is being truthful. I think the kids, parents and coaches involved with the prospect appreciate honesty and being forthright when you are recruiting. So the No. 1 thing for me and my staff in recruiting is to tell the truth and be honest about what we are looking for in a student-athlete at Mississippi State. I want to commend our staff for putting together a solid recruiting class under not the most ideal conditions, in a short amount of time and without sacrificing on talent, toughness and character.
Q: You've now had numerous speaking engagements across the state. What's the message you are wanting to get across to the Mississippi State Fans?
A: The biggest thing is what we are trying to do both on and off the court with our program. We want kids that play hard. I think everyone wants that, but I think the second element is just as important, and that is play smart. We want fans to see that we have tough kids that make great decisions both on and off the court.
Q: Since taking over, what has been the one thing that has surprised you the most?
A: I think it is the love and the affinity for Mississippi State and the basketball program. I think people are genuine about how much they want us to succeed here. The fan base has shown us how much they are looking forward to seeing where our program is headed and their support for us during this transition.