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Clarion-Ledger: Humbled MSU center Sidney: 'My attitude was bad'

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Clarion-Ledger: Humbled MSU center Sidney: 'My attitude was bad'

http://www.clarionledger.com/article/20110309/SPORTS030102/103090342/Humbled-MSU-center-Sidney-My-attitude-was-bad-?odyssey=tab|mostpopular|text|FRONTPAGE

STARKVILLE — Renardo Sidney's conversations with his mother have not been pleasant in recent months.

"My dad is kind of strong but I had to listen to my mom cry all the time about what they were saying about me on the TV and she had to cut the game off sometimes because they say all kinds of harsh things," said Sidney, Mississippi State's highly touted 6-foot-10 sophomore center, a frequent target this year of criticism for off-the-court antics and a perceived lack of effort on the court. "But we try to keep it together and stay strong."

His message to Patricia Sidney was usually the same: "Stay strong, mom. I've got this."

On Tuesday, MSU coach Rick Stansbury allowed Sidney to tell his side of the story in his first interview with Mississippi reporters since Dec. 15.

Sidney was relaxed and poised and didn't take issue with questions about the controversial fistfight with then-teammate Elgin Bailey in Hawaii on Dec. 23, or the perception that he's out of shape and, yes, perhaps lazy.

"I know you all wanted to hear explanations and things about me," he said. "I was kind of looking forward to this day."

Sidney, who carries averages of 13.7 points and 7.6 rebounds into this week's SEC Tournament, said he's not lazy - just out of shape.

"Yeah, I admit that," he said. "I put myself into that predicament by not coming into the season in shape and was overweight. My attitude was bad."

Sidney, who is listed at 270 pounds by MSU, said he's not sure what he weighs but it's a lot more than a few years ago.

In high school, he said, "I was about 60 pounds lighter and could get up and down the floor real well."

Sidney's stamina will be tested Friday, when MSU (17-13) plays LSU or Vanderbilt in Atlanta.

"I've said many times that you can't take him from 0 to 10 overnight," Stansbury said. "I think he's probably a 3 or 4. Sometimes you see him as a 5. He's nowhere near where he needs to be but he's made progress."

Sidney said Tuesday he thought about quitting when he realized he had to sit out his freshman year and the first nine games of this season by NCAA decree.

And then there was the fistfight in December that drew a two-game suspension. Stansbury was criticized by some analysts for not punishing Sidney more, but Stansbury defended his decision.

"All kids are different," Stansbury said. "Do you communicate with some kids different than others? Absolutely. Some kids handle things differently than others. But at the end of the day, there's that line. ... Some bend that line more than others, but when you step over that line there's accountability. Some people handle accountability different than others, some have never had it. He's probably had it for the first time in his life."

Sidney was asked to focus on himself. "I had to change my attitude and the way I talk to people and try to be a better person," he said.

He also had to learn to be a better teammate.

As he did that, eye-opening moments started to arrive for the former McDonald's All-American who was considered one of the nation's top recruits two years ago.

Sidney sat out the second half of MSU's 70-69 victory over Tennessee on Feb. 26 because of a stomach bug. Senior guard Riley Benock approached Sidney during the game and said, "'Hey, we've got your back. We know you're sick. We're going to win it for you.'

"I think that's the big thing for me," Sidney said, "because I never had teammates that had my back like that."

Rarely did Sidney go into controversial territory Tuesday or make declarative statements that could appear arrogant. His closest moment came when he was asked to reflect on a comment from December, when he declared himself to be the best big man in the country.

"I still think I'm the best big man in the SEC right now," said Sidney, who added a caveat about his conditioning. "... I know it's not going to be overnight, but I'm working toward it."

"His talent is ridiculous, as far as his size and skill level," Benock said. "I don't know if you can put a ceiling on him, really. It's about whatever he wants to get out of it. He's grown with that, he's gotten better and I think he'll continue to get better if he has other people push him and stuff like that. Because when it finally does click all the way with him, he can go anywhere and be as talented as anybody else."


Dale Worthington
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I hope Mississippi State

I hope Mississippi State returns to the SEC championship game.

This is a dangerous squad who underperformed this year.

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If only he was in shape. He

If only he was in shape. He puts up 13 and 7 and he's not even close to being inshape. Many times he can't even get past half court. If he was in shape he would be a top 3 draft pick easily because skill wise he has it as well as potential

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