WATCH: Coach Jans Media Session

STARKVILLE – Mississippi State men’s basketball coach Chris Jans had an opportunity to meet with the media leading into Monday’s practice at Humphrey Coliseum.

Q: What are you hoping the team’s identity is heading into the season opener?
CJ: “Well, we’re going to have to unfurl it here in two weeks. Like most coaches, I wish we had more time, but unfortunately the calendar keeps moving. It’s upon us, I would love to say our identity will be formed by then, but it won’t. It will be a work in progress probably for a while, and I would hope that eventually you’ll see a team that plays together, competes for one another and leaves everything on the floor. “

“For us, it always starts with defense, rebounding and having some toughness as a group. We’re headed in that direction; we’re certainly not a finished product. But for the most part, we’re where we need to be in terms of a timeline. We’ll see, it’s crucial for our development. There are so many things we still have to put in, but hopefully on Monday, November 7, at the minimum, people will see a glimpse of who we are and how we’re going to play. “

Q: What have you seen over the offseason with Tolu Smith that you really like?
CJ: “I think it’s just the culmination of every day. He’s becoming an everyday guy. Around here, if you’re an everyday guy, you’re going to play a lot. That’s what we preach to everyone on our team. If you have a good day or a good segment, great, that’s the expectation. You’ve got to string days together, which then become weeks and then months. “

“There’s never time to rest when it comes to your approach and how you take care of your business every day. That’s what’s impressed me the most, not necessarily anything basketball wise. You guys have all seen his skill level; his body, his quickness and all the things that make anyone a good player. Tolu possesses a lot of those characteristics. But for me, it’s his mindset, his mentality and his approach. He’s shown some leadership qualities, which is nice to see. He’s been willing to open his mouth up in a couple of situations where it was needed. That’s always good when you can get one of your better players to chime in and say some of the things the coaches are saying to each other. like that, and it’s good to see. “

Q: Most positions in the starting five are pretty easy to figure out in my opinion, but how has the race for the power forward position been going?
CJ: “People always want to ask about starting lineups. What you are going to have to realize is that they’re not as important to me as they are to the fans. I’m more interested in who finishes the game. We haven’t always necessarily started our five best players all the time [to start the game]. So, we could have someone coming off the bench that provides something to the game that we need and that gives us that punch when we’re rotating guys. “

“We’re not there yet. Certainly, if we had to play a game today I’d roll out five starters, but I try not to do that because it’s unfair to the guys. I try to not let my mind wander like that until we’re real close to gameday [the players] in a box if you will. I want them to compete with one another. “

“Everyone does it differently. A lot of coaches from the jump put their top five or top eight [players] on one team and have them go against the rest the entire season. I don’t do that. We split them up evenly every day [in practice]and we mix and match them each every day. “
“I want them to develop some chemistry and relationships on the floor. When playing those groups, you never know what lineup may surprise you. We do that a lot during the year too, even when we get to games, we’ll mix and match our practices in terms of who we’re going against. In terms of specifics and the four spot, Cameron Matthews and Tyler Stevenson are both really good players. They’re competing, and they both bring different things to the floor. I like both of them, and I think both will be able to be impactful for us throughout the season. “

Q: What have you seen from Martavious Russell and Kimani Hamilton in practice getting ready for the season?
CJ: “I like them both. They’re working hard, and they’re great young people. I don’t care who you’ve played for, or where you’re playing in college, you can’t describe the jump. [from high school to college basketball] to those kids. They all think it’ll be a seamless transition from high school to college. By and large, that’s not the case in most sports, and that’s definitely the case in ours [basketball] in my experience. It’s like walking out in the cold for a while. They have to get adjusted to not being the best player on the court most of the days that they practice and play in. “

“Now, they’re learning a whole new system, terminology, speed of practice, speed of the game and the size of the guys they’re playing with and against. There’s just a lot going on, let alone going to college and having to take college courses while being away from home. There are so many factors that they’re dealing with. That being said, I really like where they’re at a lot. The way our team is coming together, we’re going to have to have some young guys play and play significant minutes. My history says that’ll be a big ask. We’ll see, but they’re going to get thrown in the fire and see how they compete and see how they react to games. They’re both doing really well, and I’m excited about both of them. “

Q: Shawn Jones Jr. is not a typical walk on player. How did he end up here, and what has he shown you in practice?
CJ: “As soon as the questions was asked about [Kimani and Martavious]I thought we should throw Shawn Jones Jr. into that pool as well. He’s been a heck of a surprise to be honest with you. I’m really glad we have him. His upside is huge. He’s been blessed with really long arms and a really long torso. He just naturally moves on the basketball court like you want basketball players to move. “

“He put on 15 to 18 pounds in a hurry, and he really needed it. That was the knock on him, that he was pretty slender. He’s really worked in the weight room, and he has a chance. We got him really late. . We were lucky slash fortunate that he was available late, and that we knew someone that knew someone to where he ended up becoming a Bulldog. “

“We don’t view him as a typical walk on, and I don’t care about that either. I’m going to play the guys that give us the best chance to win, and everybody knows that within our program. It’s like I’ve told them many times since we’ve started: ‘What you’ve done last year here or somewhere else means nothing to me. You’re going to have to earn it each and every day around here. care what year you are, your scholarship status, where you played last year or your rank, we’re going to play the guys that give us the best chance to win. ‘ That’s how we’re going to play and practice this year. “

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