1. Mississippi State is down to nine usable scholarship players after first-time head coach Rick Ray dismissed Shaun Smith and Kristers Zeidaks for repeated violations. The team's 10th scholarship player, Jacoby Davis, is out with a torn ACL. So what is Ray doing? "The biggest thing is to establish a culture of accountability," said Ray. "It's no reflection in the past." Ray said that to be PC, but Rick Stansbury's program did have its issues lately by enabling Renardo Sidney. "The programs I've been at in Clemson and Purdue we've held guys accountable and doing things the right way. Ultimately that's the way you win and build programs." Ray said his intent is to make sure he’s putting together a program for the short term and the long term. "It's a misconception that I'm laying down the foundation for the future," said Ray. "It's not just the future. It's for now." Ray said the Bulldogs won’t be deep but in college basketball most teams play nine players anyway. “We still have eight or nine guys who can play. It’s not doom and gloom."
2. The Big East released its conference schedule Wednesday. The opener on New Year’s Eve day has two teams flying a bit under the radar in Cincinnati at Pitt. South Florida can show that it’s a serious player to start the Big East by hosting Syracuse Jan. 6. The final day of the Big East season is March 9 with two marquee games in Notre Dame at Louisville on CBS and Syracuse at Georgetown on ESPN. But don’t be surprised if the Big East Network game of South Florida at Cincinnati has a role in the top seeds for the Big East tournament.
3. New Arizona State assistant coach Eric Musselman said what he needs to do more than anything is help Herb Sendek with some NBA ideas and "eventually, hopefully with recruiting." Musselman made it sound like he was in for the long haul with Sendek. Sendek did lean on his relationship with the Van Gundys (Jeff and Stan) and Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau before deciding on hiring Musselman and former Portland assistant Larry Greer. He also spoke with former Blazers coach Nate McMillan.