It’s 20 minutes before the last pre-season game at Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville, Miss. Everyone is accounted for except Mississippi State men’s basketball coach Rick Stansbury. His family is here. In child-sized maroon and white State basketball uniforms his two youngest sons, Isaac, 8, and Noah, 5, play with one of the team managers below the basket. With dad’s permission, they also lead the players onto the floor and sit on the bench during games.
In the stands his youngest son Luke, nicknamed the “Tornado” by State’s baseball coach Ron Polk, noisily runs his “Hot Wheels” car up a railing above the tunnel. His mom Meo sits a few seats away splitting her attention between a friend and the mischievous blond-haired child. Spread out across one-half of the court State’s players stretch while assistant coaches in dark suits watch. Still missing from this scene like the moon from the night sky is Stansbury.