Kennedy on Vanderbilt win, state of the Rebels

Here’s the transcript from Andy Kennedy’s postgame. Interesting comments at the end on Vanderbilt’s Memorial Gym and the Rebels’ history in Nashville. Also, take note of Kennedy’s comments on the state of the Rebels. Lots of coaches emphasize their team’s shortcomings. Kennedy is well aware of his need to get his program to the NCAA tournament. He doesn’t talk about the NCAAs here, but stresses the advantages of what his group has right now and what could put the Rebels in position to break the NCAA barrier.

– PA

The Transcript

On the last shot of regulation

We had a timeout. We didn’t want to use it. We thought it was our best option to get Marshall, our best shooter, in a broken floor with some dribble penetration.

That’s the guy we wanted … Everybody wanted him to take it. He got a reasonably good look under the circumstances and knocked it down.

That’s what he’s here for, and he’s doing a better job of being a complete basketball player. Defensively there are still a lot of areas he needs to improve. Physically he gets overpowered sometimes.

He scores 26 points, get to the foul line 10 times. He’s doing a better job of just taking what the defense gives him and playing off the attention that he’s garnering.

On the Ole Miss comeback

It was a win. That’s the most important thing. No. 2, it shows that we do have resolve, that we don’t have to play our A game and can still find a way to win, and when you’re trying to play throughout the course of an 18-game schedule, there are going to be nights like this. I was just glad that our guys continued to battle.

On personnel groupings

We went to our bench. We were trying to find a spark. I thought we were a little lethargic at a number of positions. All of a sudden Nick Williams, our fifth-year senior, who was non-existent, came off the bench and made some big plays.

I thought Anthony helped us, Newby helped us, Snoop early. I didn’t like our approach defensively. We played our best 40 minutes of basketball against a very good Missouri team, holding them to 49.

On the locker room afterward

Relieved. Not joyous, I don’t want to say joyous. It wasn’t as though they were celebrating. It was, ‘Hey, we survived. We put ourselves in a difficult predicatment.

On Vanderbilt’s 3-point shooting

They did a lot of things with Kedren Johnson off the ball screen. We didn’t do a good job of attacking and got strung out.

They’d been struggling. Our worst nightmare was they were at home and obviously disappointed with their last outing. They started shooting 3s, one thing led to another, and they made 12 3s in the first half.

We made some adjustments. Kevin obviously is a good coach, and those kids were playing with confidence. They slipped us to the rim three of the first four baskets in the second half. We were trying to mix and match and do something just to stay within contact.

I thought we were very poor at the point of attack. We let them stretch us out, and then our rotations were late, and they had four guys on the floor that could stretch it to the 3-point line. All of a sudden it becomes contagious. I thought they were playing with great confidence.

On Vanderbilt’s free throw struggles

Unfortunately for them, they’ve got the same disease it seems like we’ve had forever, though we seem to have shaken it for the time being, and that’s the inability to make a free throw. They kept us in the game, because they couldn’t close out down the stretch with free throws, and we took advantage of that.

On momentum for Ole Miss

What we’ve got to realize is the first week of conference play is gone. We’ve got those two in our pocket, and I don’t want to give them back, but they don’t do us any good moving forward. We have to get to the next game.

Vandy lost as many talented players as any team in the country. You lose six guys, and three of those are playing in the NBA. Kevin had an incredible run with that group. Now he’s got different guys, and with that comes a transition.

If you think you’re going to walk into this building and just roll it out there and win, you’re sadly mistaken. Our guys learned that and almost had to learn it the hard way. Thank goodness we didn’t.

On winning at Memorial Gym

It’s tremendously difficult. Obviously tonight’s crowd was affected by the weather, but the passion of basketball fans, Kevin’s one of the best coaches in college basketball … There are very good players here. That makes for a tough place to win. I know the tradition of Ole Miss basketball here, and it’s not very stellar here.

That has nothing to do with this group. This group is a separate entity, and we will make our own history, and that’s what I challenge these guys to do.

On the current state of the Rebels

I like the fact that we’re sitting here 14-2, and we’ve gotten off to a good start, but it’s a long season. I want to see how this group responds to a different set of circumstances. We’ve got two fifth-year seniors. We’ve got another guy that’s started for us for three years. I’ve got an old sophomore point guard based on the minute’s he’s garners. I’ve got an old newcomer in Marshall Henderson. I was telling Marshall, ‘I need more leadership out of you, because you’ve been in these venues before, even though you’re new to our program. We’ve got a bunch of young guys that can help us in spots. We’ve just got to keep coming together.

Denham Springs, La., native, Mississippian since 1989 with a stop in Meridian before arriving in Tupelo. Daily Journal beat writer since 1996, covering Ole Miss since 2002. Proud Northeast Louisiana alum. Follow me on Twitter @parrishalford and listen to John Davis and myself daily with The Ole Miss Beat on Rebel Sports Radio.

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