Notes and thoughts from the Rebels’ 75-64 win at Southeast Missouri State …
It’s getting time to start thinking a little more about basketball.
I like what Andy Kennedy does with his scheduling in making short road trips to regional mid-major opponents. I’ve covered the Rebels at Middle Tennessee in a loss – that was back in the hey day for the Blue Raiders a couple of years ago – and at Arkansas State in a win.
When I saw Cape Girardeau on the schedule I thought two things: One, my wife has said she’s always wanted to go there because she likes the name. Two, hey I bet I can make the game on that Saturday.
Turns out my wife went with me, and she was able to see the Chick-Fil-A at Cape Girardeau in the pre-game and then was able to see Southeast Missouri State’s arena, the Show Me Center, which was a nice place.
It had a multi-purpose feel about it, lots of red seats, lots of them empty. All that red went along with the school colors that kind of also gave the place a Target feel.
Anyway, the Redhawks returned some key pieces from a 13-17 team that went 7-9 in the Ohio Valley Conference last year. It was considered to have been an under-achieving season, and Dickey Nutt, of the Little Rock Nutts and Houston’s brother, was fired.
Rick Ray, available after being fired by Mississippi State, was hired, and it’s been a struggle even for a team in coaching transition.
SEMO went into the Ole Miss game 0-8 and Ray had dismissed three players the day before.
The Redhawks were already getting outscored by about 15 points on average. The question to be answered Saturday was would they answer the bell and fight or just be non-competitive?
They chose to compete, and that combined with the Rebels’ poor shooting to give the game more mystery than it deserved.
Road wins are calculated differently in the RPI, it’s true, but there won’t be much value coming from this one unless Ray and the Redhawks get some things figured out quickly.
There could have been overwhelming damage for Ole Miss had Stefan Moody not put the Rebels on his back and carried them over the back end of the second half.
The Rebels were ahead only 48-45 when Moody scored 15 straight Ole Miss points including three of his four 3-pointers in that span.
A couple of things here. Moody is the best player on this team, and everybody knows that. He can’t be the only player on this team, and the group has that look when Sebastian Saiz vanishes as he did in Cape Girardeau.
Saiz went into the game shooting 55.4 percent from the field but was just 3-for-9. That’s a lot different than Moody going 3-for-9, because Saiz plays around the rim. He had good looks Saturday and just couldn’t convert.
A day off like that will be lethal in the weeks ahead if the Rebels don’t develop more offensive consistency from other players.
Ray was complimentary of the Rebels after the game telling me that they had a number of players who were threats on offense.
It didn’t look that way at the Show Me Center. Beyond Moody nobody showed much of anything. Saiz didn’t hit his third field goal until there was 1:08 left in the game.
After Moody’s 28, Tomasz Gielo had 10. He was 4-for-8 from the floor and 1-for-4 from 3. You’d like a little better percentage from the arc from Gielo, but if he can get 10 and six rebounds as he did at SEMO I don’t know that much more should be expected. That’s about what he did at Liberty before the injury cut short his senior year.
Saturday was another game in which neither Gielo nor Anthony Perez really threatened from the perimeter. Had they done so maybe it would have helped Saiz get going inside.
The Rebels shot only 34.7 percent for the game and started incredibly slow in each half hitting just five of their first 20 shots in the first half and five of their first 22 in the second.
Early on it looked like Moody as the point guard was more in distribution mode and less in shooting mode. That changed, and that’s good news for the Rebels. Moody took a lot of shots as he should going 8-for-21 from the floor, 4-for-12 from 3 and 8-for-9 from the free throw line.
He took a breather in the first half, and the difference was immediately obvious. The Rebels still aren’t getting much out of junior college transfer Sam Finley or freshman J.T. Escobar.
There will be opportunities ahead for 6-5 freshman Dontae Fitzpatrick-Dorsey. It sounds like things are still on track for Fitzpatrick-Dorsey to join the next week.
You don’t need to put too many expectations on a true freshman, but Fitzpatrick-Dorsey is rated the No. 144 player nationally by Rivals. His size at guard creates some interesting possibilities if he can pick up things quickly. His previous exposure to the program should help there.
If he can be effective at the point, which is where Kennedy hopes to play him, he could not only spell Moody but let Moody swing over to the 2 guard some. Any additional threat like that will make things a little easier for Saiz inside.
Saiz was off his game at SEMO, but he’s been on his game more often than not.
Another positive was the rebounding energy of Marcanvis Hymon who had 14 rebounds – nine on the defensive end – in 22 minutes.
There was rebounding effort from others as well. Saiz had 11, and three other players – Gielo, Saiz and Martavious Newby – with at least six rebounds each.
As it so often does, however, how you feel about a performance comes back to offense, and right now this team needs to find it from guys not named Moody.