By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – For college basketball’s biggest show, Marshall Henderson dialed it back a little bit.
Not that he wasn’t in demand.
The NCAA media policy requires open locker rooms to make all players available while selected others represent the team along with head coach at the interview session.
While Ole Miss seniors Nick Williams and Murphy Holloway joined coach Andy Kennedy at in the interview session, an estimated 50 media crowded around Henderson in the locker room.
They did not hear the one-liners directed at opposing coaches any other explosive comments.
With media relations basketball contact seated next to him, the most inflammatory response from Henderson came when he was questioned about the defense of 5 seed Wisconsin. Ole Miss, a 12 seed, takes on the Badgers at 11:40 a.m. today in an NCAA second round game at Sprint Center.
The game will be seen on Tru TV.
“We know they’ve got the 10th-rated defense or something,” Henderson said. “We also know that Florida and Alabama have better defenses than them.”
As other Ole Miss players watched the Henderson Show, the crowd gradually dispersed. Then they were asked questions, as many about Henderson as Wisconsin.
“He’s a nutcase, but he’s our nutcase, and we love him. If he sucked, it would be just like, ‘Dude, you suck,’” Williams said.
Being joined by an Ole Miss staffer was different for Henderson.
What will remain the same today will be the hustle from basketball operations director Dayton Miller to help get Henderson off the floor at every stoppage of play.
Miller can often be seen grabbing an elbow or in a very encouraging manner putting an arm around Henderson to help him locate the bench.
People talk about Henderson and the “stage” of college basketball. In reality, Henderson has just a few seconds on that stage.
“We have a good relationship. He understands what we’re trying to do. We try to respect how he is, as long as it’s geared toward the right direction,” Miller said.
Miller says everything the public sees from Henderson is impromptu.
“When he’s in that moment it’s just popping, and whatever comes out comes out,” he said.
While basketball operations is a mostly administrative position there’s a new job description for Miller with very clear instructions regarding Henderson. “Every dead ball you better go get him if you want your job next year,” Kennedy said.
Other Henderson gems from the Thursday press day:
• When asked what he thought about being on college basketball’s national stage he replied, “I thought the SEC was the national stage.”
• Asked if he likes being perceived as a villain by opposing fans he said, “I don’t really have a choice, do I?”
• On his reaction to how people get so worked about him he said, “That’s the fun in it. You get to mess with peoples’ minds.”
• On whether Ole Miss is just happy to be here: “To say we’re just happy, that’s just media and fans talking. I don’t have anything to do with Ole Miss history except this year. Only three guys on this team have three years.”