OXFORD – Ole Miss guard Trevor Gaskins was recruited as a shooter but has struggled to find his stroke since coming back from last season’s injury.
He shot 38.7 percent from 3-point range two years ago. His 46 3-pointers were third on the team and third among SEC freshmen as he made the SEC’s all-freshman team.
He sustained an torn knee ligament (ACL) in preseason practice last year and did not play.
Gaskins has hit only 7-of-45 3-point attempts this season, 15.5 percent.
Through an early six-game stretch he went 0-for-18. He had rallied somewhat with at least one made 3-pointer in three of four games, going 4-for-12 during that time.
Now he’s missed his last five attempts, against Central Florida and Mississippi State.
There are other aspects to his game. “His competitive spirit elevates our team,” Kennedy says, but there’s no doubt the Rebels need his perimeter touch.
A noted 3-point shooter and scorer at UAB, Kennedy walks a fine line between giving a struggling shooter space to operate and over-coaching.
“We coach him on the mechanics. You have to have a consistent release point to get consistent results, but step one is putting the time in, and when I hear that ball bouncing, he’s out there shooting,” Kennedy said. “Sometimes when you’re struggling you can’t wait to get that first shot up, and we tell him to make sure the first one is a good, clean look. If you keep getting quality looks, eventually it will happen.”
Practice facility opens
The new Ole Miss practice facility is open, and the teams have moved in. With an anticipated December finish, it was only slightly behind schedule.
The teams were still in the process of moving in on Monday. The men watched video there on Sunday and practiced in the new digs for the first time on Monday.
“We knew it was going to be nice, but wow,” guard Zach Graham said. “It has everything we need and more, so much luxury. And we can be in here 24-7, so there’s no excuse for someone not working on their game.”
The facility includes a players lounge, a dressing room with lockers about twice the size of their lockers at Tad Smith Coliseum, training room, weight room and two full-length courts with six goals in each.
The building is divided equally with matching amenities for the men’s and women’s teams.
Kennedy asked for rebounding help from his wings and felt like he got it. It was the frontcourt production that left the Rebels against MSU.
Ole Miss got only one rebound from Murphy Holloway, who had been averaging 7.0, and two from DeAundre Cranston, who had been averaging 4.3.
Backup post players Terrence Henry and Reginald Buckner had six and five rebounds, and wings Zach Graham and Terrico White had seven and five.
The Rebels were minus-7 on the boards against MSU, much closer than they were in losses to Villanova (minus-15) and West Virginia (minus-19).
“We got zero offensive production from our frontcourt, and minus-7 is not good enough in league play against anyone,” Kennedy said. “We’ve got to get everyone on the same page, and we have to team rebound the basketball to be successful.”
The Rebels enter the week ninth in the league in rebounding margin at plus-0.9.
Some RPI numbers to consider. Realtime RPI has Ole Miss at No. 63. Two of the Rebels’ losses are to RPI No. 1 West Virginia and No. 10 Villanova.
By contrast, Mississippi State is ranked No. 50 with losses to RPI No. 24 Richmond, No. 44 Western Kentucky and No. 149 Rider.
The Rebels’ two games this week are against No. 80 Georgia and No. 35 Tennessee, both on the road.
The SEC’s RPI is No. 4 among conferences, and Ole Miss has no non-conference games remaining.
Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal