By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Basketball practice begins today at Ole Miss without the player most identified with the program for the last four years: Point guard Chris Warren.
Andy Kennedy begins his sixth year as head coach replacing not only a person but a philosophy.
An offense built around the strengths of the sharp-shooting Warren, who finished as the third-leading scorer in school history, shifts its focus to the frontcourt.
Forwards Terrance Henry and Reggie Buckner, a senior and a junior, are the Rebels’ most experienced players. They have had big games and shown flashes of ability in the past. Now Kennedy is hoping for greater consistency – and leadership – from both of them.
Ole Miss takes on North Alabama in an exhibition on Nov. 3. The Rebels open the regular season at home against Louisiana-Monroe on Nov. 11.
“It’s going to be really different. When you think of an Andy Kennedy basketball team you think of guards,” junior guard Nick Williams said. “This year we probably have the best 1-2 punch in the whole league with Terrance and Reggie. We want to feed those those guys until they’re not hungry any more.”
Back in town
Hopefully for Ole Miss, Murphy Holloway will soon be able to participate in the frontcourt meals.
Holloway transferred back to Ole Miss from South Carolina in the summer. The school had been awaiting word from the NCAA to see if Holloway would be granted a waiver to compete this season and not sit out the year required for most transfers. On Friday the NCAA ruled in his favor.
Holloway must still be approved for the same waiver by the Southeastern Conference.
Holloway’s presence could lift the Ole Miss frontcourt to another level. A high-energy athlete and two-year starter for the Rebels, he was the SEC’s fifth-leading rebounder when he transferred to South Carolina, near his hometown, to help care for his daughter. The family situation has improved such that Holloway felt comfortable in returning to Ole Miss.
“It’s one thing to sign a guy with all the bells and whistles and project what he can give you. We know what Murphy can give us. His value is unquestioned,” Kennedy said.
If Holloway can play it could allow the 6-foot-9 Henry to spend time at the small forward and give the Rebels a much bigger lineup.
“In his last seven to nine games he averaged 12 or 13 points and seven or eight rebounds,” Kennedy said. “We need that from Day 1, so the new guys won’t be asked to do things they’re not ready to do early.”
Henry averaged 9.7 points, 6.0 rebounds for the season. Buckner had averages of 6.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.9 blocked shots.
“All the guys Terrance and Reg depended on in the past are gone. They’re the upper classmen now, and they have to lead this group,” Kennedy said.