Vanderbilt Day After Observations | Ole Miss Sports

So what now? That question was posed following the Rebels’ 82-78 loss to No. 17 Vanderbilt last night. What now, about the NCAA tournament?

Well, in the legal process appeals eventually run out. That’s about where Ole Miss is now. For the last month this team has looked more like an NIT teams than an NCAA one.

Part of that has been due to the absence of Reggie Buckner from the low post, part of that to chemistry overall and inconsistent production from Terrico White.

Whatever the case, it’s not good when players come to the media room after a big game and question whether all teammates played hard and put forth the necessary effort. The Rebels had a golden opportunity last night, and Chris Warren says they played “fairly hard.”

Warren is a very laid back personality. Fairly hard for him might be really hard for someone else.

Murphy Holloway, whose motor runs harder, was also uncertain about the effort level.

Clearly, Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy realized the opportunity lost. It was the most disappointed he’s been after a game. Kennedy is always frank about his players’ performance. Where many college athletes are coddled, Kennedy will criticize when necessary. Some see this as him not taking responsibility for the team’s play. I’ve never seen it that way. I’ve always been of the opinion that young men who are old enough to enlist in military service and fight for our country are also old enough to stand up to review of their performance, especially those on full scholarship.

Kennedy took responsibility for the team’s play last night, as he should. It’s his job to put the pieces in the right place to create a climate for effort and production.

Speaking of production …

White is shooting over 50 percent in his last two games. He had 13 points and State in a 71-63 loss and 14 last night. He would have had more had he stayed out of foul trouble.

He’s looked lost at times this year but may be finally responding at some level. He looks more aggressive. …

Warren got to the rim and finished better than he did in Starkville. Vanderbilt’s AJ Ogilvy tore up the Rebels on the offensive end, but the Commodores do not have the defensive presence of a Jarvis Varnado that basically took the driving layup option away from Warren. …

I doubted going in that Ole Miss could guard Ogilvy. Obviously the Rebels could not. The one thing they had to do was to prevent him from catching the ball with position. Part of that speaks to effort and playing hard. …

I knew Buckner’s absence left a void with this team, but I didn’t realize how much until he was back on the floor last night. He moved well and played with confidence and honestly played like he was playing at Auburn before getting hurt. Hopefully the ankle won’t blow up like a balloon today after he tweaked it in a collision with Warren early in the second half. …

So what now? NIT. Technically, the NCAA chances are never completely behind a team until it is eliminated from the SEC tournament. Winning the title in Nashville is a stretch, however.

There’s not another top 50 RPI opponent on the schedule, no real chance to jump up in that very important category. Florida comes in at 60, but after that the highest-ranked RPI opponent is Alabama at 92. The Rebels will be around 50 after the Vanderbilt loss and at-large teams need to be in the 30s for a decent shot.