By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
NASHVILLE – Because Reggie Buckner so rarely participates in media interviews, the open locker room policy of the SEC tournament causes some sort of low-level paparazzi response from the writers who cover the team.
It’s not that Buckner is a most enlightening subject, though he’s not bad, and Sunday he used the less-is-more approach to put into words the feeling of so many who cheer for Ole Miss basketball.
“I’m just fed up with the NIT,” he said.
That answers the motivation question for the up-and-down Rebels, the newly crowned SEC tournament champions, who can be so good for periods of time yet could lose to struggling teams like South Carolina and Mississippi State with so much on the line.
Murphy Holloway said he’s seen Buckner have big games but hasn’t seen him string together three in a row like he did this weekend. Both players are seniors.
“He wanted it. He realized it’s about to come to an end. We ain’t fixing to get those scholarship checks to pay our rent, we can’t eat in the union for free. We’ve got to make our own way, and he’s doing that,” Holloway said.
Rebels coach Andy Kennedy says it’s unfair to expect top-level performance night in and night out.
“To ask them to do that for 35 games … I ask them, but it’s a little unrealistic,” Kennedy said.
The ability to turn the switch like that often has fans asking why it’s not “on” more of the time, particularly against the downtrodden like the state rival this season.
From low to high
A 73-67 loss at MSU that had been so soundly beaten by so many was the low point for the Rebels
Many wrote them off after that loss. They did not. Kennedy did not.
There was no more margin for error after that loss, but the Rebels committed no more errors.
The SEC championship game was their fifth-straight win, four of them on the road or at neutral sites.
Things were really bad when it was time to board the bus in Starkville. Today, Ole Miss has an SEC championship. Maybe the Rebels should think of sending a thank-you fruit basket to the Dogs.
SEC tourney MVP Marshall Henderson would be OK with that.
“As I’ve learned in my life with what I’ve been through, it’s not when you figure it out, it’s if you figure it out. We figured it out right then and there. We realized that all we have is each other.”
Parrish Alford (email@example.com) covers Ole Miss for the Journal. He blogs daily at InsideOleMissSports.com.