Watching the Ole Miss-Kansas State telecast last week I heard one of the talking heads compare this season’s Rebels frontcourt to last season’s.
It was in the context of building up junior forward Demarco Cox, who was playing very well then, as he has for much of this season.
The comment was something along the lines of, “not missing a beat” in rebuilding after the loss of both Murphy Holloway and Reggie Buckner.
Take their major injuries out of the equation, and Cox and Aaron Jones are still career reserves transitioning to starting roles.
They’ve not played poorly. Both are averaging 7-plus rebounds, and Jones is at almost three blocks a game.
However, the sense of physicality is different, and Holloway brought the potential for a big game on offense that is missing right now.
The Rebels’ frontcourt is changing.
It’s not all about Cox and Jones, and some of these elements may reappear as freshmen Sebastian Saiz and Dwight Coleby get more minutes.
There were a couple of possessions against North Carolina A&T that Coleby looked “Buckner-esque.”
That is to say when A&T spread the floor Coleby lingered in the middle, and when one of the Aggies freed himself from the first line of defense, Coleby was the eraser.
A lower leg injury has slowed his development. In a combined 13 minutes against Georgia Tech, Penn State and Kansas State he had three blocked shots. He did not play against Oregon, and his status for Middle Tennessee State on Saturday is unclear.
Guards in play
In times such as these more is required from the guards. Jarvis Summers, Derrick Millinghaus and Marshall Henderson have responded.
The Rebels need more consistency from LaDarius White and Anthony Perez, second-level scorers who need to provide more than the occasional big game.
Two wins in Brooklyn and near misses at Kansas State and at home against No. 13 Oregon have shown the potential of this team.
The Rebels are indeed missing some of what Holloway and Buckner brought to the table but perhaps not as much as expected.
For a team that is very much a work in progress there are parts and pieces in place.
They need to mold together sooner rather than later to give the Rebels a chance to be in the NCAA conversation in March.
Parrish Alford (parrish.alford@ journalinc.com) covers Ole Miss for the Daily Journal. He blogs daily at InsideOleMissSports.com.