By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Players in any sport will often talk about putting the team first.
Believe them. Chemistry and unity are vital components for success.
Players want to play, though. So, while they work for the good of the team, most of them do so with an eye on their roles as individuals.
Demarco Cox is trying to get a better understanding of his role right now.
Ole Miss will try to rebound from its first loss of the season against East Tennessee State, an Atlantic Sun team dealing with injuries and other personnel issues in a 2-5 start. Tipoff at Tad Smith Coliseum today is 7 p.m.
Cox, a 6-foot-8, 272-pound junior from Yazoo City, averaged 13.4 minutes last year. Foot surgery delayed his debut this season, and he missed the Rebels’ 65-62 loss at Middle Tennessee State because of a death in the family.
He’s working to regain his conditioning and kind of wondering where he fits in. Especially as he sees teammate Aaron Jones beginning to fit in.
“Yeah … just watching him play when I was on the sideline, I was like, ‘I can do that stuff that he’s doing right now,’” Cox said. “I’m trying to get back into the groove. I’m going to get the minutes back.”
Jones, a sophomore from Pascagoula, had a productive 11 minutes at Middle with a bucket, three rebounds and a blocked shot.
As Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy continues to tinker with his playing rotation, Jones is averaging 15.4 minutes a game.
On a roster filled with athletic frontcourt guys like Murphy Holloway and Reggie Buckner who can run and jump, Cox offers Kennedy a different style of play down low.
“I think so. Simply because he brings a different size aspect. Murph’s a guy that needs angles. He’s athletic. You’ve got Reg, who’s a jump guy over the top, then you’ve got a guy like Bear, who physically brings us a different piece up front, something we’ve been missing honestly,” Kennedy said.
The style of play at Middle was physical in the post, and Kennedy missed the minutes that Cox could have given him then.
“Honestly, I played Reg and Murph too much. I didn’t think they had as much pop at the end of the game, and a lot of that was just out of necessity,” Kennedy said.
Cox averaged 3.2 points and 2.9 rebounds last year. He’s got 65 appearances – only three this year – and 13 starts over two seasons.
His biggest challenge right now is game shape. Kennedy said the week between games Ole Miss has had has been beneficial for Cox.
on the run
“I’m back to running on the treadmill. It’s hard. Incline is on 10, the level is up, and you have to run. It’s hard. You have to keep up with the treadmill so you don’t run off the back of it. I’ve been trying to do that to get used to how I used to run,” Cox said.
He’s eager to find out what tonight holds for him in his quest to get back on the floor. This is the Rebels’ last game before a west coast and Hawaii swing that begins on Wednesday at Loyola-Marymount.
Kennedy told Cox – jokingly, Cox believes – that he was a “2” on a scale of 1-10 with his conditioning.
“He said this week he wanted me to just practice and see how it goes. I’ve been practicing pretty good. I guess come Friday I’ll see what he has to say about it,” Cox said.