By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy has described his most significant off-season addition as a “volume shooter” who has to work his way through tough times.
Part of that growth process for Marshall Henderson may soon include more observation than on-the-job training.
Henderson, last year’s junior college national player of the year, was 3 for 12 from 3-point range in the Rebels’ 65-62 loss at Middle Tennessee State on Saturday. The Rebels’ first road game was also their first road loss of the season.
Signs of struggle didn’t appear for Henderson only in Murfreesboro.
After shooting 47.1 percent from 3-point range through his first three games, Henderson struggled in his fourth outing, against McNeese State, and has not recovered the stroke he showed against Mississippi Valley State, Coastal Carolina and Arkansas-Little Rock.
In his last four games Henderson is shooting 21.7 percent from the arc, 10 makes in 46 attempts.
Though he’s missed some open looks, he’s also missed some ill-advised attempts early in the shot clock.
“Many times, when he pulls that thing up off one pass, and you say, ‘Boy, that was a bad shot,’ that’s what I say, ‘Boy that was a bad shot.’ I’ll show him the tape, and he’ll get that corrected, or he’ll be sitting by me,” Kennedy said.
While the percentages of late have not been good, Henderson brings the ever-present potential for the big shot.
Against Middle, it came with 2 minutes, 8 seconds remaining when the Rebels trailed by three, and Henderson’s 3-pointer from deep beyond the key tied the game at 62.
Henderson was 0-for-4 from 3-point range in the first half but 3-for-8 in the second.
Against Rutgers, Henderson finished 3 for 12 behind the arc, but two of his makes plus an assist to Reggie Buckner comprised a 9-0 run to push the Rebels to a 64-55 lead.
“To be honest, we run action for him, because we think not only can he get shots, he penetrates and does things we can counter off of based on spacing,” Kennedy said.
Ole Miss, 6-1, is off until a Friday night home game against East Tennessee State. That will be the Rebels’ last game before a West Coast and Hawaii swing that begins at Loyola-Marymount on Dec. 19.
At the Diamondhead Classic in Honolulu, the Rebels will open with Indiana State in a tournament field that includes No. 8 Arizona and No. 17 San Diego State.
Kennedy was pleased with some aspects of the Rebels’ first road test but toughness with the basketball – The Rebels gave it up 18 times – and general execution on offense were not among them.
“We thought we could match their physicality, and I think we did, but we had some issues that messed up our whole game,” senior guard Nick Williams said. “We knew they were going to have pressure and bring pressure the whole game, but I didn’t think we were going to get our ball taken like that. We weren’t tough with the ball, and they took advantage of that.”