By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – The first day of practice for the Ole Miss men’s and women’s basketball teams will take on a different twist in a different location.
Both sets of Rebels will participate in “Square Jam” this evening, on the Square in downtown Oxford shortly after the conclusion of the homecoming parade.
A temporary court with lights will be placed downtown for an event geared for fun and fan interaction.
Actual practice will take place earlier today at the basketball practice facility.
The Ole Miss men, 20-14 last year with an 8-8 SEC mark and a first-round NIT loss, return four starters – three of them seniors – and welcome six newcomers who allow coach Andy Kennedy to think baseball.
He can throw a change-up.
“I think we probably have the most quality depth that we’ve had in my tenure here, and the most exciting thing about it is the diversity among the players,” Kennedy said. “That gives us a variety of options, and it’s a matter of figuring out the best way to utilize the skill set of our guys.”
The frontcourt will be a strength with the return of Murphy Holloway and Reggie Buckner, two of the top rebounders in the SEC, who combined to average 17.1 boards.
Guard Nick Williams and Jarvis Summers also return. Holloway, Buckner and Williams are seniors, Summers a sophomore.
Two of the newcomers have been in D-I programs previously: guard Marshall Henderson at Utah and forward Jason Carter at Alabama.
Henderson was the junior college player of the year last year at South Plains (Texas) College.
First-year women’s coach Adrian Wiggins returns two starters – guard Valencia McFarland and forward Courtney Marbra, from a team that went 12-18, 2-14 in the SEC.
In seven years at Fresno State, Wiggins led his team to five-straight NCAA tournament appearances including last year, when they won a school-record 28 games.