Three games into league play, University of Mississippi men”s basketball coach Andy Kennedy admits he didn”t foresee the Rebels propping up the Southeastern Conference”s West division.
Such is the case, however, following the Rebels” 98-76 home loss to the University of Georgia on Saturday. The blowout defeat was the team”s third straight loss following a 10-game stretch in which it won nine times.
With back-to-back road games against Vanderbilt and Georgia on Wednesday and Saturday, respectively, Kennedy is keen to have one of his players become the talismanic figure the Rebels (12-6, 0-3 SEC) have lacked this season.
Kennedy had a perfect example of a lack of vocal presence on the court against Georgia, as he saw lag from his side”s emotional loss to Mississippi State just two days earlier.
The Rebels took a step back following back-to-back five-point losses to Florida and MSU and a 22-point loss at home to Georgia.
“We have to play with passion, enthusiasm, and belief,” Kennedy said Monday during the SEC teleconference. “For whatever reason, we came out, Georgia attacked us, and our response was not where it needed to be for us to have a chance. We came out a little flat and Georgia basically did what it wanted to offensively. We were never able to get over the hump.”
Point guard Chris Warren was 3 of 12 from the field against Georgia, but Kennedy knows the senior will remain a productive force. What Kennedy won”t get from Warren is a lot of fiery, emotional leadership. But he knew that heading into the season, and addressed the topic in the fall at SEC Media Day.
“He”s gotten more verbal over his four years here, but that”s just not something he”s very comfortable with,” Kennedy said. “Neither is our other senior, Zach Graham. It”s got to come from other guys. But quite frankly, if other guys are not playing up to their standard it”s hard for them to be those take-charge guys.”
Still, Kennedy admits someone has on Ole Miss” roster has to play that role.
“We”ve got good enough players,” Kennedy said. “We”ve got guys that understand their roles, and they just have to bring the right approach day in and day out where we can change the result.”
Releford progressing for Alabama
Starting as a freshman is tough.
Doing so at point guard is doubly challenging.
The University of Alabama”s Trevor Releford is making an impact despite his lack of experience.
While not an ideal situation in which to put a first-year player, Crimson Tide coach Anthony Grant has been pleased with the results.
Releford is averaging 9.7 points and 3.6 assists per game, and has turned up his production in SEC play with a pair of 17-point outings against Mississippi State and Arkansas.
“You have to be the coach on the floor in terms of being able to run your team and understand offensively where everybody else should be along with what you got to do,” Grant said. “It poses some challenges.”
Releford scored in double figures in losses to Seton Hall, Oklahoma State, Purdue, and Providence.
With Alabama (10-7, 2-1) set to play host to No. 12 Kentucky (14-3, 2-1) and fellow freshman point guard Brandon Knight at 8 tonight, Releford will need another solid performance.
“I think he”s done well for a freshman with what we”ve asked him to do,” Grant said. “I think with every game, like any freshman, it”s almost on-the-job training. Kentucky”s in a position where they”re playing a lot of freshmen and kind of learning as they go, and I think Trevor”s no different.”
Fox has high praise for Sidney, Bost
Georgia coach Mark Fox has the luxury of coaching SEC Preseason Player of the Year Trey Thompkins.
He”ll get a closer look at another heralded big man, Renardo Sidney, Saturday when UGA (13-3, 2-1) plays host to Mississippi State (10-7, 2-1).
While Thompkins is averaging 17.9 points and 7.3 rebounds, Sidney will enter the game averaging 14.4 points and 5.8 rebounds in five games.
Since the return of Sidney and Bost, MSU has won two of three games and is averaging 70.3 points. Prior to their return, MSU failed to clear 60 points in four of its previous six games.
“Bost is terrific. He”s dynamite,” Fox said. “(He”s) just so good in every area. And Sidney, obviously, finishing plays and has just got such great ability. You”re talking about two guys with pro-type talent they”ve added to their team. That”ll make a huge difference.”