Kennedy Pleased with Rebels' Start to Preseason

OleMissSports.Com Practice Report

 

OXFORD, Miss. Six days into his first preseason as Ole Miss head basketball coach, Andy Kennedy is pleased with the attitude and effort his players have shown as they transition to his new style of play.

           

“So far, so good,” said Kennedy, who grabbed the reins of the program on March 24. “As a coach, you don’t want to have to worry about coaching competition and coaching enthusiasm and coaching being receptive. It allows you to get down to the things that are important, which are the nuts and bolts of your foundation. We’re trying to lay the foundation and build from there.”

 

Two-year Team Captain Todd Abernethy said Kennedy has provided a good change and a shot of energy to the team

 

“He has definitely had an impact, just having a new look,” said Abernethy. “Change is good for everybody. I think the coaches give us a lot of confidence. Everything has been great this year.”

           

For Abernethy and the other returnees, this preseason marks the adjustment to a more up-tempo brand of basketball. Fast-break drills begin early in practice, and pressure-defense drills play a prominent role in the workouts.

 

“I like the up-tempo game, and I think that’s going to help us be a better team,” said guard Bam Doyne. “We are able to get a lot more shots up. I think it’s great.”

 

Abernethy and Doyne are among the three seniors and four returning starters from last year’s squad. A total of nine lettermen are back and have given Kennedy the leadership he has needed in camp.

 

“We’ve challenged our upperclassmen daily to take ownership of the situation, and I think for the most part they have done so,” Kennedy said. “They’ve led by example which has allowed these young kids to understand how hard you have to play and the sacrifices that are necessary for this level.”

           

The former Cincinnati mentor also praised the progress of his newcomers, which include four true freshmen.

           

“I think they’re deer-in-the-headlights like most freshmen at this point, but I can see day-to-day improvements,” said Kennedy. “The good thing is if they make a mistake one day, seemingly they don’t make the same mistake again the next day. They are receptive to coaching, and they are getting it.”

           

The low point of Ole Miss’ first week of preseason practice was the Sunday night injury of junior center and last year’s leading scorer Dwayne Curtis. The preseason All-SEC honoree suffered a stress fracture to the third metatarsal in his left foot, and the Rebels will have the complete results of his MRI Thursday.

           

“I think we’re a little down with Dwayne going down with the broken foot,” Abernethy said. “We’re optimistic knowing that he’s not going to be out too long. We’re confident in our other big men that they can step up and carry his load.”

           

This week, the Rebels took Tuesday off from practice and are continuing workouts daily until next Wednesday, when Kennedy, Abernethy and Doyne travel to Birmingham for SEC Media Days while the rest of the team rests. Ole Miss’ first exhibition is against North Alabama, Friday, Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. CT at Tad Smith Coliseum.

 

 


 

 

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