Ole Miss Hoops Coaches Kennedy And Ladner Speak With Media

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. Ole Miss head basketball coaches Andy Kennedy and Renee Ladner spoke with the media Thursday as part of the 2008 Southeastern Conference Basketball Media Days.

 

Kennedy, who has led Ole Miss to 45 wins in his first two seasons and a berth in last year’s NIT Final Four, talked about the makeup of his young squad. The Rebels return eight letterwinners and three starters from last year’s 24-11 team, including preseason All-SEC second teamer Chris Warren at the point guard position. In a poll by SEC and national media earlier this week, Ole Miss was predicted to finish third in the SEC West.

 

Ladner spoke about the bright prospects of the Rebel women’s team this year. Preseason All-SEC first team center Shawn Goff leads a group of four returning starters from last year’s team that went 13-16 overall and 6-8 in SEC play in Ladner’s first season at the helm. The media picked Ole Miss to finish eighth overall in the SEC earlier this week.

 

Due to a malfunction with their chartered airplane on Thursday morning, Kennedy, Ladner and the three players that were to join them in Birmingham were unable to take off from Oxford and did not attend the media day in person. However, Kennedy, Ladner and Warren talked to writers present at the Birmingham Marriott via telephone.

 

Below is a transcript of Kennedy and Ladner’s teleconference with the media:

 

Head Coach Andy Kennedy

 

“The part we want Chris (Warren) to improve upon is his consistency in decision making, which is something I would like all my kids to improve upon. I want him to make good decisions and bring his game to a better level. He is also stronger after a full year in our weight training program and that has been transferring over to his play on the court.”

 

“I am familiar with Birmingham and it is a very easy trip with the improvement on the roads. I have two staff members who went to UAB, so it definitely helps us in recruiting. It is a very good area that produces quality players and quality kids and I would love for our school to be an option for some of them.”

 

“Chris (Warren), in hindsight had a very tremendous year when you consider the circumstances, and thank goodness he did after losing a senior point guard the year before and leaving us with a tremendous whole to fill. We had a huge need for consistency in that spot and we are grateful Chris was able to come in and provide that consistency, because without that we would not have been able to win 24 games last season and put ourselves in the position that we were in last season. We knew when we got him we had a special player, because of his physical attributes, speed, ability to penetrate and shoot the deep ball, but also the way he approaches the game mentally. He is an everyday guy that comes and gives an honest day's work. We have never had an issue with him on or off the floor. His confidence has increased along with his understanding of the team and he has taken some ownership of his position this year which is something we have challenged him to do.”

 

Head Coach Renee Ladner

 

“Last year was a transitional season going through the changing of the guard. We had a difficult schedule and were very young and we also had a devastating injury to Alliesha Easley, our most experienced player. I thought we progressed as the season continued and I was impressed how we never stopped working and played hard all the time regardless of the score.”

 

“We are wiser, older and more experienced this season. I think that will transfer to a positive outcome for our season. My expectations for this group are higher. I believe I am a better coach and that we are a better team and I feel good about the chemistry we're working with.”

 

“Alliesha (Easley) was the missing piece of the puzzle we did not have last year. She is hungry and ready to get back on the court. She has elevated her level of play this year and is a very integral piece of the puzzle. She has a never-give-up attitude and I think she is just ready to pick up where she left off.”

 

“I am pleasantly surprised with our post player Nikki Byrd, who is a very tough competitor for us. She is a scoring machine from the low block and is running the floor well. I am very pleased she can contribute immediately for us.”

 

“I am also pleased with our junior college transfer, Tori Slusher. She is experienced and has a strong work ethic. She has a tendency to make everyone around her better, and she definitely increases our depth.”


 

 

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