EXHIBITION: Ole Miss vs. Delta State
November 2, 2007 7 p.m. CT
Oxford, Miss. C.M. Tad Smith Coliseum (8,700)
OLE MISS HOSTS ONLY PRESEASON TUNEUP
Fans have their first and only chance to see the Rebels in action prior to the season opener with an exhibition game against Delta State at 7 p.m. on Friday at Tad Smith Coliseum. In place of tickets for the contest, fans are asked to bring canned goods or monetary donations to the Oxford Food Pantry. In special need at the pantry are canned meats and fruits. The season opener will be Saturday, Nov. 10 vs. Mississippi Valley State, with tipoff scheduled for 2 p.m. That encounter will be streamed live on OleMissSports.com.
YEAR TWO OF KENNEDY ADMINISTRATION
After leading an underdog Ole Miss squad to the top of the SEC Western Division and an NIT second round appearance, 2007 SEC Coach of the Year Andy Kennedy is looking to do more of the same with another Rebel team picked last in the West by preseason prognosticators.
Kennedy guided Ole Miss to a 21-13 record in 2006-07, which marked the most wins by a Rebel head coach in his first season at the helm. It was also the most wins by any Rebel team since the 2000-01 NCAA Tournament “Sweet Sixteen” squad.
Kennedy faces another daunting task this year as he mentors a team comprised of only two returning starters and 10 newcomers.
The Louisville, Miss., native was introduced as the On March 24, 2006, Kennedy was introduced as the 20th head men's basketball coach in the history of the University of Mississippi on March 24, 2006. He spent the 2005-06 season as the interim head coach at the University of Cincinnati, helping the Bearcats to a 21-13 record and NIT Quarterfinals appearance playing a schedule rated fifth-toughest in the nation amid difficult circumstances.
REBELS BEGIN SEC WEST TITLE DEFENSE
With the thrilling victory over Auburn in the 2007 regular season finale, Ole Miss earned the program’s fourth SEC Western Division championship and first since 2001. Ole Miss is picked to finish last in the division again this year, just like last year and 2001. Ole Miss captured consecutive division crowns in 1997 and 1998. The Rebels’ four SEC West titles in the last 11 years is the most of any division rival over that span.
SCOUTING DELTA STATE
The Division II Statesmen return two starters off a team that finished last season 18-10 overall in coach Jason Conner’s first season at the helm. Johnny Hodge, a 6-foot-5 small forward from Monroe, La., led the Statesmen in scoring (16.9) and rebounding (5.9) last season. The All-Gulf South Conference selection is joined by Chad Akins, the returning GSC West Division Freshman of the Year, who averaged 5.8 points and 3.4 assists last season.
OLE MISS-DSU SERIES
In regular-season play, Ole Miss trails the all-time series with Delta State 4-2. All six meetings were staged between 1937 and 1942, and the in-state foes split the four meetings in Oxford. The Rebels won last year’s exhibition contest 80-69 over the Statesmen. Senior guard Bam Doyne led the way with 18 points and 8 rebounds.
Long-time Ole Miss media relations director Langston Rogers was the sports information director at Delta State for 17 years before coming to Oxford. He also earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees and played baseball at DSU.
In addition, Stan Sandroni, a 19-year member of the Ole Miss radio team, joined the Rebels after 17 years as the play-by-play voice of the Statesmen.
CURTIS EARNS PRESEASON ALL-SEC HONORS
Senior center Dwayne Curtis has established himself as one of the top post men in the Southeastern Conference and has been named to the preseason All-SEC second team by the media and league coaches. The Chicago, Ill., native averaged 12.2 points and 8.3 rebounds for last year’s SEC Western Division champions. At 6-foot-8 and 262 pounds, Curtis has been the Rebels’ top rebounder in each of his two years in Oxford. In his sophomore year he put up team highs of 13.6 points and 7.6 boards per game in garnering All-SEC honorable mention status from the Associated Press.
NEW TAD PAD VIDEO BOARDS ON DISPLAY
Rebel fans will very soon be treated to colorful new video ribbon boards that have recently been installed in C.M. Tad Smith Coliseum.
The arena has been fitted with 360 total feet of the Sideline ProAd Video Plus Displays above the top row of seating. The two 180-foot strips run baseline-to-baseline parallel to each sideline.
The $2 million project, which also included ribbon video boards at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, was paid for by TeleSouth Communications and installed by Daktronics, Inc.
The full-color, full-motion presentation of the ProAd system creates an interactive gameday environment, energizing fans and making sponsor messages a central part of that experience. The digital displays can instantly present up to 360 degrees of ribbon-style video, animation, advertisements and live information.
REBEL ROSTER OVERHAUL
After just one year at the helm, Andy Kennedy has already begun the process of molding the Ole Miss roster with his own players, as there are 10 newcomers on this year’s Rebel squad. Expected to provide valuable minutes and compete for starting positions are Florida transfer David Huertas, junior-college transfer Terrence Watson and true freshmen Trevor Gaskins, Zach Graham, Chris Warren and Malcolm White.
Lost from last year’s SEC West title team are All-SEC guards Todd Abernethy and Clarence Sanders, as well as senior guard Bam Doyne, all of whom put up double-figure averages in points and 30+ minutes per contest.
POURING IN THE POINTS
Andy Kennedy wants to score even more points this year after his style of "pressure basketball" paid tremendous dividends for the Rebels on the offensive side last season. The team averaged 73.1 points per game, a 7.9 raise from the year before, and the highest clip since scoring 77.0 per game in 1998-99. Ole Miss scored 80-plus points in four consecutive SEC games for the first time since 1976. The team’s 80 points against LSU in Atlanta was its most in an SEC Tournament game since pouring in 86 against Tennessee in a first-round win at the 2001 event, 10 tourney games earlier. The Rebels' 100-80 victory over Nicholls marked only the second time since 2001 for the team to reach the century mark in points.
OLE MISS-SOUTHERN MISS ANNOUNCE THREE-YEAR SERIES
TeleSouth Communications in conjunction with The Mississippi Department of Tourism recently announced a three-year, three-game men’s basketball series between Ole Miss and Southern Miss.
The series begins this year in Southaven at the Desoto County Civic Center on Dec. 28 at 7 p.m. CT. The rivalry will then move to Jackson’s Mississippi Coliseum on Dec. 27, 2008, and the final game will be staged in Biloxi at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum with the date yet to be determined.
Each game will be treated as a neutral court for each team with game officials from both Conference USA and the Southeastern Conference.
PACKING THE PAD
Over the last decade, the "Tad Pad" proved to be one of the toughest arenas in the nation for opposing teams to play, and last year marked a new level of dominance. The Rebels were 16-1 at Tad Smith Coliseum, establishing an arena record for single-season wins. Andy Kennedy’s club inspired a huge homecourt advantage during SEC play, averaging 8,241 fans and drawing a record crowd of 9,452 for the victory over No. 18 Alabama. Ole Miss has won 147 of its last 180 games (.817 winning percentage) in Oxford dating back to the 1995-96 campaign. The Rebels have an all-time record of 382-180 (.680 winning percentage) at Tad Smith Coliseum, which opened in the 1965-66 season.
COOLIDGE BALL TO ENTER HALL OF FAME
Former Ole Miss basketball greats Coolidge Ball and Jennifer Gillom are among six in the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2008. The sextet will be formally enshrined and honored Aug. 1-2, 2008 as part of the BancorpSouth Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame Weekend.
In 1970, Ball became Ole Miss’ first black student-athlete. His ground-breaking career saw him earn UPI All-SEC third team honors in all three of his varsity seasons, and garner All-SEC distinction from the league coaches in 1972 and 1973. Ball compiled 1,072 points in his career and helped direct the Rebels to three straight winning seasons for the first time since 1936-38.
Following his days in the Red and Blue, Ball played professionally for the IBL’s Hamilton, Ohio team. He later spent four years as an assistant coach at Northwest Community College. A native of Indianaola, Miss., Ball has remained an active part of the Ole Miss basketball family and has served as president of the Rebel Tip-Off Club.
Since the 1993-94 season, the Rebels have posted an impressive 135-46 record (.746 winning percentage) versus non-conference opponents. Ole Miss has been particularly dominant against out of conference clubs at home. Ole Miss did not lose a non-conference battle at Tad Smith Coliseum last year and have only dropped five such games since 1995.
Big shoes need to be filled in the backcourt as three productive senior guards must be replaced. Todd Abernethy, Clarence Sanders and Bam Doyne provided the bulk of the Ole Miss scoring and leadership in 2006-07.
A three-year Team Captain, Abernethy was a fixture as the Rebel floor leader from the second he stepped on campus and was arguably the SEC’s top point guard a year ago.
The leading candidates to grab the reins as primary ballhandler are a pair of true freshmen in Chris Warren (Orlando, Fla.) and Trevor Gaskins (Alpharetta, Ga.).
Warren is a 5-foot-10 speedster who proved to be an all-around leader in his prep career. The Orlando native directed Dr. Phillips to the Florida 6A state title game for the first time ever and holds school records in virtually every statistical category.
At 6-foot-2, 203 pounds, Gaskins provides a physical presence at the point. He too was a 20-point scorer in high school, and the Georgia native opted for Ole Miss over Tennessee and Florida State.
Helping facilitate the post-Abernethy era is fourth-year Rebel Brian Smith (Lexington, Ky.). The senior and son of Tubby Smith has provided key minutes and some big-game dramatics during his teunure in the Red and Blue.
Sanders and Doyne supplied an effective one-two scoring punch from the Ole Miss wings last year, averaging 16.1 and 14.9 points, respectively.
Sophomore transfer David Huertas (Humacao, Puerto Rico) sparred with that duo in practice everyday. The previous year, he battled with Lee Humphrey and Corey Brewer for playing time as a member of Florida’s 2006 national champion squad.
Another 6-foot-5 former Florida prep standout, Eniel Polynice (Sarasota, Fla.) saw action in every game with eight starts last year and is vying to be a full-time starting wing as a sophomore. Polynice posted four double-figure scoring games and helped energize several comeback rallies.
Stout competition for a starting role will come from freshman Zach Graham (Suwanee, Ga.), who was tabbed the No. 89 recruit in this year’s incoming class. The 6-foot-5, 220 pounder was a do-everything star athlete at Georgia’s Peachtree Ridge High School, where he holds nearly every basketball and football quarterback record.
Mississippi JUCO Player of the Year Wesley Jones and returning sophomore Rodney Jones provide further depth on the wings. Ryan Brown, Will Poole and Patrick Spach also help strengthen the backcourt.
Ole Miss enjoys a wealth of experience and some serious upside in the frontcourt. Three seniors help make the blocks an area of strength for the Rebels.
Despite missing the first eight games of 2006-07, Dwayne Curtis (Chicago, Ill.) still amassed the most rebounds on the team and notched nine double-doubles, giving him 16 over his two seasons in Oxford. The 6-foot-8, 262-pounder was an all-conference honoree as a sophomore and is among the most seasoned big men in the SEC.
Kennedy’s first signee as Ole Miss mentor, Kenny Williams (Miami, Fla.) started 22 games and topped the club in field goal percentage and blocked shots. After a strong finish, Williams averaged 7.1 points and 5.7 rebounds.
Athletic forward Jermey Parnell (Gosnell, Ark.) has exhibited flashes of dominance over his three seasons, but long hours of conditioning in the spring and summer could have the 6-foot-8, 242-pounder poised for a breakout year.
These seniors will be fending off some talented youngsters for minutes. JUCO forward Terrence Watson (Detroit, Mich.) comes in prepared for immediate battle. The versatile forward from Michigan led his team to a national championship, earning All-America and conference Defensive Player of the Year accolades.
Malcolm White (Greensburg, La.) is one of the most highly touted signees in school history, rated as the nation's No. 64 recruit in the 2008 class before qualifying a year sooner. The 6-foot-9 Louisiana native averaged 15 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks on Genesis One’s national prep school championship runner-up team.
Include 6-foot-10 Kevin Cantinol (Guadeloupe, French West Indies) and the Rebels have a pair of freshmen forwards waiting in the wings. Hailing from the French West Indies, Cantinol guided Florida’s Calvary Christian High School to its first Final Four appearance, garnering All-State honors.
JOHN STROUD HONORED AS BUSINESSMAN
Regions Financial Corporation in conjunction with the Southeastern Conference recently announced the 2007 inductees into the Regions SEC Business Hall of Fame, which includes Ole Miss basketball legend John Stroud.
The Regions SEC Business Hall of Fame recognizes former SEC student-athletes who excelled in amateur athletics and who are now successful business owners.
Stroud, a two-time All-America pick with the Red and Blue, is the top scorer in school history with 2,328 points, which also ranks third in SEC history. He followed his college career with a two-year stint with the Houston Rockets of the NBA before embarking on a coaching career that included stops at Alabama, East Mississippi Community College and Millsaps College.
In his business endeavors, Stroud is the owner of the John Stroud Agency, a full-service independent insurance agency, located in New Albany, Miss.