Deep Roster Provides Kennedy Options Ahead of Season Opener
Dwight Coleby
Nov. 5, 2014

By Austin Miller, OleMissSports.com

OXFORD, Miss. —
Senior Jarvis Summers, a preseason All-SEC first team selection and the preseason SEC Player of the Year by CBS Sports, enters his fourth season as the Rebels’ starting point guard.


The other four starting positions and rotation spots are in a state of flux, but head coach Andy Kennedy enters his ninth season at Ole Miss with one of his deepest and most-experienced teams.

The roster has been bolstered by the addition of five newcomers, including two fifth-year transfers and two junior college transfers, all of whom are competing for time on the floor.

"The other four spots change day-to-day and we'll continue to mix and match until we find the right group," Kennedy said. "There's the least amount of separation between the first unit and the second unit."

Kennedy expects to play all 12 healthy scholarship players in the Rebels’ exhibition Friday against Delta State, and as they try to find separation among them, he expects to trim the rotation to 9-10 players by the season opener on Nov. 14 against Charleston Southern.

A 13th scholarship player, sophomore forward Terry Brutus, is expected to be cleared for soon and also compete for playing time, having missed last season with a torn ACL.

"The other four spots change day-to-day and we'll continue to mix and match until we find the right group," Kennedy said. "There's the least amount of separation between the first unit and the second unit."

Not among those 13 players is Marshall Henderson, who’s now playing professionally in Qatar. A high-volume scorer, Henderson accounted for 24.3 percent of the team’s field-goal attempts and 23.0 percent of the team’s scoring.

Without Henderson, Summers is expected to become a focal point of a new-look offense this season.

“We’re going to play to the strengths of this group,” Kennedy said. “(Stefan) Moody can be successful in some of that baseline screening stuff because of his quickness, speed and ability to change direction. He’s very strong. His game is completely different.

“We’ll put the ball in Jarvis’ hands and allow him to make a lot of reads. We feel like we have a better low-post presence. Sebas (Saiz) and (Dwight) Coleby have both taken that next step. M.J. (Rhett) and Aaron Jones are more face-up guys. We’re still trying to create angles to throw it close, where we are able to score.”

Summers missed the better part of three weeks with a high-ankle sprain. Kennedy said he’s full-go, as the Rebels prepare for Delta State, but his temporary absence provided opportunities for two talented newcomers in Stefan Moody and Terence Smith.

“Moody continues to leap off the page quite frequently,” Kennedy said. “He’s a guy who’s as explosive as we have had in this program. He can do a lot of things with the ball. Terence Smith continues to be steady. He’s been one of our most steady contributors with his ability to make shots and his ability to make good decisions with the ball.”

Last season, Kennedy said, their biggest deficiencies were rebounding margin, defensive rebounding percentage and an inability to finish close to the basket.

To help address those areas, Ole Miss added M.J. Rhett, a graduate transfer from Tennessee State, who led the Ohio Valley Conference and ranked eighth in the nation with 14 double-doubles.

Kennedy also noted the development of sophomore forward Sebastian Saiz and Dwight Coleby, the latter of whom Kennedy called their best rebounder in their closed scrimmage against Middle Tennessee State last weekend.

“Dwight has made the biggest step forward physically and with his endurance, and he’s able to sustain things longer," Kennedy said. "He was probably our most productive guy with protecting the rim and rebounding the ball.”

Austin Miller is a writer and blogger for OleMissSports.com. He joined the staff in June 2013 after serving as sports editor of the Daily Mississippian. Follow him on Twitter @austinkmiller.

 

 

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