In just a few weeks the Pavilion at Ole Miss will house the 2017-18 basketball games for the men’s and women’s programs for the Rebels.
At the Tuohy Basketball Center on Monday, Ole Miss held its annual basketball media day. Coaches Matt Insell and Andy Kennedy addressed local media on how the teams are preparing for the upcoming season, which is just a month away.
Coach Insell’s team has a lot of returning players to the court, including two top scorers Shandricka Sessom and Madinah Muhammad.
“Having those two kids back really helps a lot, and you can really see a big difference in practice with their experience in particular to the guard spots,” Insell said. “It’s an exciting time for us, and we’re ready to get going.”
The coaching staff is expecting the freshman class to shine for the Rebels.
Sessom, as the only senior on the court this season, has stepped into a leadership role on the floor.
“I’ve seen Shandricka make some strides, and she’s gotten better with her leadership, but Shandricka doesn’t really want that from time to time,” Insell said. “She just wants to be the one to get 15 or 16 points a game, but she’s really tried to take a bigger voice in our basketball team because we need it.”
This year’s squad is athletic and versatile, and once all the interactive pieces are figured out in a way to be successful, the Rebels just may put last season’s miscues of turnovers behind them.
“Last year, we just did not have a lead guy that we felt comfortable with… that was going to do the things we needed game in and game out,” Kennedy said. “Once Breein (Tyree) got healthier at the end of the season, some of those things took care of themselves. Now, Breein (Tyree) is back healthy for year two, and Terence Davis who had a monster sophomore year is much more comfortable in his role making decisions with the ball. Deandre Burnett, after being in the program now over a year as a fifth-year senior is a guy that we trust with the ball. Then you bring in a guy like Markel Crawford, who’s basketball IQ is off the charts, who can play a multitude of different positions and for the most part, makes good decisions with the ball. I think overall it gives us a lot of good playmakers on the perimeter, which leads to our versatility.”
This season, the SEC looks like it might be the deepest it has been from top to bottom in years.
“The top of the league has always been strong, and with the middle, a bad weekend will take you from fifth to ninth,” Kennedy said. “Two bad weekends in a row will take you from fifth to 13th. We’ve had six consecutive seasons of .500 or better in SEC play, and over the last two, we’ve gone 10-8 and 10-8. This year, if we go 10-8 and based on what we’re supposed to do in our non-league, it’s going to be good enough to get you in the (NCAA Tournament) field based on the overall strength of the league.”
Both the Lady Rebels and the men’s squads will tip the regular season off Nov. 10. Coach Insell’s squad will host Northwestern State at 5 p.m., and coach Kennedy’s team will take the floor against Louisiana at 7 p.m.
Adam Brown is the sports editor of HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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