2007 Mississippi Rebels Basketball Preview
Last season, the Ole Miss Rebels (21- 13 overall, 8- 8 SEC West) finished tied for first in the SEC West. First year coach Andy Kennedy (21 – 13 in one year at Ole Miss and 42- 26 in two years overall) helped the club find seven more wins than they had in 2005- 2006. Prior to last season, everyone projected the Rebels as finishing last in the West. This year, once again, the Kennedy coached team is expected to be in last place. Can Kennedy, who won SEC Coach of the Year honors last season, get the Rebels to show in the NCAA tournament lines and once again prove prognosticators wrong?
The Rebels tended to have fine ball control , as they turned the ball over a mere 12.0 times per game, placing them second in the conference. The club was ninth in scoring (73.1 PPG), rebounding margin (minus-0.3) and assists (14.1 APG). Mississippi was eighth in scoring defense, allowing 69.3 PPG.
The Rebels welcome back an experienced frontcourt that includes seniors Dwayne Curtis (12.2 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 53.8 FG%) and Jeremy Parnell (4.9 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 46.9 FG%). Curtis, who proved to be dominant in the post, has solid footwork and fine positioning. Parnell is an excellent defensive player with power and muscle—will this be the year that he really asserts himself? Freshman Malcolm White and junior college transfer Wesley Jones will both have an immediate impact in front and in the NCAA basketball odds.
In the backcourt, expect freshmen Chris Warren and Trevor Gaskins to vie for the starting position. Warren’s got speed and skills, while Gaskins will likely see some playing time. Florida transfer David Huertas will contribute points from the wing. He was on the Gators’ 2005- 2006 championship club and played on the Puerto Rican National Team. Senior Brian Smith (1.9 PPG, 1.0 APG, 40.8 FG%) is an able ball handler.
The frontcourt looks solid but the backcourt appears to be a bit shaky and should be considered when you bet on college games, especially at the point. Kennedy will be working with a lot of young talent in what is his second rebuilding year. Last year, Ole Miss made it to the second round of the NIT where they lost to Clemson 89- 68. Can Kennedy create a repeat performance? If he can, give him conference coach of the year again.