There’s a reason one particular quote from the most recent “30 for 30″ documentary by ESPN stood out to Mississippi sophomore guard Terrico White.
Toward the end of the “Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks” documentary, Miller says, “All the great players have always played great in this building. Anytime I played in the (Madison Square) Garden, something special was going to happen.”
White heard that, and something clicked.
“I’ve been thinking about it, daydreaming about it. When he said that, I got to thinking that when we go there then something great is going to happen,” White said.
Since he was a kid he has imagined himself stepping out onto the Madison Square Garden hardwood in New York. He’s dreamed of the crossover dribble as the clock ticks down, pulling up and knocking down the game-winning shot to send the crowd into a frenzy.
On Tuesday, he’ll get the chance to live out his dream when he helps lead the Ole Miss Rebels (24-10 overall) against the Dayton Flyers (23-12) in the semifinals of the National Invitation Tournament.
If White continues to play like has since the tournament began, he might get the chance to live out his dream.
In the past three games against Troy, Memphis and Texas Tech, White has been a catalyst on offense, averaging just over 21 points per game.
It’s the first time this season White has scored 17 points or more in three consecutive games.
Being an offensive leader is a role Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy needs White to fill if the Rebels are going to with the first postseason tournament in school history.
White hasn’t always been the go-to player on offense. There have been times when White has almost disappeared and has been just as likely to pass up the big shot as he has been to take it.
Earlier in the year Kennedy pulled White aside and challenged him to be more assertive in the offense.
White took notice and made a conscious effort to be more of a factor in the offense.
“I’m just making my shots really and being more aggressive than I was in the regular season. I’m just trying to be consistent in all the games,” he said. “If I don’t score teams are going to be keying in on Chris Warren, so I just think that if Chris steps up his game I need to, too.”
White enters next week’s game against Dayton averaging 15 points a game, second on the team to Warren’s 17.3.
With players like Terrance Henry, Murphy Holloway and Zach Graham assuming larger roles in addition to White and Warren, the Rebels feel like they have a good shot at advancing.
“All the parts are in place, we just have to hope we can get our key players playing well together because that’s what it’s going to take to beat Dayton,” Kennedy said. “We better be ready and we better be sharp because Dayton is on a mission. They’re playing fantastic basketball.”
Tip-off between the Rebels and Flyers is set for 6 p.m. CT and will be televised on ESPN 2. (March 29, 2010)