Ole Miss Hoops Blog: Ole Miss men’s basketball coach Andy Kennedy was one of 14 coaches who appeared on the weekly Southeastern Conference teleconference today.
Kennedy talked a little about the Rebels’ first SEC game Wednesday at Tennessee before taking questions about the new 18-game schedule, why SEC teams have struggled in non-conference play and if he he would miss playing at Arkansas’ Bud Walton Arena this year.
“We’re excited like everyone to start league play. We have a couple of difficult challenges out of the gate, first at Tennessee on Wednesday night and then following that up with a good Missouri team at home on Saturday,” Kennedy said. “We’re looking forward to the next step and seeing where this team is. We’ll find out a lot about ourselves very quickly.”
Kennedy said that the team was still a work in progress like a lot of teams are at this point of the season. Ole Miss is 11-2 heading into SEC play and coming off a 95-68 home win over Fordham this past Friday night.
“We have found out some things and learned some things about our team through the first 13 games. I think we’ve done a better job of defining roles and settling in on our rotation,” Kennedy said. “We’ve gotten a lot of new new guys some experience and hopefully that will help us as we go into league play.”
Under the new SEC schedule, Ole Miss will not play Arkansas at Bud Walton Arena, a fact that didn’t hurt Kennedy’s feelings despite the Rebels recent success there.
“For us it’s going to be unusual, just the makeup of the schedule, but I think it was inevitable just with the addition of the two new teams in Missouri and Texas A&M for us to expand the league schedule and with that is going to come some changes,” Kennedy said. “Like everything we will adjust and I think when you add two more league games to your schedule, you know you’re going to add to more quality opponents and two more quality atmospheres. We’re looking forward to it and it’s hard to believe that it’s upon us now.
“I’m not going to miss (Walton). That’s a challenging environment. We’ve had some success there for whatever reason but that’s a very challenging environment and (coach) Mike (Anderson) has a very good team so I would prefer the Razorbacks in Oxford.”
Kennedy was asked his thoughts on why some SEC teams have struggled up to the start of league play and if that changed what the Rebels had to do in SEC games in order to earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament.
“I think at this stage, the first week in January, it is so fluid as it relates to RPI and numbers and this and that and it’s going to be fluid for the next six to eight weeks, week in and week out,” Kennedy said. “The only thing I’m concerned about is the 13 games that we’ve played and the 18 that are in front of us. We’re trying to do the best we can to win as many as possible. I think when you’ve got a league such as ours where you have a lot of new coaches, you got a lot of new players, there is certainly going to be some transition and I think our league has seen that.
“Last year I believe we had the most first round picks of anybody in the NBA Draft and with that there is going to come a transition based on new bodies in place,” Kennedy added. “I don’t really try to project what this means as it relates to wins and losses for us. I try to do my best and stay in the moment and concentrate on the next task at hand which is opening league play up at Tennessee.” (January 7, 2013)