Ole Miss men’s basketball coach Andy Kennedy started his time on Monday’s SEC teleconference answering questions about junior guard Marshall Henderson.While Kennedy has been asked about Henderson’s ability in the past, he was the focus of conversation because of the way Henderson reacted to the crowd at Auburn following the Rebels’ 63-61 win at Auburn Arena Saturday night. Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports asked Kennedy how he balanced letting Henderson play with an edge and going over the edge like some feel Henderson did with his post-game shirt pulling and yelling.
“We’ve had a number of conversations with Marshall and I know it’s difficult for people that see him in brief periods to completely get him but I think the passion is coming from a good place,” Kennedy said. “Obviously we want to make sure that it does not affect his focus nor the team’s focus. The guys understand that he is about team first and they accept him for what he brings to the program. He is a guy that loves basketball and plays with an edge and I think he’s been readily open with the fact that if he didn’t play with that edge, he couldn’t be a guy that leads the SEC in scoring.
“As his coach, I’m probably more concerned with his shot selection than maybe him popping his shirt here and there,” Kennedy added. “He is a work in progress as is our team. He’s a kid that’s been put in a situation to where there is a lot of attention being drawn to him from the minute he walks into the building and I think for the most part he’s handled it well.”
Kennedy then told Forde he was counting on Henderson being this productive when he signed him out of South Plains Junior College.
“We needed a guy that could do what he does and that’s make perimeter shots. Based on his ability to stretch the defense, it allows us to do some other things as it relates to spacing behind him,” Kennedy said. “I think our team is getting better at how teams are trying to guard him. He is a guy that you have to game plan around because of his ability to make shots from 25 to 30 feet, and he’s got a crazy enough coach to let him shoot them.”
Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin gave Henderson a complement during his time on the teleconference.
“I think he’s an entertainer, he’s somebody I would have liked to play with. He reminds me of myself. He’s a guy that plays with passion but he’s a guy that has always played at that level so it’s not like he is a guy that is coming into the SEC and saying let me try something new,” Martin said. “That’s been his game for the longest time. You have to applaud his efforts and his energy, for a guy that carries his weight on the road in hostile environments. You have to respect a guy at the end of the day when he brings it like that every night.” (January 28, 2013)