KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy and his players met with the media Saturday afternoon after their latest practice session at the Sprint Center to discuss Sunday night’s matchup against No. 13 seed La Salle.The 12th-seeded Rebels (27-8 overall) will meet the Explorers (23-9) in the third round for the right to be crowned champions of the Kansas City Regional and advance to the Sweet 16 in Los Angeles. La Salle advanced to Sunday’s matchup after defeating No. 4 seed Kansas State 63-61. The Explorers are led by senior guard Ramon Galloway, who started his career at South Carolina, who enters the game averaging 17.2 points per game and 3.8 assists per game. Against Kanas State, he finished second on the team with 19 points.
Kennedy said he recruited Galloway out of Dwyer High School in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
“I saw a lot him and he’s a tremendous player. I made the comment on the radio that I don’t know who’s got more swag, him or Marshall Henderson, because he plays with mad confidence,” Kennedy said. “He was playing really well (Friday) as we were sitting there watching (the game against Kansas State). He’s a guy that every time he touches the ball, he’s in attack mode. (La Salle coach) John (Giannini) puts him in a position where that’s what their team needs, very similiar to what we need with Marshall. We need him to be aggressive. Ramon is different. Obviously he can stretch you, but he’s proficient off the bounce. He’s going to be a difficult matchup.”
The Explorers start four guards and like to get up and down the floor, a lot more than Wisconsin, Ole Miss’ opponent Friday. La Salle averages 72.5 points per game and attempted 654 3-pointers, an average of 20.4 per game. They have made 246, good for 37.6 percent.
“It’s a totally different style from what we faced (against Wisconsin). They play seven guys, five of which will stretch you out to the 3-point line. They’re going to beat you off the bounce. We have to do a good job of trying to contain the dribble and keep them out of the paint,” Kennedy said. “They’ve got one true post guy they play the majority of the time. He’s a formidable, good player. Our hope is that we can try to attack them inside out.”
Ole Miss guard LaDarius White said the winner of Sunday’s matchup will be the team that plays the best defense.
“The strength is off the bounce, off the dribble and if we contain them off the bounce and pressure them, defensively we’ll have a chance,” White said. “This game is going to be based on who plays the best defense because we like to run-and-gun. They like to run-and-gun and that’s when they’re at their best.”
White, who said the team has tried to put the win over Wisconsin behind them, is all locked in to beating the Explorers.
“We can celebrate when the season is over, off our SEC championship and how far we make it in the NCAA Tournament,” White said as he stood feet away from a sign in the locker room that said ‘Stay in the Moment’. “We have to take it one game at a time, we have to stay focused. It’s been tough playing ball over these amount of days. I’m as tired as I’ve been all year.”
Marshall Mania continues
A Rebel who doesn’t seem to ever get tired is Henderson, who was interviewed by NBA Hall of Fame player Charles Barkley, or Sir Charles as Henderson later called him, at halftime of the Michigan-VCU game. There were a bevy of reporters who asked Henderson a bevy of questions again Saturday, some ranging from his Twitter account to him going out in Kansas City. Henderson took everything in stride and continued to focus on the matchup with the Explorers and getting off to a better start shooting the ball. Against Wisconsin, Henderson was 1-for-13 shooting before finishing 6-for-21.
“I finished five for my last eight (shots) and that’s kind of what I’m looking and improve on that and at the same time, I need to make sure I’m not taking a whole lot of crazy shots,” Henderson said. “I get more of a rhythm at halftime because I’ve had someone passing me the ball rather than before the game when we’re doing a whole bunch of stuff. It’s repetitions, catch-and-shoot, catch-and-shoot. Sometimes (shots) go in, sometimes they don’t.”
Kennedy said he would like Henderson to make shots earlier in the game for sure, but he reminded Henderson that he was talking too much about his misses and the way he’s started games.
“I thought in the first half his looks were as clean if not cleaner that the second half,” Kennedy said. “I don’t know what it is. Sometimes he gets overanxious. The thing I was encouraged about was he was missing long. He was probably jumping a little bit higher, had a little bit more adrenaline.”
Kennedy added that he always runs plays for Henderson early in the game to see how teams are going to defend him and how to get him better shots as the game goes on.
“I’m dumb enough to continue to run plays for him. When he made the first one, it was like a celebration because the guys know if he makes one, the likelihood of that continuing grows and it certainly helps our team,” Kennedy said. “Yesterday, the first three plays were to him. He had three good looks and he just missed them. I’ve stopped fighting getting him to turn, I’m going to him early and hope he makes it.”
Galloway said he wasn’t backing down from guarding Henderson during Sunday’s matchup.
“My task is to play my game. I mean, I love playing defense. I’m not backing down from a challenge. He’s a good player. I’m not putting any negative on anybody,” Galloway said. “It’s going to be a good game. We just got to play our game plan and hopefully we come out with the win.”
Good to see you again
Galloway added he was a good friend to Holloway because they both have similar family stories. Galloway left South Carolina to be closer to his father, who is blind after being shot when Galloway was 2. Galloway’s grandfather, Carlos Moore, is suffering from liver cancer and on a transplant list. Galloway remembers bonding with Holloway when he found out he came back to be closer to his daughter and mother.
“We’re close friends. When he transferred, it was an immediate friendship,” Galloway said. “He’s a good guy. He has a story too. He came a long way. So that’s I think we were really good friends because he knew where I came from and I knew where he came from. I knew what he was trying to do. As soon as I met Murph, we were friends. I’m just blessed we both have this opportunity to showcase our talent.”
Below are some videos, one from Nick Williams, who talks about the matchup with La Salle and what the win over Wisconsin meant to Rebels. There is also a video of Galloway talking about Henderson and Ole Miss.
(March 23, 2013)