No one expected the Ole Miss Rebels to be as good as they were last year, except maybe Andy Kennedy, his team and a few extremely crazed Ole Miss fans.
Still, the Rebels had one of the best records in the SEC and were ranked for a majority of the season.
A lot of NCAA and SEC basketball supporters finished last season focusing not on the Rebels’ SEC championship upset win over the Florida Gators and NCAA tournament upset win over the Wisconsin Badgers, but the antics of Rebel shooting guard and SEC scoring leader Marshall Henderson. Head coach Kennedy was called to control his star’s emotions a little more in the upcoming season.
However, Kennedy should not try and control Henderson’s actions. His energy and passion for the game are what gave the Rebels the extra boost to win some of the games late in the season that led to the NCAA tournament appearance. An effort to calm him down and control his emotions would only hurt the team.
I’m not a fan of Henderson’s actions, but when it works, it works. A good basketball player is a good basketball player, and Henderson is that and then some.
I’m not saying Kennedy should let him do whatever he wants; that would be stupid and potentially damaging to the team. However, he should let Henderson be himself as long as it isn’t too far over the line. Henderson’s in-game emotions can cause the Rebels to play at a level that could see them once again in the mix for an NCAA tournament berth.
This season, the Rebels will be largely Henderson’s team. The big men that helped them last year are gone, and Ole Miss needs him to step up to make up for their absence. Kennedy will need Henderson to be as passionate and slightly crazy as ever if the Rebels are to have any hope of competing in a much tougher and more experienced SEC.