Last season: 21 - 13 (11 - 7 in conference)
My Prediction: 7 - 11 (in conference)
Red Cup Rebellion's Prediction: 12 - 6 (in conference)
The Masses Prediction: 9.7 - 8.3
It’s hard to believe at this stage that Andy Kennedy has been at Ole Miss for a decade. Then again Kennedy almost seems like the perfect fit for the Rebels program. He seems to do a masterful job of finding enough guys to fill a roster, win 20 or more games, and sometimes catch fire and surprise the rest of the SEC. Kennedy is the chameleon coach, he takes what he can get and puts a competitive product on the floor, playing the style that necessary to win. It’s really impressive, but as the level of competition in the league steps up, will Kennedy be able to do enough? Ole Miss is also upgrading their facilities (finally), so the pressure may start to increase if Kennedy loses a step. Seeing as how he’s managed to hold on this long, there’s no reason to suspect there will be anything different in Oxford for the foreseeable future.
WHO THEY LOST
Ole Miss exceeded expectations last year and a big part of that was the experience that flooded the roster, led by Jarvis Summers and LaDarius White. Summers had a little bit of a subpar year when you take in how vital he was to the Rebels in the previous seasons, but he was the guy who held the team together more than any others, even when he was overshadowed by the breakout year that Stefan Moody had. White was third on the team in scoring but was capable of carrying the Rebels for stretches. Grad transfer M.J. Rhett had a productive year in the post, and Terrence Smith and Aaron Jones provided help off the bench. All totalled the Rebels lost five players to graduation, and another couple to transfer.
WHO IS COMING BACK?
The biggest surprise in the SEC a season ago was the mark made by Stefan Moody. But the Rebels had a strong, deep, and ever underrated roster last year. There are a few holdovers from that team aside from Moody. Sebastian Saiz is a mobile and fluid center who provided difficult matchups on the offensive side of the floor and was usually good for a few buckets a game. If he can increase that output this year, the Rebels ceiling goes up. Anthony Perez is a guy with all the talent in the world but has yet to really put it together on the court. Martavious Newby was good in spot duty last year, but doesn’t provide anything exceptional. Marcanvis Hymon came with with some hype in the recruiting rankings, but rarely saw the floor. He’s another player that needs to take a big step forward in order to Ole Miss to exceed expectations.
WHO ARE THE NEWCOMERS?
|So||Deandre Burnett||6'2||190||TRANSFER -- Miami (FL) - will sit out|
|Sr||Tomasz Gielo||6'9||220||GRAD TRANSFER -- Liberty|
It’s a pretty interesting group of newcomers, and Andy Kennedy needs them to be. Graduate transfer Tomasz Gielo will bring depth and looks to start in the post early in the season, he had a solid career at Liberty, but it’s probably asking a lot to get too much other than the ability to stretch the floor at this stage. Perhaps the most underrated player on the list is the one with the biggest chance for an impact, and that’s JUCO Transfer Sam Finley, who should start at point guard. If Finley is the starter at point that means he can push Moody to the off guard spot. If Moody is freed from the bulk of the ball handling duties that leaves him free to attack and score. The next guy that should help out is Donte Fitzpatrick-Dorsey, a solid wing with the ability to attack in the open court, though it's still unclear if he has been cleared academically. The rest of the guys feel like there’s a "hope it sticks" to the list. Escobar is known as a scoring point guard who committed to play at Ole Miss as a high school player but was forced to head to prep school and honored his commitment. Davis is athletic, but certainly still raw at this stage.
|Point Guard||Combo Guard||Wing|
|Sam Finley||Stefan Moody||Martavious Newby|
|J.T. Escobar||Donte Fitzpatrick-Dorsey||Marcanvis Hymon|
|Tomasz Gielo||Sebastian Saiz|
|Anthony Perez||Terry Brutus|
Last year I looked at the Ole Miss roster and was surprised by how much I like it. They had a wonderful combination of experience and talent, and I had no idea that Stefan Moody was going to be as good as he was. Sure the Rebels stumbled at times last year, but one they got it going and everyone was healthy, they were a very tough team. This year, I can’t say the same thing. This year I see star power in Moody, a solid big in Saiz, and a WHOLE lot of question marks.
The schedule could help the Rebels navigate some of the more treacherous waters, their non-conference slate isn’t too challenging, with the toughest matchups being Memphis, Georgia State and Bradley. Memphis being the only top 100 (kenpom) that the Rebels match up with this year until conference. They do play in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge at Kansas State, and in the Gildan Charleston Classic where they open with George Mason, and could face Oklahoma State with a win. Virginia, Long Beach State and Seton Hall reside on the other side of the bracket. If they make it to the finals, they could take on Virginia which would be a sure loss. So there’s a chance that Ole Miss is a two or maybe three loss team coming into conference play, when their first matchup is against Kentucky. That’s the only matchup with the Cats that the Rebels have however, with Auburn, Missouri, Mississippi State, Georgia and Florida as the home and home games. That’s also a pretty fair pull anytime you get Auburn and Missouri on your schedule.
The expectations are starting to rise at Ole Miss despite the roster turnover. There’s investment in the program for the first time in a long time with the construction of a new building set to open this season, so no longer will the Rebels be relegated to playing games in the Tad Pad. Andy Kennedy has been successful enough to this point that we should expect him to exceed expectations even when there are so many new faces.
So how does Kennedy push these players past their expectations? KenPom has them rated as the 68th best team in the country in the preseason, and has then going 9-9 in conference play. That’s certainly attainable but they’ll need a lot to go right to get there. First of all Stefan Moody, who looks to be fully healthy after offseason surgery to fix a stress fracture, needs to be at least the player he was a year ago, with less around him. Next, Sebastian Saiz will need to go from solid role guy to reliable SEC center. And they’re going to have to get something from Anthony Perez. They’ll also need big contributions from the incoming players like Sam Finley, Tomasz Gielo, and at least one or two freshmen. One thing to know is that they’ll find ways to score. Kennedy’s Ole Miss teams rarely have problems on the offensive end of the floor. That alone should make them a tough out.
Being a tough out, still means you make outs. And I expect Ole Miss to make more outs this year than they have in the previous few. I feel comfortable with them at the 7 win level. I think they’re sort of a max 10 win team, if things go their way, and the schedule does set up nicely for them to have some success. But the 6-8 range feels comfortable with the makeup of this roster. I don’t think Ole Miss will be bad by any stretch. Like I said about Kennedy above, he’s proven far too many times that he can be a chameleon coach and win games. I just don’t think it’s going to be enough this year.
It’s fitting that Ken Pom has Ole Miss ranked as the number 68 team in the country because it seems every Andy Kennedy squad lives on the NCAA tournament bubble on an annual basis. That is also, for the most part, the expectation that Ole Miss fans have for their basketball program; a team that competes for a NCAA tournament bid consistently. Andy Kennedy has been able to do just that.
The last three seasons have been big for Ole Miss. They brought in a lighting rod that was Marshall Henderson and, despite all of the antics, resulted in an SEC championship and an NCAA tournament bid. He left and made way for the more mild-tempered Stefan Moody to step in, and he also lead the team to an NCAA tournament bid. The program has FIVE wins in the NCAA tournament in its’ history and two of them have come in the last three years. With the recent success and construction (FINALLY) of a new state-of-the-art arena, expectations have raised in Oxford.
Will they meet them this season? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
In-depth analysis, I know. But it is typically hard to get a read on Kennedy’s teams until they play a few games, especially a team that is replacing as much experience as this team is. As you said above, Kennedy has been a bit of a chameleon coach who pieces together rosters and somehow makes it work. He’s going to have to do more of the same this season.
We all know what Moody brings to the table. He’s a dynamic athlete who can score in bunches. The pressing question on this team, in my opinion, is who is going to be that second scorer to compliment him? The jury is definitely still out in that regard. Sebastian Saiz is an immensely talented kid who is entering his third year in the program but has yet to show that he can be a consistent volume scorer. He has gained some weight in the off-season and Kennedy raves about his development coming into this season, but will that translate to more points? We’ll see.
Martavious Newby has played a ton of basketball for the Rebels and is an elite defender, but he lacks any threat on the offensive end. Anthony Perez is extremely inconsistent offensively, Marcanvis Hymon returns with little game action so we don’t really know what he is going to bring to the table yet, and Terry Brutus can’t seem to stay healthy.
As you can imagine, this team is going to rely heavily on newcomers. Sam Finley looks to be like the man to replace Jarvis Summers at point guard. Finley had 21 points in his first action as a Rebel in an exhibition game on Thursday night, but that was against D-2 Clayton State. Tomasz Gielo looks to be penciled in as the other starter on the block with Saiz. The Liberty transfer can stretch the floor with his jump shot but he can be taken advantage of physically down low. Rasheed Brooks, a junior college transfer, is a bit of an unknown right now as is J.T. Escobar. Terence Davis is extremely athletic and will provide help on the defensive side but is still a little raw offensively. It is too early to get a read on some of these guys because we just simply haven’t seen them play enough.
Overall, this team lacks in physicality and size down low but is very athletic across the board. Ole Miss will use their athleticism as an advantage and play a very fast-paced brand of basketball. However, their current lack of a second scorer (that could change depending on how the newcomers adjust to this level of basketball) and lack of depth down low might cause problem for the Rebels especially after they enter conference play. Much to the frustration of Ole Miss fans, I expect this team to win a few games they probably shouldn’t and lose some games they probably shouldn’t. An Andy Kennedy team will never be bad, but I do think this is a transition year for the Rebels which will likely end in an NIT berth.
|Michael Borkey||Red Cup Rebellion|
Andy Kennedy has got a brand spanking new arena, that Tad Pad is now gone by the wayside. Welcome to Pavilion time! Well at least the second half of the season. You see much like the football stadium at Kentucky, Ole Miss' new place is just not ready yet to host you know, games. But come January, PAVILION TIME! So in the interim enjoy the opportunity to watch the lights randomly go out, and the bathrooms malfunctioning. It'll be quaint. Anyway, any conversation surrounding Ole Miss starts and ends with Stefan Moody. This guy can straight shoot the lights out, getting "on fire" is kind of his thing, and if Ole Miss is to have any chance at making anything of their season, it'll come down to him. Jarvis Summers, his co-complement last year is now gone so he'll have to take on more than last year, but as we've seen, he's got no conscience and will be the reason Ole Miss is in games or not. Stop him and you stop the Rebels, it's that simple. Something less simple is explaining to someone why Andy Kennedy can't buy a suit that fits him. The 90s are over sir, people like things that at least look like they fit. Get a tailor and stop looking like a member of a Color Me Bad cover group.
About the preview: Each SBNation site was asked for one representative to submit a Game-by-Game pick of the upcoming SEC season to get a different look than if we just asked them to submit a ranking by team, or a prediction for their record. It yielded some interesting results as you can see.
GP: Games Played
%min: Percentage of team minutes played that were available
%poss: Percentage of usage, when a player is the cause of the end of possession (turnover or shot)
%points: Percentage of points scored vs team points
%rbds: Percentage of rebounds vs team rebounds
eFG%: Field Goal percentage with added weight of 50% for three point shots made
%3pm: Percentage of 3-point makes to team 3-point makes
ORtg: Average points scored per 100 possessions (if the player was responsible for each possession)
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