Kennedy trying to find balance in Ole Miss' backcourt


Danny P Smith



It''s a good problem to have for Ole Miss basketball coach Andy Kennedy. 


Or is it? 


There are so many guards available for Kennedy this season that he''s had a hard time singling out three to four he can put on the court at one time. 


After Chris Warren, Eniel Polynice and Trevor Gaskins went down with knee injuries last season, it left Kennedy scrambling to find a productive guard to help emerging freshman Terrico White. 


Now that Warren, Polynice and Gaskins are back, Kennedy has been trying to find a balance for everyone. 


"It''s been more of a challenge than I anticipated," Kennedy said. "As coaches, we want as many good players as we can have and certainly with our guys coming back from last year''s injuries, it gives us more options in our backcourt." 


Kennedy gets another chance to find out which combination works best today when Ole Miss travels to play Georgia at 7 p.m. (SEC Network). 


The more games Ole Miss (12-3, 0-1 Southeastern Conference) gets under its belt, the more Kennedy sees what he can do with certain players. 


Warren and White lead Ole Miss in scoring with 16.7 points each per game, but Kennedy said his squad is still trying to find an offensive rhythm. 


"We''re trying to get guys to understand their roles, accept their roles and have a better understanding of when they are coming into games," Kennedy said. "As coaches, through 15 games, I think we have a better understanding of playing combinations. Certain guys play better with certain guys and it takes a little while to figure all of that out." 


Warren and Polynice have come back from their injuries to contribute well at times, while it has been a struggle for Gaskins. 


Gaskins shoots 27 percent (18 of 68) from the field for the Rebels. 


Kennedy, who became known for his shooting touch at Winston Academy and Louisville High School, then collegiately at North Carolina State and UAB, wishes he could figure out a way to get Gaskins going. 


"If I could, I would have done it a month ago," Kennedy said. "We''ve just moved into our brand new basketball practice facility and right off my office is the court. As I hear that ball bouncing, he''s out there shooting. That''s step one. He''s putting his time in and we''ve got to get him quality looks. If he''s doing that, you hope he''s eventually going to come out of it." 


Kennedy said his staff coaches Gaskins on the mechanics of shooting and the importance of having a consistent release point in order to get a consistent result. 


"That''s something we''re constantly harping on, not only with him but all of our guys," Kennedy said. "Sometimes when you are struggling, you can''t wait to get that first one up, and we''re trying to coach him into making sure that his first one is a good quick look and he can get into a rhythm." 


Kennedy understands it''s tougher to get into that rhythm when having to play SEC games, especially on the road. 


He respects the job coach Mark Fox has done at Georgia (8-6, 0-1) in his first season. 


"I''ve been very impressed," Kennedy said. "His team is playing exceptionally hard and they''ve done a very good job of defending home court (7-1) in having knocked off Georgia Tech their last home outing." 


Fox said the Bulldogs have had their moments when they played well offensively and defensively, but haven''t been at their best all of the time in those areas. 


"We have learned how to play together and play pretty unselfishly," Fox said. "The key for us is to become a little more consistent, develop a little depth and continue to improve." 




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