Archive for October, 2008

HOOPS FINAL: 115-81

October 31, 2008

Ripley, I had to get home and take care of the trick-or-treaters a little bit before I came into the office.

Lots of talent on this basketball team. Much of it is raw and undefined as you might imagine for this point in the season, but there is talent, and there are options.

Liked what I saw from Terrico White tonight. I expected to be impressed after Andy Kennedy called him a “monster athlete” this week.

Saw a lot of skill in both Murphy Holloway and Terrance Henry, but neither stood out above the other tonight.

The one who stood out was DeAundre Cranston. I did not expect the type of athleticism I saw from a kid who was still around in the late signing period. He’s a big body who can score with angles the way Dwayne Curtis did but can also shoot the 3. He hit two of them tonight. Much more athletic than Jermey Parnell or Kenny Williams were.

Among the regulars, David Huertas looked really good in his limited time. Scored from the 3 and created his own offense off the dribble.

Chris Warren had a couple of “Wow” plays too.

Eniel Polynice passed well. He didn’t play in the second half. Kennedy said he’s had some swelling around his knee, nothing serious, but something to keep an eye on.

— PA

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HOOPS: 52-43 at the half

October 31, 2008

Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy is giving as much playing time as he can to anyone who might be involved in the playing rotation. All the newcomers were in the game by the time it was 7 minutes old.

South Carolina freshman Murphy Holloway started the game. He and Terrance Henry have both shown some flashes. Neither are scared to take it to the basket. That’s not necessarily a good thing until they get it under control more.

Holloway started the game, along with Huertas, Warren, Polyniece and Malcolm White.

Huertas was hot early and helped get the game under control, but the older guys really didn’t play extensively in the first half.

White had a nice 15 footer that he stepped up and drained with confidence. Juco transfer DeAundre Cranston, a beefy 6-9 post with a build similar to Dwayne Curtis, has hit two 3-pointers.

Holloway has been active around the bucket.

Defensively, there have been some lapses that you expect from new guys.

North Alabama has hit 4-of-10 3-pointers, two of them by their 6-6 center, who looks to be near 300 pounds.

UNA returns three starters from a team that averaged 87 points last year and reached the Division II Elite Eight.

Second half is about to begin.

— PA

FOOTBALL: Friday morning tid-bits

October 31, 2008

A few Friday morning notes as Ole Miss heads into the Auburn game, the Rebels’ biggest game in four years.

— Lou Holtz and Mark May of ESPN both picked Ole Miss to be Auburn last night, for whatever that’s worth.
— I also pick the Rebels, so maybe there’s an ESPN gig in my future. If Ole Miss does in fact win it will be the first loss for Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville in Oxford. He is 4-0 playing against his former team at his former stadium.

Auburn is 18-6 in road or neutral games since 2004. That’s the fourth-best record in the nation. The Alabama Tigers are 8-1 all-time in Oxford, including a 23-17 win two years ago.

— This is the second of three straight games with close coaching connections for Ole Miss. Obviously Houston Nutt’s return to Arkansas was the biggest. Tuberville having coached at Ole Miss is pretty big too, but no longer newsy since he’s been gone since the 1999 season.

After next week’s open date the Rebels host La.-Monroe, where receivers coach Ron Dickerson and safeties coach Kim Dameron were both assistants last year.

The former Indians from Monroe, now Warhawks, are struggling this year, but they defeated Alabama in Tuscaloosa last season.

— Auburn defensive end Antonio Coleman leads the SEC in sacks with six and in tackles for loss with 10 1/2.

— Ole Miss kicker Joshua Shene has hit his last eight field goals, is 12-for-13 on the season and is 26-for-26 on PATs.

— With 85 yards last week at Arkansas, receiver Mike Wallace became the Rebels’ career leader in kick return yardage with 1,174.

— Ole Miss is just 3-22 against Auburn since 1965, but Nutt is 5-5 against Auburn.

— PA

Vaught statue

October 30, 2008

Michael Reuter, left, Wendy Young, center, and Marda Lugar install a statue of legendary Ole Miss football coach Johnny Vaught outside of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford on Wednesday. The statue will be dedicated in a ceremony on Saturday before the Ole Miss vs. Auburn football game. (AP Photo/Oxford Eagle, Bruce Newman)

FOOTBALL: Predictions Anyone?

October 30, 2008

This is a hard call. There are a lot of intangibles that favor the Rebels against Auburn Saturday.

But I’ve not seen Ole Miss put its best games back-to-back. A 23-21 win over Arkansas wasn’t especially pretty, but it had some bright spots, most notably the fact that Ole Miss had just one turnover and was able to control the line of scrimmage with its run game in the second half.

There’s a lot on the line for the Rebels this week, and they know it. They’re excited to be in a position they’ve never been in before.

Sometimes you don’t handle positions like that the best way the first time around.

Then there’s the wounded Tiger thing and a former Auburn coach suggesting this team has quit. It doesn’t take much to guess what Tommy Tuberville’s pregame speech will be like.

I expect Auburn to play with some fire, but that fire may flame out fast if the Rebels can get on top early. Most Auburn opponents have not been able to do that.

The Rebels are expecting a strong rushing effort from Auburn, and that plays into the Rebels’ strength of stopping the run.

Ole Miss struggled with the option a little bit at Arkansas, and they can expect a heavy dose of that from a more option-oriented quarterback in Kodi Burns. The Rebels defended that play better in the second half, and they’ll need to do it from the get-go against Auburn.

In the passing game, Burns is average, but the Rebels can make him look pretty good.

All in all, I’m saying the Ole Miss team is better prepared than it would have been in recent seasons.

I look for two good games back-to-back and a solid, clean effort at home, which hasn’t been there before.

— PA

Ole Miss 26, Auburn 21

FOOTBALL: No quit in Tigers, Tuberville says

October 29, 2008

Former Auburn coach Pat Dye, who coached Ole Miss DL coach Tracy Rocker, wonders if the Tigers have quit. Tommy Tuberville says it isn’t so, as the Tigers visit Ole Miss Saturday. … Interesting kicking situation for the game. Ole Miss kicker Joshua Shene has made eight straight and 12 of 13. Auburn is having an open competition right now.

— PA

FOOTBALL: Charting Powe’s progress

October 29, 2008

Playing time has decrease of late for freshman defensive tackle Jerrell Powe. It hasn’t been a physical thing. Powe’s strength is there, and conditioning has come along. It has taken him a while to adjust to the college game after two years away from organized football.

Here’s what defensive line coach Tracy Rocker had to say on Powe:

“I need some things solved. I need some gap control. I need guys to stay in the gap. I think we’re getting that worked out. We’ve worked on some things and talked about some things. It may be his time this week. We’ll see.

“Physically, he has all that. What’s important to us as a staff and to me, he’s very physical, he’s a big man, but we’re a gap control defense, and we don’t want guys knocked out of their gaps. He’s not knocked out of the gap. He may get cut off, or someone may scoop him or cut him. We don’t want that. We want him always on his feet, as much as he can be, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

— PA

FOOTBALL: Calling for blue for Saturday

October 29, 2008

This from Ole Miss media relations.

— PA

OXFORD — Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt is asking fans to wear blue to the Rebels’ game against Auburn Saturday at 11:30 a.m. CT. at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

“I am challenging all of you to show up in Ole Miss blue for the game,” Nutt said. “I need you to be in the stands early and be loud. I know the game is early but come on out and get loud. I need all of you to be a blue force.”

Other events on campus Saturday include the dedication of the John Vaught statue in front of the Starnes Athletic Training Center at 10 a.m. In addition, the Ole Miss men’s and women’s basketball teams will be introduced during the game.

FOOTBALL: Updated SEC rankings

October 29, 2008

Rank, Team, Previous

1. Alabama (1): Lone unbeaten in the league.

2. Florida (4): Gators look like they have it together.

3. Georgia (3): Stafford, Moreno shred LSU in Baton Rouge.

4. LSU (2): SEC has more quality top to bottom than Big 12, but the top three have set themselves a part.

5. South Carolina (7): Gamecocks have had two weeks to prepare to host struggling Tennessee.

6. Ole Miss (7): Rebels need to learn to finish games.

7. Vanderbilt (6): Commodores need to find one win against Florida, Kentucky (away), Tennessee or Wake Forest (away) for elusive sixth win.

8. Auburn (10): Tigers looked better for a half at West Virginia and have had two extra days to prepare for Ole Miss.

9. Tennessee (11): Vols piled on late against MSU, sputtered against Alabama.

10. Mississippi State (9): Bulldogs had easier time with Middle Tennessee than regular Tennessee.

11. Kentucky (8): Cats struggling with injuries as the visit MSU.

12. Arkansas (12): The other half of the Houston Nutt saga — Guz Malzahn — visits with vaunted Tulsa offense this week.

— PA

FOOTBALL: Tuesday practice update

October 29, 2008

Greg Hardy left the field near the end of stretching and did not practice Tuesday. Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt is hopeful Hardy will participate more in practice today.

Safety Jamarca Sanford was held out of all contact but is expected to be ready for Saturday’s game against Auburn.

No change on the cornerback depth chart, though Dustin Mouzon was more involved and should get some snaps Saturday.

From the print edition, here’s a link to an opinion piece I had today on the last four games.

— PA