New coach juggles schedule and recruiting
By: Whitney Tarpy
June 19, 2006
University, MS -- New men's basketball coach Andy Kennedy, like all new coaches, was hired to turn the Ole Miss program in a positive direction, and Kennedy plans on achieving this goal.
"I didn't come here to be a martyr," said Kennedy.
"I came here to try to be successful. This job, like any job, has its challenges. I see this as a tremendous opportunity, and I'm excited to be here."
To start his success, Kennedy immediately began recruiting. Kennedy has been searching the country for valuable assets to be added to the team and has had great luck with players in the Southeast, including new recruits from Miami, Atlanta, and Alexandria, La. for next year's team.
"We are constantly recruiting," Kennedy said. "Recruiting is a relationship business. We'll go where we think kids meet our needs. We have to show that Ole Miss is a viable option."
Although the summer is busy with recruiting, Kennedy has also been busy making the upcoming season's schedule.
Rebel fans can expect the usual challenges from SEC teams, and with Kennedy's experience in other tough leagues, Ole Miss will be facing teams such as South Alabama, St. Louis and most notably, the University of Connecticut.
This high-profile matchup occurs during the Hispanic College Fund Classic which begins on Nov. 17.
"We know it's going to be a tremendous challenge," Kennedy said. "But we're playing early in the year so it will give us a very good gauge as to where we are and where we aspire to be."
Ole Miss will also make a trip to the Bluff City for its annual game against the University of Memphis. The Tigers were a No. 1 seed in the 2006 NCAA Tournament.
Kennedy is searching for one final game to complete the slate.
"The logistics of working out a schedule has never been very easy," Kennedy said.
"It's almost like recruiting. You put a lot of time and energy into it and you've got it all just about the way you want. Then one school has a change of heart and it messes everything up."
Returning Rebel players have had time since he was hired to get to know their new coach.
Kennedy said that they had about a month and a half of floor time to evaluate the situation and the needs of the team.
It was also a time for the Rebels to put a face with a name since this was a huge change for them.
Having grown up in Mississippi, moving to Oxford was more like a homecoming for Kennedy, since he had not returned to Mississippi in awhile.
"Oxford has changed tremendously since I was here last," said Kennedy. "The amenities for a town this size are probably second to none. Chancellor Khayat has done a tremendous job of making this a world-class university."
Kennedy said that the staff and the team are trying their best to bring men's basketball up to the rest of the university and make it something that everyone can be proud of.
One thing that caught Kennedy's attention about Oxford was how passionate people are about Ole Miss.
"I saw it firsthand with what Coach Bianco did with the baseball team," said Kennedy. "They had a successful year and everyone got behind them and created an exciting environment, so I know the people here are passionate and love sports and that's very important."
As for players already on the roster, Marquis Young, Mike Smith and Brandon Patterson will not be returning.
However, the Rebels' top four scorers are all coming back in Dwayne Curtis, Bam Doyne, Clarence Sanders and Todd Abernethy.
(C) 2006 Daily Mississippian