College Basketball Nation: Ole Miss Runnin' Rebels

1. The ACC's commitment should hold off any major expansion or alignment issues, assuming the Big Ten doesn't see the need to raid a lesser conference. This doesn't mean the ACC won't decide independently to go to 16 schools and potentially add Connecticut and Cincinnati. This is still more than plausible since 16 is a more manageable number than 15. Neither makes sense for the Big Ten since that league already has the Cincinnati market with Ohio State and doesn't need Hartford-Storrs. So, if UConn and Cincinnati have to stay in the newly named American Conference they shouldn't be sentenced to purgatory. Having each other, Louisville for a year, and perennial NCAA teams Memphis and Temple will give the two former Big East programs at least three top 50 games every season. If these teams schedule right outside the league -- and they likely will -- then making the NCAA tournament shouldn't be an issue. For those who squabble about the lack of quality opponents in the conference season then remember this: All that matters is tournament access. And UConn and Cincinnati will have a legitimate shot every season to make the field.

2. Providence coach Ed Cooley said it was worthwhile to have Ricky Ledo practice with the team for a season, even though Ledo will never play for the Friars after being declared academically ineligible and he decided to declare for the NBA draft. "The year off helped him see the game differently," said Cooley. "I told him to come to practice with a purpose and within the purpose what is his plan. He definitely improved defensively. We would have loved to have had him. Had he played for us he would have been one of the leading scorers in the country next season. But our guys got to play against him and got better. Our scout team was unbelievable.''

3. Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said Marshall Henderson is staying in Oxford this summer, taking classes and working on his game. The high-volume shooter is working on his ballhandling and strength, according to Kennedy. Henderson has to diversify his game if he wants to play in the NBA. He returns for his senior season as one of the storylines and with plenty of hype to lead the Rebels back to the NCAA tournament.

Podcast: Is Henderson good for hoops?

March, 25, 2013
Michael Smith and Jemele Hill discuss the NCAA tournament and if Ole Miss' Marshall Henderson is good for college basketball.

Home Court: Sunday wrap

March, 25, 2013
A week ago, I believed I had it all figured out.

Moments after the Selection Sunday pairings were announced, I began to compile my annual "10 bold predictions" column.

So I analyzed the bracket. Consulted the mountains of research that streams from Bristol each day. Scoured Checked the RPI and the BPI.

I looked at strength of schedule and top-100 wins. Scrutinized the best and worst wins of teams I trusted and those I didn't. And then, I went with my gut.

My projections included a claim that the Pac-12 would go 0-5 in the NCAA tournament and Marshall Henderson would fail to lead Ole Miss past Wisconsin.

Oh, it gets better.

I picked Middle Tennessee to reach the Sweet 16.

Today, my list of predictions belongs in the same fire pit as my bracket, which slotted Georgetown as a Final Four squad and Wisconsin as an Elite Eight team.

It has been only a week. But everything that seemed reasonable and practical and possible has been questioned and reconsidered. By me. By you. By all of us, really.

Read Myron Medcalf’s full story on Home Court by clicking here.

Video: Ole Miss 64, Missouri 62

March, 16, 2013

Ole Miss erases a 14 point second half deficit to advance in the SEC tournament with a 64-62 win over Missouri.

Conference Power Rankings: SEC

December, 21, 2012
The top remains the same. Yes, the Gators suffered a tough road loss at Arizona Saturday, their first of the season. But I can’t elevate Missouri over the Gators yet. If the Tigers beat Illinois this weekend, let’s talk.

1. Florida. The Gators were one of the nation’s most dominant teams until the final minutes of its 65-64 loss at Arizona Saturday. The McKale Center was booming just hours after the Wildcats’ football squad had defeated Nevada in a crazy, come-from-behind win in the New Mexico Bowl. The place came alive as Arizona made its final, game-turning run. Florida made critical mistakes down the stretch. But I’ll still take the Gators over the rest of the league.

2. Missouri. The Jabari Brown Experiment began with a so-so showing in Monday’s 102-51 win over South Carolina State (12 points, 1-for-7 from the 3-point line). But he hadn’t played a regulated game since Nov. 17, 2011. So the rust was expected. The bottom line is that Frank Haith has access to another high-level wing. And that Missouri backcourt will need more depth to win the SEC crown. Saturday’s matchup against Illinois will be a good test for the Tigers’ (new) guard rotation.

3. Kentucky. No, this season's Wildcats aren’t last year’s Wildcats. But what team in 2012-13 is comparable to that group? They are, however, a group of talented players that has jelled in recent weeks -- albeit against mediocre competition. They’re still one of the nation’s best offensive (26th in efficiency) and defensive (12th) units. How much better is this group compared to a few weeks ago when it lost back-to-back games at Notre Dame and against Baylor in Rupp Arena? We probably won’t know until they’ve played a solid number of SEC games unless they pull off the upset at Louisville Dec. 29.

4. Tennessee. Cuonzo Martin told Thursday that the team is close to a decision on the status of Jeronne Maymon. The 6-foot-7, 260-pound senior is clearly a missing piece for a Vols squad that could use his size and talent (12.7 ppg, 8.1 ppg). Yet he’s still a question mark for the program. The Vols have picked up a pair of wins, including one against Wichita State, since losing two in a row to Georgetown and Virginia. Maymon’s situation, however, could play a role in whether the program can sustain that success, especially as SEC play approaches.

5. Ole Miss. From Jan. 9 through Jan. 15, Ole Miss will play at Tennessee, versus Missouri and at Vanderbilt. If they’re legit, the Rebels must prove it during that stretch. Their nonconference schedule has been so subpar that they’ve been difficult to assess. Yes, they’re averaging 81.6 ppg, 10th in the nation, and they’re 16th in defensive efficiency, but whom have they played? In their toughest matchup thus far, they registered only 62 points in a three-point loss at Middle Tennessee.

6. LSU. The Tigers suffered their first loss of the season on the road against a solid Boise State team Friday. The 89-70 margin was the result of the Tigers finally facing a team that made them pay for their turnover issues (20 at Boise State). They’d gotten away with that sloppiness throughout the nonconference slate. But Boise State was just the second team that Jonny Jones’ program had faced with a top-100 rating on

7. Texas A&M. The Aggies’ 64-54 loss at former Big 12 adversary Oklahoma Saturday was the result of poor ballhandling (19 turnovers) and the Sooners’ 18-for-19 clip from the charity stripe. But the Aggies are as capable as any second-tier squad in the SEC. To rise above middle-of-the-pack status, however, they’ll have to improve their inconsistent defense (159th in efficiency).

8. Alabama. The injury bug reached Tuscaloosa at a bad time. Carl Engstrom is out for the year with a torn ACL. Andrew Steele could miss the next month with a sports hernia. Anthony Grant’s depth has taken a serious hit as a result of those injuries. But at least the Crimson Tide ended their three-game losing streak with Wednesday’s 66-62 victory at Texas Tech. Yes, it’s Texas Tech, but this program needs any victory it can get right now. With its short rotation, they might hit more hurdles once SEC play begins.

9. Arkansas. Arkansas can roll with the top offenses in the country (81.8 ppg). The Razorbacks, however, have struggled to neutralize opponents. And until they clean up their defense, they’ll remain in the bottom tier of the league. B.J. Young (17.1 ppg) and Marshawn Powell (16.1. ppg) will keep them alive in many games. But unless the Razorbacks clamp down (190th in efficiency), they’ll continue to struggle in meaningful matchups.

10. Vanderbilt. On Friday, the Commodores will face mid-major standout Middle Tennessee at home. In past years, Kevin Stallings’ squad had the advantage. But this year’s unit, one that relies on youth (a dozen underclassmen), is not in the same position. The 5-4 Commodores, however, have developed some momentum in December. They’ve won three in a row, including a 66-64 win at Xavier in overtime Dec. 6. Let’s see if that momentum continues against Middle Tennessee.

11. South Carolina. There’s certainly no verdict on South Carolina yet. Frank Martin has a veteran core of Brenton Williams, LaShay Page, Lakeem Jackson and Bruce Ellington. That’s one plus for the program. But the Gamecocks are still 7-3 against an average schedule. So in some ways, they’re tough to gauge right now, which is the story of this conference so far. But clearly their defense needs work (269th in efficiency per

12. Auburn. Another SEC squad that won’t get much credit because of its subpar nonconference schedule and the 5-5 record it has amassed against it. But the Tigers have won three consecutive games. And 6-2 guard Chris Denson (16.7 ppg) has emerged during this streak. That’s a good sign for an Auburn team that’s going to face disadvantages at most positions when SEC play begins.

13. Georgia. Mark Fox’s squad ended a three-game losing streak (the Bulldogs had lost seven of eight) with Tuesday’s 58-49 victory over Mercer. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, one of the league’s top talents, scored 17 points. Georgia needs every win it can muster right now because its SEC slate begins with this tough stretch: at Florida, vs. MSU, at Mizzou, vs. LSU and vs. Florida.

14. Mississippi State. Rick Ray is doing what he can right now with this Mississippi State team. At some point, as he builds this program, he’ll have to identify more capable offensive players because that's the Bulldogs’ biggest weakness right now (288th in offensive efficiency). He has two players (Roquez Johnson and Fred Thomas) who are averaging double figures. But he needs more.
Thanks to the new NCAA rule allowing coaches to work with players for a few hours a week during the summer (provided those players are enrolled in summer school), most college practice gyms across the country look exactly like the one you'll see in the below video. Everyone's sweating and working out and carrying large objects in the summer heat. Sort of like Rocky in "Rocky 4", but with less snow.

In any case, I'm not sure I've ever seen a hoops program present said offseason workouts with the sort of stylized aesthetic you'll see below. The Ole Miss Rebels -- via athletic director Ross Bjork's Twitter feed -- released video of their offseason workouts by way of introduction to the Rebels crop of incoming 2012 players, and the production values are incredibly slick. To wit:

See? It's "30 for 30"-esque. It also features an air-kiss from incoming Junior College Player of the Year Marshall Henderson, which has caused at least some ambivalence among the Rebels fans at Red Cup Rebellion. Understandably so.

Anyway, short of a live workout stream -- the bylaw ramifications of which would be difficult to untangle -- this is about as good as you can do, summer-workout-video-wise. Whether all that cord ripping and tire pushing will get Ole Miss back to the NCAA tournament in 2012-13 is yet to be seen. But I do know this: If iMovie expertise was a selection committee qualification, the Rebels would already have a leg up on the competition.