If there's any more prevalent example of how much Southeastern residents care about football moreso than basketball, it is in the sports' respective media days coverages.
For football, we have the much celebrated June ritual of SEC Media DayS. For basketball, there's SEC Media DAY. Day. Singular. It's only one day, as opposed to football's three, and it covers men's and women's ball.
So maybe we Southeasterners don't care as much as we should, or perhaps football just means that much more to us. But whatever, I got a glimpse at SEC the Basketball Media Day coverage from Hoover's formerly luxurious and popular Wynfrey Hotel, which looks about one strong wind gust from toppling, which did offer some insight into what to expect from the Rebels and the SEC West this season.First, the bizarre: Terrence Henry is STILL GROWING. What? Yes. Still growing. According to Andy Kennedy, the slender Henry is now 6'10'', 210 lbs. Its great to see our big men putting on some pounds (Henry was once listed at 185 as a high school senior), but how has he grown an inch? A little unusual, and maybe just a slip up on Kennedy's part, but welcomed if true.
From Kennedy's interview, it is apparent that the entire season will succeed or fail based on the play and leadership of Chris Warren. He's a senior, so all of the responsibility is piled on his slight frame. Though Warren admitted, he's also put on 5 to 10 pounds as well, he will be looked to for more than points and ridiculous speed up and down the court.
Warren will be the ones calling players into huddles during the game to talk strategy and keep everyone up and ready for the next scenario. I think he's had issues being vocal in the past, and with Terrico White around plus his past knee injury limiting his play one season, that was a little understandable. Now, it's his team, his season, and his time to show up and play big.
Demarco Cox continues to get a lot of praise from coaches. Kennedy compared him to Glen "Big Baby" Davis today. If Cox can shoot and rebound like that, plus play defense better than Reginald Bucker like Kennedy earlier mentioned ("he'll shatter the freshman blocks record"), the big 6'8'', 285 lbs Yazoo City product could be the best big man at Ole Miss since before Dwayne Curtis.
From listening to a few other coaches in the SEC West, there is just a lot of question marks for just about every team. Every coach has answers for them, but the western division is not nearly as stacked as the eastern division in my opinion.
Mississippi State is no doubt returning a boatload of talent, and Rick Stansbury always has them ready. LSU has the disproportionate-cranium'd Malcolm White...good for you, Tigers...plus a coach who sort of looks like Admiral Ackbar.
Arkansas has a great recruiting class lined up, but John Pelphrey has yet to pull together a great season in Fayetteville. Auburn has a new arena and a new coach, so it is likely they will endure growing pains throughout the year. But, man, won't those concession areas be killer?
Alabama returns JaMychal Green, and their coach is young and hungry. Bama fans won't be paying attention, however, until mid-January or later if the team isn't performing well. Then, at that point, we'll all be incessantly reminded as to how badass Alabama is, has always been, and always will be (memories of Alabama baseball fans in Hoover come to mind).
With all of that in consideration, Ole Miss is not in the worst nor the best situation in the west. Kennedy still continues to look for an NCAA tournament berth with a quasi-veteran line-up and some new energy on the team in the form of Nick Williams (an Indiana transfer who is the "second loudest voice on the team" after Kennedy).
If Williams can be a reliable double-digit scorer and Warren reaches his ultimate potential, our bigs will be freed up to roam a little more, which is what Kennedy has been pushing since his arrival in Oxford five years ago. This isn't the most experienced version of the Rebel roundballers we've seen in five years, but it could very well be one of the most lengthy and athletic.