Spruce Derden-US PRESSWIRE
|Ole Miss O||Bama D||Bama O||Ole Miss D|
|eFG%||47.5% (9)||46.2% (5)||46.1% (10)||49.7% (10)|
|TO%||16% (1)||23.7% (2)||18.9% (5)||19.5% (8)|
|OR%||33.3% (6)||31.9% (8)||30.1% (10)||31.8% (7)|
|FTR||39.7 (4)||32.8 (6)||35.1 (9)||30.8 (4)|
I don’t know if the Rebels win tonight. You can break down all the statistical data you want, but if the team goes out and give an effort like they did Saturday, or against South Carolina, or at Texas A&M, numbers don’t mean anything. They are a guide, but if the effort and execution’s not there, the stats are meaningless.
This will likely be AK’s last home game as the Rebel head coach. It’s a damn shame too, because of all the teams AK has had in 7 successful (in Ole Miss basketball terms) seasons, this one seemed primed to break through. The conference is weak, experienced backcourt, an explosive shooter/scorer, a senior-laden front court that includes the program’s all-time leading shot blocker and rebounder. But for the 6th time in 7 seasons, the bubble has popped. Inexcusable losses to clearly inferior teams have doomed every AK team, and this year has proven to be no different.
But that’s not why he’s likely to be fired. To quote BB King, the thrill is gone. AK just doesn’t excite anyone any more. We’ve all seen this movie and know how it ends. I’m not going to disparage AK. He’s done some good things at Ole Miss – 7 straight winning seasons, 6 20 win seasons, a .629 winning %, had a practice facility built – all while dealing with an antiquated arena, a largely basketball-apathetic fanbase, 0 history/tradition, etc. I recognize that and appreciate it, and you should too. He took over Rod Barnes’ dumpster fire and established the Rebels as a winner in just one season. The program is much stronger than it was before he got here. That shouldn’t be forgotten.
But as the Rebels look to build a new arena, AK doesn’t excite the alumni. He lost many alumni a few years ago with his "International Incident" and many more supporters since with his teams’ consistent failures in February. Many point to Ed Orgeron’s inexplicable decision to go for it on 4th down as the reason he was fired. He was fired two weeks earlier when there were less than 15,000 people in VHS for a game against Northwestern State. I don’t remember the announced attendance that game, but it was inflated significantly. And while I’m certainly not trying to compare AK to EOr, the same principle applies: When you lose the fanbase, you’re lost.
Murphy Holloway and Nick Williams deserve more on senior night than what will likely happen tonight.
(As always, the conference rankings pulled from kenpom.com, quite possibly the coolest site on the whole wide intertubes... Red Cup Rebellion excluded of course)