First year head coach Kermit Davis received the game ball after Saturday’s blowout win over Western Michigan in the locker room.
It was his first win — a 90-64 never-in-doubter — as Ole Miss’ head coach, and it was a historic moment for the man tasked with building a program after tenured front-man Andy Kennedy’s departure last season.
The team gave him a good round of applause before breaking it down with “Family on Three” — a look of cohesion and unity before another 30 games of regular season play.
Opening season games are typically reserved for also-ran opponents, but Western Michigan has played in the postseason seven of the last 16 seasons under coach Steve Hawkins. They are also defending MAC West champions, so by no means a terrible opponent.
So while it’s really early in the season, we might as well make some large, sweeping generalizations about the team and prepare for an upset of Butler on Friday right? RIGHT?
The unified defensive front was more than evident Saturday as the Rebels generated 39 points off of 24 turnovers, including 15 steals. Why are 15 steals a big deal? Because last season, the team averaged just over 6 steals per game — and that was BEFORE losing the team leader in steals (Markel Crawford).
We assumed we’d see an intensified defense, since it had been mentioned by a few players in the preseason, but if the Rebels can force timely errors regularly, that will be a component spark for this athletic team to be able to get into transition.
If you watch the highlights, you’ll see seven-footer Dominik Olejniczak poke away a pass and take it coast to coast for dunk. There is no way we saw anything close to him doing that last year, so the focus on defense in Kermit’s club is very clear.
Terence Davis led the way, thank you.
No surprise here, but Terence Davis led all scorers with 17 points and looks to be the go-to offensive option for this team.
TD scored 12 of his points in the first eight minutes of the game, and he logged 28 minutes of time, slowing his scoring considerably for the remainder of the game. What was more impressive was his ability to score without relying on long range shots, as he attempted only two three pointers all game.
For a senior to show up like this, it’s a mark that he is going to be the guy for this season. He had the opportunity to go play overseas and probably make some decent money, but he chose to come back to Oxford and improve his NBA draft stock. However far he can take this team will mean a lot to his future.