In a result that has been in the works since last spring after a career academic chancellor decided to play athletic director and not roll over a contract, Andy Kennedy is no longer the head coach of the Ole Miss men’s basketball team. Kennedy’s 12-year reign in Oxford will likely end in early March at the SEC Basketball Tournament in St. Louis (lol, was Galveston booked?), barring a guard-oriented offense finding guards who can shoot between now and then.
It’s a trash ending to the most successful era of Ole Miss men’s basketball, and even more absurd that it was spurred by a PowerPoint presentation rooted in flawed and incomplete data*, but ALGORITHM. However, surely a GOOD OL’ BOY HAND-PICKED coach is the key to taking the basketball program to a level it has never reached!
EDITOR’S NOTE: Fam, if your argument is Ole Miss isn’t getting enough value for its dollar, pick schools that spend similarly on basketball and see how they’ve done. Of course, even then you still have problems because you have to figure spending versus conference competition an- I’M FALLING ASLEEP BECAUSE THIS IS SO BORING.
Anyway, point being, if you wanted to get rid of Kennedy, fine. But doing it this way was colossally stupid (THE ONLY PATH FOR OLE MISS) and will be a total waste if Ole Miss doesn’t decide to really care about basketball. Because if you think Andy Kennedy is the reason Ole Miss basketball is being held back, oh buddy, do I have some exciting multi-level marketing investment opportunities for you.
But as a famous British philosopher once said, let us not bicker and argue about who killed who. This remembrance will be a happy occasion.
With that in mind, I give you some of my favorite Andy Kennedy moments, in no particular order.
In his first year at Ole Miss, Kennedy took over a Rod Barnes culture and team that had won 17 conference games over the previous four years (SEVENTEEN IN FOUR YEARS; GLAD HE GOT THAT FOURTH YEAR). All he did was win eight SEC games and a share of the SEC West title.
This game will always stick out to me, mostly because I remember the hollerin’ I was doing, and this never happens in favor of Ole Miss.
Why are you here?
Kennedy’s second year at Ole Miss saw David Huertas, who was a member of Florida’s 2006 national title team, step on to the floor of polio-riddled Tad Smith Coliseum for the first time since transferring. If you recall, things didn’t get off to a great start.
In one of the December non-conference games played in front of 600 people who were likely just there to gamble on whether the Tad Pad roof would leak, Kennedy let loose one of his greatest lines. Unfortunately, the internet has been scrubbed of documentation for this happening (or it’s fallen below the second page of a Google search), so you’ll just have to trust me here.
Thanks to the lack of crowd murmuring, people in attendance could hear most things shouted by either head coach. Kennedy, frustrated with his star transfer’s performance, screamed at Huertas, “JUSTIFY YOUR EXISTENCE”.
We should all demand this of our friends and family imo.
Two inside tales
Via Ben Garrett’s extensive article on the Kennedy era, Murphy Holloway delivers two of the finest AK stories in all the land.
First, from his recruiting experience with Kennedy:
“He told me straight up (during my recruitment) what I had to do. I had to get my grades, and he told me he was going to wait on me throughout the summer. He shook my hand like a black man would, and I was like, ‘He’s cool as hell.’ I’m 16, 17 and he’s one of the coolest guys I’d met. I wanted to play for him.”
And the second story, for which I would pay top dollar to have audio or video, involves Kennedy trying to motivate his team in the midst of a slump:
“We’re in the locker room, and this is my sophomore year when Terrico White was on the team,” Holloway said. “We were a good team, but we had just started losing. He was going around, telling everybody ‘You’re not this good, you’re not as good. Chris Warren, you’re good. But you’re out right now, and you’re a little short. Murph, all you want to do is go to the Library and hang out with the girls.’ He went around like that to most of the team. He told us most of us were going to be over in Poland eating chicken sandwiches taping our own ankles.
“So I’ll never go to Poland. Never.”
No matter where Kennedy’s career goes after this, he will always be able to say he used the fear of playing in the Polish basketball league to change Murphy Holloway’s life.
A personal tale
Shortly after Kennedy was hired, I found myself in the same Oxford establishment as him one night. While knowing he would have no interest in whatever it was I had to say, did that stop me from casually (CASUALLY, I SAY) walking over to say a few words? IT DID NOT.
I rambled on about how dumb it was his Cincinnati team got left out of the NCAA Tournament that year (he heartily agreed), and that we were very excited to be exiting the Rod Barnes era. He assured me that the Barnes era was over and that “we’re gonna get it f - - - - n’ right.”
I KNEEL FOR THEE, SIR.
One of my favorite things about the Kennedy era is the freedom he gave players on offense. There was a structure, but he was never a FIVE PASSES BEFORE YOU SHOOT THE SYSTEM IS KING guy. If you could play, shoot 20 times and let’s see what happens.
Despite only one of his teams (2012) finishing outside the top 100 in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency, a segment of Ole Miss fans loved to shriek STREETBALL at Kennedy’s offense (with only slightly racist undertones!). Even though Kennedy’s offense featured, at a minimum, dribble handoffs, Iverson cuts, and Horns sets, which, you know, are run by everyone.
But we should probably defer to the expert Ole Miss fans who can’t define one of those things.
Always a great interview and someone who will tell you exactly why his team won or lost, this moment will be on Kennedy’s greatest hits. At last year’s SEC basketball tournament, Laura Rutledge of the SEC Network attempted to interview Kennedy at halftime of the Missouri game.
The only problem was the Ole Miss band, within 15 feet of the interview, fired it up to 11 about three seconds before the first question was asked.
Drop your favorite AK moments in the comments, but please, PowerPoint format only.