Picture this: three guards lead the team in minutes played on the season. The success of the team depends almost entirely on the success of those three guards. The leading scorer is a hot-shooting, explosive junior guard who, when he is on, can create offense by himself. There are some promising young bigs, but things are not excellent down low.
Sound familiar? Yeah... of course I’m talking about the 2014-2015 Ole Miss Rebel basketball team. Stefan Moody, Jarvis Summers, and Snoop White helped lead a team without many great options under the basket. While sophomores Sebastian Saiz and Dwight Coleby showed promise at times, neither consistently did much. The most significant forward was MJ Rhett, who transferred in from Tennessee State as a graduate transfer.
These Rebels weren’t a flawless team, but much like this year’s club, they made it work for the most part, finishing SEC play at 11-7 in conference.
How did they manage that?
Well, first of all Stefan Moody was exceptional at times. While he finished the season with just a 35% 3-point shooting percentage, he could be instant offense. He proved that by scoring 26 points in the play-in game against BYU. Sure, he had frustrating games like his 1 for 9 performance in the team’s season-opening loss to Charlotte Southern, but having a player at the top who could take over the game was really helpful.
Beyond him, Jarvis Summers was both a scorer and distributor. He averaged 4.8 assists to just 2 turnovers per game. Snoop White was a 50/50 spin of the wheel as to whether he’d impact games, but in game when he produced, he really helped out.
MJ Rhett, a one-year graduate transfer, averaged just over 7 points and 4 rebounds per game but was generally helpful, especially given the 1.5 blocks per game he averaged.
Sebastian Saiz and Dwight Coleby did some good things offensively, averaging 7.6 and 5.4 rebounds per game. Both showed some nifty offensive skill, but Saiz hadn’t yet reached his potential, and Coleby was likely checked out at some point later in the year before transferring to Kansas in the offseason.
Guard Martavious Newby played a lot, but other than his 5.4 rebounds per game, he didn’t do much.
So would this team beat that team?
In a word: probably. While the 2015 squad was a fun one to watch at times, they were also pretty inefficient offensively. While their field goal percentage was only three percent lower than the 2019 squad’s on the season, 3% is actually a decent chunk.
Given how the 2019 team plays disruptive-but-not-great defense, you could expect a lot of turnovers. Neither team would be able to rely on much production from its bigs, so the matchups would primarily be related to the guards.
Could Devontae Shuler hold Stefan Moody in check? Probably somewhat. Jarvis Summers would likely be able to cut down on turnovers forced by Terence Davis and Breein Tyree. Would Snoop White win his matchup against Tyree or Davis? Given how prolific those two have been this year when they’re playing well, it’s tough to imagine that working.
Most importantly, what about the coach?
If we’re comparing Andy Kennedy to Kermit Davis while at Ole Miss, obviously one of them has much more experience we can pick apart. Kennedy had more of a free flowing approach to everything, while Kermit is clearly more of a disciplinarian.
But AK knew he needed to give his volume scoring based offense a lot of leeway to work, and sometimes it worked fantastically. Kermit so far seems to have a much more balanced and efficient offensive scheme and defensively the weak point is three pointers from the corner in his 1-3-1 based defense.
So would it be a clashing of the coaching minds and philosophies? A little bit but ultimately, we would give Kermit a slight edge based on his overall experience and ability to motivate in a big game.
I’d take this 2019 squad by 6. What about you? Comment below or tweet @redcuprebellion with your prediction on this extremely hypothetical game.