Kermit Davis was recently asked about the struggling offense, something that has become a theme under the Rebel Head Coach during his tenure.
His answer? “Make more shots.”
That answer alone says all anyone should need to know about the state of the program. After multiple seasons of a struggling offense, the answer is not simply, the Rebels have to make more shots. This is a coach failing to take responsibility for the product on the floor and shifting blame to the players. It’s weak.
It starts with recruiting. Rather than identifying the need for shooting/scoring and pursuing that in the offseason, Davis and his staff doubled down on defensive minded players who struggle to score. It does not matter how many points you keep the opponent from scoring, if you can’t put the ball in the basket yourself.
If make more shots was the answer and not something fundamentally wrong with the offense, then why is Austin Crowley averaging 17 points per game after averaging 2.8, 2.4 and 4.9 in his three seasons at Ole Miss.
Why is Luis Rodriguez playing roughly the same amount of minutes and scoring a career high 13 points per game at UNLV? Why is Jarkel Joiner averaging a career high 16.3 points at North Carolina State? Hell, even Sammy Hunter is scoring more at Akron than he ever did at Ole Miss.
The kicker in all of this... they are all doing it at higher efficiency levels than they did in Oxford.
Is it because they magically became better shooters and scorers over the course of one summer? Sure they could have improved some, but that is not the likely answer.
No. It is coaching. Simply put, the players that have transferred out are being put in positions to score with greater ease because the coaching staff understands how to run an offense.
It’s one thing to hang your hat on defense as a coach. Defense wins championships, blah blah blah. Defense is the one thing that travels into tough road environments, especially during off shooting nights. But it is a whole hell of a lot to ask of your defense to constantly carry the torch when every night is an off shooting night for your team.
Sure, there are dynamic guards on this roster in Matthew Murrell and Amaree Abram and Daeshun Ruffin. But when a defense literally does not have to guard anyone else, the looks for those three are going to be heavily contested and tough to come by.
Oh, don’t get me started on the malpractice of keeping James White on the bench. He’s a guy that NBA draft people have their eye on, and he is being clamped down by his own coach.
So, no, the answer for Ole Miss basketball is not simply “mAkE mOrE sHoTs.” The answer is pretty simple and the ball is in the court of Keith Carter.
The Rebels tip off tonight vs. No. 21 Auburn on ESPNU at 8 p.m. CST.