Monday, August 15, 2011

Men's Hoops Offseason Update

It's August, and that usually means one thing around Oxford: football season is almost here! We are certainly excited for the 2011 Rebels to take the gridiron, but we know that some of you out there are also anxious to hear what's happening in the Ole Miss hoops world.

To scratch your need-for-a-hoops-update itch, here are some things happening in the offseason, as well as a few comments we got from Andy Kennedy when we sat down with him to talk about the upcoming 2011-12 campaign.

- Look for the exciting 2011-12 men's basketball schedule to be announced late this week. Here's an early tidbit on what the slate includes: 10 of last year's postseason teams, an NCAA Final Four participant, an NCAA Elite Eight participant, an ACC school, a Big East school, a Big Ten school and a trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands.

- As announced at the launch of the Forward Together Campaign last week, Ole Miss is raising $150 million in a capital campaign that will result in the building of a new first-class basketball arena, as well as improvements to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium (including the bowling in of the north endzone) and other on-campus athletics facilities.

- Meanwhile, the Tad Pad will remain as the team's playing facility for the next three or four years, and this summer the floor is getting a makeover. Stay tuned for pictures of the new look in the coming days.

- ESPN announced last week the game times and networks for the Big East/SEC Challenge. Ole Miss' game at DePaul on Dec. 1 will air at 8 p.m. CT on ESPNU.

- Here's a sneak peak of our interview with AK discussing the upcoming season:

On the transition with new assistant coaches: "Everything’s been good. I couldn’t have asked for a smoother transition. With Al (Pinkins) and Serg (Sergio Rouco) getting here in the spring, they had an opportunity to interact with our players in a between-the-lines setting, which I think was educational for both parties."

On the players' progress this summer: "We've had one of the best summers we’ve ever had academically. Our strength staff has told me that this is the most receptive group that they’ve had since we’ve been here, which are all great signs."

One of the freshmen that has impressed the head coach most so far is Jackson, Miss., point guard Jarvis Summers. Here is AK's early take: "Jarvis is a natural point guard with natural leadership ability. He started on his team at Provine (High School) since his freshman year, and every year they went to the final four of the state tournament, which speaks to his ability to lead and get results. I see that transferring over to this level. At 6-4, 190 pounds, he’s very versatile and brings size to that position unlike anyone we’ve had since I’ve been here."

Many more of AK's thoughts will be available in a preseason prospectus later this month.

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