Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Let's not forget the basketball team

Lost in the hoopla of the upcoming football season is a healthy, focused men's basketball team poised for redemption following a tumultuous 2008-09 campaign. Guards Chris Warren, Trevor Gaskins, have all been cleared for full practice and Zach Graham is on schedule as well.

The program got a big lift (literally) when big man DeMarco Cox committed to Andy Kennedy's program. He and PG Dundrecous Nelson give AK the first pair of 4* recruits in a single class since his arrival in Oxford. That's not including Indiana transfer Nick Williams, a highly-touted 3* guard who showed flashes of brilliance as a Hoosier last year and will be eligible to play as a Rebel in 2010-11. He's a raw talent though (those TO numbers are insane) and will definitely benefit redshirting this season and playing against Warren, Gaskins, and Terrico White in practice.

Considering the turnaround from the moribund late stages of Rod Barnes career, it will be exciting to watch what Kennedy and his staff can do with an even greater influx of talent. After a perfect storm of Murphy's Law last season, one would think that there's nowhere to go but up. The fluky injury situation must've run its course, right? From all accounts, Kennedy has severely toned down his... ahem.. lifestyle. If the Rebels get any sort of consistency on the blocks from DeAundre Cranston or newcomers DeAngelo Riley and Reginald Buckner, they could be very tough by the time SEC season rolls around.

Next year's starting lineup will be:
PG: Chris Warren
G: Terrico White
F/G: Eneil Polynice
F: Terrence Henry
F: Reggie Buckner
6th man: Zach Graham

And then there's quotes like this one that show why this group of guards has the chance to be very, very special:
Months before the season tips off, that sense of urgency already is apparent. It's evident in the way Warren responded to questions about whether he could return this season as the same type of player who opened so many eyes two years ago.

"I don't want to be the same," Warren said. "I want to be better."

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