Ole Miss Head Coach Andy Kennedy: Q&A
College Basketball's Best Coaches
CollegeHoops.net is lucky to have access to some of the best coaches in college basketball. As part of our preseason interview series, we thought it would be appropriate to ask these basketball minds about the best things that their team and college basketball has to offer.
Andy Kennedy: Ole Miss
We continue this month long Q&A Series with 4th year coach Andy Kennedy, who has led everyone of his teams to at least 20 wins. Coach Kennedy was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to answer questions for CollegeHoops.net:
CollegeHoops.net) Who is the biggest leader on this year's squad?
Andy Kennedy) With a young team (we played five freshmen and sophomores in the backcourt last year), we are still trying to establish that leadership role. As always, you hope to develop that from the most natural leadership position, the point guard. Our point guard, Chris Warren, had a great freshman year and is a leader by example, and we are trying to help him develop into more of a vocal leader as he is the focal point of our offense.
CHN) Tie score, with just a few seconds left … who will be your go-to guy in those situations?
AK) One of our strengths is that we have a number of different options in guys who have stepped up and made plays for us down the stretch. By Chris having the ball in his hands as the point guard, he has the potential to not only make a play, but to create the action and produce an opportunity for someone else. Eniel Polynice is our most experienced player. He’s more of a facilitator than a finisher, but he can make plays. David Huertas hit some big shots for us down the stretch. Those are our three most experienced guys who we might lean on at the end of a game.
CHN) What will be the strengths and weaknesses of this year's team?
AK) In year three, we have established more quality depth with several guys and several skill sets in the frontcourt. The frontcourt is inexperienced, but more versatile than in years past. The feared weakness is that with no seniors, we still have a very young team. They are not necessarily inexperienced, because we have several kids returning who played major roles and were a valuable part of our success last year, but we only have one guy on our front line who has ever played a game at the Division I level.
CHN) What's been the major change you've made in your coaching style in recent seasons?
AK) For us, it’s just been a complete change in the way we’ve played. Two years
ago, we inherited a team that averaged 65 points a game and that has increased
to just under 80 last year, so it’s been a complete change in style of play.
I’m also a big believer in preaching to the players to take ownership of the
team. In order for that to happen, as a coach I have to surrender some of the
control, and that’s very hard to do. But it’s very important that the players
take ownership of what we’re trying to do as a team.
CHN) If everything goes according to plan, what's the best case scenario this season?
AK) Our hope is to continue to improve and to take that next step. In hindsight, we’ve come up one game short in each of our two seasons here from fulfilling our goal of an NCAA Tournament bid. I hope we can take those lessons learned and take that next step this season.