OXFORD, Miss. – There came a point last season when Breein Tyree had to be the primary ball handler for Ole Miss when teammate Deandre Burnett was sidelined with an ankle sprain injury suffered in a 69-47 home loss to Georgia.
Tyree, now a sophomore, is expected to be the starting point guard this season for the Rebels, but he wouldn’t mind being placed at shooting guard. Fortunately, head coach Andy Kennedy will have the freedom this season to maneuver his guards to different positions on the floor, thanks to a revamped roster that features Tyree, Burnett, Terence Davis, Markel Crawford, and Devontae Shuler.
“I’m comfortable with whatever coach needs me to do,” Tyree said this week, when asked about the possibility of playing another position.
“If he wants me to play off-ball, I will play off-ball. But most of the time when I’m on the floor, I will be the point guard.”
Ole Miss G Breein Tyree
Crawford, a 6-foot-4, 210-pound graduate transfer from Memphis, has eased some of the pressure on Tyree, who now doesn’t have to force himself to score like he had to do at times last season.
With three years of Division I basketball under his belt, Crawford has made Tyree’s job less complicated.
“It makes my job a lot easier,” Tyree said about playing alongside Crawford–who can play at least three positions.
“He can play all three different guard positions. He can play the point, the two and the three, so playing with an experienced guy like that definitely shows me a lot and I’m learning a lot from him.”
Breein Tyree on Markel Crawford
Luxury of depth
Tyree played in 34 games last season, starting 23. The Rebels’ depth this year at the guard position will enable Kennedy to utilize his players in multiple ways, as both Burnett and Crawford can play point guard when Tyree is not on the court.
“I would say we know our roles pretty well so far,” Tyree said. “That is something that can change as the season goes on. Roles can change and can get bigger. We saw Devontae go off and have a good game so his role will probably get bigger. We have a long road ahead.”
Burnett echoed his teammate’s sentiments. “Do whatever the team needs, whether that is play point guard, score the ball, guard,” he said.
“I am a senior. I need to lead by example. I am more comfortable with it because I have been doing it all of my life, scoring the ball and playing point. I need to be able to play point guard too,” he added.
Kennedy is still figuring out his rotation–but he is enjoying the luxury of having an array of choices.
“I think there are options for us to play a number of different ways, and those things will kind of work themselves out. I think it’s great for competition. So each and every day, TD (Terence Davis) and Markel go head-up. Breein and Dre and Shuler, it’s just been tremendous for all of them because it has helped us get better in our backcourt.“
Andy Kennedy on the Rebels’ lineup
In Sunday’s 94-53 exhibition win over North Alabama, there was balance between the guards. Shuler led the team with 18 points, while Davis and Burnett added 13 and 11 points, respectively. Crawford tallied nine, while Tyree pitched in four to go along with his six assists. In the win, Kennedy played each guard 15 minutes or more.
Regular season begins Friday
Kennedy will most likely use all five guards this Friday night in the team’s season home-opener against Louisiana-Lafayette. Tip-off is set for 7:00 p.m., CT in The Pavilion.
(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)