OXFORD, Miss. — Monday marked the beginning of a new era in the Ole Miss men’s basketball program as Kermit Davis held his first official practice as the Rebels’ new head coach. After a long offseason, things are finally kicking back up in the Pavilion at Ole Miss as Coach Davis and his staff prepare to lead the team into the 2018-2019 season.
Davis, a 37-year coaching veteran, arrived at Ole Miss following a remarkable 16-year stay at Middle Tennessee State, where he notched numerous regular-season conference titles and conference tournament titles while guiding his team to big upsets over highly ranked teams, such as No. 2 Michigan State and No. 5 Minnesota, in his team’s NCAA Tournament appearances.
Coach Davis’ stats prove his ability as a head coach—but it is the intangibles he brings to the program that should excite Ole Miss fans. In watching his teams at MTSU, one word always came to mind: toughness. One of the biggest aspects of Davis’ coaching style is his emphasis on effort and mental toughness. He spoke to this at Monday’s press conference:
“What I hope our team looks like is a team that has great toughness, a team that when Ole Miss people come watch, they’ll see a team that has really willing passers and that ball doesn’t stick. When you see our team practice, you’ll see tempo, physicality, toughness, a team that can rebound. We want to be a guard team where the guards are ready to rebound.“
Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis
During Monday’s first official press conference of the season, senior guard Terence Davis, who last season considered leaving early for the NBA, noted the mentality that Coach Davis brings to the Ole Miss locker room.
“He coaches the same way every time, and he’s a winner,” Terence Davis said.
“How can you not listen to this guy? I love it. I told him then and told the coaching staff, ‘Each time out, don’t hesitate in getting onto me. I want that. I need that.’ That was a part of me coming back; I knew what type of coach he was.”
Senior Terence Davis on Coach Kermit Davis
Terence Davis and fellow senior and big-man Bruce Stevens look to help usher the 2018-19 Rebels into a new era with their new head coach.
Notes from Monday’s practice
At the Rebels’ first practice on Monday, I took note of a few observations. First, the effort and toughness are evident. The seniors were almost acting as assistant coaches to Kermit Davis as they continuously echoed the words of the head coach to the younger guys on the court. The whole team looked very clearly to be “all in it together.” When one person made a mistake, the team was held accountable. These small things are signs of what is to come.
Another point emphasized in practice is the attention to the defensive side of the ball. A good amount of time appeared dedicated to working on aggressive defending techniques, as well as confidently rebounding the ball with as many players swarming to the loose balls as possible.
Toughness, physicality, unselfish play, and communication—key words heard throughout the offseason—were on display Monday.
(Video credit: Archie Breland, The Rebel Walk)
As we get closer to the season-opening exhibition on November 2nd, we will update you on probable starters and players to keep an eye on this upcoming season.
Freshman guard Franco Miller had surgery Saturday for a fracture to the kneecap. He will be out anywhere from 3-5 weeks. Freshman forward/guard Luis Rodriguez bumped knees with Stevens Wednesday, with Rodriguez suffering a meniscus injury. He will have surgery today and will miss 3-5 weeks.
Other than that, the team seems to be healthy as it enters fall practice, with all players appearing to be in good condition based on the first practice.