Kennedy wants Rebels’ Moody to stay in attack mode
Ole Miss’ senior guard Stefan Moody is not yet back to 100 percent following a hamstring injury, but his head coach doesn’t want that to deter his best player from staying active and aggressive.
In Saturday’s 69-64 loss to Kansas State in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge, Moody tweaked his left hamstring trying to make a defensive play. That’s the same one he originally injured in the Rebels’ overtime loss to then-No. 24 South Carolina on Jan.19, and the injury has limited Moody’s ability to attack the basket and get to the free throw line.
Moody went 1 for 3 from the foul line against the Wildcats.
“We are always on him not to settle,” Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy said.
Andy Kennedy on Stefan Moody
Kennedy feels the 5-foot-10 guard has made progress since returning to the team in last week’s 80-63 victory over Auburn.
Against the Tigers, Moody went 4 for 5 from the foul line. For the season, Moody is shooting 84.1 (138 of 164) percent from the charity stripe. His 138 made free throws ranks 10th in the nation.
“He’s certainly lost some of his explosion, which is to be expected,” Kennedy said. “Obviously teams are game-planning to try and put bodies in front of him and eliminate his ability to get to the basket. We will continue to try to tweak some of the things we are doing and try to give him angles.
“But ultimately, I think his decision making has been pretty good. We just got to get some of his teammates to step up through the space he creates and make plays.”
While Moody is trying to get back in the groove of things offensively, Kennedy has been in search of a solid post player to replace junior forward Sebastian Saiz, who has been sidelined for the past three games after having eye surgery to repair a detached retina.
Before the injury, Saiz was averaging 12.8 points and 9.8 rebounds per game, which ranked second in the Southeastern Conference.
“He’s the one guy we have had for the last couple of years that we can throw it to on the block and manufacture our offense,” Kennedy said about the 6-9 forward. “So when you lose a double-double guy, you’re anchored on the inside and it has changed us dramatically in the way we have to defend.
“We certainly have adjusted. We have lost an experience guy at the basket, but what it has done is created opportunities for others and we have adjusted some things we do on both sides of the ball in order to play to the strengths to the players we have at hand.”
Missouri’s Kim Anderson’s take on Moody
Missouri’s head coach Kim Anderson has seen the decline in Moody’s attempts at the free throw line and hopes that continues when the Tigers (8-13, 1-7 SEC) host Ole Miss (13-8, 3-5) Wednesday night (8 p.m. CT, SECN) inside Mizzou Arena. The Rebels are 4-1 against Missouri since the Tigers joined the SEC in 2012-13. Kennedy is 4-1 in his career against the Mizzou.
“He’s really difficult to guard and we will have to do a good job on him,” Coach Anderson said about Moody, who is averaging a league-best 23.6 points per game. “We are fearful of him getting to the line and getting free throws.”
Kennedy on Missouri
Missouri is 8-4 at home this season, but has dropped its last six games. Yet, Kennedy feels the Tigers are still dangerous.
“I have great respect for Coach Anderson; I have known him a long time,” Kennedy said. “I think his kids are really playing hard. I think this game will come down to making plays and there are a few plays here and there that honestly could change the plight of their season.
“He has an experienced guard in Wes Clark, who’s very, very dangerous and has the ball majority of the time like what we do with Stefan Moody and they put him in position to try and make plays for his team. I am impressed and really have been preparing for Missouri.”