Andy Kennedy adjusting Ole Miss lineup as players’ health dictates
OXFORD, Miss. – Andy Kennedy has been tinkering with his starting lineup due to the recent absences of Deandre Burnett and Rasheed Brooks, trying to find the best fit for each player. Burnett is back for Ole Miss, but Brooks is still out, meaning some adjustments may still need to be made.
Kennedy inserted freshman guard Breein Tyree into the starting lineup as the Rebels’ primary ball handler once Burnett went down with an ankle injury against Georgia. Then in a home game against Tennessee, Brooks suffered a seizure during a timeout, which prompted Kennedy to start sophomore forward Terence Davis at shooting guard in last Saturday’s game against Missouri.
The last-minute changes paid dividends for Ole Miss (12-7, 3-4 Southeastern Conference), a team that has had limited bodies due to injuries.
Young players emerging for Rebels
Tyree scored a season-high 15 points and recorded six assists in the Rebels’ come from behind victory over the Vols. Davis notched his second-consecutive double-double (18 points, 11 rebounds) in Ole Miss’ 75-71 win over the Tigers. Davis’ performances against UT and Missouri, in which he averaged 19 points and 11 rebounds, earned him Southeastern Conference Player of the Week honors on Monday.
Tyree’s slow emergence has earned him the right to play more minutes–even once Burnett is at full-strength–to play point guard or move off the ball as the team’s primary shooting guard. And Davis will continue to be asked to provide scoring for the Rebels whether he plays shooting guard or small forward.
On Tuesday, Kennedy commented on Tyree’s role in the Rebels’ recent adjustments.
“In the last three games, based on our personnel, with Rasheed’s availability and not knowing what we are doing moving forward, Breein has emerged. He was really good in the second half against Tennessee, so when Breein is in the game, we move Dre off the ball a little bit to put him in some of our ball screen action.”
“We will continue to try and reinvent. When Dre went down, we had to reinvent some of the things we were doing, and didn’t do it very successfully. Then when Dre comes back, we had to change some things again. Now we have Rasheed out, so we have to change some things again,” Kennedy continued.
Saiz continues his streak of double-doubles
While dealing with the injuries, Kennedy’s game plan has been primarily focused on taking the pressure off of senior forward Sebastian Saiz, the target of frequent double-teams.
Saiz has notched 13 doubles-doubles this season, recording three straight in the team’s last three league games.
Saiz is the SEC’s active rebounding leader and the only player in the conference averaging a double-double at 15.4 points and 11.5 rebounds per game.
“We are continuing to try and tweak different things, and couple all of that with the way people are guarding Sebas, and that’s the way they should guard him. They are sending big bodies at him. We have to factor that in as well. We have to be realistic. We need to score in the mid-70s to give ourselves a chance to win.”
Andy Kennedy on Sebastian Saiz
Kennedy not sure about Brooks’ availability against Texas A&M
On Tuesday, Kennedy explained he is unsure whether senior forward Rasheed Brooks will play against the Texas A&M Aggies (10-8, 2-5) tonight in The Pavilion. Brooks, who suffered a seizure during a timeout against Tennessee in the second half, was rushed to Baptist Memorial Hospital North Mississippi of Oxford and was released last Thursday.
“He’s doing good. They are going to run some more tests, I think, in the next 24 or 48 hours, and then from there, hopefully everything comes back and he’s cleared. Initially, when it happened Tuesday night, that’s when they ran everything Tuesday and Wednesday. We were all kind of still in a bit of shock as to what happened and trying to figure out why.”
Andy Kennedy on Rasheed Brooks’ status
Ole Miss and Texas A&M tip off at 6:30 p.m. (CT) this evening in Oxford in a game that will be televised by ESPN2. Ole Miss enters the game as a 1.5 point favorite over the Aggies.
(Feature image credit: Timothy Tai, Columbia Daily Tribune)