Full transcript of Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy's time on the SEC teleconference Monday, as well as selected questions and answers from Alabama head coach Anthony Grant and Georgia head coach Mark Fox. The Rebels travel to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to play the Alabama Crimson Tide on Tuesday (8 p.m. CT, ESPN) and then travel to Athens, Ga., to play the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday (3 p.m., Fox Sports Net).
We have two difficult challenges as we head to the road, first to Tuscaloosa against a good Alabama team, which is always very difficult in Coleman Coliseum tomorrow night. And then we go to Athens on Saturday, where Mark (Fox) has his team playing very well, and they have done a very good job of protecting their home floor. We have two difficult challenges on the road this week.
On concern about Henderson playing on the road:
Our sport is pretty unique in that the fans are very close to the participants, probably more so than any other sport, in that the fans are right on top of you. In a lot of the venues in our league, you're talking two or three feet of separation from the floor to where the fans are. We play in emotionally-charged atmospheres many nights, so you want to certainly make sure that your kids are trying to keep their focus between the lines. You certainly want separation between the fans and the players. There is going to be talk at every opposing arena toward your players. That comes with the territory, and you have to try to prepare your guys for that as best you can. It's unfortunate in the Marcus Smart situation that he found himself in the stands trying to make a play on the ball, and the next thing you know, he's landing in the stands. That certainly escalated that situation, not knowing all the particulars. You certainly don't want your guys to be in the stands where something like this can happen.
On vitriol of fans increasing in recent years:
There are more eyeballs and more cameras. Everyone in the arena probably has a camera phone. There are fewer things that fall under the radar now simply because of so much media exposure and every individual having the opportunity to record something. I played back in the mid-'80s and early '90s, and there were mean things being said back then, I assure you.
On Jarvis Summers:
Jarvis has been our most steady player. He has had a tremendous junior year. Typically when you get a kid in your program, and he's going into year three, you start figuring out what you got. Jarvis has been consistent for us in years one and two, and he really took that next step as junior. A lot of it was based on physical strength. He got stronger where he was able to make some plays that he couldn't make in the past, and he's playing with a great deal of confidence. Marshall draws a lot of attention, both on and off the court. The attention that he draws on the floor, Jarvis has done a much better job in year two of playing with him of playing in those gaps that are created by the way people try to defend Henderson, and as a result, he's had a very productive year for us.
On Martavious Newby's recovery from injury:
When you have a break -- he had a break in his hand -- and they put a plate in there, and his rehab has come along great. Our hope is that he will be cleared for basketball-related activities soon. It's one thing to be cleared for activities; it's another thing to be able to perform at an SEC level in a basketball game. Once he's cleared for activities as it relates to basketball, then we will have a much better gauge as to what transpires next.
On players' development in year three:
When a kid becomes a junior, based on that he has now two years of experience, there is nothing new to him. For instance, we go to Alabama and Georgia this week, and (Jarvis Summers) has been in both of those venues. He knows what to expect. He's traveled with us. He understands the demands of winning on the road in major college basketball game. Physically, a lot of times it takes a couple of years for kids to understand their own bodies and make the adjustments they name to make from a strength standpoint. Some guys need to gain weight, and some guys need to lose weight. For him, there's a mental aspect of becoming a young man. He's a 20-year-old now, and he understands who is and what he needs to do to be effective. All of those things come together, not just for Jarvis, but for most players when they become juniors. You start to realize this is what this kid is capable of giving you.
On the reliability of the ratings of players coming out of high school:
When you're getting the players that Calipari is getting, typically, my wife could go with me and sit in the gym and pick out the best guy. The LeBron Jameses, the Kevin Durants, the Kobe Bryants, everybody can sit there and say those guys are going to be pretty good. Julius Randle and the Harrison Twins, everybody can see those guys are going to be good players. The guys like Jarvis Summers, the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. He may be in somebody's top 100. He might not be. Those are the guys who once you have them in your program, and they really commit themselves to being as good as they can be, then by the time they become a junior, they start performing at an all-league level like Jarvis is this year.
I'm really impressed watching Ole Miss on film coming off a big win this weekend against Missouri at home. It seems like they're playing really well. They are an explosive team offensively and throw a variety of defenses at you. Their defense has been solid. It will be a great challenge for our team. And then going on the road again at South Carolina. We will get more familiar with them and their personnel as the week transpires, but it's another tough road game. They're always tough any time you go on the road in this league.
On weather-related discussions for the Ole Miss game on Tuesday:
We haven't had any discussions, as of yet. There are systems that are moving in. There is nothing that I'm aware of.
We play the Mississippi schools this week. We start out with a trip to Starkville, and we're hopeful that with the weather we can get there. They are a team that has great speed and terrific interior play. They are a team, obviously with some young guys in the backcourt, that is going to keep getting better and better. We finish the week with Ole Miss, which has an experienced perimeter and is a team off to a terrific start. It's a big week for us.
On Brandon Morris:
Brandon continues to grow and improve. He's still not anywhere close to where he can be, but he's allowing himself to improve. He's become a player who offensively is finishing at a pretty good percentage. He's a pretty versatile player and one who has a bright future. He still has a long way to go, but he's headed right now in the right direction. He's such a versatile player. He can score. He can attack the basket on the dribble. He can knock down a 3. He can get to the free throw line. He can guard multiple positions. He's a good rebounder. He can play some point guard. He's just very versatile. A guy who has that amount of versatility often times can find a lot of way to impact the game, so many night, it's not the same way in which he helps us. He's become a pretty good consistent player for us.
On his 200th win as a college coach:
I have learned a ton. I read an article a couple of years ago that said it takes 10 years in any role to become good at it. If you're going to be an assistant coach, you're not going to be very good until you're 10 years into it. If you're a head coach, it's going to take you 10 years before you're any good. In my 10th season, maybe I have learned enough to now be good at it. I have certainly grown a lot through the experience of my last decade, like we all do. I have been fortunate to work with and work for a lot of great people and have great players. When you're around good, smart people, and you have the experiences that we all share, you tend to get better.