Matter of Comfort

He plays an old-man style of basketball. His coach would prefer he go faster, shoot more and go to the basket. But he's not wired that way.

Follow SpiritBen on Twitter

No, he's methodical in his approach, a pass-first point guard always in search of the best shot, not the first shot.

Jarvis Summers is the engine that drives Ole Miss offensively.

"He's a game-manager," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "He plays as fast as he's allowed to play. For him, it's just a matter of him being under control and making good basketball decisions, hitting timely shots, anchoring us on the ball defensively. Those are the things we ask him to do."

Summers, a sophomore, is different than most every player on the roster. Marshall Henderson is a prolific scorer, unafraid to jack a bad shot or push the floor. Murphy Holloway, built like a tight end, loves to run, getting a handful of his points on putbacks from missed transition baskets. Kennedy's roster is stocked full of athletic types, all who can up and break at a moment's notice.

Kennedy constructed this roster for an up-tempo offense. Summers? He's the square peg fitting into the round hole. But as he proved on Saturday, a 76-64 win over Arkansas to move the Rebels to 15-2 (4-0 SEC), his contrasting style is working.

Strangely, he's the perfect fit.

"It works," senior forward Murphy Holloway, who scored 15 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the win, said of Summers' measured pace. "He takes control of the game. We get to moving fast, he gets us to slow it down a little bit. He can change speed real good. He goes real slow, but all the sudden, he can take off."

Nick Williams said he sees himself in Summers
USA TODAY images

Summers scored 14 points against the Razorbacks, good for third on the team. More than anything, he dished out seven assists, a season-high for the sophomore.

He had little trouble with Arkansas and its always-moving, always-pushing offense and defense. He played his game, took his time, even putting the game on ice with a steal, the final recorded play on Saturday.

He's going to own the Turner Center whenever his playing career is over.

"With Icy Hot everywhere and three knee braces," senior Nick Williams joked, looking ahead to a 40-year-old Summers.

"I think (Summers' style) fits me more than anybody else. I see so much of myself in him, with us not really being laterally quick. We don't got a lot of explosion, but he's great for our team. He settles us down. He's so smart and so crafty with the ball."

Early in the season, Summers was all but sharing his starting job with true freshman Derrick Millinghaus. Millinghaus fits the mold of Kennedy-coached point guards - short and fast, with an ability to score points in bunches. Think Chris Warren and Devan Downey.

However, as Ole Miss has made its run in conference play (the Rebels are off to their first 4-0 league start since 1936-37), it's been Summers handling the bulk of the playing time.

He was on the floor for the entire second half on Saturday, totaling 32 minutes in all, and quadrupling the minutes played by Millinghaus.

He frustrates opponents. He shouldn't be getting by them like he does, they think, but here he is, creating space for scoring opportunities.

"I love Jarvis in the game," Holloway said. "If we're down five and we've got Jarvis running the point, he controls it. He can see the floor real well. That's another good thing about going slow, you can see the floor real well."

Summers was a late addition to the signing class of 2011. He was added in November of 2010, after Ole Miss missed out on Rashad Madden, who played sparingly for Arkansas in today's game, finishing with four points and four rebounds in 15 minutes of action.

Had Madden chosen Ole Miss instead of Arkansas, Summers would have likely ended up somewhere else. A blessing in disguise, if Saturday was any indication.

"As a staff, we're comfortable with him because of the experience, because of all the minutes he logged as a freshman," Kennedy said. "As we've gotten into league play, I think his game has elevated a bit. As a result, I feel like our guys are more comfortable."

OM Spirit Top Stories