Men's hoops continue fall workouts

Two weeks into individual workouts and conditioning, Coach Rod Barnes likes what he sees from his Ole Miss basketball players.

"It's been really good so far," Rod said of the efforts of his troops to this point. "There's been a lot of good teaching and learning, and that's what this time of year is for."

Rod says the positives the program has experienced the past six months has carried over onto the on-the-floor workouts.

"I am so impressed with our work ethic," he said. "Our guys come in everyday and are excited about working. There's great team camaraderie. You always want more, but you couldn't ask for much more than they are giving right now."

The individual workouts, as they are called, are actually the coaches working with four players at a time as allowed by the NCAA up until preseason practice begins in mid-October.

Players are divided into four groups of four for the current sessions. The players work 30 minutes each day four days a week on shooting, defense, dribbling, rebounding, footwork, all the essentials that make up a solid player. It's a fast-paced, hard-nosed workout of half an hour.

During this several weeks period, they also continue conditioning work.

Rod says that while it will be a few more weeks before the picture of this year's team will actually come into focus, he can already get a sense of what some of the newcomers should contribute.

"Brandon Patterson can really shoot the basketball," he said of the 6-foot-6 first-team all-state true freshman from Altheimer, Ark. "He's really talented and has looked good so far.

"Jeremy Parnell is really strong and aggressive," Rod said of the other true freshman first-team all-state Arkansas player, the 6-9 center from Gosnell. "He will be an impact for us inside."

There are others who have come in and impressed the coaches, according to Rod.

"Londrick Nolen (6-6 juco junior forward) is extremely athletic. He will be a really good defender and rebounder. He just has to work on his skills more.

"Brian Smith (5-11 true freshman guard, son of Kentucky head coach Tubby Smith) has been good so far. He's really sound. He's a good ball-handler, a good passer, a good dribbler. He picks up things well. He competes.

"Dwayne Curtis (6-9 center transfer from Auburn; ineligible to play this year; can practice with the team; will have three years to play starting next year) has great feet, great hands. He's trying to get some weight off. I am really impressed with him."

Those are the newcomers for 2004-05.

As for the veterans, Rod says there are several positives so far. One stands out immediately.

"Tommie Eddie," he said of the 6-9 senior center who has dropped at least 30 pounds and is down around 250. "He's in so much better shape now. His confidence is up. He has put the work in and has been around here for a while now. I am impressed with a guy who will put that kind of work in and make that type change and improvement over a year's time."

Rod said another senior has also made an impression on him this summer and into the school year.

"Justin Johnson (6-0 guard) had a great summer and has really put a lot of work in to having a great season," Rod said. "Sometimes that happens with seniors. It's his last stand, and he wants to go out a winner.

"I've been happy with Todd Abernethy and his recovery from shoulder surgery," Rod continued. "He seems to be completely healthy and normal and not showing any signs of the injury or the surgery at all."

The Rebels are getting close to halfway through their individual and conditioning workouts. Preseason practice officially begins Sat., Oct. 16.

The season opener is in the BCA Tournament in Milwaukee Nov. 14-16. The Rebels are assured of playing three games in that tournament, which are three of their 13 non-conference contests before Southeastern Conference action begins Jan. 5 at Arkansas.

"We'll continue our individual workouts until then," Rod said of the Oct. 16 start date. "There is actually a week in there that we don't have them, just a break for them before the preseason practices begin. We've gotten a lot of good work in so far, and we look forward to continuing that as preseason practice gets closer."

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