Barnes happy with Rebels' first practices

The Ole Miss men's basketball team has been through two practices so far with another scheduled for Saturday night before taking Sunday off. Coach Rod Barnes has liked what he has seen so far.

Rod Barnes has sent his Ole Miss men's basketball through two practices so far with another scheduled for Saturday night. The Rebels are off and rolling toward the 2005-06 season.

"We've had two really good practices so far," said Barnes, entering his eighth season as head coach at his alma mater. "Our intensity level was good, and we showed a lot of heart. It was good to see our guys practice well Friday night and then come back for an early morning practice today and show the intensity that they did. As young and inexperienced as many of our guys are, it was good to see how eager they were to be out here getting better."

The Rebels practiced at 7 p.m. Friday night for an hour and a half prior to the Rebel Roundup, which featured both the Rebels and Lady Rebs. That event ended around 10:30 p.m., and the Rebels were back on the C.M. "Tad" Smith Coliseum court at 8 a.m. today.

The level of enthusiasm for this preseason has been unsurpassed the past two or three years, and that goes for players, coaches, and fans.

"There's some excitement surrounding our program again," said Barnes, who has as many newcomers on the roster as returnees. "I think our fans realize we're young and inexperienced, but that there's light at the end of the tunnel and that they have something to look forward to coming to Tad Smith and supporting this team. We've still got a lot of things we have to work on. We're just getting started. I don't want our fans to forget that this is a young basketball team. But I think they'll be really impressed with the number of kids who can contribute to this team. Now we will look more like a team that belongs in the SEC, and they will enjoy seeing that about us."

Rod said at least a couple of players stepped up and showed him something in the first couple of practices.

"I really liked what I saw from Xavier Hansbro and Trey Hampton," he said of two of the Rebel newcomers. "Being freshmen and to be able to pick things up like they already have, that's a good thing. I like the effort from all of our guys and the progress they are making. But to see some of our younger guys come in and do what they've already done is pleasing to me. I'm really pleased with Justin Cerasoli (transfer from Seton Hall who is sitting out this year and will have three years left to play beginning next season). He's practiced even better than he did in individual workouts. He will help us this year even though he can't play in the games, just like Dwayne Curtis did for us last year while he was sitting out (after transferring from Auburn)."

After tonight's practice, the Rebels will take Sunday off and return to the hardwood on Monday.

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