Commentary: Impressions of Andy

You can never make too much out of first impressions, but it doesn't hurt when it's a good one. Andy Kennedy made that kind of impression on everyone at today's press conference introducing him as the new Ole Miss Men's Basketball coach. Read about it inside.

I've never been one to "judge" someone on a first impression.

You never know the circumstances of that person's day. They could be tired, sick or simply in a bad mood.

But there is nothing wrong with a good first impression either.

Andy Kennedy, who was introduced to the media and a few hundred Reb fans at his noon press conference in Tad Smith Coliseum today as the new Rebel hoops coach, made one of those.

It's part of my job to watch people closely. I had a lot of contact with Andy today - from near and far.

Despite having to be at his best on "two hours of sleep" during this whirlwind happening, Kennedy handled whatever was tossed his way with ease.

The first thing I noticed was how he attended to his wife (Kimber) and young daughters Meagan and Kaitlyn. During a time when he was besieged by well-wishers and mobbed by people wanting his time, he never left his family behind to fend for themselves. He made sure they were taken care of throughout the press conference "process." Tells me he's a caring family man, pretty high on most priority lists.

I also noticed he took the time to look everyone who wanted to shake his hand or pat him on the back - and there were many - in the eye. Sincerity is also a redeeming quality and he sloughed nobody off, even in that environment. A sure sign of being "raised right." It has to be those Mississippi roots.

When he took the podium, several other aspects of his personality surfaced that also left a good impression.

One, he's very articulate and has no trouble communicating his thoughts to a crowd. There was no stuttering and stammering going on and he was quick on his feet to unrehearsed questions that were thrown at him. He was also thorough with his answers, giving several different angles and trains of thought to each question.

Two, he has a sharp sense of humor. AD Pete Boone said Andy didn't look at his compensation package when he gave it to him during yesterday's interview. He said money wasn't his main interest, which impressed Boone. When asked later in the press conference about that, Andy said "I can read quicker than Pete thinks."

He had several quips during the press conference that drew laughter from the media and fans in attendance. In this humble opinion, you have to have some kind of sense of humor in this profession called coaching or you'll have a miserable life.

Three, it's obvious he has spent years preparing himself for this day and this type of opportunity. His plans aren't set in stone, but he's got solid ideas on the direction he wants to take this program in. When asked about the style of basketball he wants to coach at Ole Miss, he was quick to point out he wants to "play fast with interchangeable (by position) 6-4 to 6-8 athletes which are prevalent in this recruiting region," but that he would have to evaluate the available talent already here before declaring a style the current Rebel team would engage in.

Four, he left no doubts Ole Miss is where he wants to be and that the head coaching job here is his dream job. "I spent all my younger years trying to get out of Mississippi and I have spent all my adult years trying to get back" was how he put it.

Five, he's not buying into the notion that a coach can't win at Ole Miss. "We have everything you need here," he said at the podium after the formal press conference. "There is more tradition in Ole Miss basketball than it is credited for. It's been done before and we will do it again."

Sure, Andy Kennedy is smart enough to know he was in the spotlight today and that he had to be at the top of his game.

Sure, there is more to a person than the first impression they make.

But first impressions are part of the human psyche. We can't help but note, and sometimes imbed in our minds, first impressions.

For my money, Andy Kennedy made a good one.

Welcome aboard, coach. May all the impressions you make be as good as your first one.

OM Spirit Top Stories