The Ole Miss basketball teams took to the court three times this weekend as official practice got underway in relative seclusion for the squads.
Carol Ross sent her fourth Ole Miss team through some rigorous workouts, while Andy Kennedy did the same thing with his squad.
"Everybody was anxious to get started, and our energy was good," said Ross, who welcomed five new scholarship players to the court this weekend in guard Shantell Black, guard Alliseha Easley, center Daphnee Freison, guard Elizabeth Robertson, and guard Bianca Thomas. "We've obviously got a long way to go and a short time to get there. They moved the season up a week but they didn't move the practices up a week. So we have to move really fast to get better."
Kennedy worked his troops out behind closed doors as he wanted to introduce them to his way of doing things with only coaches, players, trainers, and managers present. No distractions.
"It's been good," Kennedy said. "First and foremost I've been pleased with our guys' efforts and their willingness to compete. If you have to coach how to compete, then you can't get into the nuts and bolts of what you're trying to do."
Kennedy says this team will have to work hard to get where they want to be down the road.
"We'll have to scratch and claw and do whatever it takes to get there," he said. "That's what these early practices have been about. It's been about developing a mindset, an approach, an understanding of where we are, where we want to be, and how we're going to get there."
Neither head coach spoke of individual superlatives of the first weekend. Both talked about their seniors and upperclassmen and what they mean to these early practices.
"I've been the most pleased with our upperclassmen," Kennedy said. "The seniors have been tremendous already. Bam Doyne has been tremendous. Todd Abernethy has been tremendous. Clarence Sanders' effort has been excellent. I defer to Coach (Michael) White on some things since he was here in the past. I asked him about Clarence, and he says it's a night and day difference from last year to this year. So we're excited about that, and the upperclassmen have the sense of urgency they have to have for us to succeed."
Ross said the veterans are leading the way, which was expected.
"The (five) freshmen are having to catch on as we go," she said. "They'll do that or get left behind. They have great basketball IQs and work ethic. The freshmen have stayed up with the veterans, and they're doing well. They're talented and eager to learn.
"We're deep this year," Ross continued, "and we're hoping that helps us this season. About the only one that has anything locked up is Armintie (Price). Everybody else is competing for spots. The competition will either separate people or it will show we have 10 or 12 quality players who don't mind the competition and are excited to get out on the floor."
Men's and women's hoops off to fast start
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