Abernethy says practices have gone well

Todd Abernethy is ready to experience a winning season and an NCAA Tournament bid. Now that he's a senior, this is his last shot. He says the Rebels are giving it everything they've got to accomplish their goals.

Todd Abernethy says things have gone well for the Ole Miss men's basketball team so far during preseason practices. With three straight losing seasons during his first three years here, the 6-foot-1 point/two guard is hoping the good start for the squad will reverse that negative trend.

"We're working hard to correct that," asid the senior from Carmel, Ind. "We're learning a lot of stuff and how things are done with these coaches on defense, offense, fast break. It's been really fast-paced. It's been a lot of fun."

Abernethy has the most playing experience at the Division I level of any player on the 2006-07 Rebel squad. He, Bam Doyne, and Clarence Sanders are this year's seniors. Head coach Andy Kennedy says they are important to what accomplishments his first UM team might achieve. Abernethy agrees.

"We know as seniors that we are an important part of this team," Abernethy said. "We have to lead and we believe we are doing that."

Abernethy has a lot of confidence in what the coaches are teaching them this first week of official practice.

"Coach really wants us to utilize our strengths, and one of those is our length," Abernethy said. "We're really long. We want to use that to our advantage, especially on defense. We want to scramble and work hard and try to disrupt offenses and throw people off a little bit."

Abernethy says the newness of the program has a positive feel to it.

"We've always worked hard here," he said. "It's always been intense. We've done a lot of scrimmaging in these practices. There's been a lot of competition, a lot of game-like stuff. We'll put some things in on offense and then work on it on defense. I like the way we've been getting after it and getting things done."

Abernethy has been the Rebs' point guard for the better part of three years. Cavadas Nunnery took over at the point during Abernethy's sophomore season. Last year it was Todd's position again.

This year Justin Cerasoli, the sophomore from Seton Hall who sat out last season after transferring, joins Abernethy in competition for playing time at the point. The 6-5 Chicago native is a talented and dominant presence in the backcourt.

Abernethy, who practiced all last season with Cerasoli, welcomes the challenge at point guard as well as how the combo can help the team.

"We've actually been on the court together a lot," he said. "Coach calls it a two-headed point. Whoever gets it goes. Sometimes I'm playing the two and he's playing the one. And it's really just been whoever gets the basketball and runs with it. So it's been fun."

Abernethy said the practices are long and tough, but it will have been worth it when the season rolls around.

"It's good for us," he said. "We have to be mentally strong. We have to work hard and adapt and do whatever the coaches ask of us. It's not long until our first exhibition game (Fri., Nov. 3 vs. North Alabama in Oxford), so we have to make sure we're ready."

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