Kennedy meets the media in Birmingham

New UM head coach Andy Kennedy got a chance Wednesday to present himself to the media of the SEC at the annual basketball tipoff in Birmingham. Here's what he said to those gathered.

"This is a great opportunity certainly full of its challenges," he opened as the afternoon session began. "For me to come back to my native state and coach in the Southeastern Conference is a special situation for me."

Kennedy said he knew there were challenges at Ole MIss in basketball, but every situation offers them.

"Every job has its challenges. I just left a perennial top 20 program at the University of Cincinnati. That job had its challenges day in and day out. What we have to do at Ole Miss is find our road map to success. There has been success with Coach (Rob) Evans and early with Coach (Rod) Barnes. They had the right mix. That is our charge, to bring that program up and the talent level in to compete in the SEC."

Kennedy said he has brought some changes to the program in Oxford. All coaches do that when they come in to a new situation.

"We have changed the approach a little bit. Each coach coaches to his personality. We'll play pressure basketball on both ends. It's what I know. I'm a firm believer that you don't back your way into anything significant in life, and our team will reflect that approach."

Kennedy was asked about competing in the SEC at Ole Miss and the conference in general.

"I'm not sure if SEC basketball has ever been at a higher level, with what Billy (Donovan) did at Florida and what John (Brady) did at LSU. It just goes on and on. There certainly are no easy outs. My challenge it to make sure Ole Miss isn't an easy out."

Kennedy says his players are responding, and he expects them to continue to improve.

"As a coach, I hate to give you coach-speak. But we want to see daily Improvement. We're learning about them. They're learning about us. We inherited some players and we have some new players. Sometimes as a staff we'll say it looked like they got it today. It is a different approach. While there are certain things we want to do especially with pressure basketball as a foundation for the future of Ole Miss basketball, it makes no sense to try and put round pegs into square holes. So we're making some adjustments that fit our personnel."

Kennedy wants the Rebels to be good this year, not wait to build the program and win in a year or two or three.

"I'm not a very patient person. That wasn't a virtue that I got. I don't really want our guys to be patient. I brought two seniors today in Todd (Abernethy) and Bam (Doyne). This really is about them. They haven't experienced winning yet at Ole Miss. We have longterm plans, but I think it's a disservice to them to talk about anything other than the immediate future."

Kennedy said that being back home in a situation he knows well has many positives for now and the future.

"I took the Ole Miss job because I know Ole Miss. I know the people of Ole Miss. I know the dynamics of our situation. It's my job to put a product on the floor that the people will rally behind. If I do, then I know they will give us everything we need to be successful."

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