Kennedy, Rebel hoops move forward

Pete Boone has acted swiftly after Andy Kennedy's first season. In the world of college athletics, you do that now or get left behind.

With an incentives-laden contract, Kennedy made substantially more than his reported base salary of about $600,000 in his first season. With the success of year one, a 21-13 record, an NIT appearance, numerous large home crowds, and a season of renewed excitement and winning, Kennedy is being rewarded for all the positives of his first season in Oxford.

Kennedy, the SEC Coach of the Year, has always said he has longterm vision for the program, but he doesn't want to wait for success to happen. He's making good on that statement.

He said upon arrival that he wanted seniors Todd Abernethy, Bam Doyne, and Clarence Sanders to experience success they hadn't here so far. Certainly that was accomplished.

That Kennedy's name was tossed about a bit with a small handful of other jobs lately, namely Arkansas from media there, is something Ole Miss fans have had a challenge accepting concerning successful head coaches for a decade now. No need to get into names. You know who they are. You've lived them.

Interest from elsewhere means coaches here are being successful as much as anything. It's a never say never world in athletics. But when good faith is shown and a two-way communication level is there and has been from the start, and both sides seem satisfied with the direction, then those concerns are less.

That a new basketball practice facility is in the works and plans are moving along is one example of what needs to be done to further enhance not only men's hoops but women's hoops. Let's not forget their success this season and what they need to build for their future. It's as good a time for basketball at Ole Miss in both sports as we've seen in a long time – and in some respects maybe ever.

Because the fact that a new practice facility is a "go" and that an extension and upgrade of Kennedy's contract is being finalized means the future will be good – and in good hands.

Future scheduling is always a front-burner issue. Ole Miss men's basketball has some things lined up already, as had been reported on the Ole Miss Spirit website a few weeks ago.

The Rebels play at New Orleans next year in the second game of that two-year contract. UNO played in Oxford this past season. South Alabama comes to Oxford the next two seasons to finalize that three-year deal, with the first game having been played in Mobile last December.

Memphis remains on the schedule and that game is in Oxford in 2007-08. The Rebels also play in the San Juan Shootout this upcoming season. Clemson, who ended the Rebels' season in the NIT, is also reportedly in that event.

The Ole Miss-Southern Miss deal which we've discussed on here for several months, is in the works and will likely happen for men's hoops. The games will probably be played at neutral sites – Jackson, Tupelo, the Gulf Coast, or Southaven, which all have venues large enough to host Division I college basketball games.

More men's and women's basketball in the days to come as contracts, schedules, rosters, and recruiting continue.

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