White, Reb coaches spend time on scheduling

The scheduling of men's basketball games at Ole Miss is a group effort. That effort is actually headed up by assistant coach Michael White.

That means White, a former Rebel player and a fourth-year assistant at his alma mater, spends a lot of time on a task that some fans think should be easy but actually isn't.

One new reason for that as far as the Rebels are concerned? Success. Ole Miss won 21 games in 2006-07 and was all but unbeatable at home with just one loss.

"As soon as I call some schools now, they immediately say no," said White, after Ole Miss announced its non-conference slate for 2007-08 this weekend. "People saw what we achieved last year, and a lot of them are more hesitant to schedule us."

Some were anyway. And at least one who was scheduled bailed – Memphis. The certain-to-be highly-ranked Tigers won't be coming to Oxford on Dec. 1 as originally planned. The plans now call for the Rebs and Tigers to play the following two seasons. But, as was the case this upcoming season, that obviously could change.

Still, White likes the mix in the upcoming schedule.

"We beefed up our RPI, but if Memphis had stayed on, it would have been significantly better than last year," he said. "With the Memphis ordeal, we scrambled and replaced them with the highest RPI team we could find. We are pleased to get a quality program like New Mexico."

The Lobos will come to Oxford for a game on Dec. 1. The Rebels will play in Albuquerque the following season. The matchup is a result of some ties between first-year UNM head coach Steve Alford and second-year UM head coach Andy Kennedy.

There are several teams of note that will be tough tasks for the Rebels. Louisiana-Monroe returns all its starters. Lamar, Troy, and South Alabama are strong. Central Florida is a road game that will test the Rebels.

"Some of our non-conference mid-majors are high-level opponents," White said.

Winthrop, which beat Mississippi State 74-63 in Starkville in 2006-07, will play Ole Miss in Jackson. Winthrop was 29-5 last season and advanced to round two of the NCAA tourney with a win over Notre Dame and a loss to Oregon.

Ole Miss will play Southern Miss in Southaven and UNO in New Orleans. The game at Central Florida is the first of three between the two schools, with UCF coming to Oxford the following two seasons.

Ole Miss is in the San Juan Shootout with Clemson, DePaul, LaSalle, Wyoming, and Puerto Rico-Mayaguez.

White says the coaches spend a lot of time working on the schedule. It's that important.

"We set aside some time every day for it," he said. "If you leave it alone for a while, then you'll lose contact and might not get a game that you want. So we stay on top of it."

And what might seem to some an easy task of lining up opponents is really quite a job of getting things as right as they can be for the Rebels.

"Scheduling is tough," he said. "Putting all the pieces together like we want every year is difficult. I don't know how much better we could have done this year, playing games in Oxford when the students are here, mixing that in with some neutral site games that our fans can attend (Jackson, Southaven), and the game in New Orleans. I like our schedule. It's going to be challenging."

Here is the complete non-conference slate for the Rebs in '07-'08.

Nov. 2 Delta State (Exhibition)

Nov. 10 Mississippi Valley State

Nov. 13 South Alabama

Nov. 16 Lamar

Nov. 24 Louisiana-Monroe

Nov. 27 Troy

Dec. 1 New Mexico

Dec. 8 at Central Florida

Dec. 13 Winthrop (Jackson)

Dec. 15 at New Orleans

Dec. 19-22 at San Juan Shootout

Dec. 28 Southern Miss (Southaven)

Jan. 2 Alabama A&M

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