Green advises patience with talented Rebels

James Green played his college basketball at Ole Miss. Even though he's coaching elsewhere, he's still a fan of the Rebels.

He said so last year when his Mississippi Valley State team lost to the Rebels 72-49. He said so again this year, and he also had some words of wisdom for Ole Miss supporters after his team fell 97-63 in Oxford Saturday afternoon.

Green knows the Rebels won 21 games in Andy Kennedy's first season at the helm. He knows the Rebels played in the NIT and won a game. He knows expectations are higher now than they've been in a while.

So he hopes fans of the Rebels will be patient as the program continues to grow with a number of new players involved. And the press corps, too.

"What you guys in the media and all of our alums don't need to do is to hold him accountable for winning every single game," Green, who played for the Rebels back in the early 1980s and later was head coach at Southern Mississippi, said. "He's building a program, and he's gotten it better already. That doesn't always translate into wins right away. So I think if everybody's patient and the kids keep working hard and they don't have any injuries, I think they're going to be hard, hard to beat."

Green remembers what the atmosphere in C.M. "Tad" Smith Coliseum was like back when he was a player and the Rebels were going to postseason play every year. He feels that type environment returning for the program.

"The atmosphere here should be great," he said, emphatically. "If the fans, alums, and students really come out and support this program, they'll be really hard to beat in this building. The type of coach that he is, they're going to be tough enough to go on the road and find ways to win games. So I see them as a team that's really going to be in the mix again."

Green, his team now 0-1 on the season with the loss, said there are some differences in what he saw from the Rebels a year ago and what he's seeing now.

"They understand better what they're trying to do as a program, obviously. Andy's had a little more time to get his system in. What they have maybe that they didn't have this time last year is they really shoot the ball well on the perimeter. We played a lot of zone. I'm sure he's a lot like me; he wants to play more man. But I think they'll continue to improve and probably be really good again."

The Ingomar native who grew up in Union County just half an hour's drive from the Ole Miss campus said that while the Rebels lost some experienced guards last year, he sees a lot of upside from the new guards, especially Chris Warren and Trevor Gaskins.

"I see two guys that you'd better get out to," he said of Gaskins, who scored 21 points off the bench including seven 3-pointers, and Warren, who started at point guard and scored 10. "Obviously we had to choose our poison. When they play other teams, those teams are going to have to definitely come out defensively, which will open some things up in the post and (Ole Miss) can then get the ball inside. I'm really impressed with those two guys. I didn't think they were going to miss when they were out there shooting. One thing they did that I really like is they shot it with confidence. That's going to give them a chance to be good offensively."

The Rebels (1-0) host South Alabama Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Oxford. The Jaguars open their season tonight against West Florida in Mobile, Ala.

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