Press opportunities; hoops season moves on

Houston Nutt walked into the team meeting room at the IPF, ready to talk to us Monday morning. About completing his staff. About moving spring practice a bit later, including the Grove Bowl game. Answering any questions from the dozen or so gathered.

I had driven up and parked at the IPF the same time as Langston Rogers. We both must have been thinking the same thing.

He mentioned something about these short, almost impromptu but still planned press opportunities. We both agreed they are good for any number of reasons.

We also have these a couple of times a week at basketball and baseball, during those two teams' seasons, and for any other sports when we need them. Chase is headed to women's basketball this afternoon for interviews. The Lady Rebels, 5-4 and coming off a big road win at Miami (Fla.), play their second straight ACC team when they host N.C. State Friday at 1 p.m. at Tad Smith.

I thought of the days just a short time ago when we didn't necessarily run out to campus every day and look for a story. Or in the case of these press opps, be offered one.

But it's something we've been a part of to create here. When ESPN and CNN launched in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, this was all coming. It wasn't until internet sites like ours popped up everywhere that what we do daily changed fairly dramatically.

Now, rather than just getting that old Spirit paper out once a week, we are out there on campus a lot more, and on here a lot, and the daily interaction on the boards and in chat continues to grow.

So we had that opportunity Monday morning to meet with Houston. You read the transcript on here. Just an update on what's going on. Some things have changed. Some have moved forward. Some things were confirmed or denied. That's what those type settings are for.

Houston's good at these. He appears to enjoy them. He gets an opportunity to talk to us, which means he is talking to you, too. It's his opportunity, through us, to reach you.

"We have been very excited by the reception given by the high school coaches in the state of Mississippi and the junior college coaches," was one of his comments.

Gotta love hearing that.

And this one: "We are excited about where we are in recruiting right now."

I like the way the staff is coming together. If it all falls into place as it appears, I would go so far as to call it a big-time staff.

Spring practice until after spring break? I like that. It might even be a little warmer. The spring game is only a week later than it was previously planned – April 5 to 12. And the important home baseball series is equally attractive to most – swapping Vandy for LSU.

For a full day on Grove Bowl Saturday, the nationally-ranked and well-respected Ole Miss men's tennis program will host Mississippi State in a match that morning.

More Houston, this time on recruiting and evaluating: "We are light years ahead of the last time I talked with you. We have a real handle on our recruiting right now."

Good stuff there. And good to hear it right from the head coach's mouth. That's what having these press opps on a fairly frequent basis allow.

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Kudos to DC. The big man is having a stellar senior season.

With 22 points and 11 rebounds in Ole Miss' 76-71 win over Winthrop, Dwayne Curtis was named the Southeastern Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Week, the league office announced Monday.

Curtis posted his fourth double-double in the last six games and collected season highs in points and rebounds on Thursday in Jackson. He helped Ole Miss move to 8-0, the best start for the Rebels since the 2000-01 team started 11-0 before losing to Iowa State in the finals of a tourney in Hawaii.

That team also advanced further than any Rebel hoops team ever – the Sweet Sixteen. This year's team is on course to do some special things. Not necessarily predicting that type of run – not yet, anyway.

Curtis finished three points shy of his career high of 25 points and shot 10-of-12 from the floor to improve his season field-goal percentage to .712, currently second in the SEC. He leads the team in scoring with 14.8 points per game, while Ole Miss as a team ranks third in the nation at 89.9 points per game.

Curtis isn't the first Rebel to be honored by the SEC this young season. Chris Warren was named SEC Freshman of the Week on Dec. 3.

Curtis had also been named SEC Player of the Week nearly two years ago, on Jan. 7, 2006, after leading Ole Miss to a 71-61 win at Alabama when he scored 21 points and had 14 rebounds.

Ole Miss continues to receive votes in both national top 25 polls (22 votes in AP, 15 votes in ESPN/USA Today). The Rebels are already in Puerto Rico this week for the San Juan Shootout. They left early Monday morning.

The Rebs play DePaul on Thursday, LaSalle on Friday, and No. 15 Clemson on Saturday. All three games are set for 4:30 p.m. Central Time.


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