Kennedy, players from Atlanta

Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy and players Dwayne Curtis and Chris Warren attended a pre-tournament press conference prior to their Wednesday practice session at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, some comments on the game headed into tomorrow and then we'll take questions for the two student athletes and excuse them back to the locker room.

COACH KENNEDY: Thanks. We're excited about the opportunity. Obviously this is a big weekend for a lot of teams, us most certainly being one. There is still a lot to play for. Having won three in a row, we like where we are. In a perfect world I would prefer not to play the team we just played in Georgia, but at this time of the season you play them as they come. It's a great opportunity for our team.

Q. Dwayne, you played the last game on Friday night last year. What's the key to keeping loose and killing time all day before you come out and play at 9:45 eastern?

DWAYNE CURTIS: I would say just keeping the focus on the game the whole day. Keeping your mind focused, not trying to do too much during that free time and focusing on the task at hand.

Q. Dwayne, a lot of freshmen and younger guys on the team have not been in this environment before. What is your advice to them?

DWAYNE CURTIS: For them, to continue to play hard and aggressive. Just let their game come to them. Play hard.

Q. Dwayne, a lot of success for you guys in the post against Georgia. What was the reason for that, and do you feel like you may have to make an adjustment to something they'll do differently?

DWAYNE CURTIS: Yes, definitely. We'll probably have to make an adjustment, because playing a team two times, especially the second time, they're definitely going to do something different. I know we're going to have to make an adjustment. But as far as us being aggressive and physical, we've got to keep that up. That's exactly what we do. We have to stay the same way.

Q. For both players, sort of related to that, but how do you feel about playing the same team that you just dealt with, and now you're dealing with them again? They obviously know what you guys like to do, or it's fresh in their minds.

DWAYNE CURTIS: I would say that it is kind of difficult playing the same team coming around the second time. I know they're going to do something different. We have to do something different, also. We're just going to stick to the same game plan we've been doing, staying physical and doing the things we do, trying to win this game.

CHRIS WARREN: It's hard beating the team the first go-around, so beating the team the second time is going to be even harder. As long as we came out mentally ready to play, we'll be all right.

THE MODERATOR: Fellows, we'll excuse you. You can return to the locker room. Questions for Coach Kennedy?

Q. You indicated in your opening remarks, which might be a first for you this season, opening remarks, that you would prefer not to play the same team again so soon. Why is that? Dennis kind of indicated there would seem to be no advantage either way.

COACH KENNEDY: I would hope that we are in this point of the season that we would not have any problem being focused and understanding just how important the next game is. I just would prefer not to -- especially a team that we just beat on their home floor. We don't need to add any extra motivation, I'm sure, for Georgia because we're all at that point of the season where the opportunities are getting fewer and fewer.

Q. You mentioned this the other day, but along the lines of right now, the speculation kind of goes into overdrive this week and they do have a lot of free time. Is that the challenge of the coaching staff, just to keep your kids' heads on the right track?

COACH KENNEDY: For me, the 9:45 tip was no concern whatsoever. For me, guys have more energy at 10:00 p.m. than they do at 10:00 a.m. when we worked out a couple mornings ago, so that's not going to be an issue at all. I know a lot of coaches take different approaches. I'm pretty up-front in trying to lend my perspective as to where we are in this process. We're sitting around this hotel a large amount of time, and you can't escape it. They're watching games like we're watching games, and you hear this team being mentioned and that team being mentioned. I try to lend a little bit of perspective as to here's where we are. This is the predicament we've put ourselves in, and we know what we have to do to reach our goal.

Q. What do you think you have to do?

COACH KENNEDY: I think we've got to win some games. Is that one game, is that two games, is that three games, I don't know that. I know that we're probably one of 24 or 25 teams fighting for 10, 12, 13 bids depending on the hour of the day that you checked last, because as games are going, that seems to change the flow dramatically. We obviously understand the importance of tomorrow night's game, and we're just trying to make sure that we're focused as such.

Q. If you had to make the pitch yourself for why you should be in the NCAA Tournament, what would you say your team's strengths are?

COACH KENNEDY: If the selection was tonight, I wouldn't argue that we did deserve to be in, because I think realistically, we've still got some work to do. I think the biggest thing, and one of the reasons that we were so quickly taken out of the equation, and justifiably so I might add, is 10 days ago we were 4-9 in the SEC. We're now 7-9 which makes it a little more easily digested. You hear this term collective body of work, which you certainly hope is the case when you're examining a team's credentials. The fact that we went undefeated in our non-league and with that, beat some quality opponents, three as such, that are arguing their way into the tournament, one that is already in the tournament in Winthrop, and then in our league we've gotten some quality wins. We certainly have not helped ourselves with our mid-season slump, but I certainly think if you look at the numbers, and if the numbers mean what they tell us they mean as it relates to RPI, strength of schedule, road/neutral site games, I think our stock starts stacking up. If you start comparing apples to apples with a lot of the same teams that are dealing with issues, we are.

Q. I just wanted to follow up on what Dwayne said about 9:45 at night staying focused. It seems like a long time to stay focused. Is that the way you want to go, or do you want to take some time off and turn your mind off?

COACH KENNEDY: I don't want them sleeping all day, so we'll try to occupy their day somewhat. I don't want them just laying around sleeping. We practiced already this morning. This is the only time we'll have the opportunity to be in the Dome I guess other than 20 or 30 minutes prior to tip. We'll go through some meetings and different activities as it relates to us preparing for Georgia.

The one thing is there's only so much scouting you can do, because we just scouted this opponent for last Saturday's game, so we're just rehashing. I don't want it to become paralysis by analysis in overdoing something, but we certainly want to make sure that we occupy their day as much as normal as it would relate to a regular game. Ten o'clock at night is not a concern because, again, these are 18, 19 year old kids, and I know that's just when they get going.

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