Warren ready for year two

Chris Warren learned a lot last year. Starting as a freshman at point guard on a Southeastern Conference basketball team will do that to a player.

Now just one year in, the 5-foot-10, 170-pound Orlando native is a veteran. Not so much in years but in minutes played and games played.

After Todd Abernethy graduated the previous year, the Rebels were looking for a replacement. Warren stepped in and had a solid freshman season.

Now heading into his sophomore campaign, Warren knows a lot of the Rebels' potential success falls on the backcourt, especially with frontliners Dwayne Curtis, Kenny Williams and Jermey Parnell gone from the program.

But Warren isn't worried. He's just preparing and looking forward to the season. Official team practice begins a week from today.

"Overall things have gone well," he said of preseason workouts and conditioning. "We've gotten a lot done and are working hard. We're trying to learn about each other and develop some team chemistry."

For much of last season, the Rebels had good team chemistry. They started 13-0 and were a perfect 14-0 in non-conference games. But there was one stretch during conference play when the Rebels lost that chemistry and in turn lost games. They lost some confidence and they lost some of their fans.

From a 2-1 Southeastern Conference start to a 4-9 record at one point, the Rebels were in danger of not making postseason play. But they rebounded with home wins over Alabama and Arkansas and a road win at Georgia to end the regular season, and wound up in New York in the NIT Final Four with 24 wins, second-most in school history for men's hoops.

Warren, the Rebels' leading scorer last season with 15.8 points per game, said they are building on that strong, late-season finish.

"We're giving it an all-out commitment to get there," Warren said of the Rebels' chances of getting to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2001-02 season. "We feel like that's where we're headed and that's what we're going to do. We feel we have no limits and are dreaming big. Hopefully we can complete that goal."

The Rebels have several new players, including guards Will Bogan, Terrico White and Michael Halford, as well as four and five-spot players Terrance Henry, Murphy Holloway and DeAundre Cranston.

Warren, with an average of 31.9 minutes a game last season to lead the Rebels in that category, said with so many newcomers, he has tried to help them by remembering he was once in their shoes.

"I know where they're coming from," he said. "I was there last year. I like the new guys. They roll. They're working hard. Will is working hard and he's still learning. All of them are playing well and learning. They bring a new structure to our team, a new aspect to our team, that is good."

Warren, who played in all 35 of the Rebels' games last year, starting all but one, said he feels he's developed in a lot of areas since last season.

"I'm stronger and that's going to help me," he said. "I'm still learning, and there's a lot left to learn. But I believe I'm getting there."

Just like Warren feels the program is, too.

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