Undeniable Odds

From outside distractions to yet another season-ending injury, the road ahead has surely become more difficult for Andy Kennedy and his Rebels. Read about it inside.

Sports are often allegorical. Forty minutes of simultaneous adjustments and reaction lead to a cause, which we as journalists translate on paper for comparison and analysis.

Similarly in life, obstacles are overcome and circumstances are altered with every drastic turn we take.

A story usually writes itself. One drastic situation preludes an event, leading to dramatic and unpredictable competition, which concludes in surprising and triumphant fashion for a given team.

To connect with an audience, simply compare what transpired on the field or court with life situations. The fans love it and they can draw meaning from what they read, which brings them back for more with every page.

It's so easy, a caveman could do it.

Thursday's scene was setting up nicely. A Rebel squad, which lost embarrassingly to New Mexico just a week earlier and squeaked by Alabama State the following Monday, would will their way to a potential season-building effort against No. 9 Louisville despite unique distractions.

A normal gameday had quickly turned to a three-ring circus, with allegations and denials that even the best of teams hardly overcome.

Add to the fact that Ole Miss had yet to find itself on either end of the floor and what seemed as possibly a competitive matchup was quickly cast off as a blowout waiting to happen.

The retribution story was written. The Rebels, decimated by injury in the season's early stages, were to rally around Andy Kennedy and grasp desperately to victory. They would slay the Cardinals and sprint back to Oxford with the events of Cincinnati still settling in the dust of their wake.

The end.

Another celebratory piece would be printed and ready for engulfment by the sea of Red and Blue followers. No need to check the message boards or inbox, fans would eat it up. Enjoying the spoils of my DVR would come without pause.

But that was not the script that would follow this game.

There was to be no happy ending. No warm and fuzzy feelings of joy to replace unrelenting angst. In contrast, the haunting effects of Ohio were of decimation and turmoil. Eleven games were all it took for the pulse of this season to seemingly halt or slow to the point of virtual conclusion.

A season-ending injury to sophomore point guard Chris Warren struck to the core of a perilous period. Front court struggles and glaring rebounding weaknesses appear elementary now.

This wasn't a year anyone could have seen coming.

Trips to consecutive postseasons were supposed to preface a breakout third year for Kennedy and his boys. The highly-touted newcomers would grow as the season progressed and the veterans, while also youthful, would lead Ole Miss to its first NCAA appearance since 2002.

Now standing 7-4 with conference play forthcoming, the situation appears daunting. Can the Rebels find solid ground amongst so many obstacles? Possibly, but they'll have to do it on the shoulders of multiple freshmen and the legs of junior David Huertas.

But I'm not one to look toward the future. I believe in resolve and perseverance, no matter how dim the day might seem. I've seen Ole Miss fight back far too often to simply discard hope with 19 games left to play.

This should be a time for the Rebel family to come together. Call this a rally cry or dub it sunshine pumping, I don't care. Peril breeds character and there is no better time than now for ours to shine.

While December 18, 2008 was surely a forgettable day in Rebel history, that day has come and gone.

Moving forward is what's needed and I for one won't stand by and allow the difficulties of this season to drown my expectations.

The Rebels tipoff at home Monday at 7 p.m. against Florida A&M.

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