This wasn't the preseason scenario anybody had predicted for this basketball team. But sports can be unpredictable.
As good as Wednesday night was, and it was good, Saturday, we're all aware, was the reverse.
This hasn't become about counting any number of wins. This has almost become about day to day survival for the Rebels.
The one Saturday got out of hand early and never changed course. I honestly expected a game like that at some point.
I wondered before the Arkansas game if this would be it. Would the young players the Rebels are depending on now finally have a deer in headlights moment and lose their way? Against the Razorbacks they appeared quite comfortable on their homecourt battling another young SEC team.
I thought about it again before the LSU game. Would this be the one against an LSU team that's better than Arkansas?
Now that it's occurred, where do they go from here?
Obviously they go back to work. And they try to forget what just happened against the Tigers and remember what happened against the Hogs. If players have short memories, and coaches always say they do, then they should bounce back in practice and get ready for the next one, in this case a Wednesday night game at Alabama.
But it's apparent things have taken some toll on the group. The players we talked to after Saturday's game responded affirmatively when asked about the lack of leadership among the players, and they said they're searching for some direction on the court among themselves.
Guys like Terrico White and Murphy Holloway and Malcolm White and Zach Graham will become better at that into the future. But right now, they're not there, and so they search.
The situation involving the Cincinnati trip has had at least some adverse effect. The players we talked to said they don't hear about it much or talk about it much. But one did mention they saw it on the ESPN ticker, and it must be on their minds some.
Even LSU Coach Trent Johnson mentioned in his postgame that he felt for Ole Miss and all that the Rebels had gone through this season, mainly referring to the injuries. He knows things have not been easy.
The Rebels and their coaches will try to fix what's wrong and build on what's right, given the situation and the tools. They'll try to encourage and reinforce the positives they can find from any given situation.
They'll try to help guys like Terrico White and Murphy Holloway, two very talented freshmen, wipe out the look of dismay and bewilderment we saw and heard from them after the game Saturday.
It won't be easy. Not given the competition ahead.
Holloway, conversational, open, mature, and an obvious candidate for a leadership role right away, said all they could do was make this latest loss a learning experience and move on. He's right, although that may be easier said than done, considering all things.
Too many pieces of the Rebel puzzle from the preseason are missing. Some distractions have made it a less than normal situation.
Hopefully their fans will stick with them. They need encouragement more than ridicule, especially at home. They'll get plenty of the latter on the road the rest of the way.
Moving on from here
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