Upon Further Review: Memphis

Demo has news for SMU fans, MK is back. In his "Upon Further Review," Demo talks more about Markus Kennedy's return.

He went away but you hung around, and watched with me, every game. And when the season looked doomed you said this group wasn’t a team. Well, MK is back and the conference is in trouble. You see him cutting better get out on the double. He makes this team feel brand new, so look out America because he’s coming after you.

For those of you wondering what the heck is wrong with me, you should talk to my ex-girlfriend she usually had a pretty extensive list of things I needed to work on.

But actually, that first paragraph is a reference to the 1963 hit song “My Boyfriend’s Back” by an American girl band, The Angels.

I asked all our subscribers prior to the game what they would be looking for Thursday night when SMU hosted Memphis. The overwhelming consensus was the comeback of Markus Kennedy and boy, did you guys get it right.

Kennedy finished the night with 21 points, with 13 of them coming in the first half. He walks into the press conference room takes a seat to the left of teammate Ben Moore and turns to ask for a final stat sheet.

As he is asked about his performance Kennedy picks at his beard and glances over his team’s handiwork.

“We talked before the game and I told [the team] I was feeling pretty good,” he says. “I think the rust finally fell off.”

Kennedy was ineligible and missed the first half of the season, but rejoined the team in December. Thursday was his fifth game back and he looked much better than he did in the previous four.

“[The team] was playing so good without me that when I came back I didn’t want to interrupt their chemistry,” Kennedy says. “I just wanted to fit in and implement my game into how they were playing. I knew it was going to happen-sooner or later. They all had faith in me and I couldn’t do it without them.”

Over those first four games Kennedy was averaging 4.8 points a game, the team struggled to beat a division II team and looked to be slowly falling apart.

Then Thursday night happened. With 4:30 left in the first half, SMU was up by seven before Kennedy led a 12-6 run to close out the period. He scored eight straight points for the Mustangs and Moody Coliseum approved.

It was very much, a step in the right direction for SMU. Having Kennedy back adds another dimension to this team. Yanick Moreira is tall and can use his length to win a lot of battles down low, but Kennedy is a different animal. He uses size and grittiness to dominate down low and give SMU a toughness they haven’t had this season.

We’ve gone back in fourth all season long about what was wrong with this team and I don’t seem to recall anyone ever mentioning the word “soft.” After watching SMU on Thursday it occurred to me that they were soft- well maybe soft-er than I had subconsciously thought.

We’ve acknowledged that the departure on Nick Russell and Shawn Williams left a gaping hole in the leadership department, but we’ve overlooked the toughness they brought to this team.

Think about the Dallas Mavericks back in 2011. The additions of DeShawn Stevenson and Tyson Chandler changed the makeup of the team, gave Dallas a backbone and erased the “soft” label that had followed them for years. As you should know, Dallas won the NBA Championship that year.

I’m not saying SMU is now poised to make a dream run through conference and sail into the tournament- no, I still think our chances of doing that are slim. I am saying that the re-emergence of Kennedy provides a lift to this team that can’t be measured by points or rebounds. The Mustangs have a little bit of swagger to them now. Watch them a little bit closer their next time out and you’ll see it.

Hey-La, hey-la our MKs back.

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