Quite the Characters

With his antics and his willingness to hoist up 3-pointers, junior Marshall Henderson grabs a lot of the headlines for Ole Miss, Wisconsin's first opponent in the NCAA Tournament. But with Henderson being the focal point, the Rebels have a lot of other key components that can give teams trouble.

MADISON - When the seeds were announced Sunday night, the matchup of fifth-seed Wisconsin and 12th-seed Ole Miss took on an entirely different moniker: ‘Bo Ryan vs. Marshall Henderson.'

True, the Running Rebels like to push the tempo – Ole Miss ranks seventh in the country with 78.2 points per game – and Henderson with his 20.1 points per game is a big reason why.

But saying Ole Miss is the most athletic team Wisconsin is going to face, an impressive statement considering the state of the Big Ten this season, associate head coach Greg Gard acknowledges that the Rebels' frontcourt of 6-7 senior forward Murphy Holloway and 6-9 senior forward Reginald Buckner are Big Ten quality.

"Both very good players," said Gard. "Impressed with both those guys in terms of the relentlessness they come with on the glass. They just make big plays for them. Henderson makes big plays for them, but I don't think they're at where they're at without the play of those other guys that aren't in the spotlight all the time."

The player most familiar to Gard is Holloway. Gard tried to recruit Holloway, but knew he wasn't going to get very far with the South Carolina native who wanted to stay in the south. Holloway started at Ole Miss, transferred to South Carolina to deal with family issues and then transferred back to Ole Miss, getting a waiver to play immediately.

Reminding Gard a lot of the post players Wisconsin has faced at Michigan State this season, Holloway is a combination of Michigan State's Adreian Payne, Minnesota's Trevor Mbakwe and Ohio State's Deshaun Thomas in terms of be relentless on the glass, and averages 14.6 points and 9.6 rebounds per game.

Gard also signaled out senior guard Nick Williams (who originally committed to Marquette and transferred from Indiana) and sophomore guard Ladarius White as having a good mid-range jumper. Williams is familiar with Wisconsin, scoring 19 points in a 24-point loss to Wisconsin while at Indiana in the 2008-09 season.

"(Williams and Holloway) have that ‘junkyard dog' mentality with how they keep coming after you," said Gard. "I've seen them attack the glass against some very good teams. They know Henderson is going to shoot the ball quite a bit, so their chance to go get their hands on it is to go rebound what he misses."

Scoring over 20 points in five straight games, Henderson does most of his damage from 3-point range. Attempting a nation-high 367 shots from beyond the arc, Henderson attempted double-digit 3-point attempts 25 times on the season, 72 percent of his field goal attempts are from 3-point range and he hits 35.7 percent of them.

"We've seen a lot of guys that can shoot the ball all year," said Gard. "Maybe not at the volume that he shoots it but after watching games he can get (his shoots) in a lot of different ways … He's had a target on him all season and he hasn't shied away from it. He's definitely delivered for them."

Henderson has also delivered plenty of headlines. Around the basketball court, Henderson taunted Auburn fans following a two-point road win that pushed the Rebels to 6-0 in the SEC. Three days later he argued with his coach on the sideline and threw ice back into his own student section in a January loss to Kentucky.

He also made waves in the SEC tournament after hitting a 3-pointer against Florida, doing the ‘Gator Chomp' hand motion as he ran back down the court and called the rest of the SEC coaches ‘losers' for not putting him on the conference's first team.

"I think everyone hates it, unless you're an Ole Miss fan," Henderson told reporters during the season. "But that's the best part about it. If enough people hate you, you love it and you feed off of that hate."

Henderson has also spent 25 days in jail last spring for violation of the terms of his probation stemming from a 2010 forgery charge related to counterfeit money. Last January, he tested positive for cocaine, marijuana and alcohol, according to the records provided by the Tarrant County, Texas, District Attorney's office through a Freedom of Information request obtained by USA Today.

Henderson is labeled by many as a shooter, which is accurate considering 72 percent of his attempts are 3-point attempts, but Gard breaking down film has recognized that the junior scores in different ways: shot fake and attack, pump fakes and drawing fouls.

"He draws a lot of attention at the 3-point line, but his movement off the ball, ability to free himself up or run with the threat of shooting has freed up some of his other teammates," said Gard. "He's not just a 3-point shooter."

And Ole Miss is not just another 12 seed, as the Rebels won seven of their last eight games and the SEC tournament to play themselves off the bubble.

"There might not be a hotter BCS team that had their back against the wall," said Gard. "They had to win down the stretch of the season … They are one of the hotter teams in the country being in those must-win situations, and they've always been able to come through."

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