La Salle v Ole Miss

Andy Kennedy: ‘With Marshall things get sensationalized’; he’s right

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Marshall Henderson has still not spoken to the media since he was suspended on July 10th, but his head coach Andy Kennedy has taken multiple opportunities to publicly support his best player.

Henderson was one of the most polarizing players in the country during the 2012-13 season. He averaged 20.1 points for a team that won the SEC tournament, but he also found himself making headlines for things outside of basketball: drinking, run-ins with the law, social media exploits, an explosive personality on the court.

He was suspended indefinitely from the team, and while it’s unknown just how many games he’ll end up missing — Kennedy said that will be Ole Miss AD Ross Bjork’s call — Henderson has returned to practice and, according to Kennedy, he’s been a model teammate.

“Marshall’s play has not changed,” Kennedy told USA Today’s Hugh Kellenberger. “Again when you see him today he’s the same guy from an emotional standpoint, from an energy standpoint. He’s taken a leadership role as it relates to he’s always going to be the way that he is when it relates to passion and being engaged and being on that edge from a position standpoint. The thing that I’ve been the most proud about is that he’s winning the sprints at the end, he’s encouraging the young guys when they make mistakes.”

That’s not a surprise, as Kennedy has always lauded Henderson’s ability as a teammate and a leader to the media.

What was interesting, however, was that Kennedy tried to downplay the severity of what got Henderson suspended.

“As is typical with Marshall things get sensationalized, quite frankly,” Kennedy said. “There have been a lot of different speculation and based on his rights and based on respect for those rights, we can’t delve into anything. But here’s a kid though that has not been arrested, knock on wood, and has certainly owned some of his mistakes. He was suspended for an internal matter. It wasn’t something that we had to involve authorities outside of our roof, and we’ll deal with it internally.”

He’s right. Henderson is a sparkplug. He draws attention to himself, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But when the attention you get is a result of wild (and, at times, hilarious) trash-talking on the court and routinely being photographed drinking, past issues with drugs and a weekly party known as #WhiteGirlWednesday off the court, the legend grows.

If Henderson didn’t embrace the persona, if he didn’t build his brand about The Fratboy Ideal, his transgressions wouldn’t be as scrutinized.

So does it surprise you that part of Kennedy’s punishment for Henderson has been no more twitter?

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: