Marshall Henderson scores 19 in regular season debut as Ole Miss hangs on

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After an eventful offseason that included failed drug tests and an indefinite suspension from the program, Ole Miss senior guard Marshall Henderson made his 2013-14 debut in the Rebels’ game at Coastal Carolina. With the reigning SEC tournament champions having lost both Reginald Buckner and Murphy Holloway from last season’s team, the return of Henderson is an important one based upon his ability to score.

Henderson came off the bench on Saturday night, finishing the game with 19 points (14 in the second half) on 6-for-16 shooting to go along with four rebounds, four steals and three turnovers. And while the field goal percentage wasn’t at the level that either he or head coach Andy Kennedy would like, Henderson made two key plays to help the Rebels hold off a tough Coastal Carolina squad by the final score of 72-70.

Coming out of a timeout with 4:14 remaining and a two-point lead, Henderson knocked down a three to push Ole Miss’ lead out to five (63-58). And then he would follow that up with a steal and dunk a minute later to increase that lead to seven points, a cushion the Rebels ended up needing in the end. Two turnovers (one committed by Henderson as he attempted to split a double-team) and spotty foul shooting gave Cliff Ellis’ Chanticleers life, but a Josh Cameron three-point attempt to tie the game with nine seconds remaining rattled in and out.

Those two plays illustrate why Henderson, the team’s lone senior, is so important to Ole Miss this season. He may be a lightning rod, but he also has the ability (and willingness) to go out and make those big plays when Ole Miss needs them the most. In total five Rebels scored in double figures, with Jarvis Summers adding 14 points after battling first-half foul trouble and Derrick Millinghaus 12, but if anyone’s going to get Ole Miss a key bucket in crunch time it’s going to be Henderson.

Henderson’s not completely out of the clear when it comes to his suspension, as he’ll have to sit out Ole Miss’ first two SEC games, but there should be no disputing the importance of his return. Ole Miss will have some growing pains to deal with as players who had minor roles last season adjust to being asked to do more, and they need to do a better job of focusing down the stretch. But with Henderson back the Rebels have a player they can look to for big plays, even if the wait to see what happens can be a nerve-wracking one at times.

Former Wichita State assistant returns as a consultant

Chris Jans, Gregg Marshall
Associated Press
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Prior to a one-year stint as the head coach coach at Bowling Green that came to an end in early April as a result of an incident at a Bowling Green restaurant, Chris Jans was a member of Gregg Marshall’s coaching staff at Wichita State from 2007-14. During those seven seasons Jans was a key figure as the Shockers made the progression to a respected national power.

Jans is back in Wichita, with Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle reporting Thursday that he’s serving as a consultant to the program. Jans’ consulting agreement runs for 45 days, which the school can renew, and he’ll be paid $10,000 for the work. While Jans isn’t allowed to do any coaching, he can watch practices and provide Marshall and the coaching staff with his observations.

“He will be able to consult with the coaching staff, only on what he observes in practice,” said Darron Boatright, WSU deputy athletics director. “By NCAA rule, a consultant is not allowed to have communication with student-athletes … not about basketball-related activities or performance.”

While Jans (who according to the story has served in a similar role for another school) can’t do any coaching in this role, his return does give Marshall another trusted voice to call upon when needed. Wichita State bid farewell to an assistant coach this spring with Steve Forbes being hired as the head coach at East Tennessee State, with his position being filled by former Sunrise Christian Academy coach Kyle Lindsted.

h/t ShockerHoops.net

AUDIO: Rick Pitino discusses allegations, future at Louisville

Rick Pitino
Associated Press
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Thursday afternoon marked the first time since Friday that Louisville head coach Rick Pitino commented on the controversy that has taken his program by storm. Speaking with Terry Meiners of 840 WHAS in Louisville, Pitino discussed the escort scandal, what could have possibly led former staffer Andre McGee down the path he’s alleged to have taken in Katina Powell’s book and his future at Louisville.

The interview began with Meiners asking Pitino if it changed his thinking as to whether or not he needed to resign, which (as one would expect) Pitino shot down. Also discussed was the statement released by school president Dr. James Ramsey, which expressed support for athletic director Tom Jurich but did not mention Pitino at all.

“Well I can’t answer that, Terry,” Pitino said when asked why he wasn’t mentioned in the statement. “Twenty-six years ago Kentucky brought me in to make the program compliant to NCAA rules. (Then-Kentucky president) Dr. (David) Roselle and (then Kentucky athletic director) C.M. Newton thought I was the guy to come in and change around the images, change around the culture and add a lot of discipline to the program. And I did that.

“And then I came here to the University of Louisville, and if someone was five seconds late or not early consequences would be paid from a disciplinary standpoint,” Pitino continued. “This is obviously not a person being late, this is not about a person (not) working hard. This is about things that are very disgusting, things that turn my stomach, things that keep me up without sleeping.

“But unfortunately, I had no knowledge of any of this and don’t believe in it. It’s sickening to me, the whole thing. But I’m thinking of my 13 players, I’m thinking of our program, and I’m sorry that Dr. Ramsey did not think enough to mention me but that’s something I cannot control.”

Below is audio of the full interview, which ran just over 17 minutes in length.