Ole Miss banks on experience
By By Tony Krausz / assistant sports editor
July 21, 2003
The debate in present-day college basketball has come down to talent versus experience.
Coaches must decide during the recruiting process to take a chance on a player, who may go pro after one or two years, or if they want to find players that will be in school for the long haul.
Syracuse and Maryland, the last two teams to be crowned the NCAA champions, celebrated at the end of March Madness by following two different paths.
The Orangemen of Syracuse cut down the nets thanks to phenomenal freshman Carmelo Anthony, who subsequently left the team for the NBA and was picked No. 3 overall.
The Terps of Maryland captured the NCAA crown at the end of the 2001-02 season with a senior heavy roster led by Juan Dixon, Lonny Baxter and Steve Blake.
Ole Miss head basketball coach Rod Barnes is banking on the experience philosophy of college hoops to help turn around a program that posted a disappointing 14-16 overall mark last season (4-12 Southeastern Conference).
Barnes will enter the 2003-04 season with two of the most experienced players in the SEC.
Forward Justin Reed and guard Aaron Harper return to the Rebels for their senior campaigns, and the two players, who have logged a combined 189 games, are on the radar screens of nearly every coach in the SEC, especially in the West.
Ole Miss will need more than just its dangerous one-two punch for a run at a possible NCAA tournament berth.
Barnes added more experienced players to his roster in the offseason, focusing heavily on junior college transfers to add maturity around Reed and Harper.
The Rebels signed junior college forwards Byron Burnett (Southern Union State (Ala.) Community College), Tommie Eddie (Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College) and Marvin Moore (Southern Union State (Ala.) Community College), and guard Ed Glass (Kaskaskia (Ill.) Community College) to bolster its roster for the upcoming season.
Ole Miss's new talent will have to meld quickly with the returning players for the team to recapture its former glory.
The Rebels streak of six straight winning seasons, from 1997-2002, came to an end last year, and Barnes said he thinks the returning veteran roster will help Ole Miss back into the postseason hunt.