SEC notebook: Henderson atoning for mistakes


Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy talks to reporters Wednesday in Birmingham, Ala. (Photo by The Associated Press)

Published: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 8:55 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 8:55 p.m.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — After a rocky offseason, Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said Marshall Henderson is working his way back into the good graces of the team.

“He's back practicing,” Kennedy said. “He's our lone senior. His approach in the way he's tried to help young guys, I've really challenged him to be more of a leader on the floor, not only take responsibility for himself but those around him.”

Henderson averaged a league-high 20.1 points per game last season but made more headlines with his over-the-top, crowd-baiting antics on the court. Last spring, Henderson failed a drug test. According to police reports, Henderson had three run-ins with police in Oxford, Miss., including one stop in which Henderson was found in possession of marijuana and cocaine.

Kennedy said Henderson will be suspended to start the 2013-14 season but didn't disclose the number of games.

“It's a fluid situation,” Kennedy said. “We're still two or three weeks away from that first game, it will probably be before that. But again, this is a process that Marshall has to continue to do what's demanded of him.”

Kennedy also said that Ole Miss plans to break ground on a new on-campus arena next spring.

Coaches happy with Nashville

Most coaches around the league sounded happy about having Nashville, Tenn., as a more permanent site for the SEC Tournament. The league announced Tuesday that Nashville's Bridgestone Arena will host the tournament nine of the next 12 years, from 2015-17, 2019-21 and 2023-25.

“I really think for the fans, for the players and for the tournament, it's a very big win,” Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. “I think the venue is the best and the intimacy of 18 or 19,000 seats is better than the (Georgia) Dome. I think the quality of play is going to be higher because of that.”

The Georgia Dome in Atlanta will host the SEC Tournament in 2014. SEC Tournament sites are up for bid in 2018 and 2022, with St. Louis and Tampa both mentioned as possible destinations.

“It's great for a league to have a place you call home,” Haith said. “When people think Big East Tournament, they think New York City. ACC, Greensboro, N.C. And I think Nashville can be that kind of a place for us.”

Fox unhappy with schedule

The quirks of an expanded SEC schedule (18 games with 14 teams) hurt Georgia this season.

The Bulldogs won't be hosting traditional rivals Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee at Stegeman Coliseum this season.

“Those are great draws for us and that will affect our attendance,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said. “We're not happy about that.”

Fox created a stir when he showed up at Georgia's home football game against LSU shirtless in red body paint and sat in Sanford Stadium's student section. Asked if he would do the same in Jacksonville for the Florida-Georgia football game on Nov. 2, Fox responded: “I would if (Georgia coach Mark) Richt asked me.”

SEC optimism

The Southeastern Conference only had three teams (Florida, Missouri and Ole Miss) make the NCAA Tournament last season.

But league coaches appear optimistic that the league is on the upswing in 2013-14. Haith said he wouldn't be surprised if “at least five” SEC teams make the NCAA Tournament this season.

“All conferences have ebbs and flows to them,” Stallings said. “Last year might not have been our best year but don't be surprised if this year is dramatically different than that. If we get six or seven teams in the (NCAA) Tournament, which would not surprise me in the least, nobody will be talking about that anymore.”

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