The first games won’t be until four weeks from now – Friday, Nov. 9, a doubleheader for the Ole Miss men’s and women’s teams at Tad Smith Coliseum.
For now, it was all fun and games in front of a couple of thousand – at least – Ole Miss fans and curious onlookers. Even an Auburn fan or two was spotted in the crowd, obviously here for the football game on Saturday.
“I thought it was awesome,” said Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy. “It’s great for our guys.”
He’s right about that. No doubt the Rebels were having a good time out there, showing off their shooting skills and their dunking expertise. They didn’t always go in the basket, but the show went on in a bigtime way.
New women’s head coach Adrian Wiggins said his first Square Jam experience was a lot of fun.
“This was a great thing. Marketing did a great job. It was very impressive,” said Wiggins, a successful head coach at Fresno State with several NCAA Tournament teams before heading to Ole Miss last spring. “I wish we could play a game out here.”
The event followed the Ole Miss Homecoming Parade. The crowd that was gathered for that event spilled over into the Square Jam area in front of City Hall where bleachers had been set up around a temporary court and goals, all regulation size and dimension.
The announcer for the evening was Rick Trotter, the public address announcer for the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies.
Wiggins said this one was fun for all, and that was the intent from the start.
“To come out and watch the players compete and have fun with the crowd on a beautiful night, it was special. It was awesome for the city of Oxford to shut down the Square like this and let us do it. It was really cool.
“And what an experience for the players," Wiggins continued. "They’re each going to go out now and tell 25 people what an awesome night this was. That’s how you build programs. It was a special experience as a player and as a student.”
Wiggins’ team started official practice Oct. 1. Kennedy’s first official practice was Friday.
“We went through regular work day today,” he said of day one. "We’ve already gone twice. It was good our guys could have an opportunity to be a part of the Homecoming weekend.”
Kennedy said he’s looking forward to a season that holds much promise for his team - if it stays healthy and wins the close ones.
“I’m excited about the potential of this group,” he said. “We have four of our five starters returning and seven of our top nine. We added six guys. We have a variety of skills, and you saw that tonight. I think the thing I’m most excited about is our versatility. Everybody brings a different skill set, and hopefully that will bring a lot of options for us.”
And Kennedy had one last “thank you” for those involved, from the university to the city.
“I thought it was great. Anytime you do anything outside, you’re rolling the dice with the weather. But I thought it went off great, and I appreciate the fans coming out to support our kids.”