Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Drag of Swag: Marshall Henderson Needs to Get Over Himself

I assume I’m like most people when I say there is something about arrogance that is so irresistible. Extreme confidence. It sucks me in. I find myself rooting for or against teams or players based solely on their level of humility shown. It’s an asinine rationale since I’m coming to this conclusion of who these athletes are as people by what I can see on my 19 inch screen, but it happens almost every time I watch sports.

For this reason, Marshall Henderson has drawn more attention to Ole Miss than anyone not named Manning for both his 19 PPG and his apparent desire for an opposing student section to throw batteries at him. He’s so totally contrary to the humble, soup kitchen volunteer, athlete long glorified by the NCAA that his divisiveness has risen to Carmelo Anthony levels.

But Tuesday night was when Henderson’s extreme belief in himself came to a screeching halt. Against ultra-arrogant John Calipari and ultra-arrogant Kentucky, Henderson was a complete non-factor. He finished with 21 points, but in the same way Allen Iverson used to score in the 30s or 40s. He was just 5 of 19 from the floor, including 2 of 11 from range. It was one of those games you wish Bob Knight was announcing so he could rip apart what missing 14 shots can do to a team.

Bravado aside, Henderson is in reality a very mediocre shooter. He’s just 35 percent from the field in conference play, which is just slightly below his season average of 38 percent. He consistently misses double digit shots, and in the now infamous Auburn game, he was a putrid 26 percent from the floor. A performance hardly worthy of the performance he gave after the game.

But it was that show of cockiness to the Auburn student section that drew the national spotlight on Oxford last night, and left Ole Miss exposed as a team that’s not ready to join the nation’s elite. On how his team could handle Henderson, Calipari said he told his players:

“Oh, I’d like us to lose our composure. That’s what I’m looking for. Like, lose your composure. Get mad. Get angry. Be mad to be great. (Pretends to be moping, then getting bumped by someone) ‘Oh, sorry.’ What? Be mad. And if he talks to you, talk back to him. I mean, just be mad. Compete, fight, battle, toughness, swagger. It’s hard to have a swagger when you’re ducking and you’re running. You gotta dig your heels in. That’s why I’m saying all this stuff is good for our team. If we’re going to get it, it’s competing in games like this and learning and growing.”

This is what the Rebels can expect every game. Elite athletes hate to be shown up, probably more so than any other group of people, and Henderson has unfairly and selfishly put this target on his team. Ole Miss has great potential to do something special this season, but it will continue to underachieve unless it’s lead scorer learns to get over himself.

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