Marshall Henderson: Ole Miss Basketball Star Is Not Rebels' Most Crucial Player

Tim KeeneyContributor IMarch 22, 2013

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 22:  Marshall Henderson #22 of the Ole Miss Rebels celebrates their 57-46 win over the Wisconsin Badgers during the second round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Sprint Center on March 22, 2013 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Marshall Henderson is a lot of things. He is brash. He is confident. He is the man with "the greenest light in basketball history." He is a land shark. He is the villain that college basketball needs. 

One thing the polarizing Ole Miss basketball star is not, however, is the Rebels' most important player. 

That's not a jab at Henderson, who put up arguably the most critically-acclaimed 19-point, 6-of-21 shooting performance ever in Ole Miss' 57-46 upset win over Wisconsin on Friday morning.

But a look at the first half against the Badgers is telling of the makeup of this team. 

In the first 20 minutes, Henderson missed 10 of his 11 shots, with most of those attempts being of the "questionable at best" variety (via ESPN's SportsNation):

Andy Kennedy and his staff have come to accept those kinds of shots from Henderson, who had 368 long-range attempts (10.8 per game) to his name before Friday's contest. With the energetic guard, you have to accept the bad with the good—and the bad, much like everything else, is amplified during times like these. 

So, the cold-shooting half isn't the issue here. It happens. The fact that the Rebels were able to stay within three of a team—one that has beaten Indiana and Michigan twice this year, by the way—despite getting one of Henderson's worst halves of the season is imperative to note. 

If Henderson was Ole Miss' most crucial player as the media tends to make him out to be, that wouldn't have been possible. The Rebels would have been eliminated a long time ago. 

Instead, that honor belongs to Murphy Holloway, and to a lesser extent, Reginald Buckner. 

In fact, Sports Illustrated's Seth Davis took it one step further:

"Best" is sort of a relative term. Holloway and Henderson may have the same initials, but comparing them is apples and oranges. Or, maybe apples and some type of rare, exotic banana. 

But Holloway's importance can't be overstated. 

The big man is averaging 14.5 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 0.7 blocks on the year. He is 6'7", 240 pounds and has the athleticism and ball-handling skills of a guard. In short, his versatility makes him incredibly difficult to deal with. 

The same goes for Buckner, which Bo Ryan and company know all too well by now. The two forwards combined for 19 points, 21 rebounds (seven offensive), four steals and six blocks. They were unstoppable on the inside.

Henderson finally did what he tends to do and heated up down the stretch to propel the Rebels to the massive victory, but if it weren't for Holloway and Buckner, the most-talked about player in the country wouldn't have been in a position to do so.

Against La Salle, a team that boasts four quick, talented guards but can be beat inside, that will continue to be the case. 

Henderson will provide the entertainment, but Holloway and Buckner will decide the outcome. 


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