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CHS alumnus helps Rebs as student manager

KANSAS CITY — Geoffrey Martin’s red bowtie is more than just a fashion statement for the student manager of the Ole Miss men’s basketball team.

Martin, a Cathedral High School alumnus, began wearing the bowtie at Ole Miss games last year, but wearing it during the Rebels’ win against Missouri in their first game of the SEC Tournament turned it into a trend.

“We won in dramatic fashion (64-62), so I figured I had to bring it back,” Martin said. “In athletics, we’re really superstitious, so we have to stick with what works.”

So far, it’s worked out well for Martin and the Rebels, who will try for a Sweet 16 berth against La Salle at 6:40 p.m. tonight in the West Region of the NCAA Tournament in Kansas City. The game will be televised by TruTV.

With Friday night’s win against Wisconsin, the trip to Missouri has been good for Martin and the Rebels players and coaches. In fact, the only thing that he hasn’t liked is the weather.

“I’m standing outside, and it’s snowing right now,” Martin said. “It’s a very nice city, other than the fact that it’s snowing in late March.”

Just several weeks ago, however, Ole Miss’ chances of making it to the Big Dance were hardly set in stone. If snow is the only negative, Martin will take it.

“Two weeks before (the SEC tournament), we lost to Mississippi State,” Martin said. “You got a sense that we were not in a good position at all. In fact, we were in a very bad position, where we knew we had to win games.”

Martin said the team felt on the ride home from Starkville that it would need to win the SEC tournament in order to make it to the NCAA Tournament.

“It turned out that wasn’t completely true,” Martin said. “We got help with some bubble teams losing, but we took care of business in Nashville.”

Ole Miss topped Florida in the SEC Tournament championship game, a moment that Martin was five years in the making for him, since that’s how long he’s been a team manager for the Rebels.

“The fact that we won the SEC and had an automatic bid — it was nice not having to sweat it out on Selection Sunday,” Martin said.

Martin credited the team’s defense as a big reason the Rebels were able to make a run after falling to Mississippi State. Holding Wisconsin to 15 for 59 in shooting Friday night was especially huge, he said.

“You’re not going to win many games shooting like that,” Martin said. “We didn’t really shoot well either, but I thought we played a better game (overall).”

Having star shooting guard Marshall Henderson finish with 19 points also helped. Henderson’s antics have been a lightning rod of controversy this season. While fans of Ole Miss may love him, fans of other teams aren’t too fond of Henderson, but Martin said Henderson is actually a great guy in person.

“He’ll go out of his way to make friends,” Martin said. “After games, he’ll stay and sign autographs and sit there and visit with fans. He’s definitely become a fan-favorite in Oxford — I don’t know about anywhere else, though.

“People want to talk about his antics on the court, but he’s just playing the game. He’ll tell everyone, he’s out there to have fun.”

As a civil engineering major, Martin said being a team manager was something he wanted to do to help pass the time.

“I went up to the director of operations one day, and he brought me in,” Martin said. “I played in high school and always enjoyed basketball, and I’ve never regretted the decision.”

Martin is the son of Lee and Deborah Martin.

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