In preparing for Utah, it’s business as usual for Bianco and the Rebels
Oxford, Miss. – Ole Miss head baseball coach Mike Bianco doesn’t have a full scouting report on Utah–but he’s not too worried about that. Bianco prepares for every opponent the same, regardless of whether or not the Rebels have played them before.
Some of the questions at Thursday’s practice session were about how comfortable Ole Miss (43-17) would be playing a team it hasn’t faced all season. Would there be any case of nerves facing a team about which the Rebels have little information?
Bianco doesn’t think so.
He is not worried about facing a team – that relies on its pitching – coming off its biggest win of the season in the Pac-12 Tournament Championship game last Sunday against Washington. The Utes defeated the Huskies 21-7 in Game 3 to seal an automatic bid in this year’s NCAA Baseball Tournament.
Sophomore ace Jayson Rose, who will start on the mound for the Utes (25-27) Friday night against the Rebels, leads the team with 102 strikeouts and a 2.62 ERA.
Regarding the preparation the Rebels will make for Utah, Bianco said:
Bianco added it is a little different playing a non-conference team.
Ole Miss assistant coaches Mike Clement and Carl Lafferty are responsible for scouting reports on the Rebels’ next opponent and whatever helpful information they can dig up lands in the hands of Bianco. There are two other teams (Boston College and Tulane) playing in the NCAA Oxford regional, but Bianco is only focusing on the Utes for now.
Before Ole Miss and Utah takes the field Friday night (7:00 p.m. CST, ESPN3/SECN+), Bianco will watch the Eagles and the Green Wave square off in front of a large, amped-up crowd that will primarily consist of Rebel fans.
“It’s hard to prepare for three teams, so after that game is over we will look to the next opponent,” Bianco said.
Swayze Field is where Ole Miss plays its best baseball, with the Rebels holding a 26-6 home record. Ole Miss hasn’t lost to an unranked opponent at home this year. Utah comes into the NCAA Oxford regionals as the fourth seed as well as the underdog.
Friday night will mark a new experience for the Utes as they haven’t felt the adrenaline rush they’ll feel in front of Southeastern Conference Baseball crowds.
In Utah’s Pac-12 title win over Washington, the Utes saw approximately 6,000 fans in the stands inside Smith’s Ballpark. Swayze Field seats 10,323–and Ole Miss averaged 8,500 in attendance per home game this season. Utah will have to find a way to fight off the raucous SEC crowd to avoid the double elimination game on Saturday.
However, according to Utah’s head coach Bill Kinneberg, the Utes are eager to see what the crowds are like in SEC Baseball.
Bill Kinneberg, Utah head coach
Courtney is from Memphis and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Memphis in May of 2014. He began his journalism career covering the Memphis Tigers Men’s basketball team, which landed him an intern position on 730 Yahoo Sports Radio and a position with Rivals.com. A freelance writer for the Associated Press, Courtney is also a member of The Rebel Walk team and reports regularly on Ole Miss football and basketball. Courtney, the father of a six-year old girl named Soniyah, prefers to cover NCAA basketball and football, but is happy to report on any other sport that comes his way.