By: Peyton Spear
Peyton is a senior majoring in journalism at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at Ole Miss.
It is always easier to gain ground by winning important games early than dig out wins later in the season.
In recent years, Ole Miss athletics has learned the hard way.
As men’s basketball nears the end of their season and baseball has just begun, many Rebel fans seem to enjoy this time of year when the two sports overlap seasons.
Despite the cold weather, nothing is stopping the fans from bundling up at Swayze Field for baseball or standing in line to enter the Tad Smith Coliseum for men’s hoops.
A large boost in attendance at basketball games has followed the success the Rebel hoopsters have had on the season. Despite a small skid in the past six games, losing four out of six, the team started out conference play by winning seven straight SEC (Southeastern Conference) games and currently sit tied for 3rd in the SEC, posting a (19-6) overall record with six games remaining in the regular season.
The past few seasons, Coach Andy Kennedy’s club has found itself on the fence in making it to the NCAA tournament. The Rebel hoopsters have not been invited to the Big Dance since 2002, but look to get asked this year.
The difference this year compared to recent years is the early success the hoopsters had in winning seven straight SEC games. With new faces such as junior college transfer Marshall Henderson making a lot of noise nationally for his funny antics and outstanding 3-point shooting, and the early statement Kennedy’s team made in conference play, the Rebels have been recognized.
A lot of talk has surrounded the team. Instead of losing early in SEC play since Kennedy’s arrival in 2006, the Rebels no longer have to worry as much about grinding out games at the end of the season. A lot of pressure still sits on their shoulders, but imagine the weight to be 50 pounds instead of 100 pounds.
As for Ole Miss baseball, attendance never seems to be a concern due to the fact that baseball might be the most popular sport to attend amongst students –– dating all the way back to what seems like the establishment of the team in 1947 –– known as the “modern era.”
The concern that has been obvious in recent years is losing big games andy important conference games early, but this year might be different.
The team seems to kick off their seasons playing a few lower division schools and higher division schools who seem to struggle year in and year out.
Typically, the Rebels (no. 13 per Baseball America) have always found themselves undefeated for a few weeks before entering SEC play, but the opening weekend sweep against (no. 14 per Baseball America) Texas Christian University might be the exact boost the Rebels need to kick start the season and make it back to Omaha to compete in the College World Series.
The success and excitement of the football team this year led to a record breaking recruiting class for the Rebels, which has seemed to carry over to basketball and baseball.
This is a very exciting time to be a Rebel.