Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco spoke at the Tupelo Kiwanis Club today, a group he visits with some degree of regularity.
He gave his assessment of last year, a season he acknowledged was "probably" a disappointment to Ole Miss fans who expect more, expressed optimism for 2011, offered some opinions on the state of college baseball and took a few good-natured jabs at MSU fans in attendance.
"You State guys can't get Cohen here?" he joked.
A few bullet points ...
- Bianco said the off-season loss to injury of 2009 closer Jake Morgan, quick dismissals of a couple of newcomers he says would have played key roles and coaching staff changes were all factores in "things not happening the way we expected."
Bianco said the 2010 Rebels were just a couple of key plays, key pitches away from hosting a regional and having a much better season. He pointed out game-changing home runs by Arkansas' Brett Eibner and Auburn's Kevin Patterson in home losses for Ole Miss.
"As a whole, we just were not good enough. Ray Tanner (South Carolina coach) is not at civic clubs right now talking about a pitch here and a pitch there."
- For the first time in his career the Rebels' roster will include more newcomers than returning players. Bianco says it's a good mix.
- Among the returning players are two double-digit home run guys in the middle of the order, Matt Smith and Matt Snyder. Bianco says that will be a key to the Rebels' offense. Snyder dislocated his shoulder six times last season and is coming back nicely from surgery, now hitting against live pitching, Bianco said.
- Bianco says he isn't sure new rules to deaden the bats and a pitch clock to speed up the game will be good for college baseball. Obviously the changes will impact every team the same, but he compared it to telling football coaches the field would lengthen because the spread offense was allowing too many teams to score too many points. "The game is being changed because of a decision of 10 people, not a decision of college baseball people," he said.
- Bianco said he would not be surprised to see last year's ace, Drew Pomeranz, pitching in the major leagues by late next summer. "He's big, he's physical and he's ready," he said. He also noted that the make-up of the Cleveland Indians' organization is conducive to a quick opportunity for Pomeranz.