Dave Van Horn remembers the looks on the faces as he talked to the first Swatter's Club meeting this time last year.
"There were a lot of long faces," Van Horn said of last year's group at the Clarion Inn. "I thought you guys were going to cry. We'd lost those guys and we really didn't know who our pitchers were going to be."
"Wise has all the tools," Van Horn said. "He just needs to relax and he'll be fine. Reeves was doing well but the last couple of days weren't very good and he got humbled."
Both Wise and Reeves have plenty of tools. They just lack the experience and leadership that McCann supplied the last three seasons.
The good news is that the Hogs have a deep pitching staff and plenty of experience around the diamond led by sophomore first baseman Dominic Ficociello and third baseman Matt Reynolds.
The pitching is as good as anyone in the SEC and maybe deeper than most.
"We may have nine, 10, 11 or 12 that all have velocity and something different in every one of them," Van Horn said. "We have a great leader in DJ Baxendale. He's got maybe eight pitches. He's got a little bit of everything.
"I've had good pitching before, but not this deep. It's the options in the bullpen that mean so much to this staff. You have the ability to slow the game down and go with matchups. We have great options."
Van Horn said the weather has been ideal for getting his team ready. There have been nice days and plenty of scrimmage time.
"We have no excuses and the 10-day forecast looks pretty good, too," he said. "I can remember last year with all of the snow and ice and not being able to get out. It was 37 yesterday, but we still got out there. It surprised a few guys but that was still all right (weather)."
The leaders to start in the outfield, perhaps the other question mark, seem to be Matt Vinson, Jacob Morris, Sam Bates, Derek Bleeker and Jimmy Bosco. But there are five to six others still in the picture for outfield time.
The Hogs are a consensus Top 10 pick in the national polls and as high as No. 4.
"Expectations are high," Van Horn said. "We had the autograph session at the mall on Saturday and our guys signed stuff for over two hours. We finally had to cut it off. You look at this group (at the Swatter's Club) and you couldn't get another person in here.
"I told our guys that we will have a great atmosphere. They better get ready because they are going to have a lot of people out there. I told them I hope you can handle it."
The competition in the SEC is just the same.
"You look at Florida, they have everyone back -- six No. 1 picks in their junior class, all of their pitchers," Van Horn said. "LSU has their rotation and their starting shortstop and second baseman.
"And where do we play them? We go to Florida, to LSU. What I can tell you is that they don't like us coming to see them either. Some like to go on the road because it gives us a chance to get focused. I like it.
"I think it will be exciting in June for this team, but we've got a lot of work to do before we get there."
Van Horn, who has worked the Hogs through six scrimmages, said there are new bats this year that have a little better balance and a little more pop than the ones in play last year. The fence in right field has been moved in 10 feet from the power alley to the line.
"We may not run as much this year," Van Horn said, pointing to those two factors. "The bats have better balance. You can hit the ball out of the park when you square it up. They are pretty fair."