Rebs in no-game stretch; ladies have one soon

The Ole Miss men's basketball team doesn't play until Dec. 10, and after a game with UAB here Saturday, the women have a break from competition themselves.

The Ole Miss women's basketball team hosts UAB Saturday at 2 p.m., and then it's 11 days before their next game.

The Ole Miss men's basketball team is in the midst of its 11-day, no-game stretch from Nov. 30 through Dec. 10.

Those things happen about this time every year as players go through semester exams. The Rebels actually would have had a game Saturday as well if their schedule with Memphis had worked out like they wanted. But that game is now set for two weeks from Saturday (Dec. 17) in Oxford.

Mark your calendars for that one and be here. Ole Miss beat Memphis up there 65-53 last year. The Tigers are ranked in the Top 10 currently. The Rebels will need you here that day. Tipoff is at 2:30 p.m.

The Rebels' next game will be in Chicago against the University of Illinois-Chicago. Rod Barnes scheduled this game for several reasons. Probably the most important one is that the Rebels are recruiting that area heavily now.

Assistant Coach Tracy Dildy is from Chicago, and currently three Rebels are from there – Dwayne Curtis, Marquis Young, and Justin Cerasoli.

The 6-foot-9 Curtis is a sophomore center who transferred from Auburn. He played prep hoops at Whitney Young High School.

Young, at 6-9, is a true freshman center who played at Austin Community High School.

Cerasoli, a 6-5 point guard, played at West Aurora High School and transferred to Ole Miss from Seton Hall prior to this school year. By NCAA rule, he is sitting out this season and will have three years left to play for the Rebels.

By contract, Ole Miss normally gets 50 tickets for road games. For the Illinois-Chicago game, the Rebels have asked for about three times that many. That's because Dildy, Curtis, Young, and Cerasoli will have family and friends in attendance cheering for Ole Miss.

Also junior point guard Todd Abernethy's family is only about a three-hour's drive away in Indianapolis. When Todd was a freshman and the Rebels played at Evansville (Ind.), he had more than 50 family and friends in attendance. Assistant Coach Michael White's folks are only a couple of hours away in South Bend, Ind., where Kevin White runs the Notre Dame athletics department.

Also expected are a large number of Ole Miss alumni and fans. The following e-mail has been sent to UM alums and friends in Chicagoland:

*** Join Chicago Ole Miss Alumni and Friends at the UIC Pavilion on Saturday, December 10 at 3 p.m. Watch the Ole Miss men's basketball team take on the UIC Flames.

UIC is holding a block of tickets for area Rebels. Don't forget to mention you are with the Chicago Ole Miss Club. Tickets are $15 per person. Get yours today by calling (312) 413-8421 no later than Thursday, December 8.

The UIC Pavilion is at 525 South Racine in Chicago. For directions, visit

After the game, fans are invited to eat with some of the Rebel coaches at Tufano's at 1073 W. Vernon Park Place. It is one of Little Italy's best and is conveniently located across the parking lot from the Pavilion. E-mail Julia and Kel Goalby if you intend on joining everyone for dinner. The restaurant needs an accurate head count. E-mail Julia and Kel at ***

Sounds like a good effort by the Chicago area Ole Miss folks, and the Rebels should have some solid support at the game.

Following that contest, Ole Miss, currently 4-1, starts a stretch of five games in nine days, all at home and beginning with Saint Louis University on Tues., Dec. 13. The Billikens are expecting some fans for the game and have already contacted Ole Miss officials about a place for their alumni to meet before the contest.

Saint Louis is now a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference, joining this season after several years in Conference USA.

After the game between the Rebels and Billikens, Ole Miss hosts Nicholls State on Thurs., Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. and Memphis on Sat., Dec. 17, as mentioned earlier.

On Mon., Dec. 19, the Arkansas State Indians are in town for a 7 p.m. contest, with Southeastern Louisiana here on Wed., Dec. 21, for a 7 p.m. tipoff.

When the women return to action following Saturday's home game against UAB, the Lady Rebs host Rutgers, currently ranked No. 6 in the nation, on Wed., Dec. 14, at 7 p.m. Two nights later they play at Memphis at 7 p.m.

They host Nicholls State on Sun., Dec. 18, at 2 p.m., and wind up the pre-Christmas activity with a road game at traditional national power Louisiana Tech on Tues., Dec. 20, at 7 p.m.

The 5-1 Lady Rebels have been seriously challenged with their schedule so far in games against the likes of Rice, Clemson, Texas Tech, and Villanova. With Rutgers and Louisiana Tech among their upcoming foes, Ole Miss should be a seasoned and experienced team by the time SEC play rolls around in January.

That's exactly what Carol Ross had in mind when she and her staff made out this extremely challenging non-conference slate for the Lady Rebels in 2005-06.


Wonder why it appears to be difficult for some coaches to understand the enormity and importance of the Ole Miss-Mississippi State series?

Maybe Ole Miss needs Billy Brewer or Van Chancellor or Carol Ross or Billy Chadwick to hold a session and see if they can get the point across to some new coaches.

And it's not just an Ole Miss thing. It also appears it takes a year for Mississippi State coaches to sometimes realize its significance.

Oh we always hear some of the talk before a game about how important it is. But not until those coaches actually participate in the rivalry do they often fully understand it.

David Cutcliffe watched as a mob scene unfolded on Scott Field after the Bulldogs upset the Rebels in 1999. Several folks, including Ole Miss cheerleaders, got hurt in that melee. Cut said he understood the rivalry more after that one.

State's current head football coach said after last year's loss in Oxford to Ole Miss 20-3 that he just didn't have his team prepared for the big rival game. He said for the 12 months following that he would this time around.

"This is obviously a disappointing loss for our football team. We got outplayed physically and whipped," said Coach Ed Orgeron after last Saturday's embarrassing 35-14 loss to a team that had beaten only Murray State and Tulane before taking a knee to keep it from being worse against Ole Miss.

When asked by some reporter if he understood the rivalry better after having been through it once, O responded, "I definitely understand it."

I've thought about all this for a while. Here's the best thing I can come up with after dealing with a lot of coaches in all sports for years.

Most of the coaches from Mississippi or with some ties to the two schools get it. Most of the others have to learn it.

I have had a few coaches tell me, and some fans also say, that if beating Mississippi State is the goal, then our sights are set too low.

I say, of course, beating Mississippi State is only one goal. We all know that.

But it's a very, very important one.

John Vaught and Chancellor and Ross and Chadwick and Brewer, among others, all got it – or get it. Over time, most of the others have as well.

As coaches will always tell you when it concerns their players, experience is normally the best teacher. Sometimes it appears to be for coaches as well, especially when it comes to the Ole Miss-Mississippi State rivalry.

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