There weren't any ifs or buts involved for the Ole Miss men's basketball team. Well, actually there was.
IF the Rebels wanted to go to the NCAA Tournament, they had to get their BUTTS in gear and win a pair of home games over Alabama and Arkansas - period, end of dialogue. Do it or send in your NIT bid.
Andy Kennedy's squad did just that. It's always big time, to me, when teams "have to" win and find a way to do so.
And while those two victories did not assure the Rebels would gain a spot in the Big Dance - there's still more winning to do - it is a positive they wouldn't be getting an invitation to college basketball's prom if they hadn't knocked off those two visiting squads.
It's always intriguing to watch a season unfold, watching the peaks and valleys and in betweens. This Rebel team has had them all. Recapping would be futile, most of you have inhaled and exhaled with every bounce of the ball and know more than the average bear about the campaign.
But I'd be derelict in my duty if I didn't point out the mental toll of these yo-yo type seasons.
Riding high one day, shot down the next, it is psychologically harder to climb that mountain over and over than it is to just stay there once you get to the summit.
Credit the coaching staff for keeping the team focused, for the most part, and being able to pull them through the valleys of a grueling season.
Credit the players for accepting the coaches' guidance and for having the desire to go up the hill more than a few times, even when some had written them off.
Their next excursion must seem like Mt. Everest. They have to find a way, somehow, to beat an SEC team on the road. Georgia, this Saturday. It's something the Rebs have not been able to muster this season, yet, but the matchup with the Bulldogs now becomes the game of the year in regard to their postseason dreams and aspirations.
Here's my two bits on the subject.
If the Rebs play with the intensity and hustle they showed against Alabama and Arkansas, they will defeat Georiga and keep their vision quest alive. If they play like they did at LSU last week, they will be very lucky to escape Athens with a win.
It's really very elementary, in my feeble mind. The Rebels are 40 minutes of fury away from taking a giant step toward the NCAA main event. But anything less than fury and the pressure to make a loud bang in the SEC Tournament will intensify.
Win or lose against Georgia, most pundits believe the Rebs will have to have a solid showing in the SEC Tourney to go to the NCAAs, but if they lose against the Bullies, the bang in Atlanta will have to be louder, much louder.
To be safe, the bottom line is clear - beat Georgia and play well in Hotlanta.
They showed me in the last two games they are up to the task. I hope, despite their conference road woes, they believe that too.
Don't be seduced by the baseball team's 9-1 start and number two ranking.
They really aren't that good.
Gotcha!. . . .
OK, I'm going to make this brief and as direct as I possibly can regarding Bianco's clan of hardballers.
I have been publishing The Ole Miss Spirit since before any of these players were born. I have been a Rebel fan longer than most of their parents have been on this planet.
I can't remember when, if ever, as a Rebel backer, I have felt more "comfortable" showing up at an athletic venue that an Ole Miss team was going to find a way to win and was superior to the opposition in almost every way.
Forget the temporary toe-stubbing to Arkansas State last night. Blip on the radar. Anomaly. It happens, but not often.
Case in point to finding a way to get it done - Indiana State Sunday. The Sycamores controlled the contest for 8 innings. The Rebs won it in 11. Ho-hum. Expected it.
While I would be foolish to assume it will remain that way once we get in conference play, I do believe - as a fan - my confidence level for the whole season will be extremely high and my level of calm will remain.
This baseball team just has that look, a look we rarely glimpse around here unless you are a diehard men's tennis fan.
That speaks volumes about their prowess, to me.
Keep rolling guys. It's only going to get "funner."
OM Spirit Top Stories
RYH: Bill Armstrong Talks Ole Miss BasketballIn this edition of the Rebel Yell Hotline, Chuck Rounsaville and Yancy Porter are joined by Ole Miss assistant basketball coach Bill Armstrong to discuss the upcoming season. Plus,…
OM SpiritYesterday at 8:12 PM
Ole Miss Searching for Defensive LeadersWhen asked if he felt his team was pulling apart, Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said he would never let himself believe that at his weekly press conference on Monday.
OM SpiritYesterday at 4:40 PM
Playing On An EdgeOle Miss entered the 2016 season with high expectations. Entering the season the Rebels were ranked #12 in the AP Top 25 and were favored by many to compete with Alabama for the…
OM SpiritYesterday at 4:01 PM
Freeze Pleased With Strong, HibblerDespite struggles at the linebacker position this season, Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze has seen some positives from two backups.
OM SpiritYesterday at 3:27 PM