Some basketball, some baseball

It appears to be just one man's poll, and it is June. But Mark Bradley made quite a statement today, placing Ole Miss men's basketball in his preseason top 25.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution veteran writer's assessment, nearly five months before tipoff, is worthy of being shouted from the top of Thacker Mountain just outside of Oxford.

Rarely has an Ole Miss men's basketball team made this much noise in June, much less during the winter.

Bradley's only mention of Ole Miss is that the Rebels are his No. 24 team. But they are one spot ahead of defending national champion Kansas, which comes in at No. 25.

Bradley has two SEC teams ahead of Ole Miss – Tennessee at No. 5 and Florida at No. 17. And that's it.

No Kentucky, Mississippi State, or Arkansas. No LSU, Vanderbilt, and post-season-blooming Georgia.

Nope, just the Rebs and Gators and Vols.

Folks, the word is out. When guys like Bradley give you preseason props, it means something. Even in June. Perhaps especially in June.

This is something that can be used as positive PR for Ole Miss and for the hoops program for five months.

So where is the substance? Where does Bradley get that Ole Miss could be special this season?

Some of it is because the Rebels have been quite productive the past two seasons. With 21 and 24 wins being two of the best seasons in UM men's hoops history, there's a start.

Gone are three front-liners in Dwayne Curtis, Kenny Williams, and Jermey Parnell, along with dependable backcourt backup Brian Smith.

But with new players like 6-foot-9, 245-pound junior college transfer DeAundre Cranston; and high school incoming players 6-7, 215 Murphy Holloway; 6-9, 190 Terrance Henry; 6-5, 195 Terrico White; and 6-1, 165 Will Bogan coming in this summer (signee Brandon Wilson, 6-5, 205, is going to Jones County Junior College), the Rebel roster is obviously talented.

Bradley and others know that. They know what Andy Kennedy and staff have done here the past two years, both on the court and in recruiting for the future.

It doesn't need to be placed in the context of "look what he's done at Ole Miss" as some might say. The wins – 45 of them – are a successful two years' total a lot of places.

Sure, the NIT isn't the goal. But the first year they got in, and the second year they made it to New York.

Bradley, with others likely to follow, is already telling us he believes this year's edition of Rebel basketball will make it to the Big Dance.

In June that's about all you can ask for, to be amongst ‘em. And that's not only at Ole Miss but most places.

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Construction is in full swing at Oxford-University Stadium-Swayze Field. The new box seats down first base toward the right field wall are beginning to take shape. The ones down left field past third base aren't far behind.

All the chairback seats have been removed and taken away from the premises. The roof is being dismantled this week. But it is scheduled to be put back on.

The concrete that was poured for fans to walk on out front during the season is gone. The construction of the facade with club level seats above can't be too far away.

There's a scaffold in front of the press box as they begin to reconfigure that area.

There's a lot of work to be done between now and February for first pitch of the 2009 season. Here's hoping for good weather most days so they can get it finished on time.

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