Mike Bianco mentioned the absence of preseason All-Americans and returning stars for Ole Miss baseball at his preseason presser Monday.
SEC coaches have taken notice of that void.
Tuesday the league released its preseason coaches poll with Ole Miss coming in sixth in the West. The Rebels trail LSU, Mississippi State, Alabama, Texas A&M and Arkansas. They’re ahead of only Auburn.
It’s the lowest finish in this poll since the Rebels were sixth in 2001. That was last in the division at the time, and it was also the first season for Bianco as coach. That team finished 39-23-1, 17-13 in the SEC and played in a regional in New Orleans.
Ole Miss was fifth in the coaches poll in 2006 when it won 44 games, 17 in the league, won the SEC tournament and host a regional and super regional.
And the Rebels were fifth at the start when they finished the season at the Rice Regional in 2003.
The buzz word around the program has been toughness, a mental aspect that Bianco is trying to increase to swing close games the Rebels’ way.
Austin Anderson, who moves from shortstop to third this season, mentions Vanderbilt’s style of play in describing what the Rebels hope to achieve.
“You just watch Vanderbilt last year. They just seemed confident. There was something about them that they knew they were going to win, you thought they were going to beat you,” Anderson said.
Vanderbilt was ranked No. 2 when it swept Ole Miss in Oxford. The Commodores won a two-run game, two one-run games and one in extras.