OMAHA, Neb. – Ahead of his College World Series game against Ole Miss baseball, Oklahoma coach Skip Johnson can’t help but think about the journey the rebels took to get here.
Ole Miss (40-23) takes on Oklahoma (45-22) in the Final College World Series from Saturday (6:00 p.m., ESPN) from Charles Schwab Field. Oklahoma and Ole Miss have taken similar paths to the championship round, overcoming the midseason slump by catching fire in May and dominating their way through the NCAA tournament.
Johnson, who has been coaching at Oklahoma since 2017, spoke directly about the criticisms from Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco and the struggles the team went through before it got off to a late start.
“They were the No. 1 team in the country when we started,” Johnson said. “Look at them. How many people all come to your games? Thousands and thousands and thousands. You look at the environment, what they play in, this environment is no bigger environment than they play at home all the time.
“You look at the trip, they’ve been told they might not come in or maybe they won’t come in or whatever, they’re going to fire Bianco, whatever, that was a joke. I mean, it’s unbelievable because that guy “Last year LSU wanted to hire him. It’s really what we live in our world every day coaching baseball. You’re only as good as your last performance, which isn’t good.”
Here’s more of what Johnson and Oklahoma hitters Jimmy Crooks and Tanner Treadway had to say about the rebels on Friday.
“In many ways they are like us. They do a lot of little things well. They have power in the lineup. They are a really good ball club. They play with a chip on their shoulder just like us. They were in demand for a region, and they’re here to make a statement, just like us. They’re going to have a hard time. But we’ll be ready.” † Treadway, on the path from Ole Miss to Omaha
“They have a chip on their shoulder, and so do we. Yes, they’ve had a really hard journey. They were the last four and they’ve been fighting all the way here. Same with us.” † Crooks, on the similarities between the two teams
Scouting the Rebels
“They throw fearlessly. They pound the attack zone. They do it well. Coach Bianco has been around for a long time. He understands that environment. He is a very, very good coach and has a great program.” † Johnson on Ole Miss’s Strengths
“I mean, his delivery, he’s a bit funky. He’s going to pound the attack zone. It’s going to be a great matchup and it’s going to be a great opportunity for us. He’s strong, and that’s what Coach Bianco brings. You can take the toughness in see their team and how they play. It’s going to be fun going against him.” † Johnson on Ole Miss Pitcher Hunter Elliott
“Coach McDonnell coached for him at Ole Miss. (Now he’s) head coach at Louisville. When I was at Navarro (a junior college in Texas), they came to recruit our players. That’s really the only action I’ve had really with coach Bianco. – Johnson on his relationship with Bianco
Contact Nick Suss at 601-408-2674 or [email protected] Follow @nicksuss on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: What Oklahoma Said About Ole Miss Baseball For The CWS Championship