Rebel alumni welcome Barnes and Driesbach
THE BOSS Ole Miss Coach Rod Barnes (right) talks with Meridian High School coaches Ernie Watson and Sherrod Miller at Briarwood Country Club Tuesday night. Barnes was in Meridian speaking at an Ole Miss alumni banquet. Photo by Carisa McCain/The Meridian Star
By Jeff Byrd / staff writer
May 1, 2002
The Red Blue Caravan rolled into Meridian Tuesday night for the Ole Miss District VII East Mississippi Alumni Club meeting.
On hand were Ole Miss head basketball coach Rod Barnes and new football defensive coordinator Chuck Dreisbach. Chancellor Robert Khayat also spoke (see related story).
Barnes, who helped lead the Rebels to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year, said that the Red Blue Caravan and a new NCAA guideline in recruiting is keeping him busy.
For the first time, the NCAA is allowing college coaches to recruit high school juniors in April.
Ole Miss finished the 2001-02 season with a 20-11 record. They were beaten by UCLA 80-58 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The previous season, Ole Miss advanced to the "Sweet Sixteen."
With four returning starters for next year, Barnes is optimistic the Rebels will again be a factor in both Southeastern Conference and the NCAA Tournament.
Quality depth was a problem for the Rebels last year, Barnes says.
Justin Reed, David Sanders, Aaron Harper and Derrick Allen will be the returning Ole Miss starters. Barnes is hoping a point guard candidate will emerge during the summer.
Driesbach is having a quick introduction through Ole Miss territory. Driesbach joined David Cutcliffe's staff in March after serving as defensive coordinator at Texas Christian.
The Rebels recently wrapped up spring drills. Driesbach was pleased with the progress the defensive unit made under his newly installed system.
Much of the rub on last year's unit was that they were too small to handle the offensive machines in the SEC. Driesback says that's not the case.
The new coach is also looking forward to recruiting Mississippi's rich high school talent.
One such person now at Ole Miss is former Meridian Wildcat Jeremy Ruffin.