Ole Miss the talk of the state

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 22, 2001

The Ole Miss Rebels are the talk of the town. Every town, in Mississippi. And team defense and last-second clutch shooting by James Harrison turned the trick. San Antonio probably seemed so far away that Rebel coach Rod Barnes’ cagers perhaps didn’t even know there was a playing arena named The Alamodome.

But the plane will find it today as the recently fantastically-successful men’s basketball team moves into a motel and rests before tomorrow’s big NCAA Midwest Semifinals clash with favored Arizona. The Sweet 16, no less. It wasn’t easy for Ole Miss – not against Iona in a first-round battle that went to the wire before draining a 72-70 victory, and certainly not against Notre Dame when the rabid Rebs eked out again, 59-56. It was Iona and defense all over again as team leader Harrison and Ole Miss prevailed. Coach Barnes had his Rebel charges in the face of Notre Dame players all afternoon. Barnes can humbly talk about being out-coached all he wants to – he out-coached all of Notre Dame Sunday! In the final seconds, battle of the wits, Barnes got his boys to do what was necessary.

If you saw the game on television, you had to notice how calm playmaker Harrison was as the game wound down. I mean, really! The little man’s all ice; his direction as well as his winning shot equaled the winning combination. But Ole Miss had its greatest opportunity to go where former Ole Miss teams just hadn’t been able to tread. The Rebels moved down the floor with time running out against an Irish team that could still make big things happen, too. Time for the Harrison haymaker, bam! It was a picture shot by the smallest of Rebels. At that point, the Fighting Irish had to be thinking that to make a Rebel shooter take a long, long shot was a must. Yes, a three-pointer, where the odds are long. And if the scouting report on Harrison had been discussed (and you know it had), Notre Dame perhaps would have liked to see a Harrison fling more than any other.

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HURRIED HASH…Brett Favre’s name, not so ironically, is posted all over places I’ve frequented in recent weeks. That would be Hattiesburg, where my wife and I have two granddaughters and three small great-grandchildren. Ole Brett is evidently involved in real estate in a pretty big way around the Hub City…And while his investments there are working for him, so is the Green Bay Packers’ investment in their three-time winner of the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award, the only player to own three MVP trophies. Favre, 31, has, as you’ve read, signed the dotted line on a Packer pact good for 10 years and $100 million.

That ought to secure him financially for time needed for a desired 10-year retirement…Brett, from the Mississippi Gulf Coast, has been a favorite in Hattiesburg since his playing days at Southern Miss, so he comes &uot;home&uot; to adoration. &uot;Regardless of what I make, I’m going to play it one way,&uot; the prolific Packer passer said to the press. Knowing after watching him play so well, just what Brett means, I’d say the Packers have themselves yet another good deal.

Glenvall Estes is a long-time sports columnist for The Natchez Democrat.