Bianco Reflects On Summer With Team USA

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM Head coach Mike Bianco
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
Head coach Mike Bianco
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM

Aug. 2, 2013

By Austin Miller, OleMissSports.com

OXFORD, Miss. -- Head coach Mike Bianco is back in Oxford, having served as the pitching coach for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, which wrapped up its summer tour on July 23. Team USA finished with a 20-3 record overall, including 7-3 in international play, capped by a historic five-game sweep of Cuba.

"Initially when you do it, you're just excited for the opportunity to represent your country and put USA across your chest, but it's so much more than that," Bianco said of the experience. "It's a great honor.

"On other levels, to coach the best 24 college baseball players in the country and be around a great staff, to sit on a bus or be in a hotel room and talk baseball every day, and exchange ideas, to talk to different pitchers and see what they do, it's just a great experience. I learned so much. I had a terrific time."

Bianco joined Tim Esmay of Arizona State and Ed Servais of Creighton as assistant coaches under head coach Jim Schlossnagle of TCU. Bianco was also reunited with former Rebel Brett Basham, who served as bullpen coach, having most recently served as a graduate assistant at Mississippi College.

And with only two catchers on the roster, Basham's duties often also included bullpen catcher.

"A lot of times he's stuck in the bullpen by himself warming these guys up who throw 95-100 mph," Bianco said of Basham. "So physically you still have to be very talented to be able to do that, and then be a coach, and throw batting practice, and help me with the pitchers.

"I know he's very thankful for the opportunity. But I know as a staff we were thankful that he was there because he did things we physically could not do. I'm proud the other coaches got to see him and get to know him, and see what a great coach he is going to be."

The tour started with games against collegiate summer league teams in North Carolina and Virginia, mostly from the Coastal Plain League, which included games against a pair of current Rebels in junior left-handed pitcher Austin Blunt (Thomasville Hi-Toms) and freshman catcher Holt Perdzock (Wilson Tobs).

Team USA started international play with a five-game series in Japan, in which the Japan national team won the series three games to two.

Then, in between its series against Japan and Cuba, Team USA had the opportunity to practice at Wrigley Field in Chicago, where Bianco and Basham also got to see and catch up with former Rebel right-hander and current St. Louis Cardinal Lance Lynn before his game against the Cubs.

This five-game series against Cuba marked the first time they met on U.S. soil since 1996, with games in Triple-A parks in Des Moines, Iowa; Omaha, Neb; and Durham, N.C., as well as the National Training Complex in Cary, N.C.

Team USA won the first two games in extra innings, clinched the series with a 1-0 win in game three and completed the sweep with wins in games four and five. The series-clincher, the last couple of outs in particular, stood out for Bianco, as he reflected on the experience.

"Another Aha! moment was when we were in Omaha for game three [of the series with Cuba]," Bianco said. "[Arizona State right-handed pitcher] Ryan Burr was on the mound, ready to close it out, and as he was on the mound and got two strikes on the first hitter, you could hear the crowd chanting 'U-S-A.'  You're about to win the first three games against the Cuban National Team. We had heard it before, but it was very loud, very vocal.

"When you watch the movie 'Miracle' and different Olympic moments, to hear the fans chanting USA, that gives you chill bumps sitting in the dugout, waiting to close this game out, knowing you're going to beat their professionals."

Looking ahead, Bianco said it's hard to pinpoint one thing he will bring back from the experience, adding that there will be little things they did collectively as Team USA, or things that he heard people do in their own program, both on and off the field.

However, Bianco said, it works both ways, with other programs also taking things from him and the way Ole Miss does things in its program.

"You bring so much back as far as working with players and coaches, but also, you feel good because you realize you are there for a reason, and a lot of the things you are already doing, you are doing it the right way," Bianco said.

Austin Miller is a writer and blogger for OleMissSports.com. He joined the staff in June 2013 after serving as sports editor of the Daily Mississippian. Follow him on Twitter @austinkmiller

Ole Miss Gear
    Facebook
    Twitter
    • Loading Tweets...
      1 second ago
    Blog
    • Striking The Right Balance Offensively

      Tuesday, September 30, 2014 - Football

      Ole Miss has been held under 100 yards rushing in each of its last meetings with Alabama, a 33-14 loss in 2012 and a 25-0 loss in 2013. Running the ball effectively and finding a balance is one area, the... read more

    • 3 Things About Gameday - Ole Miss vs. Alabama

      Tuesday, September 30, 2014 - Football

      read more

    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (Sept. 22-28)

      Monday, September 29, 2014 - Athletics

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewSept. 22-28, 2014Football- No. 10 Ole Miss used a dominant defensive effort to put away Memphis 24-3 on Saturday, setting up one of the biggest games in recent history this coming Saturday against the Alabama... read more

    • PHOTOS: Week-Long Timeline of Powder Blues

      Monday, September 29, 2014 - Football

      1. Tuesday 9/23 at 4PM @CoachHughFreeze reveals the helmets to the @olemissfb team at team meeting. pic.twitter.com/8jpVCvny4p— OleMissPix (@OleMissPix) September 29, 2014 2. Wed 9/24 at 4PM @OleMissFB practice hidden indoors so that team practice in helmets for safety reasons. pic.twitter.com/vA0Oo6Ps7S— OleMissPix (@OleMissPix) September... read more

    • Observations from the Best Seat in the House

      Sunday, September 28, 2014 - Athletics

      It's Sunday, so that means it's time for this week's Observations from the Best Seat in the House. I'll handle the bulk of the notes this week, but we also have some insight from Austin Miller here as well. Let's... read more

    • Upset Bid Falls Short Against No. 10 A&M

      Sunday, September 28, 2014 - Soccer

      Seeking its first win over a top-10 team since 2009, Ole Miss took a 1-0 lead but fell short to No. 10 Texas A&M, 2-1, Sunday afternoon. "I'm really happy with the team's performance," head coach Matt Mott said. "I'm... read more

    • Defense Honors Mullins with Dominant Effort

      Saturday, September 27, 2014 - Football

      Wearing the lighter blue helmets for the first time since 1994 to honor the late Chucky Mullins, the Ole Miss defense also honored his memory with perhaps the most dominant defensive performance of the Hugh Freeze Era. "Chucky would have... read more

    • VIDEO: Ole Miss-Memphis Motivational

      Saturday, September 27, 2014 - Football

      Ole Miss vs Memphis: Official Team Motivational from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more

    • Three and Out: Keys to Ole Miss-Memphis

      Saturday, September 27, 2014 - Football

      Three areas to watch as No. 10 Ole Miss faces Memphis Saturday. Battle of the Quarterbacks Ole Miss and Memphis have both gotten steady quarterback play, as both teams rank inside the top-15 nationally in scoring offense.  Senior quarterback Bo... read more

    • Rebels Rebound with Hard-Fought Draw

      Thursday, September 25, 2014 - Soccer

      Playing in their fourth overtime game of the season, the Ole Miss soccer team played Arkansas to a 1-1 double-overtime draw on Thursday night.  The teams combined for 30 shots, including 13 on goal, but the game was characterized more... read more

    • 3 Things About Gameday - Ole Miss vs. Memphis

      Thursday, September 25, 2014 - Football

      read more

    • Freeze Stresses Focus, Attention Ahead of Memphis

      Thursday, September 25, 2014 - Football

      Highlights from Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze's time on the SEC teleconference Wednesday, ahead of the Rebels' matchup with Memphis on Saturday (6:30 p.m. CT, Fox Sports Net). Freeze's time on the call begins at the 1:21:20 mark. For... read more

    • Memphis Not Fazed by Big Stage

      Wednesday, September 24, 2014 - Football

      Memphis is 2-1 heading into Saturday's matchup with wins over Austin Peay (63-0) and Middle Tennessee (36-17) and a 42-35 loss at No. 11 UCLA. The Tigers scored two early fourth-quarter touchdowns to tie the Bruins at 35-35 with 13:44... read more

    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (Sept. 15-21)

      Monday, September 22, 2014 - Athletics

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewSept. 15-21, 2014Volleyball- Ole Miss went 4-0 to capture the Rebel Classic and improve to 14-0 on the season.- Through four weeks of the season, the Rebels have equaled last year's win total (14-17).- Sophomore... read more

    • Observations from the Best Seat in the House - Sept. 21

      Sunday, September 21, 2014 - Athletics

      This is the fourth installment of Observations from the Best Seat in the House. The idea of this weekly feature will be to bring you all some of our observations from the previous week in Ole Miss Sports. This week... read more