June 5, 2003
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Coaches and players of both North Carolina and South Carolina spoke with the media Thursday regarding the upcoming NCAA Super Regional match-up in Columbia, S.C. at Sarge Frye Field.
North Carolina Head Coach Mike Fox
"We are very excited to be here at the Super Regional in Columbia. It feels like d?j? vu to be walking in here again after being in the regional here last year. I am very proud of our team to get through the regional in Starkville in a very difficult place to play against a very good team in Mississippi State. We have a difficult task ahead of us to play on the road against a very good ball club in South Carolina. I am thrilled to be back here and happy to be in a position to take the next step with our program."
On last year's Regional final game vs. South Carolina, a 3-1 USC victory "Their pitcher Blake Taylor was outstanding in that game. We kept telling ourselves that as a reliever he is bound to run out of gas in the heat and humidity. At this time of year you get some unexpected heroes and performances out of guys you do not think about. I guess it was his time to do that."
On South Carolina's team: "They have an excellent pitching staff with veteran pitchers. That is what gets you to this point of the season. We are going to have our hands full and will have to come up with timely two-out hits against them. They will throw great pitchers at us all weekend. We know that about their top hitters in Brian Buscher and Landon Powell. Buscher led the SEC in hitting so that says a lot about him. South Carolina is a well-coached team with great pitching and very good defense."
On the similarity between the North Carolina and South Carolina teams: "I think we are very similar in a number of ways. We both have different types of teams than we did a year ago. They hit less home runs this season than they did a year ago and we have not stolen as many bases as we did in 2002. I think both teams are deeper and more experienced on the mound this season."
On increasing the awareness of college baseball in North Carolina: "It was neat to have the television stations out at our ballpark yesterday at practice and I think our kids enjoyed that. Usually we have to wait until basketball season is over before anyone pays attention to us and sometimes until after the NBA season is finished. It is nice to still be playing at this time of year. We have had two teams (UNC and North Carolina State) that are just down the road from each other, have great seasons and a chance to make it to the College World Series. It has renewed the interest in college baseball in our state."
"We are very happy to be here. This is the place we wanted to go for the Super Regional. We couldn't ask to play against a better ball club."
On playing South Carolina during the postseason for the second year in a row: "That is a big factor. They (South Carolina) did end our season last year and it wouldn't be cool for them to do it again."
On the playing environment: "It's hot down here and you guys have great fans. It should be a great battle."
"It will be a hard fought battle. We will give them the best we got."
On his experience here last year "I pitched last year here, but didn't do to well. It is a small park. You need to keep the ball low because one good hit and it will fly out of the park."
On the pressure South Carolina may face "They do have more pressure on them then we do. But again, they don't have to play against 5,000 fans cheering against them."
South Carolina Head Coach Ray Tanner
"We are very excited to be hosting North Carolina in the Super Regional here in Columbia. They were here last year for the regional and we are very familiar with them on the recruiting trial. It's a great rivalry and we are playing them next year during the regular schedule. They just won a tough regional down in Starkville. They can hit and pitch extremely well and it's going to be an extremely tough challenge to go up against a team that is as potent as they are offensively"
On whether or not experience plays a major role: "You like to think that it gives you an edge because you're a year older. You've been through the wars, but we have to keep it in perspective. We are playing a team that lost last year in the regional and is looking to take the next step up. They've just got through that though regional beating Coach Polk's team and they are as battletested as we are. You would like to think that because we've experienced this that it will help. But it will come down who makes the big plays. There are only sixteen teams left at this point and if you're here then you're obviously good enough. We know a lot about them and they know a lot about us so we're just going to put it up between the lines and see what happens.
On being as hungry to win this year versus last year: "I think that we are definitely more hungry this year. If we would have been a team that just rolled through the regular season going 51-8 and this was just a part of a formality of a trip to Omaha then I think things would be different. We weren't that team this year. Toward the end of the season we were fighting for a spot in the SEC tournament and the post season. I think that this team is hungry and I think they have a lot of pride."
On Blake Taylor's performance last year against UNC: "I just saw Blake the other day. He stopped by on his way up north to join a short-season team. His performance last year to help us win was amazing. It's hard to ask anyone to do what he did but that's what it takes at this point. I said to our guys before the season in order to win someone has to do something extreme, something special whether it be their guys or ours"
On being looser this year because of experience: "To perfectly honest you guys never affected me with all of the media. Our main focus is on winning today. I've never really got into the hype of it being our first trip to Omaha. There have been a lot of great coaches who have never gotten that opportunity. I am very proud of this group of guys and hopefully they will continue to work hard."
On how important winning the first game is: "People probably make a little too much out of it. They started their regional through adversity and we've had our back against the wall the whole time. It can be very difficult. I guess that first game is important but both of our teams have been through so much adversity that whoever loses that first game is going to have a chance to come back and win the next one. Certainly you want the momentum. We're not thinking well we want to hang on to this guy if this happens. We're not holding anyone back. There are 16 teams left at this point and there are no real mismatches, everyone who is here is as good as the next team."
"It's a good feeling to be back at Sarge Frye Field."
On being from North Carolina: "There is not really an extra rivalry, we just want to go out there and play and get back to Omaha."
On playing at home: "I feel like we are always expected to win; the target is on our back now that we are playing at home.
"This (beating North Carolina) is just another step to getting to Omaha."
"It's an amazing feeling to play at the Sarge, and it's great to be back in front of the best fans in the country."
"We will go out and play our game, we can not worry about what the other team is doing."
On UNC Starter Daniel Moore:
"He is not an overpowering guy, but he has some pop on his fastball."
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