NCAA Lincoln Regional

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Nebraska Press Conference

 

Head Coach Mike Anderson

Opening Statement

“We told our kids right after practice that this entire week would be devoted to making sure these kids feel confident. I always feel like that’s my job as a head coach, to bring confidence to these young men. We put a strategy together to build confidence during the week and make sure these kids feel good about themselves. I realized yesterday after practice and again today that at the same time that I was trying to work on building confidence, they were instilling it in me. They have great energy, I thought their workouts were great and I just felt really good about their preparation. They’re a resilient group, just an incredible group to be with throughout this entire year. There are always surprises and this was a good week of surprises for me as they continued to do that. I think we’re prepared and ready to go against Eastern Illinois and we understand that the overall regional is a very tough regional. We’ve got our work cut out for us and I know this is coaches cliché but we’re taking it one step at a time. We’ve got our work cut out for us with Eastern Illinois and we’ll see what happens after that and then we’ll move forward.

 

On being in a regional

“We’ll figure it out after we’re done if this team is built for a regional environment. What this team is built for is staying together and being resilient, being fighters, they’re one of the best group of fighters I’ve ever been able to coach. They’ve got such a positive attitude and are very resilient. They’ve been punched in the nose a few times this year and they’ve responded and that’s a life skill they’re going to have for the rest of their lives.”

 

On Friday’s starter, Dan Jennings

“With this particular regional we feel confident in sending Dan Jennings. You’ve got to put a pitching plan together that we think not only can win, but win a regional. We think we’ve got that plan. We’d obviously like to have that take place and go through the process of getting guys innings that they need and if that happens, then we’re looking good. You’ve got to do a good job pitching, hitting and defensively. For us, to win a baseball game, to a win a regional we’ve got to have great pitching, we’ve got to have solid defense and we have to have timely hitting. It’d be nice to go through this regional and win games 5-3, 5-2, it might take off the pressure on the coaches and the fans, but these kids have done it before and that’s kind of what we’re trying to do.

 

On the decision to start Jennings

“I don’t feel like it’s a risk. I think it’s the right move and other people can categorize it as a risk or not. I think it’s the right thing and I feel confident in Dan Jennings and Johnny Dorn. If it works, great, if it doesn’t, we’ll still be confident in it.

 

On being a No. 1 seed

“We’ve had a whole week of practice and I’ve never said ‘we’re the No.1 seed, and we have to win.’ They may hear it from the outside, but this group of about any group that I’ve coached has had a very good perspective of this whole thing. We didn’t go into this season picked in the top of the league and just from a life standpoint, they don’t put that much pressure on themselves and I think that adds confidence. They’re a well-grounded group and and they have lots of family support and outside interests, they want to win, but I think this group has put a lot of things in perspective which takes a lot of pressure off and adds a lot of confidence in yourself.”

 

On facing a young pitcher

“This environment is difficult and it can be difficult on a young pitcher. Getting to him in a lot of different ways, forcing him into the zone, making sure he throws strikes. Throughout this year we’ve played well when we’ve gotten the lead so for us, that’s important to do. We have to analyze where that pitcher’s at and that’s going to be an important factor. If you look at Eastern Illinois and when they’ve had success, they’ve jumped out to early leads and have been able to hold on. I think both teams are going to be scratching and clawing to get an early lead.”

 

On playing at Haymarket Park

“Obviously the crowd and motivation always play into it. I’ve told these guys all year long, we’re not the most talented team, nor do we have the most talented coach, so when you can take this team and coaches and put them in an environment they’re more comfortable in, I think that helps us. Being at home, 8,000 to 9,000 people screaming and yelling for you, that’s a pretty comfortable situation, it’s kind of nice.”

 

On the other teams in the regional

“They’re pretty good. We’ve got our work cut out for us in this whole regional. We’re going to play one of them Saturday, we’ve got to win, or lose, no matter what, we’re going to face one of those teams. Oral Roberts has been dominant and this isn’t a new thing for them. They’ve been to different venues, they go to Big 12 venues all the time so this isn’t an intimidating thing for them. They have a lot of kids who have experience.

 

On UC Irvine

“UC Irvine has a lot of kids on that team from last year that had that dream season and there is a strong urge to get back to that same place so those kids are driving right now. The No. 1 factor that’s going to play into effect this whole tournament is determination. There are a lot of skills, a lot of great players but determination is the No. 1 thing.”

 

On getting notes from opponent’s conference schools

“You might get three or four no’s, but you get that one yes. There is a good old boy network that way and you’ve got to make sure you find the right one. They can help you out. We’ve got some conference rules that say you don’t give up notes. I recall a few years ago before one of our conference games we had a fax go through that was supposed to be sent to someone else within our conference. It accidently got sent to us, it was a scouting report on us from a conference school. Some of those rules aren’t exactly followed. We’re not shy in calling any conference school, UC Irvine or Eastern Illinois, we’ll call them and they can say no, but hopefully we’ll get that one yes.”

 

 

Infielder Jake Mort

On coming back after the Big 12 Tournament

“The one thing we’ve talked about all week is not being hesitant. It doesn’t matter what it is, the season’s over with, what happened at the Big 12 Tournament is over with. This team has been very good at what they’ve done and that’s pitch all year and play good defense. We’ve just got to come out and put everything that’s happened behind us and focus on getting out of this regional. Good thing is that we’re playing at home, this is where we practice, we’re used to this field and that’s going to be a benefit for us.”

 

On playing at home

“It’s huge, I think it’s huge in every aspect of the game. You know you’ve got 8,000 plus fans at the game and you’re used to practicing here every day. I can’t think of one disadvantage of playing here and every part of the game is going to be a better fit.

 

 

Catcher Mitch Abeita

On Dan Jennings

“When he’s (Jennings) going well he’s hitting his spots on both sides of the plate and he’s keeping the ball down so we’re going to be looking for that right away from him. We’ve got all the confidence in the world in him and the guys in the infield like Jake Mort and Jake Opitz are there whenever he needs to step back and look up, he’s going to find guys that have confidence in him. Hopefully he comes out and gives us a great performance.”

 

On team chemistry

“I think we’re all friends, we all look to each other and have a good time together. It’s a pleasure to come out to the ballpark and practice, play a game, or just have a meeting. We enjoy the time we have with each other and we have fun all the time.”

 

On winning their final homestand earlier this month

“I haven’t really looked back at those games, you take one game and then look at the next. It was great beating A&M in that series, but right now our sole concentration is on Eastern Illinois.”