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2011 Clemson Regional Thursday Coaches Quotes

June 2, 2011

All four teams playing in the Clemson NCAA Regional practiced at Doug Kingsmore Stadium on Thursday. Following their teams’ practices, each head coach visited with the media to discuss the upcoming weekend. Click on the links below to read quotes from each head coach.

Clemson Quotes | Connecticut Quotes | Coastal Carolina Quotes | Sacred Heart Quotes

Clemson Head Coach Jack Leggett

Opening statement: “We’re excited to have this regional here at Clemson. Our guys had to work extremely hard in the last couple of months to get to this point and I really give them a lot of credit for pulling this season together. We’ve been a strong baseball team the last 33 games and we’re playing with a lot more confidence. We really had to earn it and I appreciate their efforts. It’s great to give our fans the opportunity to see us play again.

“I think this is a strong field that we’re in. Each team comes to this point with some momentum. They’ve either won their conference tournament or put together a strong run at the end of the season to earn an at-large bid. We have Sacred Heart coming in and they’ve won seven in a row. Connecticut is also a strong team and we know what kind of program Coastal Carolina has. We’re looking forward to the challenge and the competition.”

On Brad Miller being named All-American: “This is a very well-deserved honor for him. He’s worked extremely hard this year on the field as a defensive player and as an offensive player. He’s had a consistent year for us in both areas. He’s our leader on the field. He’s the guy who makes the whole thing work. We really missed him when he was out with a broken finger. It’s a great honor for him and he deserves it. All-American and ACC Player-of-the-Year…that’s the kind of player we thought he was when we recruited him and he’s matured and developed that way. We’re very proud of him.”

On the pitching rotation: “We’re going to start Scott Firth tomorrow and we have question marks for the rest of the weekend. Jonathan Meyer’s leg is not quite ready to go yet. Firth has pitched well for us recently in relief and then we’re just going to take it one game at a time and see who we go with.

“Firth has started on the weekends for us some and he’s been in some of these major battles. To win this tournament, you have to figure out how to not use up three or four guys if you’re going to keep playing and keep winning. We’re not trying to look past anybody. We just have to use a lot of guys. It’s unfortunate we’re not going to have Jonathan Meyer this weekend, but right now we’re just going to try to keep advancing with the guys that we have.”

On players with postseason experience: “We’re hoping that’s going to be a positive thing for us. The guys are hungry. We’ve come a long way from where we were at the beginning of the season. We have some experienced players and we hope that we can go out there and play aggressively, play smart, and play with reckless abandon and no fear of failure. That’s what we’ve been doing the last 33 games and hopefully we can continue doing that.”

On this weekend’s weather: “Heat is the same for everyone. When it’s hot, it’s hot. We’re probably a little more used to it. We’ve practiced in it during the fall and played in it during the spring. It doesn’t really bother us that much. I would imagine that the teams coming down here are just excited to be here, so it shouldn’t bother them that much either. I’m not expecting the heat to be to our advantage but it will be nice and warm out there. I just hope the fans come out and cheer the players on.”

Connecticut Head Coach Jim Penders

Opening statement: “We have four really good teams in this regional, but we’re just trying to look at Coastal Carolina right now. I look at them and I see a lot of similarities to us. I see a lot of team speed, some guys who throw strikes and know how to attack hitters, and we’re similar offensively. They have a couple of guys in their lineup who can hurt you with their bats, but more guys who can hurt you with their legs. When you look at the teams that are here, it looks more like a track meet.”

On Coastal Carolina Head Coach Gary Gilmore: “He’s always up in our turf. He does a great job finding some really good kids. Anthony Meo is a kid that we really went after, but Gary was able to sell it better, I guess. He’s done a really good job of scouting the Northeast for some of the best talent up there. He’s a first-class individual that’s really built a top-notch program. It’s tough to beat him on the recruiting trail, but hopefully we’re going to have a good baseball game tomorrow.”

On Matt Barnes: “Barnes against [Coastal Carolina starter Anthony] Meo is going to be one great pitching matchup. It wasn’t really that difficult of a decision to start Barnes in game-one. Our #2 guy (lefty Greg Nappo) does a great job with runners and he’s a very good defender. Last year, we threw Greg in the first game against Oregon and he did a great job. We really could have gone with either one, but when you look at it and you have a guy like Matt, I didn’t want to have to pull the trigger in an elimination game with him. Before we get any further in the tournament, we have to get through Coastal Carolina first. We wanted that one-versus-one match-up. We haven’t been around the block enough to get `cute’ with it. Let’s just go one-versus-one and see what happens.”

On NCAA Tournament experience: “We haven’t been on the road in a regional since I played in 1994 when we went to Wichita State and played against guys like Jason Varitek and Nomar Garciaparra. It’s been awhile since we’ve been on the road, but it’s going to help us having been in the tournament last year. We’re really going to know the structure and the way things work. Other than that, it’s just another ballgame. There are 64 teams left and everyone’s 0-0.”

Coastal Carolina Head Coach Gary Gilmore

Opening statement: “We’re glad to be here. Our kids are playing well and we had a great tournament last weekend. This may be the toughest regional matchup in the country and we’re glad to be a part of it. I think we deserve to be here and we’re really looking forward to the challenge.”

On familiarity with Clemson: “You know, I’m a little tired of Coach Leggett beating me so many times. Our kids feel very comfortable playing here. Each one of our guys has played here at least once every year in their career. The ballpark is familiar to us and it’s like a midweek atmosphere for us, but with much more at stake. We feel very good about playing here.”

On starting righty Anthony Meo in game-one: “Anthony is our best guy. I know he’s chomping at the bit to get a huge regional win under his belt. I know he also wants to get back to the super regionals with another chance to win. It’s going to be a great challenge for him. It’s a good matchup with the lineup that Connecticut has and it’s going to be a great game. Connecticut has an incredible young man going for them and we have one going for us. It’s probably the best pitching matchup in the country. It’s going to be a fun game to coach and a fun game to play in.”

“We don’t work towards losing. We want to win. We’re not going to throw our second-best guy against [Connecticut’s] best guy just to save him for a potential bigger game-two. We’re going right after their guy. Anthony (Meo) thinks he’s as good as their guy. They’re going to come at us with their best and we’re going to do the same. It’s kind of like the Yankees throwing their best guy and the Red Sox throwing their best guy. We’re going head-to-head. We’ll see what happens.”

On Connecticut’s strengths: “They have unbelievable talent. They’re probably the fastest team we’ve seen from top to bottom. We haven’t faced many guys with [Connecticut starter Matt] Barnes’ ability when he’s throwing 92-96 mph. It’s going to be an interesting chess match as to who makes plays behind their pitcher. This game is going to come down to who gets a bunt down, who draws a walk, etc. I think the margin for winning an losing in that game is going to be pretty small.”

Sacred Heart Head Coach Nick Giaquinto

Opening statement: “The Clemson hospitality has been great since we got here. We’re really looking forward to getting out there and playing tomorrow.”

On the Clemson atmosphere: “We experienced an atmosphere similar to this when we went on our southern trip – we played at LSU and Mississippi State. We didn’t quite get the fans that we’re anticipating this weekend, but we have experienced some big time college baseball. We also played at UNLV, who had a very nice ballpark. Because of that, I think we have a better team that’s ready for anything.”

On Sacred Heart’s style of play: “We always talk about playing nine innings and being aggressive. We try to execute on the little things. We really focus on baserunning, playing solid defense, throwing strikes, etc. We try to play sound, fundamental baseball. The guys really buy into it and the take pride in their practices and take pride in their games. They’re looking forward to playing a great game tomorrow.”

On facing a solid team like Clemson: “We are definitely the underdogs in this tournament…we realize that, but our goal is still the same. We’re here to win the tournament. Our goal is to go out and play solid defense, throw strikes, and to win. That’s where our focus is. Some of the guys may be using the `underdog mentality’ as motivation, but I think we’re a motivated group that prepares all year. We’re ready to go.”

On playing with confidence: “Our guys are confident. They’ve played with confidence all year. Our one, two, and three hitters are seniors and we have some sophomores that have 100 games under their belt, so this is an experienced group. I know they are going to have some jitters early on, but I’m sure we’re going to play well and play Sacred Heart baseball.”