Monday with Mike Fox

The Tar Heels are headed to the College World Series for the fourth straight season. Inside Carolina caught up with head coach Mike Fox on Monday for an exclusive interview ...

First of all, congratulations on heading back to Omaha for the fourth straight year - the first time an ACC team has accomplished that feat...
"Thanks, it is quite an accomplishment by this group of kids and we are so happy to be going back that words probably don't describe our feeling right now."

Looking back on the Super Regional, can you reflect on how the team performed as compared to your expectations?
"I don't really think they exceeded our expectations. I thought we would play well, I really did, coming off of the regional. I really had a good feeling - I don't have bad feelings, but I normally am not the coach that makes predictions that we are going to do this or do that. But, I thought we were going to play at a high level and I had a good sense of that. So I thought we did. We played under control, played with great confidence I thought and got good contributions from everybody up and down the lineup and from all our pitchers we used. It was certainly a team effort from 1 to 25. We wanted to make a statement and did not want to lose the Super Regionals certainly in our new stadium. We had a lot going for us and we answered the call."

What is this week going to be like for the team getting everything together - practicing then heading to Omaha?
"This week will be fun. We get back in and get a light lift today and have two good practices on Tuesday and Wednesday. We have been meeting all this morning on the planning of this. It is the anticipation of this week that you can sort of see it in the players' faces that we are going to do something pretty special here. That is the fun part of it. There will be a lot of bounce in their step and a lot of energy in the next couple of days. This is the fun part leading up to Thursday and getting on that plane."


Fox and Garrett Gore
Having swept through the Regional and Super Regional, Colin Bates, Matt Harvey, and Patrick Johnson, among others, were not needed to pitch a great deal. What kind of plans do you and the coaching staff have for practice for keeping them sharp and ready for action in Omaha?
"I will leave that up to Coach Forbes - we will do similar to what we have done the past couple of weeks in between: simulated live batting practice and a simulated scrimmage tomorrow or Wednesday. I would expect it would be Wednesday, with us not playing until Sunday - I think that pretty much has been determined. We have to keep those guys sharp and fresh and we were able to do that the last couple of weeks. This is a different stretch now where we go five and six days between games so it is a little different scenario than what we are used to during the regular season but you just have to adjust to it."

What lessons can you learn from the previous three Omaha trips that can be applied this year?
"Familiarity can always be good. I try to focus on the freshmen and their first experience with all of this. I don't think our players will be certainly in awe of this - they will be focused and determined to face a terrific team. I think familiarity is a good thing in this regard and our guys will know what to expect but still there has to be some newness and excitement with a new hotel and service club, so new folks will be able to meet and have a new experience out there."

Your coaching staff has had the Omaha experience, with the exception of assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Scott Jackson. How is Coach Jackson looking forward to his first trip to Omaha?
"Well, I'll tell you - besides wanting our players to go back, I really, me personally and Coach Forbes as well, we really wanted Coach Jackson to go and experience it. He has worked so, so hard and is so dedicated and come in and done a terrific job for us. I know the players wanted him to go. He was happier than anybody yesterday and he told me after the game that he was ready to go. He will be excited to get on that plane as much as anybody."

With the tremendous contributions from this senior class, you're actually getting one member of that class back for yet another season in Mike Cavasinni, since he sat out a year due to injury, right?
"Certainly we are excited that Michael has another year and we expect him to be back. We want him to enjoy this year with the other senior classmates. We kind of lumped him in with this senior group and sort of didn't - when you start looking at the media guide with who's picture you put where - because he redshirted, but that maybe is a little unfair. Michael is certainly in that group having been there. Somebody told me yesterday that there is not a player on our team that has not experienced Omaha and I heard Dusty say he doesn't know anything other than being in Omaha and it hit me riding home that not many kids are able to say that. It is really special for this group of seniors - it is beyond belief."

Talk with UNC baseball fans on Inside Carolina's Diamond Heels Message Board
How will it be to have the Major League Draft before heading to Omaha for the College World Series? What will it be like talking with the current Tar Heels and the prospective signees?
"Well, it is part of it. The timing is a little bit better this year. We will practice tomorrow and let the guys enjoy the draft tomorrow night. We will see kind of what happens. I don't think it will bother or be a distraction for any of our players going out to Omaha. Every team will experience someone on their team being drafted. It is an exciting time of year and we want these young men to enjoy it."

How did the losses from the 2008 draft impact how you and your staff recruited for this year's class?
"We recruited probably a few more numbers maybe than we would have to replace the guys that signed and it impacted where we looked for players - pitchers and a couple of junior college players – in trying to get some experience on next year's team. We kind of had to make a little shift here a little bit in a new direction and see what happens with this year's draft."

What is the College World Series roster limit?
"You can only dress 25 players."

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