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2005 College Baseball Media Day Quotes

UC IRVINE HEAD COACH DAVE SERRANO
“ I think coach George Horton did everything he could to put me in this spot. I’ve learned from the best and now that I’m in a head coaching position I just hope some of it has rubbed off on me.”

“It’s hard to access our team after 16 whole days. It’s a very experienced team. I inherited a very good team and obviously our strength is going to be on the mound. I’m not sure how our team is going to fare, but (he said jokingly) we are tied for first right now
and have not lost a game.”

“Everyone’s eligible and there are no serious injuries right now, and I think that’s going to be a key. We have a lot of experience back, who reached the regionals for the first time in school history last year. We are short on some areas, specifically number wise on the middle of the infield, and it’s a little different for me numbers wise on the pitching staff, like I had at Fullerton. Pitching is the key to our
success.”

UC RIVERSIDE COACH DOUG SMITH
“ I would like to thank my memtor, Jack Smitheran, who actually is a Long Beach guy. Jack had coached at Riverside for 31 years, and I was fortunate enough to coach with Jack for 25 years. And I also played for him. I learned a lot and what I am hopeful of that my first year at UCR the transition will be smooth. From the outside looking in, you
won’t see much of a difference in Riverside Baseball. We’ll play the game right and be competitive.”

“ We did have a decent year last year… but the bad news is we lost our first four pitchers, who are all in professional baseball. We are very happy with the arms that we have. We have arm strength, but we don’t have is experience. How that experience plays out will probably have a lot to do with our success on the field. If those guys mature quickly, if they struggle, we might struggle right along with them. We’ve told our freshmen pitchers they have experience the equivalent of a high
school season and they are no longer freshmen. We expect them to go out
on the 28th against Santa Clara and be contributors right away.”

“From a position player standpoint, we return all but two starters from last year. We had four freshman start last year and gain a lot of
experience. We are very happy with our position player core. Their experience enough, they are good enough and we are deep enough.”

PACIFIC HEAD COACH ED SPRAGUE
“ We have a completely new team. We brought in 22 new players… and we
are a much better club than we were last year. We brought in guys who know how to play the game of baseball. The team chemistry is much
better than it was last year and we are definitely improved in every facet of the game. We tried to up our non-conference schedule with games with the Pac-10 and it should help us prepare for the stiff competition in the Big West.”

“On the pitching staff we have Mathew Pena and Alex Graham both coming back from injury. They are both progressing well, but may not be ready until league. When they come back we will have a lot more depth in our rotation. We have six solid guys and with those two guys, we’d have had
eight solid guys.”

“We throw the ball better, catch the ball better, make better contact. Our outfield is much faster and have good arm strength. I know they are excited to get on the field. We’ve had some tough weather the past
couple of months, like a lot of the guys here in Southern California, so hopefully we can get some dry weather for the rest of January.”

LOYOLA MARYMOUNT HEAD COACH FRANK CRUZ
“ We have a lot of quality players here (in Southern California) and the
quality of baseball is as good as its been in a long time. I was lucky
enough to deal with these guys in the summer (CSF’s Ricky Romero,
LBSU’s Troy Tulowitzki, LMU’s Stephen Kahn, UCSB’s Chris Valeka)”

“It’s going to be real difficult for us. I thought we were pretty good
until it stopped raining and we went on the field. We have to replace
an all-conference second baseman ,an all-conference shortstop and an
all-conference catcher. We have some young gentlemen who are trying
to do that. We are trying to replace some top players in a league that
has two teams in the top-30 or top-50 and our conference is getting
better and better.”

“We have a couple of guys we think who can pitch. Our starting catcher
will be a freshman., two freshmen competing at the shortstop position,
a freshman and sophomore competing at the second base position, so
we’re not quite sure where we are. I’m not sure what the coaches were
thinking putting us number one, we hope to be there at some time, but
we are a long way from that. We hope to stay competitive this year”

PEPPERDINE HEAD COACH STEVE RODRIGUEZ
“ Last year was definitely interesting. We did have a very good high at
the end of the year and we are still recovering from the shellacking we
took on the final Sunday. I was sharing with a couple of coaches
earlier, it’s never a good feeling when you look down your dugout
trying to find someone who can pitch. That’s one of the things we did a
pretty good job at, in getting some pitching. Last year I thought
pitching was going to be our strength and we finished with the second
highest ERA in school-history, so that’s probably not our strength
anymore.

“We do have a good core group back. Our entire infield is back and the
majority of our outfield is back. Out pitching staff does have some
depth this year, with Kea Komatani probably going to start for us on
Friday, and then after that I’m not quite sure. We have a lot of arms
fresh, young arms, and hopefully Sunday doesn’t happen again, if we can
get to that point. We do have a lot of experience, and to go through
what our guys went through at the end of the season, I think they’ve
worked extremely hard in the fall ”

“They are excited to get on the field. Our field is fine, it’s just
getting to campus which is the problem. We have the canyons closed and
there’s one way going into Malibu (due to the rain). So once everyone
gets to campus, we are ok.”

SAN DIEGO HEAD COACH RICH HILL
“ You guys know how great all these players are at all these programs.
You need to push your editors for more college baseball. The fans love
amateur baseball. From summer leagues to minor league baseball, the
fans love these guys. Your editors need to love these guys.”

“San Diego Baseball had a tough end on selection day, going 35-21,
winning 15 of our last 17. We really came on strong. Moving ahead we
sent I think nine guys to the pro’s.

“Traditional powers in the WCC, nothing really has changed. I think
Santa Clara and Gonzaga are really going to be forces in the future.
We have some great players and great coaches in the WCC and hopefully
will shed that skin of being a small conference, the mid-major label.
And hopefully we can put a couple of teams in the NCAA Regional.”

UC SANTA BARBARA HEAD COACH BOB BRONTSEMA
(not in attendance due to 101 Freeway being closed)
“ We are very excited about the 2005 season. We return 83% of our
innings pitched from last year, including all 3 weekend starters
(Morlock, Graham, Martin) and top 4 bullpen arms (Fraser, McRobbie,
Holguin, and Tracy). Our staff is as deep and experienced as any staff
we've had here in a long time. We also return six starting position
players, including the Big West Freshman of the Year, Chris Valaika, as
well as a healthy Chris Malec and Matt Wilkerson. Defensively, I think
we can be better than last year's squad that was ranked 11th
Nationally.”

“Our pre-season schedule is very strong with 11 games versus Pac 10
teams as well as six other games versus pre-season ranked opponents.”

CAL POLY HEAD COACH LARRY LEE
(not in attendance due to 101 Freeway being closed)
“ The Big West is always one of the premier college baseball conferences
in the country and continues to get stronger on a yearly basis. It’s
difficult to determine where you might stand in relationship to other
conference opponents because there is more parity in the conference.”

“We have a chance to be a solid offensive ballclub with some speed
intermixed throughout the lineup. We won’t be a power-hitting team, but
will have some guys in the middle of the lineup who can bang. “

“Our pitching staff is much improved over last summer. Our key
components are back with another year of experience under their belts.
We will miss Moser, but overall the experience and development are
better. We’re losing only one pitcher, but it’s a tough loss and
someone hard to replace.”

CAL STATE FULLERTON HEAD COACH GEORGE HORTON

(On this year’s roster) “We had a special year last year. We basically
have 20 of the 25 guys back that took us to Omaha and it’s why the
expectations are high for this group. But it’s not just about plugging
in different names, we still have to learn to work with one another.”

(On the team’s strengths) “Our strength will be our position players.
Our challenge will be sorting out who the best nine are.”

(On the pitching staff) “The biggest challenge for the pitching staff
is they’re working with me and not Coach (Dave) Serrano. Hopefully,
they will get off to a good start and build confidence. Certainly
they’re capable.”

(On the Big West) “Big West baseball is at an all-time high in terms of
depth of the field. I think the Big West speaks for itself.”

CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE HEAD COACH STEVE ROUSEY

(On the goal of the CSUN program) “We’ve got to rise to a level where
we can compete with these great programs and we haven’t got there yet.”

(On the team’s outlook) “We feel pretty good about our offense. We
didn’t think that was our problem last year, so we’ll take the
challenge of building our pitching staff.”

(On the pitching staff’s prospects) “It’s a challenge to your mentality
more than anything else. We’ve seen our pitchers improve in the fall.
They’ve gotten bigger and stronger and added pitches to their
repertoire.”

LONG BEACH STATE HEAD COACH MIKE WEATHERS

(On the Big West) “It used to be a two-horse race, it isn’t any longer.”

(On the 2004 season) “We had a great year. We were very disappointed
coming off the field against Arizona. It’s not a good feeling to be
playing on your own field and losing in front of our folks. I thought
we underachieved because you don’t always have a club capable of
getting to Omaha and we had that last year.”

(On looking toward this season) “The thing I’ve been impressed about is
the kind of guys I’ve got. We’ve had a lot of discussions about what
went wrong last year and I think we’ve found that for this year. And
that’s leadership.”

(On the pitching staff) “Last year’s staff didn’t allow us to develop
our other pitchers a lot because our starters went so deep into games.
I don’t think that’s going to happen as much this year.”

UCLA HEAD COACH JOHN SAVAGE

(On becoming the UCLA head coach) “I’m very honored to be the coach at
UCLA and follow in the footsteps of Gary Adams. He built an
unbelievable tradition.”

(On the quality of baseball in California) “There are literally no days
off when you play teams from Southern California and even Northern
California. You are surrounded by baseball people and people who have
coached major leaguers year after year. It’s amazing to me how much it
has grown over the last 15 years.

(On Chris Novi) “Chris Novi has to be one of the best catch and throw
guys in the west, maybe in the country.”

(On leaving UC Irvine) “I want to wish Dave (Serrano) the best of luck.
I have tremendous feelings for UC Irvine and the players I left
behind. It was very hard to leave. I felt they hired the best
available coach and I wish them the best of luck.”

USC HEAD COACH MIKE GILLESPIE

(On jokingly referring to struggles in 2004 and his coaching peers)
“ They picked on us, they humiliated us, they ran it up on us every
chance they got.”

(On jokingly referring to Long Beach State pitcher Jered Weaver) “I
think I read 47 articles last year about him and each one mentioned how
he struck out our first 10 hitters. Our players know he hasn’t signed
yet. They’re nervous about it. They think by some miracle he might be
back.”

(On this year’s team) “We’ll be better in baseball this year if for no
other reason (USC National College Football Champion assistant) Norm
Chow has agreed to become our offensive coordinator.”

(On pitcher Ian Kennedy) “Ian Kennedy is good and he will pitch on
Friday’s and Sunday’s…and Tuesday’s. We’ll see how Billy Beane likes
that one.”

SAN DIEGO STATE HEAD COACH TONY GWYNN

(On West Coast baseball) “West Coast baseball as everyone has intimated
today is unbelievable.”

(On getting more respect for the West Coast in terms of postseason
bids) “Nine teams (in last year’s NCAA Tournament) from the SEC
(Southeastern Conference), I have a problem with that and I think these
guys do. I think it’s disheartening that some teams on the west coast
are being treated like this. We bash our heads against each other and
sometimes at the end of the season it’s not enough.”

(On this year’s team) “We won the Mountain West Conference last year
and we’ll be competitive this year. In terms of our non-conference
schedule, we’ve probably bitten off more than we can chew, but we’re
looking forward to it.”

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