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June 21, 2015
THE MODERATOR: Representing Vanderbilt, Dansby Swanson, Carson Fulmer and head coach Tim Corbin. Representing Virginia, head coach Brian O'Connor, Kenny Towns and Daniel Pinero.
COACH CORBIN: We're certainly grateful that we can be in this position right now, knowing how difficult it is to get here. We're certainly fortunate. I think we've been through some tough roads to be in this position, the regional and then the Super Regional in Illinois, which I thought we faced some outstanding pitching. And then we played reasonably well up until this point, had some very good pitching outcomes and played well defensively and hit enough. We had some good fortune I think in that first game, as you all know. But we're certainly excited to be in this position, and if you told me 24 months ago that you had one month to spend in Omaha over the last two years, I would say we'll take it, especially since it's surrounded by these circumstances in baseball. We're proud of what we've done and certainly glad to be here.
COACH O'CONNOR: We're certainly very, very honored to be here as well. I'd like to congratulation Vanderbilt and Tim and his team and his coaching staff. They obviously do a tremendous job what they've done of winning the national championship last year and then making a return to this series is quite impressive. Our road's certainly been a challenge. These guys sitting to my right and their teammates have just persevered through a lot of difficult things that a team goes through this year. I think in the months of March and April we were something like, we were a .500 ballgame, maybe a game below .500, I think somebody told me 18-19 in those two months combined. So to see how this team kind of hung in there and stayed with each other, it's about these guys. They figured it out. They didn't quit through everything that they were dealing with. And for us to go out to California, Lake Elsinor and go 3-0 out there, and the fashion in which we won those games, the championship game against SC, you know, we fell down early and just kind of mixed and matched out of the bullpen and held it there. And for the offensive ballclub to figure out a way to win that game was impressive. And I thought Maryland was very, very good in the Super Regional. For them to go out to UCLA and beat them out in their in own ballpark and we knew we were in for a fight that weekend in the Super Regional. And again our guys come from behind and find a way. And the same thing is held true here. The majority of our games in this postseason, we found a way to win the game from the seventh inning on. We certainly haven't walked away from any games and run away from anybody. We've just done enough, and that's a credit to these players. This is certainly their experience. They figured out a way to get them and their teammates here to have a special experience, and we just feel very, very fortunate that we're in this series again.
Q. Kenny or Danny, after playing the three game series with Vanderbilt here last year, did either of you kind of follow Vanderbilt progress this year through the regular season and in the tournament, thinking that you might end up playing them again?
THE MODERATOR: Daniel.
DANIEL PINERO: There was a chance we could play them. I mean, we didn't really follow them all the way. We saw the games over here in the College World Series, how the team, they play great, and they're back at the finals again. We're just happy to be here to play against them again.
KENNY TOWNS: Pretty much what he said. I saw them take the win against TCU the other night and figured we might have a chance to have a little rematch. But didn't really follow them more than any other team. But we're excited to be back playing against them in the championship.
Q. To the Virginia players, last year when you made it to the finals, it was almost like it was almost expected, you guys had that kind of ballclub. To do it the way you guys have done it this year, do you think there's maybe a greater sense of satisfaction getting to where you guys have gotten to?
KENNY TOWNS: Yeah, definitely. I mean, obviously last year was a great time and nothing against that last year, but I think especially what we've been through this year, the ups and downs of the season, it's a little bit more satisfying, like you said, just because where we've come from and how we've been able to have the success late in the postseason.
DANIEL PINERO: You know, perceiving through what we went through this whole year, injuries and some tough losses and just to be back at the finals again is, it's crazy and it's a good experience. We're just happy to be back again.
Q. Carson and Dansby, I believe it's only the third time there's been a rematch in this game. Why do you guys think -- we've talked about how hard it is to repeat -- how hard is it for two teams to get back here, why do you think that's so difficult?
DANSBY SWANSON: Well, I mean, there's just got to be a lot that has to go right. You both have to be on opposite sides and play successful baseball in the postseason. It's never an easy road getting here and it's never and easy road getting back to the finals, so credit to Virginia for playing as well as they have.
CARSON FULMER: What he said.
Q. Vanderbilt players, what was it like this year with the title, the defending national champions, how much harder was it to get back to this point?
CARSON FULMER: More than anything, I think it was, just gave us more of a challenge. Obviously every time we'd go out we'd get everybody's best. And at the beginning of the year we knew that we were going to have that challenge. And we were just going to try to have fun with it. But it's a game of baseball. You never know what to expect. And every time you go out there things could go your way or not. But at the end of the day we stuck to our routine and we stuck to what we do on a daily basis. And we're lucky to be here and get a chance to do it again.
DANSBY SWANSON: I think one of the things we talked about all year is you can't defend something when you have a different team. You can't repeat when there's a new team put in place and there's new pieces. For us this year we had to battle each day because we know every team that we're going to play against they're going to try to play their best ball and sometimes they may do things a little unorthodox to try to catch us off guard, so we just had to play a well-rounded game of baseball all year long.
Q. Kenny, Brian said last night that you guys had a team meeting about noon and it lasted all of three minutes because he can already see you were in the right mindset as a team. That's a hard place to get to, obviously. But can you recall maybe some points earlier in the season where you guys weren't in that place mentally? I mean, where you weren't as locked in? And maybe now you are when you wouldn't have been at a previous point in the season? I hope that makes sense.
KENNY TOWNS: I really don't think there was a point we weren't locked in this season. But we obviously had our struggles in the middle, later half of the season. One thing that Coach O'Connor always reminded us that even though things might not be going that well, all our goals are in front. We still have a chance to get in the postseason and make a run. Like we've shown this year, as long as you give yourself a chance you can make a run late in the postseason. But I think especially as of late we've kind of been able to have a really good fun-loving attitude out here and kind of play loose and aggressive and I think it's really been working for us.
Q. Kenny, you have three freshmen starting in the everyday lineup. Two of them with you in the infield and Adam leading off. If you could speak about them as a group but think of them individually and how impressed you are with the contributions they've made?
KENNY TOWNS: I mean, obviously they're great guys. They've been in the lineups for us pretty much every day all year. And I think one thing that's been really big for them is kind of the struggles we went through in the middle of that season. They're freshmen. They haven't been here before, and being able to kind of get that, like, reality check and kind of know how tough the game of college baseball is, it was good for them because they've shown late in the postseason they've been contributing a lot and been a key to our success here. And I guess we'll start with Adam Haseley. He's just a solid all-around ball player. He goes up there every day and takes care of business, and he's been doing well for us in the leadoff spot, setting the tone early in games for us. And Pavin Smith obviously has been swinging the bat well all year and I think he's really done well defensively. He's gone from first base to left field, back at first now. I think he really holds it down over there and does well for us. And Ernie Clement, I think he's just a really fun player to watch. He's kind of -- just quick and aggressive, athletic and gets all over the field, makes some fun defensive players, really aggressive hitter. Just fun to watch.
Q. Danny, I believe you're now 8 for 14 in Omaha. Did having played here last year help you with your confidence at the plate, I don't remember how you did hitting-wise last year, but this is not new to you?
DANIEL PINERO: No, for sure. This year it's a lot different from last year. I was a freshman, a little nervous being in this big environment. I mean, this year I feel like College World Series is kind of my home, to come back here and I mean, yeah, I'm a little more confident at the plate and just happy things are going my way.
Q. Carson, Dansby, Virginia players talked about this last night how much their experience last year helped them get to this point again once they got to Omaha. How much did you guys rely on that? And secondly echoing off an earlier question did you guys follow Virginia at all this year after playing them last year?
DANSBY SWANSON: Yeah, I think the experience factor is huge. We've kind of been there, done that mindset. And with the freshmen coming in, you're able to, I guess, give them advice on how to deal with some of the adversity, not only here but throughout the season. I think that's been the biggest thing is just the progressions we've made from the beginning of the year until now. And as far as following Virginia, kind of the same thing. Kept up with them a little bit. Just tried to watch as many games as we could, whether it was in the regional, Super Regionals or out here in Omaha.
CARSON FULMER: I think the biggest thing for anyone who comes here is the fact to be comfortable. And obviously with the people that are in the stands and the pressure that's on the line, if you want to call it that, it's definitely -- I mean, some people aren't used to it. And the competition could, for instance, get worse for them. But just staying comfortable and knowing that you're working with eight other guys with you, too, it's big. And I feel like last year really helped us become comfortable especially in this tournament so far and we'll definitely keep that mindset going forward.
Q. Dansby, with everything that's been going on with the draft and the postseason, has it been difficult for you to lock in?
DANSBY SWANSON: No, not at all. It's one of those things that you can't control, what's going on outside of you anyway. You just play your best and your hardest and hopefully the results will speak for themselves.
Q. Danny, you laid down a bunt last night in a situation that made total sense. Obviously last year there's bunts in all sorts of situations and the park is playing a little differently, the ball is playing differently. How do you feel about the way the ball and the park has played in this series. Is it a better game, are you enjoying it more?
DANIEL PINERO: Yeah, I mean it's always fun to see home runs. But college baseball is still, I think, a game of moving runners, and I mean very few runs are scored, I think. And I mean moving runners has a big thing to do with college baseball. And I mean laying down the bunt, had to do anything for my team. That was the situation. So it worked out.
Q. When you are in batting practice, even in games, when you see the ball leave the bat are you seeing it traveling differently than last year when you're at this park?
DANIEL PINERO: Yeah, definitely, for sure. The ball is carrying 20 feet more, if that's the correct stat. But you can feel the ball jump off the bat a little bit more. I mean, still a huge park, for me personally. But, yeah, it's definitely traveling more this year.
Q. Carson, can you maybe touch on the opportunity you have to start this and maybe set the tone with this start? And maybe do you treat it any different than a Friday night start in a big SEC series at all?
CARSON FULMER: This is what you train for all year. To be given this opportunity, it's definitely a blessing, because I definitely wanted to help and go out there and try to give my team the best chance to win. But you're put in situations throughout the year, and you gotta prepare yourself for situations like this. And not only me, but I feel like the rest of my team is ready to go. And once when they start, we're going to go out there, keep the same routine, treat it just like every other game that we had this year, and go out there and just play our best baseball.
Q. Kenny, with everything that's been said about how you guys have persevered this year, was there ever a point where you might have thought, this just isn't meant to be?
KENNY TOWNS: No, I mean, I don't think there was that. I mean being a veteran guy on the team, I think I wouldn't be very helpful to the team kind of setting that attitude especially with a bunch of young guys. I think I mean just being here for a while, that as long as you get to that postseason things can go your way. I was just trying to keep that attitude in the locker room, just making sure everyone know, yeah, we're going through some rough times, but as long as we give ourselves a chance in May and June we'll have a successful season and we've shown that.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, student-athletes. Questions for the coaches.
Q. For both coaches, obviously you guys don't want to replay a lot of what happened last year, but schematically, is there a use in looking back at that, especially with pitching?
COACH CORBIN: In some ways. I mean, I think our pitching situation has changed dramatically since last year. I mean, you look at this tournament for us, at least personally, we had two quality starts at the beginning, the end, and really didn't have quality starts within that -- they gave us pretty good starts, but it was more of our relief pitching. We just played three times up to this point. We had three pretty good starts. So our pitching's got a little bit different flavor to it, little bit different personality. I don't know schematically. I think when you ask those questions of the boys of the experiences in the past, I think that helps coaches, too, obviously, and going through it and how you channel your energies and how you make certain moves during the tournament.
COACH O'CONNOR: I definitely think there's something to be learned from last year. I think the pieces are different, certainly for both of us. Josh Sborz, for us, is pitching in a completely different role than he was pitching in last year. Nathan Kirby isn't back, where certainly he started a couple of ballgames for us in this tournament last year. And really the only guy is Brandon Waddell who is in the same role, and he's made two quality starts here, I think. So I think there's a little bit to be learned on what guys are capable of, certainly from Waddell's standpoint. What he's done here for two years gave us the confidence to pitch him last night because what he's able to do in this tournament the last two years. So, there's certainly something to draw from it. But it's new faces, too. Connor Jones hasn't pitched an inning in this ballpark, coming into this year, certainly he did start the opener. So I think there's a little bit you can draw from it.
Q. Coach O'Connor, you know last year you were a game away from taking home the trophy. Today you were inches away from taking a picture just now. How exciting is it? Is there an aura around the trophy that you just want to be able to take it back to Charlottesville and call it your own?
COACH O'CONNOR: I don't know about that. I'd have to talk to Tim about how it is to hoist that thing. He's been able to do it and certainly earned it. It was a great series last year. It really was. It was as competitive as it gets. It was a lot of fun. It really was. And would we like to hoist that trophy some day, sure we would. And I'm confident one day that will happen. If we continue to give ourselves the opportunity. So we're really here just continuing to play and have another opportunity. We'll see what happens. It's going to be a tall order. The Vanderbilt club is talented, as you see. They're really, really good on the mound. They've got -- I mean, there's two first-round draft picks sitting up here. You just don't see that very often. And certainly we're going to have to be at our best.
Q. Brian, sometimes when you go through something like this, it's hard to step back and appreciate just exactly what you've been able to do. I guess win or lose, two months from this experience, when you look back what are you going to take from it?
COACH O'CONNOR: Well, if we don't win, I'm going to be upset. You know, that's the competitive part of it. I'd say that I go back to the meetings our coaching staff had, our coaching staff had with our players throughout this year in difficult times. And we reminded each other -- coaches to coaches, coaches to players -- how difficult this is, how difficult it is to get into the NCAA tournament. We all, whatever team it is, I know Tim's team went through it, too, you go through some tough patches. And it's how you handle it. It's how you respond to it. And I think sometimes everybody's guilty of kind of think that it just happens. And winning doesn't just happen. And we learned that this year and fortunately we were able to persevere through it. And whatever happens, I will look back at this team with a tremendous amount of pride. I think the lessons that they will have learned, that they learn every year and that they'll have learned this year will be great life lessons to carry on with them for a long time. And I'll always look at this team with a lot of pride.
Q. When you look back two months from now how will you think about win or lose, your performance?
COACH CORBIN: I never get to that point. I think you have to embrace the struggles that you go through in order to get here. It's so difficult to play great baseball for a long period of time. We're exposed to that in 2013. And then we got to a Super Regional. And we were beaten. I do think that what our team has gone through during the course of the year, and Brian can certainly speak to that, is your team develops a personality at this time. And once the energies get flowing in the right direction, you give yourself a chance to be in this position. I think after it's all done, and I felt this way last year, and I told myself this, the winning of anything is the culmination, the outcome. For me, I didn't even get to the point last year of really ever thinking about being celebratory, because it was bittersweet to me because it's the finalization to the kids that are leaving your program. So my mind never even gets there. It's great for the kids. But it's just the relationships that -- it's Thursday that I'm concerned about. It's when we get back to campus, whenever that is, of just putting that to bed. And that to me -- that's why I want to enjoy right now, I want to enjoy just what we're doing right now, the meals we have together, the times we have together. It will be a great season for both of us in July and August, when Brian and I are away from this and we sit down and look and say, that was a heck of a moment, a great team. It's tough to be the one team, it's very difficult. But it won't define your team and it won't define the experience.
Q. Brian, this piggybacks on what Tim was saying about living in the now. Ernie Clement told us in the clubhouse he didn't even know he was playing Vanderbilt. Meant no disrespect but he was just in the so in the moment. You mentioned your three-minute meeting yesterday didn't take a longer than that. A lot of books have been written, a lot of sports psychologists have racked up plenty a lot of billable hours trying to get athletes to that kind of point where they have that tunnel vision. Any insight as to why this particular group is so locked in the way they are?
COACH O'CONNOR: One is they know what they've persevered through and they haven't taken it for granted. They've learned it throughout the season. But we've talked about a lot over the past four weeks for playing right now, enjoying today and not looking to the next day. And I think once you start looking what could happen or what you have to do to accomplish something, you're getting way too ahead of yourself. And so it doesn't surprise me that Ernie said that. He's handled himself that way for most of the year. And that's part of what allows him to be successful. But this game is so hard to play, it's so hard to be in this position. And I think if you get ahead of yourself and what you need to do the next day, I think you can be making a big mistake. And this team, I can speak for our team, has just played for the day and looked forward to the next opportunity they have to play. And it's gotten those kids in that kind of mindset.
Q. Coach O'Connor, how much more difficult is it when you kind of got to put your pitching staff together with bailing wire, versus last year where you had all that depth, you had Howard and Lewicki and Mayberry in the bullpen and all those starters. This year do you just kind of do whatever you can to get through this thing? And have you had a chance to figure out what you're going to do -- are you going to bring Kirby back on Tuesday? Are you going to start Sborz? Have you had a chance to even figure that out?
COACH O'CONNOR: I haven't yet. Certainly fair to ask. Connor Jones will start for us tomorrow. Past that, I really don't know. I would tell you if I did. But we haven't even discussed it. We'll kind of see how guys respond. Certainly there's some great options, whatever, whoever we trot out there will have a lot of confidence in. It has been a challenge. Nine weeks ago when Nathan Kirby went down with his lat strain, it put a strain on our entire staff. And we had to be very, very creative and very, very thoughtful of how we were going to handle this to give our team the best chance to win every day, but to never put one player in a compromising position. And that's not an easy thing to do. But those guys have stepped up. And I'd say from our pitching coach, Coach Kuhn's standpoint, this guy is really, really good at what he does. He's very, very consistent, and this is, out of his 12 years as our pitching coach, this is hands down the best job this guy has ever done.
Q. Coach Corbin, a lot has been made about Virginia and how kind of loose, the mentality over this postseason run to help them get to this point. What's been kind of the makeup of your team and has it been maybe tough to stay loose with the target on your back being the defending national champion?
COACH CORBIN: I think it's a challenge. When I say it's tough, I'm not sure. I think maturity takes care of a lot of that. I think staying centered and keeping your emotions balanced is a key component to being successful here. It's a key component to taking a test. Anytime we're challenged as humans, you have to be in a state where there's some type of relaxation in order to perform at your best. And I think the teams that have been out here before have had the ability to do that. They've seen it once. They've been on these grounds before, and they don't look at it as so foreign, and they seem to enjoy it more. And when you can actually get to that point -- I'm sure every coach tries to stress that to their kids. But in all actuality that's difficult. So for your kids to feel it, it's certainly beneficial to their performance.
Q. Tim, you maybe were starting to go down this road a little bit there, but the physical and personnel differences maybe from last year to this year are visible from the outside. But is this team different in its mental makeup, its leadership, how you've handled it, anything like that?
COACH CORBIN: It's been a group of guys that have matured in a very natural way. I think the thing that with males that are 18, 19 and 20 years old, is to retain confidence through trying times, to retain their innocence, and for lack of a better word is to keep jealousies out of the locker room. And I think when you're on teams, let's face it, that's an issue that you have to -- not address, so much -- but it's one that comes into effect. And I think if you want to have a happy family and you want to have some equilibrium through the season, those things have to exist. And I think the kids that have been celebrated on our team -- like a Dansby, like a Carson -- they're so servant-oriented and they celebrate other kids so naturally that it makes it easy for everyone to live with one another. And that's so important in trying to get to this point right now.
Q. Brian, has Nathan bounced back physically from his start the way you hoped he would? And would Brandon be available if there were a third game Wednesday in some kind of capacity?
COACH O'CONNOR: It's hard to know for sure how Nathan has bounced back. I can tell you yesterday he felt fine. Now, we didn't do anything with him. But as far as just moving around and moving his arm around and everything, he felt good. So we'll look at him over the next couple of days to assess whether or not he'll be able to help us at all. I don't even know right now. Waddell, the same thing, we'll see. He didn't throw too many pitches last night. But I haven't even really thought about whether or not that would be an option later on in this series.
Q. Tim, two questions. Number one, is it fair to assume that Phil will start Game 2?
COACH CORBIN: It is.
Q. Number two, how has Dansby kind of handled his rough patch here, mini rough patch being 1 for 13 in the series?
COACH CORBIN: I don't think he would consider it a rough patch. I think he would look at it as more just the way baseball is and how things are done. He's a good player. And things like that don't ever concern me, and we never really talk about it. I think what is remarkable for me to see is just how he handles himself with the certain amount of attention that he gets in just being in a hotel and having time for other people and him being able to shut that off once he gets between the white lines. I mean, he's remarkable in his maturity. His soul and spirit are older. And I think the reason for his success has a lot to do with that. Now, him not getting the hits, he's been able to contain himself. It's not because -- it's funny, the texts and the messages that you get from people who want to try to help you. And I hit delete so quick when I see -- he should have more fun. Okay. Well, great. He's having a great time right now. I mean, he's having a ball, just because he didn't get a hit doesn't mean he's not having a good time. But that part is laughable, sometimes. He's great, though.
Q. Tim, you touched on it a bit there with Dansby, but both coaches, your programs were hit really hard by the draft, which is a good thing. How do you get these guys, though, to focus on the here and now knowing a week from right now they'll be here, there, and everywhere? How do you get them to compartmentalize or whatever that word is, what's going on?
COACH O'CONNOR: Well, I think Tim spoke to it very well earlier, about having a servant attitude. Looking out after their teammates that you stress to the players the first day they walk into your program that it's about the group, and that if you take care of the group and you serve each other and you look out after each other and you make it about the team that good things happen to the individuals. And certainly it's challenging. The type of talented players that Vanderbilt is getting into their program and Virginia, we're getting into ours, every one of them has aspirations of playing in the major leagues some day. That's great and they should. Part of our responsibility is to help them develop those skills so they have that opportunity. But also while they're here with us for three or four years, they have a responsibility to take care of the group and play for this team. And for the most part, in my time at Virginia, the high percentage of kids have done that. And when they have done that, it's been serve them very, very well for them moving forward.
COACH CORBIN: I think some of these kids have gone through this process before with Brian's club and our club before. So they've been drafted before, maybe not to the level they're exposed to this time. But I think it's all about being comfortable in your own skin. Don't take yourself too seriously. The fact that these are a lot of the uncontrollables that we talk about as coaches, that all they can do is control their output and their approach to the game. And after that, someone else is going to dictate where they get chosen or who drafts them. The unique thing, and Brian and I are both on a committee together to try to get this fixed, is the awkwardness of that draft that leads up to our Super Regional. I mean, nowhere have I seen a dynamic that occurred with Dansby and Carson and Walker, like the one we were exposed to against Illinois, when last pitch, celebrate, we're on the middle of the field looking into a damn camera to see if Dansby is going to get drafted first. Can you imagine Nick Saban doing that in a college playoff game? It just doesn't happen. And I think that's a little bit or a lot of bit unfair to the student-athlete, to put them in that situation. Dansby had a heck of a game. But I dare say that most people would not be squared away enough to contain themselves in order to play at the level that he played at in that game knowing the circumstances that were about to happen within a three-hour period. I would say that's very difficult for any human. That part needs to be alleviated. We need to do something with that.
Q. Brian, last year your team, the makeup of your team was kind of the way you pitched and played defense was pretty much tailor made for the way this ballpark played. This year the park is playing differently. How do you adjust to it because it's playing more to the offensive club and you just played one of the best offensive clubs here in Florida three straight times and took two out of three from them. How do you adjust this year's club to this year's ballpark?
COACH O'CONNOR: Certainly the ball has changed the game a little bit in this ballpark, and guys are being rewarded for getting it and they're hitting the ball out of the ballpark when they deserve it, which certainly wasn't the case in the previous couple of years. But it's still the same. The game and the personnel and the situation dictate what you need to do. Maybe you don't feel as much if you're down a couple of runs, that, boy, this is going to be tough to get back into. You kind of felt that way a little bit last year and when we were here in 2011 that, boy, if you got down three or four runs, I mean, you just felt like it was too much. And so this is a little bit different, because I think you can scrap and get a couple of guys on and maybe drive a ball out of the ballpark and win a game. So the game is still the game. You still have to make the same pitching moves, do what you need to do defensively. And the personnel you have at that time dictates what you need to do.
Q. I was going to ask you felt like a death sentence last year, but --
COACH O'CONNOR: I mean, yeah, it was. I mean, we both lived it. Outfielders are playing so shallow and the power arms you're facing -- and I'll tell you, what it did, it put a lot of pressure on that guy behind the plate not being the catcher. Put a lot of pressure on the umpire. And a decision could sway a ballgame or maybe the fact that the home runs come back a little bit, maybe it's not so much.
Q. Tim, I've never really seen you as a goal-oriented let's win this title and then this title and that title. How do you balance guys at the beginning of the season wanting to get back here and that hunger with taking it one week at a time?
COACH CORBIN: By not talking about it, to be honest with you. It's just something that I've never spoken about Omaha the entire year. I just would not even go there. The kids know it. The kids have an understanding of what they want to do. But for me it's more about the growth and it's more about what we're trying to do during those small moments and not to be repetitive, but I think it's the only way you can go about it, because none of us here are given the next day for that matter. And I just think in September and October, you know, if you put the ball on the bat down, at least for me, I'd be completely fine with that. I think the things that we can do as coaches and teachers are so much more that can help baseball. But I think what's unique to Virginia and Vanderbilt is you've got two great academic institutions. Certainly staffs that put the kids first. We both took foreign trips with our team, and it was more than just baseball. We want to get our kids out there. We want to get them experiences that supersede baseball, and I oftentimes think if that's where your focus is and that's where your compass is pointed, then those outcomes will take care of themselves. Not always winning, but I just think that the scoreboard and the game and those outcomes can be overwhelming to coaches and players. So just try to stay away from them as much as possible.
Q. Brian, looks like this year has kind of added a few more gray hairs on top. I guess as you look back on it, when you look back on it, how do you think you've handled this whole situation? I guess, what have you learned about yourself?
COACH O'CONNOR: Thanks for the observation. (Laughter) appreciate that. I'm starting to lose them in back a little bit, too. So, you know, like I alluded to earlier, that maybe there was a lot of time to reflect during this year, to think about are you doing the right things at that moment, what do you have to do to get it changed immediately, because if you don't make some -- if you don't get it going in the right direction pretty quickly, then you don't have this opportunity to make a run. I learned that you can't take anything for granted; that winning's tough. And I learned that even though when you're going through tough times, those players, they're the ones that are there for each other, we're there for them. They're there for us. And especially this year. I've learned and I know our other coaches have as well. We've learned so much from these players. A lot is always made of the players learning from the coaches. But I think we learn just as much if not more from them. And they've taught me a lot this year. And finally I'd tell you that we all love to win. It's the competitive part of what we love to do. But family is important. And my family is, during difficult times this year, is what has drawn me through at difficult times this season.
Q. Brian, Tim mentioned it, the foreign tour that you guys took. You mention this is maybe one of your closest teams that you've been around. I know there was strategy involved in taking a foreign tour, because how young your team was and this was the year to do it. But looking back on it, Panama to Omaha here, did that -- is there anything to that, these kids are still taking from that experience here?
COACH O'CONNOR: I'm not sure. I felt this was the important year to do this because I knew that we were going to have a lot of turnover from last year. The administration had given us approval pretty much to take it in whatever year we wanted to. And that approval came a couple of years ago. And I just felt it was important for this year's club to have that experience, to hopefully get them to spend time together, to value the relationships they have and the experiences they have with each other. I'd like to believe that it has helped this club. Some of the experiences that they had on that trip. And just to grow a little bit closer together because you'd imagine that there would be difficult times with the youth that we had on this club. So, unfortunately, you can only do it once every four years. It's going to be an easier sell now to our administration the fact that we're sitting here right now.
Q. Tim, you talked a little bit about the draft and just kind of how it maybe kind of gets in the way a little bit. What would be your recommendation, personally, about how that be structured?
COACH CORBIN: That's a tough one, because the timing of it, it would help college baseball and might satisfy professional baseball might be two different slots. Obviously we'd like to see it come after the season. But that doesn't benefit professional baseball. So there has to be something in between, and I think the conversations that we've had up to this point are good. We're going to meet again in July in Cary, North Carolina. We've got several great minds on that team. Brian's former coach, Jim Hendry, is on this committee. And I really enjoy it. But I do think that we'll be able to bring some harmony to that particular situation that will benefit both parties.
Q. Coach O'Connor, Coach Corbin and some of the players spoke to this, just the value of the experience, having won games here in the past, last year. Can you speak to that as well, how that's helped you guys over the course of this week here?
COACH O'CONNOR: I definitely think it's helped. We brought the team here Thursday, when we landed here in Omaha. And it was raining. We got a chance to go over into the first base dugout. And I was sitting there talk with Kenny Towns, actually, and saying Kenny: How are you feeling? Big smile on his face. He said: Coach, I feel like we just got done playing here. And we played six ballgames in this ballpark last year. And so it's partly that, but it's partly understanding what goes on here, what your commitments are, how do you handle your family, how do you handle distractions and then get focused and zeroed in when it's time to practice or spend time with their teammates. And I think sometimes you can come here as a team and get distracted, not really understand what this is about. It's about trying to put yourself in a position to win the national championship, all while enjoying it as well. So I think there's certainly something to having played in this thing.
Q. Tim, you've talked a lot about the trust you have in your group, the sitting in the back seat and letting the kids drive the car, so to speak. You've had a lot of great teams at Vanderbilt. Have you ever had this kind of relationship with a club?
COACH CORBIN: No. And it's not the kids' fault, it's more my fault; it's because I didn't know how to do that. I think when you get a little bit older, you seem to understand what you've done in the past and you certainly try to correct things that you've done to make the experience more enjoyable, because I do think that you can coach or teach yourself out of this game. And I'm not going to tell you I've got any part of this figured out, but I think there's priorities that exist and my perspective was not always as clean as it needed to be. And so I think I've learned to enjoy it more than I did maybe 10 years ago. And for that I apologize to the kids that I coached in the past, because I wish I had a redo, and I wish I had a rewind button where I could go back and at least enjoy them a little bit more than I did. And I hope they won't hold any grudges against me for that. But I certainly -- and not just because we're winning. I mean, it's probably a whole lot easier to say when you're sitting up here on this podium right now and speaking. But I think this whole teaching thing has been a little bit clearer for me in the past couple of years. And my approach to the kids now.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
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