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May 23, 2016

Brian O'Connor

Durham, North Carolina

BRIAN O'CONNOR: We're excited to be in another ACC tournament. Certainly first and foremost, we don't take that for granted. I want to say how the strength of this league is pretty incredible, to have the league as the No. 1 RPI league in the country, seems like year-in and year-out, we compete for that, and that says a lot to the quality and the depth of this league. We're honored and fortunate that we finished third in this great league.

It was a work-in-progress throughout the whole ACC season for us. I feel like we got better and better, and really the last four or five weeks, we played our best baseball of the year. That's what we work towards as a coaching staff is trying to develop our ballclub to where we're hopefully playing our best baseball at the end of the season. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn't.

We feel like we are playing pretty good, and certainly have a great opportunity in front of us. Get a chance to play Clemson on Thursday morning in our first game, and we all know the history of their baseball program. Have a tremendous amount of respect for them and Coach Monte Lee is doing a great job. He's a fantastic coach. We'll have to play very, very well to have success, and looking forward to the opportunity.

Q. They are second in the ACC in home runs, and you guys are middle of the pack in terms of allowing them. What do you see about the power of their lineup and that match up?
BRIAN O'CONNOR: I'll be honest with you, I haven't looked at them that closely because we didn't play them this year. We actually haven't played them in two years.

But certainly watched from afar, guys like Okey and Seth Beer and Pinder, they have some guys with certainly a lot of pop in their lineup.

So we're going to have to pitch really well, there's no question, and I know those guys are having a great season. I think it comes down to no matter who you're facing or what ballpark it is, you have to get ahead in the count and you have to make your pitches in the strike zone. If you don't, against those kind of quality of hitter, they will make you pay for it. Hopefully we do that on Thursday morning.

Q. You didn't play them this year, or I guess last year. Is there a challenge, an advantage? How does that factor in when two teams haven't seen each other?
BRIAN O'CONNOR: I don't know, I don't know if there's an advantage. I don't know what it is quite frankly. Certainly a new coach. We'll sit back and look at them statistically, watch them on video and see what they do and things like that.

Certainly when you play somebody year-in and year-out, you understand the style of play and the quality of their players and what they are capable of doing, and what you have to do. But we've never put a whole lot of stock into scouting reports here and things.

We go out and try to play and pitch to our strengths and what makes us successful, but certainly we'll take a good, hard look at them, and see the style of baseball that they play and take that into account.

Q. How difficult is it to win an ACC tournament as compared to maybe a regional or a super regional?
BRIAN O'CONNOR: Well, I think it's the most difficult, and that's not disrespectful to anybody in any other conference or in any other league.

I think when you're talking of ten teams of the calibre that we have in this league that are going to be in Durham, going to outlast all of them is pretty amazing. You're talking about playing some teams that a bunch of No. 1 and 2 seeds in the NCAA regionals. It's a grind. You have to play really well for four ballgames, and not only do you have to play well, you have to -- the ball's got to bounce your way a little bit. You've got to get a few breaks, and those are the things it takes to win this tournament.

I think winning regionals and super regionals is not easy, but this is probably more challenging because you have to go four starters deep. Or if you're one of the play-in teams that play on Tuesday, potentially you have to go five starters deep, and that's very, very difficult to do.

Q. Curious after last year, going 0-3 in pool play, how did you recover to do so well in the NCAA Tournament?
BRIAN O'CONNOR: I don't know. I'm not -- I don't have this thing figured out, the formula, I really don't.

I mean, there's been some years that we have played really well down the stretch, like we have this year, and then not played well in the ACC Tournament. There's years that we've kind of limped into the ACC Tournament and won it.

So it's strange, you know, I just think that something clicks with your guys; that it all comes together, and certainly it didn't for us last year in Durham, even though we did win that 7-8 play-in game -- I'm sorry, 7-10. But we didn't play real well the rest of the time down there, and that's attributed to the quality of the competition you're playing there, and then we were able to put it all together.

I don't know, we're certainly looking forward to going down there and competing. You play your best baseball, and if it's good enough, and all of a sudden Saturday night, you're looking at you've got a chance to play on Sunday, great. If not, then you wrap up what you've done in the ACC and move on and hopefully play great the following weekend.

Q. You talked about your strong play over the last month, month and a half. How much do you pinpoint your pitching staff, Adam coming on strong over that period, giving you another complement to the strong arm of Connor Jones?
BRIAN O'CONNOR: Well, Haseley has been fantastic for us. We wouldn't be where we're at right now. We wouldn't have finished third in the league without the quality of work that Adam Haseley has done from a pitching standpoint and also offensively.

I don't know that there's anybody, many guys in the league, maybe other than McKay, that provide what he does offensively, and also is a starting pitcher and has the numbers that Adam Haseley does.

The guy is really, really talented. I think he's one of the better players in the league as a whole. He's been huge for us. Certainly the game that he started for us in Game 2 of the Championship Series last year against Vanderbilt was kind of his coming out party nationally of what he can do on the mound, because he didn't pitch much for us last year.

But has certainly stepped up big time and really made the difference in our pitching staff, and gives us a chance to win championships because of -- you've got a another high-quality starter in that rotation.

Q. Between the exam break and a midweek rainout and a couple guys going complete games, some of the bullpen guys haven't been in games lately. Is that a concern going into the post-season, and how have you managed those guys over the course of May, basically?
BRIAN O'CONNOR: I'd be lying to you if I didn't tell you it was in the back of my mind a little bit that you need to get them out there. They will get their opportunity down at Durham, that's for sure.

So it is unfortunate with the rainout on Tuesday against Richmond, and that would have been an opportunity for a lot of those guys to pitch and stay in their routine.

But they are actually pitching right now in their squad scrimmage I'm standing here watching, so we'll be scrimmaging for the next hour and a half or so, and all of them are pitching today to get ready for the tournament.

So that's what we do to keep guys sharp that didn't have an opportunity to pitch on the weekend. I'm sure they will be licking their chops, ready for the opportunity that they have.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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