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May 21, 2018

Mik Aoki

Durham, North Carolina

MIK AOKI: We're excited to be down there, back in Durham and back in the ACC Tournament. Just looking forward to the opportunity to hopefully make a little run in this thing and maybe play our way into the post-season.

MIKE FINN: Can you talk a little about playing Miami and what they bring to the table, what kind of concerns they present for you?

MIK AOKI: Well, I think first and foremost, I'm happy that I'm the first of two guaranteed for Coach Morris, because I don't really envy the opportunity to be a footnote on what has been a terrific coaching career.

Outside of that, in terms of playing them, they have been playing really well as of late. Obviously a little bit similar to us. They kind of scuffled in the early part of the season and they have been able to put a little run together. They are over .500. Obviously they are going to be pretty hungry to try to keep Coach Morris's coaching career going into after the ACC Tournament into the NCAA Tournament.

You know, with Cabezas on the mound, that's statistically probably their best guy. They were a team that took two-of-three from us early in the season when I think we were both very different teams from what we are right now.

Should present a great challenge for us, and while I look forward to the competition with Miami, I'm glad that I'm not going to be the person that Coach Morris coaches his last game against.

Q. I come from a football side of things, and Miami and Notre Dame play and they are bitter rivals. Do you get that same feeling when you play them in baseball just like the football or is it totally different?
MIK AOKI: I don't know if it's to the level of the Catholics vs. Convicts deal, you know, way back when the 30-30 was on.

But I do think there's a pretty healthy rivalry for Notre Dame and Miami, and like you said that definitely dates back to the football stuff. And obviously this last fall was a difficult one for us; both teams going in there on a pretty high and they get an opportunity, sadly to break up that turnover chain on us a little bit.

I think there's an element to it there, but it's nowhere near the level of what it is at the football side of things.

Q. With the weather, I know you had a lot of weather issues in South Bend during the season and we did, too, on the East Coast. Are you prepared just in case there's any spotty thunderstorm or something like a rainout that you're prepared for with a pitcher ready to go in case you need him for an extra day?
MIK AOKI: Yeah, I think we're pretty good there. I mean, Scott Tully will throw tomorrow, gets shorted maybe a day or two of rest of what he's used to, but I don't think that's all that big a deal for Scott.

But you know, the weather is what it is. Just this has been a challenging spring north of the Mason–Dixon line, doesn't matter whether you're in South Bend or anywhere, or Louisville, Kentucky. I was talking about Coach McDonald, and it's been cold and dreary. I'm sitting here standing at the Chicago airport for our flight to get down to Raleigh, and it's pouring down rain and I don't think it's much wormer than 58 degrees.

It's been a challenging spring but it is what it is. Until they start building up some domes around here, we'll be up to navigate whatever weather challenges Durham throws at us.

MIKE FINN: I know you've got Miami in your pool, but you also have Clemson. Can you talk a little bit about them, as well?

MIK AOKI: I think Clemson is an outstanding team. We played them at our place earlier, I guess maybe about four weeks ago, maybe five weeks ago. I think that sadly, it was Kier Meredith's first series of the year and I thought he played terrific. I understand that he's hurt again, which is unfortunate because I think he's a dynamic, really good player.

But when you look up and down that lineup from Williams and Davidson and Wilkie and Beer and everything, I think they present challenges in that they can run and sort of manufacture some things, and then you've got just about everybody in that lineup can hit the ball over the fence on you.

And then their pitching I think has been outstanding with Hennessey and Higginbotham and Crawford, and then Gilliam at the back end. I think they are a really, really complete team. Just continuing to -- you know, I think Coach Lee has done a terrific job of carrying on the legacy and the tradition that started with Coach Wilhelm and Coach Leggett and now Coach Lee. I think they are -- we played some good teams this year, and I think that they are certainly in the conversation as one of the best teams that we've played all year long.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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