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June 4, 2013
NC State baseball head coach Elliott Avent talked with the media today about the Wolfpack hosting its first-ever Super Regional, when Rice travels to Raleigh this weekend.
How satisfying is it to put this program on the map by reaching a Super Regional?
"You know, I love this program. It's satisfying for our players. It's satisfying for me, and you have a lot of former players. I went to bed with about 72 texts and I woke up with 112, and 60 percent of them were from former players. They played a part in this.
"Anybody that has ever played here knows they had a hand in this. It's satisfying from that standpoint."
How does having the games at home help?
"I don't know. At this time of the year, I was talking to [NCSU men's basketball coach] Mark Gottfried this morning, and at this time of the year, it's just line up and play. [Ex-NCSU men's basketball star] Dereck [Whittenburg] said the same thing. He said you line them up and play right now whether it's in a parking lot or wherever it is, you have to play well. That's what we'll have to do this weekend."
Anything about Rice that is impressive?
"They are very good. We've been watching them all night and this morning. Obviously, to go to Oregon and do what they did, and they have played well the last part of the season. Everybody is good. If you are one of 16 teams left in the country right now, there isn't a bad one in the bunch or somebody I'd rather play. You don't want for anything. You just have to play well yourself. Rice will be a good challenge for us."
What are the keys to reach the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.?
"It's like every game you play. It is going to be timely hitting and making a pitch when you have to make a pitch. It's going to be like any other baseball game. It's just going to be on a bigger stage."
What does it do for the program to reach this goal?
"For the most part, we are just proud of what we've done pretty much in my 17 years here, and Ray Tanner did before that, and Coach [Sam] Esposito obviously built this program. We would like to say it is a tradition here at NC State. It's what they do and what we've done, and that's everything.
"For the first time to host the Super Regional, and I remember the first time we hosted a regional. We didn't have a ballpark, so went to Wilson, N.C., and that was a great facility. It wasn't good enough to host a Super [Regional], so we went to Miami. Then we hosted the regional in 2008, but we had to go to Georgia. Last year, we had to go to Florida after we won here.
"To host a Super, I think it just speaks to where our program has been for a long time, but maybe getting a tad better."
Sophomore shortstop Trea Turner brought up 1968, which was the last time NC State went to the College World Series. Do you emphasize to the team about that season?
"Absolutely because I believe in the history of this program. I was talking to Dereck Whittenburg last night, and when I showed him the 30 for 30 tape to watch those guys [1983 national champions]. To actually sit down and pay attention to something that isn't 'Dumb and Dumber' or 'Wedding Crashers,' to actually give some credence and respect, I heard some talk about how they didn't know about some of these things. It made them more proud of their school.
"That was one of the reasons Whittenburg wanted to put that thing together. It's kind of neat for them to understand our history. Our history is 1968, and that team has embraced us so much. I've talked to Mike Caldwell and talked to Alex Cheek, and some of those guys are coming back this weekend. Maybe every living member of that team may be back here. They want this team to advance. We are just so proud of our tradition here, and it starts with that 1968 team."
When did you guys show them "Survive and Advance" this season?
"It was on a bus trip somewhere, and I just couldn't watch another one of those movies. I put that one in and I thought they'd say 'Get it out.' They would just sit there and really got engrossed into it and really watched it. The talk that I heard and the feedback I got afterwards was just great. I think they've seen it on their own a couple times since. They wanted to understand the history of NC State."
What is your impression of the history of Rice baseball?
"Tradition is important. If you have been somewhere, and they are coached by the legendary Wayne Graham, and he knows what it takes this time of the year to prepare his team. He won't make any mistakes. They are obviously playing pretty good right now to go to Oregon and do what they did. They won the championship of their tournament, and Conference USA is always a good tournament. We play East Carolina twice a year, and we know the battles we've had with East Carolina.
"Rice has been the epitome of that conference. They've been the leader of that conference for years. It will be a good challenge for us, but we are playing at home and playing in front of our fans. Our guys have played good the last six weeks of the season. Our guys will be ready to play this weekend."
What do you think is the cause for the NC State players to be so relaxed?
"I guess youth, but I don't know. I know I'm not relaxed, so that could be old age. I guess youth is what makes them so relaxed. They just want to get practice over with, so they can get on the golf course or back to their apartment complex with the pool and their friends. They are pretty relaxed."
Have you decided on your rotation for Rice?
"Coach Holladay and I talked about it a lot, and the rest of the staff all morning. We try to keep routine, which is big for us. We try to stay with routine a lot. Carlos' [Rodon] pitch count was way down last week against William & Mary, so we are probably going to go with Carlos on Friday. We haven't made that decision, but it is probably Carlos Rodon on Friday.
"You'd like to get that first one. It's one more and there you go. It can be done either way - you can lose the first one and win the next two or vice-versa. It's nice to get the first one. If your guy is ready to go, why not?"
N.C. State NEWS