talks with Coach Price

On the eve of KU's first-ever appearance in the Big 12 Tournament, caught up with Coach Ritch Price for an interview.

Phog: First of all, congratulations coach. First Big 12 Tournament in school history. When we talked before the season, you had indicated that this was the goal. What do you say now?

Price: Well, thank you. We are thrilled to be here. Down the stretch we lost a couple of ten inning games that were tough emotionally, and we didn't finish exactly as we planned, but we are here and we'll do our best to represent the University well.

Phog: Coach, what does it mean to this team to get to the post-season?

Price: You know, it's special. For our seniors, this is a great honor. They have worked hard for four years, and to finally make it here makes it very special for them. It's difficult to go through a coaching change in your senior year, but these kids persevered and stuck with us, and they are a big reason we are here. For our younger players, it's important. They get an opportunity to play in a big time venue with a lot on the line. It's great experience to be able to play in the post-season.

Phog: What are your keys to winning during the next few days?

Price: It's all about pitching. No matter what level of ball you are talking about, it's critical that you have good pitching to win. We need our starting pitchers to get us to the late innings or we'll have some trouble. We just don't have enough depth in our bullpen. The guys we do have are giving it everything they can, but we just aren't very deep.

Phog: What about Nebraska? What kind of team are you facing?

Price: I'm just so happy for Coach Anderson. We have been friends for many years and he called me up when he heard I was being offered the job at KU and told me that the Big 12 was such a great place to be. Nebraska has no weaknesses. They are big and physical, and great defensively.

Phog: Coach, characterize this team for the KU fans around the country who haven't had the opportunity to see you play this year.

Price: I've coached 25 years and this is my favorite team. I thank these guys every day for the opportunity to coach them. They are very hungry and they have over-achieved all year. I couldn't be more proud.

Phog: Looking back to that LSU series early in the year where you swept the top-ranked Tigers on their home field, what did that series mean to this team throughout the year? Price: It meant everything. That series got us over the hump. We advanced our goal of rebuilding this program by a good two years with that series. It gave us the confidence to get where we are today, and to be competitive in this tournament

Phog: Coach, talk about recruiting. How has this season affected recruiting?

Price: It's meant a world of difference to us. We have 35 wins this year. That's the third most wins in KU history. Coaches have been calling us from all over about their kids. Coaches who wouldn't pick up the phone to talk to us six months ago. We just had two commitments in the last few weeks from kids who we wouldn't have signed before the season. Both are pitchers. One turned down Oklahoma, and one turned down Nebraska to come to Kansas.

Phog: Okay coach, you know what comes next. The Phog Phive.

Price: Hit me

Phog: Derek Jeter or Nomar Garciaparra?

Price: Jeter. Next.

Phog: Should Pete Rose be in the Hall of Fame

Price: Yes. Everything that he did happened after his playing career. He should be honored for what he achieved on the field

Phog: Name a big league team that best characterizes the current Jayhawks?

Price: The Oakland A's. Small-market team overachieves and is able to play the big market teams with the best players. They are young and hungry.

Phog: What happened the last time you attempted the suicide squeeze?

Price: Ha! We were successful. We did it against W. Michigan.

Phog: Coach, most importantly. If the University of North Carolina came calling today and asked you to be the new baseball coach, would you leave the Jayhawks for the Tarheels?

Price: If the new AD comes in and does right by me and this program, I'd like to retire here.

Phog: Good Answer. Thanks coach.

Price: Thank you! Top Stories