Q&A with UM baseball coach Jim Morris

The top-ranked Miami Hurricanes will host the Coral Gables Regional this weekend and leading them into the postseason will be ACC Coach of the Year Jim Morris. The Canes face a difficult path to Omaha but the team is ready to compete and looking forward to the challenge. Canes Time talked to Coach Morris just before today's practice to get his thoughts on the upcoming regional.

Q: All year, you've said the postseason is what you guys were playing for and that number 1 doesn't mean anything until the end. What do you think about going into the NCAA Tournament as the #1 overall seed?

A: "Well, it doesn't. You play all year to get a chance to play at home as #1. Now everybody's 0-0 and the real season starts, the NCAA Tournament. We've got a great regional coming in with some really good teams. It ought to be exciting.

Q: A few year's ago, Bethune-Cookman wouldn't be a big worry but they've recruited well and have a lot of Latin guys. Are they a pretty big challenge to face in the opening game?

A: "They are. They're a good club. We've played them twice during the regular season and they were two good games. One we won in the ninth inning. They've got an outstanding club. They've got a left-hander they'll probably throw against us that's really, really good. So it's going to be a big challenge for us."

Q: What do you do to set up the pitching staff for the postseason and who do you start in Game 1?

A: "We're trying to do our scouting reports and make a decision on a rotation based on who matches up against who. We probably won't decide that until maybe Thursday."

Q: What do you think of Bethune-Cookman as a team?

A: "They have good speed. They've had a good year and played a good schedule. Their pitching is the main thing. They have two outstanding starters and will come in ready to play. There's no question about that. This is an opportunity for them to showcase their players and their school. I'm very excited about them coming in."

Q: Yonder Alonso faced their ace, Hiram Burgos, in one of the games earlier this year and he said his changeup is Burgos ' best pitch. What do you think about Burgos ?

A: "Well, he's 86-90 and left-handed. His fastball is his number 1 pitch. He's got a good fastball. He's a bit herky-jerky. He's got a good release. He's a good athlete and a very energetic type guy. He's a good pitcher. He throws a lot of fastballs. I know with Yonder being a left-handed hitter he might have seen more breaking balls but he's got a good arm."

Q: The offense and fielding has gotten a lot of the attention throughout the season. Is the pitching the biggest thing for you to worry about?

A: "I worry about everything being a coach. That's a natural tendency. We have been swinging the bat well, and really the better pitching we've faced the better we've swung the bats. I think that's good. We're facing three outstanding clubs and they all have good pitching. It's a challenge to our hitters and pitchers. We have to pitch better. We've got to play good, solid defense and score some runs."

Q: Have you studied Ole Miss and Missouri yet or are you just focused on Bethune-Cookman right now?

A: "We're just doing it right now. We've got some videos and we're making calls and doing those types of things. We know for a fact right now we have the Big XII champion Missouri coming in here and the runner-up in the SEC that got nine teams in the NCAA Tournament. Those are two great teams there, and Bethune-Cookman won their league. We've already played them and we know they can play."

Q: Yonder Alonso says the biggest difference between last year's team and this one is the defense. What do you think is the main difference in this team compared to last season?

A: "He's probably right. That's one of the biggest improvements. This is the best fielding percentage of any team since I've been at Miami . We've turned a lot of double plays. We turned four big double plays in Sunday's game against Virginia . We have played very solid defense, no question about it. And our bullpen has been very, very good throughout the year."

Q: In 1999, you were seeded #1 overall and won the College World Series. Do you see any similarities between the 1999 championship team and this one?

A: "I've been asked so many times about comparing teams. I don't like to compare a team until they've won it all then you can compare them. We can compare 99 and 01 but until you win a ring then there are no comparisons."

Q: What's your best and worst post-season moment at Miami ?

A: "That's easy, in 1999, when we won it and 1996 when we got crushed on the last pitch. I'll never get over it entirely that 96 last pitch because it would've been my first ring. The first ring you get is the most exciting but every one of them is great. 2001 is great. My ring's getting a little rusty so it's time to hopefully get another one."


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