"No, we have never been here. We've all read about it, heard about it. I know Ron (Polk) and (former MSU head coach) Pat McMahon real well, so we were familiar with what goes on here. We can read the numbers, but you have to be here and see the place and see (Left Field Lounge). We told our players what we expected to be the case here was an experience that was only matched or surpassed by the College World Series. And I think that is probably true. There are other places where the crowds turn out, but nobody does that (Left Field Lounge).
"We know we didn't experience it completely because their basketball team was in Atlanta (in the SEC Tournament) and it is the start of spring break. We know we missed the big crowds but it was probably a break for us competitively to not have all those folks here. But, it is fabulous here. There is nothing like it."
Overall, based on what you saw from State this weekend, what is your opinion of them?
"I think they are a very good team. We realize they are a young team, so, to be that good, that young, means they are going to keep getting better. I'm glad we aren't on their schedule for '05. Their pitching is very deep and very impressive. It is as deep a staff as we are familiar with. There was no one that pitched in any of our games that wasn't real good. We liked every guy that went out there. They are obviously solid on defense and they are physical on offense. As they mature and are able to deal with all varieties of pitching, like all young guys have to do, they will hit better. They are a playoff team for sure. I don't know what the top-in of the Southeastern Conference is like this year, but I have to believe they will be able to compete all the way through the thing."
You talked about State being young, but you have a freshman pitcher of your own, Ian Kennedy, who is very, very good himself and shut MSU down pretty good Friday night. One of the MSU hitters even compared him to Mark Pryor.
"We think he is very special with a chance to be one of the really great ones in college baseball before he is done. I think only an injury keeps him from having a really great career. Certainly, he has to continue to mature and develop command of all of his pitches. We weren't able to throw a changeup with him, but, he's just a freshman."
What did you think about MSU's freshman pitcher, Josh Johnson?
"He is a very exciting pitcher. Good arm, good stuff, good poise. He is very good."
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing email@example.com.