Question: You said all along that you thought the Regional would be [in Raleigh]. If you had lost to Georgia Tech do you still beleive that would have happened?
Avent: Actually, I said that after we lost to Miami, I think. I believed that knowing the Georgia Tech game was still to be played. What I did for the guys was I told them at the beginning of the year, I sat them down and said "Listen, I gave y'all what I think is going to be ranked as the toughest schedule in the country." Obviously, you can't know that because there is 300-some teams. I think it was ranked as the number two schedule in the country.
I said it is going to be tough. In the beginning it is going to be front end-loaded so you can't come out of this thing in bad shape because you are going to lose your confidence and it is hard to dig out of a deep hole. Then the league gave us the hardest schedule in the country at the end of the year by going to Clemson and going to Louisville then coming home to play North Carolina so it was a tough year but I felt like because of strength of schedule--I will tell you what, I will applaud the NCAA. They talk about merit and this was a year because geography could have played a big part because the West needed some host sites and they stuck to their guns. They actually practiced what they preached.
They preach RPI, they preach playing tough people, they preach going on the road and they did what they said so I applaud the NCAA and yes, I did think if they followed what they had talked about that we [would host a Regional].
Question: How about the other schools that will be in Raleigh?
Avent: I just saw like everybody. Players are excited. I always watch the players. It is fun to watch the players. This is all about the players. Watching their reaction, we have just got such good people and they've endured so much. Every team has had a year of adversity. I don't know the other team's problems but I know what we had to overcome.
Obviously, as I heard them talk they said Navy had a top-4 ERA in the country or something so obviously they can pitch. Good pitching is what you need this time of the year. We are playing here at Doak Field at Dail Park in front of our crowd and we like that. It is going to be a tough field wherever you are at and we are going to have one just like 16 other [teams] do.
Question: How close is your rotation to being fully healthy?
Avent: I don't know if anybody is fully healthy this time of year. I think it is sometimes about the mind. It is as much mental as it is physical. I thought we were mentally and physically exhausted down the stretch but I couldn't give them time off. You just have to get through it. I know every year my body just kinds of shuts down. It is probably worn down a month or so before the season is over but you just push yourself through.
I think our players were like that but they have pushed through and grinded and leaned on one another. They got through this but I gave them the last two days off because I think they are physically and mostly mentally beat up.
They will come back refreshed and we will have a good week of practice and we look forward playing here this weekend.
Question: Will you have Ryan Williamson this weekend?
Avent: That is going to be Ryan Williamson's call. He does have a little bit of an injury. It is an injury that he can pitch with but it is an injury that is going to have to be fixed. That is going to be his and his parents' call. He has been trying to talk about it with me but I told him let's not talk about it now. I don't want to make an emotional decision, I want to make a good decision based on what is best for him and best for this team.
Question: What do you think of the ACC getting 10 teams in the NCAA Tournament?
Avent: It was well-deserved. It could have been 11. That is why I wish we would go--I know we have put this format forth to the conference to have 12 teams in the ACC Tournament instead of 10. Had 12 teams been in this tournament I think you could have quite possibly seen 11 ACC teams in [the NCAA Tournament]. I thought it was well-deserved.
I am excited for all the teams that got in. You pull for each other in this league. You play each other and you try to beat each other's brains out. You compete and it is aggressive at times, it is intense at times and at the end of the day this is our league and you pull for your league.
Question: NC State has had success when hosting Regionals. Does the ability to play well at home give you a little more confidence?
Avent: I think guys like sleeping in their own beds--that might be overrated a little bit because we stay in pretty nice hotels--but what they really like is they have gotten used to this ballpark. You are going to be in your ballpark with familiar sighting and yes, we have got great fans. I remember the Rice game with the rain delay. I don't know how long it was but it was extremely long and you walk back out and it is still a packed house. The players appreciate that. When they got the Wolfpack-thing going in Durham the other day, I was told--I could hear it--but I was told it was incredible in the stands
It is well-deserved for our players but it is well-deserved for our fans.