Monday with Mike Fox

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- With a two-game sweep of Stanford, the Diamond Heels have punched their ticket for a trip back to Omaha for the College World Series. Inside Carolina caught up with the UNC head coach on Monday ...

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What was it like following your team's progress in the NCAA Regional during your absence with your mother's passing?
"It was a little different but I had my mind on other things. So really I was probably most at ease with what was going on here than anything else that was going on. In that regard from an emotional standpoint it was really the easiest part the weekend. Our program is not about one person or even two or three people it is about the collective whole. As I have told many people it did not surprise me at all what our players did or what our coaching staff did. We just made it through and Coach Forbes is trying to make it through with his family's loss and we try as best we could to isolate our players from what the coaching staff goes through personally and they have their lives to live and we want them to enjoy this time. I am glad we got through it."

What were your impressions of the Super Regional against Stanford this past weekend?
"It was a good two days for us. We are happy. A really good Stanford team that gave us all we could handle. Very proud of our players the way we pitched especially and the way we performed and the way we managed the heat and the rain delay and all the obstacles we had in front of us. We had a great, great crowd. I hate that our guys could not celebrate in front of 4,000-plus fans on Saturday. It was a very well run regional, the people here at North Carolina that hosted this thing - from our game operation folks to our grounds crew - were just sensational and we were happy we can win and go back to Omaha."

What are the logistics of heading to Omaha for the College World Series?
"There is a lot to do but it beats the alternative. We would much rather be very busy at this time than telling our players goodbye. This is a good kind of busy and fortunately not only do we have a little history here so we somewhat know what to do but we have a lot of help here. When you have a lot of help it takes a lot off of the coaches so we can continue to do what we need to do be doing, which is preparing and staying with the process. With Tyson Lusk and Dave Arendas here we feel very good about being ready to leave on Thursday."

One of the statistics from this season that really stands out is that the Tar Heels were 36-3 at home ...
"I don't know that we have had too many runs like that at home during a season. I remember a couple where we had that few losses but not that number of wins. I know that there is a comfort level in here that I know our players and coaches feel but most importantly our players. We certainly had great crowds down the stretch not only for the Virginia series but in the NCAA tournament. That really helps us. It is mostly about the fact that you try to guard and protect your home turf. I think a lot of that is knowing how hard it is to win on the road and especially in the ACC. So you are very protective of your home and your home field. You realize that you have to take care of business here or your team will not be able to get where they want to in the end. We did have a great run at Boshamer this year."

Can you discuss Ben Bunting's play during the Super Regionals both in the field defensively and at the plate?
"His experience really came through this past weekend and really down the stretch here. I think you can look at Ben and tell that this is a young man that has played in Omaha before and in this type of situation before. Calm, cool, under control, smiling and trying to enjoy it. That demeanor and attitude resulted in some really, really good play for him. Some big swings of the bat and some big catches - certainly not one bigger than the Friday one in the gap to get the third out when they had runners in scoring position. Ben played exceptionally well this past weekend."

Another issue that comes up this time of the year is the Major League Draft, last week five Diamond Heels were drafted. Can you speak to the trio of seniors selected - Greg Holt going in the 8th round, Jesse Wierzbicki going in the 24th round and Patrick Johnson going in the 25th round?
"Well, my first thought is I don't know how in the world Patrick Johnson dropped to the 25th round, but we are certainly happy that those young men are going to be able to go on to continue their baseball careers. I know all three were ecstatic about it and I am certainly always thrilled when our seniors get a chance to go on and play. When the time comes and you can't play anymore that is a very difficult time. The longer you can prolong that the better and I hope those guys will sign when we get back from Omaha and continue on and play for a long time."

What will it be like to be able to see the unveiling of the new ballpark in Omaha this season?
"It certainly will be different and be a different experience from the past. We have all seen pictures of it and when we were out there in 2009 we saw the big hole in the ground with where it was going to be built. We are familiar with the Embassy Suites because that is where we had television production meetings in the past and now you can actually walk - I believe it is eight or nine blocks from the hotel to the stadium. It is a whole different atmosphere but everybody we talked to just told us that the stadium is absolutely incredible. We are excited about seeing it personally and we will get to ride right by it after we get off the plane when we get to our hotel. That's what I really like - seeing the faces of our players when they see the stadium for the first time."

As the field is being finalized, what are your thoughts on your team's projected draw and can you speak to what it takes to win the College World Series?
"It is hard to get there but it is even harder to win the whole thing. The teams that have made it so far - my gosh - on our side of the bracket is kind of scary; some of the best college programs in the history of NCAA college baseball. It looks like a number of the national seeds will make it and you have got to go out there and play your best baseball. We have a mighty tough draw right out of the gate. We will be ready though. We are a pretty good team ourselves and we are tested and we have gone through a tough ACC schedule so we won't be intimidated but we know the respect that we will have to give our opponents that is for sure."


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