Monday with Mike Fox

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- Inside Carolina caught up with UNC head coach Mike Fox after his squad split a pair of mid-week games. The Tar Heels (30-13, 13-8 ACC) return to action Wednesday against Winthrop before hosting a weekend series against Boston College.

This Week
Wed. vs. Winthrop
Fri. vs. Boston College
Sat. vs. Boston College
Sun. vs. Boston College
Can you reflect back on the UNC-Greensboro and East Carolina games?
"Two mid-week games obviously with two different outcomes. I was proud of our guys for coming back out on Wednesday after getting completely demolished on Tuesday night and getting a win before finals. I thought that was extremely important for our ball club. Sensational and well pitched game on both sides and a big game-winner from Chaz Frank. I thought that Kent [Emanuel] and Mike [Morin] were sensational for us against East Carolina. I thought it was a huge win for us heading into this break."

Obviously during the break for finals the players are scrambling to finish papers, assignments and exams, but what was the time off the field like for the coaching staff?
"It is a big recruiting time for us. Coach Jackson headed out the next day and flew to Houston, and believe it or not saw a young man from Montana, and then flew to North Dakota of all places to look at a young man and flew back in yesterday and was gone for four days. Coach Forbes took off and saw a recruit on Thursday and then went over to watch State and Duke play to get a little scouting report on Duke on Friday night. He left yesterday to go to Virginia and will be gone for a couple of days. Coach Jackson will head out today. Coach Woodard and I have been conducting practices around the guys' exam schedules. We gave them three days off and then got back on the field yesterday for a workout. We had a recruit visit on Friday and spent all afternoon with him. It is a good time for us but a busy time."

Can you discuss Mike Zolk's improvement over the season at second base and his approach at the plate?
"Mike of course has played a lot for us and has played since opening day. Your whole freshman year is about making adjustments and kind of learning as you go a little bit and figuring things out. And it's understanding how difficult it is to play at this level and taking your failures and learning from them and not getting caught up too much in your successes if you have a good weekend. I think Mike is learning how to manage his time and his nutrition and his sleep and all those things that come with trying to play your best baseball down the stretch. Getting the academics behind him will be a help for him where it will take a little of that pressure off of him. He is continuing to do some nice things for us."

Have you had any interactions with the new football coach for the Tar Heels in Larry Fedora yet and have you discussed the possibilities of recruiting two-sport players with him?
"We have met and I saw him at one of our large athletic department meetings ... I am going to be speaking in Greensboro tomorrow night at a Ram's Club event there at the ballpark and Coach Fedora and Williams will be there so I might have the chance to spend a few minutes with him. We will always try to work with our football program if they are recruiting a player who has baseball interest - we will work with them in any way we possibly can. I look forward to getting to know him a little bit better - I know that he has been busy."

One of the interesting things on the schedule for next year is that the Tar Heels have been invited to participate in the Houston College Classic with some talented teams in Rice, Houston, Texas A&M, Baylor and California. Can you discuss the decision to play in that tournament?
"Well, lets hope that we get to play in that tournament. If we keep adding schools to our league and change the format who knows what will happen in the future. Right now we are on go with that event as long as we keep playing 30 ACC games. I am a proponent of having three weekends of playing outside competition before you start ACC play. I think that is where we are at this point but we have had discussions about that changing but I don't think it will change for 2013. We got invited to this tournament I think three or four years ago and it did not work out. I think we were scheduled to go somewhere last year or this year. Obviously the players that know about that tournament are very excited. Great teams certainly that we will be playing and then obviously in a Major League park and you also know you will get the games in as well with the roof. It is kind of a no-brainer. You are not going all the way across the country so the flight is not too bad. It is a great event and we are looking forward to it."

Can you explain, for the more casual fans of baseball, the postseason implications of the RPI system?
"I know absolutely nothing about the RPI. I am going to be up front and honest with everybody out there. I do not pay any attention to it. I just know that if you win enough games and beat the right people during the regular season you will get invited to the NCAA Tournament. The 30 ACC games are the most important ones. People will talk about our RPI and our strength of schedule and all that and I don't really compare it to others. I have not delved into it. I do know it has changed somewhat. We look at it when we schedule - we have to because we don't want to play teams that in the past their RPI has been really low and that can hurt you. How all of it is determined I have not paid that much attention to it but when you are in the ACC and you are playing the kind of competition that we are playing over the weekend, it is how you do in those 30 league games and then try to manage as best you can in the mid-week games and that will put you in a position to be in a good spot. So you will have to ask somebody else that question if you want a little more detail about the RPI."

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How has high school players using the BBCOR bats now helped Coach Jackson and Forbes to project recruits' performances in college?
"You know it is something that I really have not talked with Coach Jackson about. The biggest issue for us is the age of these kids. Coach Forbes called me yesterday and he was at an event in Greensboro and he said that there were 2016 graduates at this event and I had to stop and think a minute - those are 8th graders. Coach Forbes went 'I can't even write anything down' and I am like 'you shouldn't because I don't think 8th graders have even reached puberty yet.' It wouldn't matter what bat they are using. As young as these kids are at these events now and as early as some of these kids want to commit to college -- I mean, they are 9th graders. So it does help a little bit but those kids have not even reached their physical maturity much less their mental maturity. So it is really, really hard to judge. Using that BBCOR bat helps but it actually makes it worse because you are looking at a 9th grader or a 10th grader. 'Well this kid has some skill but he can't hit the ball very far.' Well there are two reasons for that, you know he is using a different bat and he is just physically not there yet and you are having to project how far is he going to go. That is the biggest challenge for us recruiting-wise. The age of these kids and how early (they are committing) ... that is very scary."

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