We started rolling down to Texas on Monday for the C-USA
Tournament after our sweep of UCF over the weekend. Senior Day was good, and
winning three games puts us in a great mood heading into the tournament, so
we’re riding a high right now. So by this point on our bus trip we’re floating
on air until we hit a flat tire 10 minutes outside of Lake Charles, La., which
is our dining destination. We were on the side of the road for about 2½ hours
waiting to get it fixed, though I didn’t care so much because I was engulfed in
a card game in the back of the bus. They had to turn the air conditioner on and
off to work on the bus while they worked on it, so it got kind of stuffy in
there. It’s a pretty serious thing, fixing a shredded tire on a bus, and you
can’t be too careful. So while we waited, still hungry, we had to survive on
rice crispy treats and candy while until we started moving again.
After the tire delay, we finally made it at a stop for food. Unfortunately,
once we stopped, everything was closed at 10:15 p.m., so we had to bargain with
the people to let us walk through the drive-thru at Wendy’s. With all of these
things happening, it gave us a weird feeling as to how our conference tournament
was starting out. Then Coach Berry came to us and told us that we’re dealing
with adversity already, and because of that, we’ll be ready to deal with
adversity for the tournament. So we dealt with that, ended up arriving in
Houston around 1:30 a.m. and got a good night’s sleep.
The next day we awoke to the best breakfast in the country - downstairs at
the Hyatt. It’s so fine. The interesting thing about breakfast yesterday morning
was that when we walked in, the waiters told us to sit in the back while Tulane
was sitting at the front of the restaurant. So there we were in the same room
with all of us under an understood silence. When we walk by them and they walk
by us, we don’t say anything to each other and we both look away. There’s
definitely no love loss in the breakfast room as there is on the baseball field.
It’s actually kind of fun to me; I enjoy that stuff because I’m the kind of guy
that once I get in a starting contest I won’t be the first one to break a smile.
It’s neat because all of the team’s are staying in the same hotel except for
Houston and Rice, obviously. I do wish that the guys from Houston were in here
because there’s a couple of guys that I’ve played against for a few years and I
enjoy being around them. You develop friendships with guys from all of the other
schools, like Joey Lieberman from Memphis. He came over to our room last night
and chatted with us for a little bit while we watched the Braves game. It’s a
loose atmosphere around here, and is a lot more laid back then you would think.
However, on the field it’s all business. For instance, once Joey comes to the
plate as the designated hitter, he’ll give me a tap on the shin guard, I’ll tell
him “what’s up?” and then I’ll go out there and try to beat him by 20 runs after
that. There’s no feeling like beating your buddies - it’s the best feeling in
the world. That’s why we enjoy the wins over Ole Miss and Mississippi State,
because you have a lot of buddies on those teams. That goes the same with
Memphis, so that’s what we’re going to try and do tonight and go get them.
Since then we’ve been able to relax and get our thoughts together the rest of
the time before our first game to think about what we have to do tonight against
Memphis. There is a bunch of stuff to in downtown Houston like the Underground,
where you can walk for miles and look at a lot of shops and other stores.
Everyone went their own way yesterday, so I went with (senior closer) Daniel
Best and his aunt and uncle. We went to eat last night, and I also got to play a
hole of golf which was the finishing hole on the movie Tin Cup. It’s the
same hole that in the movie he’s trying to hit the ball over the water, and he
keeps asking for another ball until he gets it. Daniel and I both did that
yesterday, but I wasn’t successful in my attempts. I only tried twice, and on
one I thought I had it, but it stopped just short of the green. Daniel hit a
few, and he was crushing balls, but unfortunately the green was narrow so they
kept going right and left and was unsuccessful.
It was cool to try that and then we had a dinner in the same clubhouse in the
movie that Kevin Costner hit a ball out of to hit a pelican off a perch to win a
bet in the movie. Some of the other guys went to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe down
the street and some others did some other stuff. There’s a lot to do down here,
but at the same time, we did have a curfew and we needed to get back in the room
to get our rest. As much fun as this place can be, and as much as it can feel
like a vacation, it’s not - it’s a business trip. We need to do what we need to
do to win as many games as we can starting with tonight. Our main goal right now
is to win tonight, and after that, the sky’s the limit.
Anything can happen in this tournament, as we already witnessed a six seed
(East Carolina) defeat a three seed (Tulane) this morning. Seeds only matter
with what time you play. Honestly, if I had to pick a seed, I’d rather be a four
or five seed, like what we are, because you play the night game on the first
game and if you win, you’ll continue to play the late game. We got the lucky
draw to play the late game, because the worst thing in the world is to play the
early 9 a.m. game. Tulane just finished the 9 a.m. game and lost, and since they
lost they have to play the early 9 a.m. game again tomorrow. To me that sucks,
and I don’t want any part in that 9 a.m. game, and I definitely don’t want any
part in the afternoon game in Houston, Texas where it’s nice and hot out here.
The bottom line is that getting this game tonight is an important thing.
There’s no real predictions for this tournament. Even if you go to Las Vegas
and ask for the odds, the odds are that everybody is going to say Rice is going
to win the tournament. They’re at home, they’ve lost only two conference games
this season and the two teams that they’ve lost to (Houston and East Carolina)
are in the other side of the bracket, and Rice is undefeated in this side of the
bracket (Memphis, Southern Miss and UAB). This doesn’t bother us though because
I think we had some success against Rice. We did some things right, made a few
mental errors and a few minor mistakes that cost us the series against them.
It’s sad to say this, but you almost have to play a flawless game - not meaning
no strikeouts and have to get a hit every time - with no errors, no overthrows
to the cutoff man against them. You have to play good, fundamental baseball to
beat a team like Rice. They don’t sit back and wait on the big-time long ball
situations. They do things small and do things right. So that’s the way you beat
them by playing their game. That’s one of the toughest things in the world to
do, but that game would be tomorrow, and first we have to win this game tonight
against Memphis in order to get to that game and Rice has to win too. It’s very
crucial to win this first game, and we’re going to go out there and do whatever
we need to do to win it.