for CBI SEC Preview
click here for
SEC Preseason Poll
LSU Back on Prowl
By Sean Ryan
outs from ending its season and closing the curtain on Alex Box
Stadium with a loss, LSU rallied from a 7-4 deficit and forced a
third game in the Super Regional against UC Irvine.
The next night - a picturesque Louisiana evening - the Tigers
tore through the Anteaters 21-7 to earn a berth in the College
Picked to finish fifth in its division in 2008, LSU won 20 more
games than it did in 2007. Included was a 23-game winning streak
and a SEC tournament title. In Paul Mainieri's second year, the
Tigers not only made it back to the NCAA tournament after a
two-year absence, but they also made it back to a starring role
on the national stage.
Mainieri took some time to answer some questions about the
upcoming season, dealing with expectations and the game of life.
First Inning – Alex
Box Stadium was _______________. The new Alex Box Stadium is
Alex Box Stadium was magical; the new Alex Box
Stadium is a dream come true. Hopefully, we can create some new
magical moments in it.
Second Inning – What was it like to close the old stadium
with a win that sent your team to Omaha?
I was so happy for all of the people that have followed and
supported LSU Baseball for so long. It was so appropriate that
we sent out the stadium in a way that was consistent with all of
the great moments that venue has hosted through the years. We
couldn't have written a better script.
Third Inning – Speaking of Omaha, it wasn't expected by most
that the Tigers would reach the College World Series. What were
some of the keys to turning it around?
We had a special group of kids that refused to give up when
we were struggling. Nobody pointed fingers and everyone kept a
positive attitude. I felt all along we had the talent to make a
good run at it.
Fourth Inning – Did the turnaround happen quicker than you
I would never admit that it did because when you work hard
at something, you expect to be successful. However, I can
understand how most people would think it was pretty unexpected
from the standpoint of how quickly we got back in the mix.
Inning – Almost all of the offense returns. Have you ever
welcomed back that much firepower?
I had a team at Notre Dame in 2002 that was similar in that we
were very experienced with our everyday lineup and expected to
win, too. We ended up going to the College World Series that
year despite having a young pitching staff. Maybe this lineup at
LSU will fulfill its potential and our unproven pitching will
come through, too. It would be nice to get to Omaha again.
Sixth Inning – Where can the offense improve?
I'd like to see us draw a few more walks and handle the bat
a little better on hit and run plays.
Seventh Inning – On the mound, what do your guys do best? And
how difficult is it facing some of the best hitters each
I think we have some decent arms that will pitch very
aggressively. I don't think we will walk many batters. Actually,
in the preseason workouts, our pitching has pretty much
dominated our hitters. I think that is a good sign because, in
the SEC, we know we will face some great hitters.
Eighth Inning – LSU's tradition speaks for itself. How does
your team deal with the renewed expectation of greatness?
All everyone can do is to do the best they can each day. If
we all start worrying about meeting someone else's expectations,
everyone will put too much pressure on themselves. That being
said, the reason you come to LSU is because of the history,
tradition, resources, and the shot at going for greatness. You
have to learn how to handle those expectations and let it work
Ninth Inning – Longtime assistant Terry Rooney is now the
head man at UCF. What was his impact on the Tigers, and what did
the Golden Knights get?
Terry deserves so much credit for the success we had last
year. He is a great recruiter, a tremendous coach, and a
wonderful person. Central Florida hit a grand slam with hiring
Terry and I think he will do a great job there.
Extra Innings – What are some of the best coaching lessons
your father, also a coach, taught you?
Oh, this Q & A does not have enough space for me to answer
this question. The most important thing he taught me, though,
was that you have to coach for the right reason. And the right
reason is to help teach young men what it takes to be
successful. Making a positive impact in a young person's life is
what should drive all coaches.
team posted its best GPA in school history, and you involve it
in community service. Share some thoughts on the game of life.
Very simply, I am a firm believer that a young man's
baseball skills and career will diminish in time; but his
education will last a lifetime. All kids that play college
baseball should earn their degree because it will open doors for
them to make a living and contribute to society. I also believe
these young men are very fortunate to play college baseball and
it affords them an opportunity to impact others by doing
community service work. This is something they should want to do
and it shows that they appreciate the gifts that they have been
given. When the players feel as though they are blessed with the
opportunity to play college baseball, they will give their
greatest effort to the team and have a better chance to succeed.
(photos courtesy of LSU Media