Big Ten Tournament Press Conference Quotes
May 23, 2007
Michigan Head Coach Rich Maloney
Opening statement ... "I appreciate you all coming today. I appreciate all the coaches and congratulate them on their seasons. It should be a great tournament. These guys are outstanding and their teams will be ready to go. It's going to be a battle."
On what Michigan has to do this weekend to continue in the postseason ... "When you win a conference like the Big Ten with so many great coaches and players the kids deserve the chance to compete at the highest level. With that being said, I'm optimistic on that end, but all of us here understand that at-large bids don't come very often to any of the teams in the north. At the same token, unfortunately it's not like some of the other sports where you can get several teams in, it just hasn't worked that way in the past, so you can't really bank on that. I think our chances are pretty good, but on the flip side you can't take it to the bank."
Minnesota Head Coach John Anderson
Opening statement ... "There are some outstanding coaches and teams in this room right here and I think we're going to have some outstanding baseball here at the Big Ten Tournament. I think you'll find that the baseball product in our conference has improved over the years since I've been in the league and its due to the commitment of the different programs in the league and the new coaches in the league and increased effort people are making to improve their programs and I hope at some point nationally we get some credit for some of the things that go on in this league."
On Minnesota's chance to progress in the postseason ... "Just a few comments on top of what Rich (Maloney) said ... When you go back in history and look at all the teams we've had in the NCAA Tournament, we haven't been fortunate, not that we haven't deserved to have more people there, but it hasn't worked out that way. A couple things are going to have to happen. You have to worry about upsets at other conference tournaments, when someone wins a conference tournament that might not have gotten in or had a season that was worthy of being in, they start losing spots and those spots tend to get lost for people in the north it seems like, at least historically. So I think that's always a factor and you don't know how that's going to play out ... I think this league, in my opinion, does deserve more attention in the NCAA Tournament ... We played two teams in the SEC this year - Arkansas and Mississippi - and I think the people in this league are just as good if you want my honest opinion. We played on the west coach, played Pepperdine, Santa Barbara, so I've seen teams from different parts of the country and I think this league's worthy of having more than one team in the NCAA Tournament."
Penn State Head Coach Robbie Wine
Opening statement ... "First I'd like to thank all the coaches in this league ... it's a quality league, the teams are outstanding and unless you go through a couple years of this, the grueling four-game weekend series battling the weather and all the elements and everything that goes into it, you don't really understand what everybody goes through. There are some teams that aren't here that probably could very likely be here with a break here and there but it's a grind. We're just happy to be here. It's a privilege to have a chance to play in this tournament."
On his strategy for the double elimination tournament ... "Just like it's going to be in this tournament, like it is every weekend, it's one game at a time, one pitch at a time. If you fall behind, just believe you can come back and take the lead and do your best to keep it. Don't beat yourself, play defense, pitch, don't make errors, that's the kind of stuff that if you do that in this league you're going to lose. There are a lot of quality teams that make the plays, that make the pitches, that throw the strikes, and don't beat themselves. We're a good bunch of guys and we're battlers. We're excited to be here."
On if the double elimination format helps his team ... "I think it puts a lot of pressure on me, trying to match guys up, and then I'm always backing up to 'No, let's just go with what we started with.' I think our strength is our pitching is deep and consistent. I think piecing things together as a whole is our strength. Our whole staff does a very good job of coming in and doing their thing, they're not trying to do too much. We have one guy whose motto is '83 at the knees.' He's not going to try and throw 90. And that was kind of one of our team slogans, 'You just stay within yourself and do what you can.'
Iowa Head Coach Jack Dahm
Opening statement ... "We are very excited to be here also and I want to congratulate Rich (Maloney) and Michigan, you've done a fantastic job bringing that program back to one of the top in the country. I think all the other coaches here in this league feel the same way, that all the programs are definitely moving forward. We're very excited about Big Ten baseball."
On what his team needs to do to win ... "The key for us is the same thing everyone else talks about - we're going to have to have some guys step up and do some things they haven't done throughout the season in order to win a championship. The other thing, we need to get our bats going like a couple weeks ago when we were swinging so well. Just about all the teams here have very talented offensive teams, and a lot of speed, and we're the same way. If we can get quality starts and our bats going we feel like we can compete with anybody in the tournament. We lost our closer so we're going to have to have somebody step up and find a way to close the door for us. That's the thing about the postseason, that's when great stories are made."
Illinois Head Coach Dan Hartleb
Opening statement ... "First of all I'd like to congratulate Rich (Maloney) and Michigan. The same thing goes for all the teams, I think everyone has improved in the league, and I think the league has gotten much better. If you look at the season, on a given day everyone in this room if we actually matched up against each other, we'd beat each other. So I think it's going to be a great tournament. I think it will be exciting, and I think from a national standpoint you're going to see this league start to move forward because of the quality of play that we have and we look forward to seeing that this week."
On why Big Ten baseball has become so solid ... "I think there's several issues. If you look at what the administrations have done for some of the programs and the directions some of the other programs are heading as far as facilities, budgets, we've moved forward with the type of support we're getting from the administration. And I think you've seen some changes within the coaching ranks where you brought some people in who've been very aggressive recruiting, start bringing better athletes to the table. If you look at what Bob (Todd) and John (Anderson) have done at Ohio State and Minnesota over the years, they've set a precedent for what the conference should be like and we're all trying to push our programs to that level. They've done a good job leading the way."
Ohio State Head Coach Bob Todd
Opening statement ... "Let me also reiterate, Rich, congratulations. I know how tough it is to repeat. Believe me, it is, it's difficult. I will also reiterate I think maybe I've been a little spoiled, but for over 15 years Ohio State and Minnesota have been fighting for championships and I think right now, there is no doubt from top to bottom that the administrators and athletic directors have really put a great deal of emphasis on our sport. I think it's brought the bottom up and it's made the people at the top, it's made their jobs a lot tougher. I look around and I know Illinois has built a new facility, we did, but I look at the construction that's going on out here now (at Michigan) and I see Indiana and Purdue both with new facilities on the drawing board and I think that's great for the Big Ten. What we're talking about is seeing some outstanding baseball. This past weekend, what I saw of Penn State and their pitching, I know Michigan and Minnesota in my opinion are NCAA caliber teams and I wouldn't rule out Penn State or any of these others right now. We play a lot of people who are going to be in the NCAA Tournament, and these teams are right there with them in terms of talent and coaching ability."