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Too Small To Be Its Own Country...

Sigh...

"I think the thing that stands out the most with me is as an assistant coach there for [Sammy Esposito's] dad and then being a head coach we not once bid for a regional, not once, and we had some pretty good teams," Tanner said.

"It was a matter of the administration at that time not being committed enough and maybe the facility wasn't good enough. So we've come a long way, and I say 'we' as an alum. So I'm excited for N.C. State to be hosting right now."

[snip]

"The one thing that stands out for me from an emotional standpoint (is) we finally, the Wolfpack, finally got a chance to host, and it's been a long time coming."

It's unfathomable how we could let someone like this get away. Wait--no it isn't. I'm talking about NC State here.

Next thing you'll tell me is he's at least a little sabermetrically-inclined.

Much of this new view is detailed in "Moneyball," the best-seller that takes the reader behind the scenes of Oakland`s 2002 draft when the A`s turned over the apple cart in talent selection.

"That was a great book," Tanner said. "I can`t say I agree with every single thing they do (in evaluating talent), but when it comes to the value of on-base percentage, taking walks and scoring runs, it opened my eyes. Those guys know what they`re doing."

Wonderful.

[Quick aside: Elliott Avent has done a fine job of constructing lineups that walk frequently. NC State's national ranking in total BBs since '02:

2002: 22nd
2003: 10th
2004: 100-something (like everybody from the year prior was gone)
2005: 29th
2006: 7th
2007: 6th
2008: 33rd

We just haven't had the wealth of power hitting that Tanner has had at South Carolina.]

 G RS RA Diff ExpW-L ActW-L 1RunGms AVG OBP SLG OPS SOS ISR
JMU 55 419 342 77 33-22 38-17 7-2 .322 .411 .518 .929 195 81
NCSU 58 403 237 166 43-15 38-20 7-8 .301 .393 .460 .853 70 42
USC 59 416 289 127 40-19 38-21 5-5 .299 .390 .503 .893 66 43

This year's USC team ranks 3rd nationally in total home runs with 103; this is nothing new for the Gamecocks:

HOME RUN TOTALS IN LAST NINE SEASONS

Year Total NCAA Rnk (in total)
2008 103 3rd
2007 113 1st
2006 92 4th
2005 73 T14th
2004 106 2nd
2003 68 T32nd
2002 122 2nd
2001 110 2nd
2000 105 2nd

(source)

The heart of South Carolina's order is about as scary as it gets:

 AVG OBP SLG HR XBH
Justin Smoak USC .377 .502 .745 21 39
Reese Havens USC .363 .490 .637 16 30
James Darnell USC .310 .385 .584 18 31
Phil Disher USC .309 .390 .614 19 29


"Ho. Lee. Fuck."



"Oh god ... oh god ... oh god."


With guys like Andrew Crisp (.302/.356/.360) and Harley Lail (.235/.308/.358) hitting at the back end, their lineup isn't as deep as it has been in the past, but the middle's premium quality makes this easily the best offense in the regional.

Baseball America projects both Smoak and Havens as first round draft picks, and Darnell is expected to be gone by the 3rd.

What with all that power hitting, they generally don't bother to run, and they aren't very successful when they do (31 stolen bases on 53 attempts; 58.5% success rate).

The pitching...

 HR/9IP K/9 BB/9 K/BB dERA AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO
JMU 1.0 8.1 3.4 2.4 4.86 .275 .363 .426 .789 .151
NCSU 0.65 8.4 3.5 2.4 4.24 .239 .322 .353 .675 .114
USC 0.97 8.0 3.4 2.3 4.85 .259 .343 .386 .730 .127

Starters...

 IP HR/9 K/9 BB/9 K/BB ERA dERA
Nick Godwin 86.3 0.52 8.0 2.3 3.5 3.02 3.57
Blake Cooper 85.3 0.95 5.3 2.4 2.2 4.22 5.11
Will Atwood 75.7 1.43 7.3 3.7 2.0 5.47 5.92
Sam Dyson 44.0 0.61 8.8 5.3 1.7 3.27 4.90

These are the guys people seem to think will make or break South Carolina this weekend (which you could say about anyone's starting pitching, but moreso about USC's starters, or something). According to Gamecocks beat writer Scott Hood, Sam Dyson will get the nod against Charlotte, which I guess means Tanner is saving Nick Godwin for a potential winner's bracket game against NC State. It gets shaky for USC after that, as neither Cooper nor Atwood have been very good this year; Atwood's been absolutely hammered.