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I'm having mixed emotions about Pope's first season at UK ...

... JOY and HAPPINESS !! There will be no season whose arrival will be more anticipated than this year and I have no expectations about the wins and losses. I am just happy beyond words that we've now moved beyond Calipari but I have a growing sense that Pope will over-achieve to the point Cal will not want to return to Rupp.

***** UK BASEBALL 2024 SEASON THREAD *****

Hello HOB. Today was UK Baseball Media Day, so we'll get our 2024 season thread started with notes from the festivities.

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KENTUCKY BASEBALL HC NICK MINGIONE Q&A:

* Opens by saying it's hard to believe he's entering his 8th year year. Seems like just yesterday he was being introduced to the media. Looking forward to building on what they accomplished last year in reaching the Super Regional.

* Praised team for having 13 players record a 4.0 GPA this year. Pretty crazy number.

* Unselfish group of players. Committed to doing anything to help the team win. To win a championship, you have to have people like this.

* On the pitching staff... Mason Moore is back, expected to be one of the guys to lead the staff. "A special arm." He'll move into a starting role, which should be big for the team. Travis Smith is also back. Was a mid-meek guy for first part of the year, then developed into a guy they could count on in the rotation late in the season. Big arm. Hits upper-90s, great slider and cutter. A couple others who have stood out as leaders in the off-season: Evan Byers and Ryan Hagenow. Have been in the program for a while, know what it takes to win. Jackson Nove has also shown he's ready to "take a step to the next level."

* Thinks they had the best defense in the nation last year and no reason to think it can't be as good or better this season. Calls them elite. Key pieces in place.

* On the lineup... Led the SEC in hitting (AVG) in league play. Hoping to build on that. Devin Burkes is great to have back at catcher, the ultimate leader. Grant Smith at shortstop, a Gold Glove-level guy. Had surgery on a hip in the off-season. Now primed for a big year, fully healthy. Amazing leader. Pitre back at second. Second-team All-SEC. Nolan McCarthy back and ready for a big year. Reuben Church. James McCoy. Ryan Waldschmidt. All familiar names back. Waldschmidt is coming off surgery and should be back in March.

* Schedule challenging, of course. Paid off last year with their RPI. Play 12 games vs. Preseason Top 10 and 18 vs. Top 25. Open up at USC Upstate, who has won 110 games the last 3 years, one of the best winning % of anyone in college baseball those three years.

* Fall scrimmages were crazy-competitive. Same thing has carried over into preseason play. He's seen some of the best defensive plays he's ever seen.

* On being described as a "sleeper" team this year... Mingione says until they start doing it year in and year out, maybe that's a fair label. It's up to them to change that narrative. "Whatever it is, as long as we make it, they can call us whatever."

* On who might replace Hunter Gilliam at 1B... Ryan Nicholson (Grad SR transfer from Cincinnati) has really stepped up with his offense and defense.

* Last year, a lot of transfer portal guys helped them fill key roles. This year, they'll have some more of those guys, but you're starting to see more of the home-grown HS guys emerge and ready to play bigger roles.

* On NIL... Work in progress. You can never have too much. ... "There's a lot of people who love Kentucky, and they want to help." Will not pit baseball against football or basketball or any other sport. Wants them all supported. "Whatever they can do to help, it's much appreciated."

* On third base battle... They've had a ton of guys competing there: Reuben Church, Mitch Daly, Nick Lopez, Pat Herrera... Been a major battle. May play a bunch of guys there. "Maybe our most competitive position... but we feel good about the options we have." A big key is defense, gotta have an attacking mindset at that spot.

*****

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Bracket help

I assume that the looser of tonight's game would face UF in an elimination game and the winner of the elimination game would face the winner of tonights game, is that correct? Then lets say that the winner of the elimination game beats the winner of tonights game, I assume they would have a rematch. Do I have all of this correct?

By the way, I want to admitt that I was completely wrong about coach Mingione. I am not saying that just because he got this team to Omaha, I am so impressed with the type of man he is and the way he comes across. I had no Idea of what kind of person he is until CWS interviews. I don't see how a player wouldn't strongly consider playing for him. I could see the exposure he has gotten in the CWS propelling his recruiting to a much higher level.

Honest opinion about Arkansas roster

Login to view embedded media This is not a hater take. But I don’t see an overly impressive roster like the rest of the college basketball media are acting like.
- they have a really good player in Davis, a bunch of good not great guards, and some decent bigs.
- but they have little to no outside shooting
- what are everybodies thoughts?
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