Cohen, Players Speak

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As I type this, a baseball press conference is getting under way in Starkville. Coach John Cohen is addressing the media, as are players Ricky Bowen, Grant Hogue and Connor Powers. I’m not there for two reasons: A) It’d be kind of redundant for me; and B) I’m trying to get in good enough shape for tonight’s basketball game (thanks a lot, sinuses). I spoke with Cohen and that trio of players on Thursday, so here are some quotes from all of them, starting with Cohen.

• On the 2008 season: “I know that there were injuries, but there’s a reason; there’s a reason why things happen. I think in 2007 there were some very, very talented kids that were playing for Mississippi State that, quite frankly, weren’t on the field in 2008. It kind of changed the nature of the deal for Mississippi State.”

• On his success at Kentucky: “Kentucky’s kind of an anomaly. It’s its own burg in the SEC when you consider, it’s not the place where you’ll have 5,000 or 6,000 people show up; it’s a place where you’re going to have bad weather; it’s a place where good players shouldn’t be going, but all of a sudden they were. I think our kids respect that.”

• On results seen in offseason: “There’s a resiliency and toughness to this group that I wasn’t sure that they had. Not that I was questioning that, but you just wonder. I like that.”

• On MSU’s talent level: “This league doesn’t care how hard you try. This league cares about having real players who can perform certain skills. If you try to throw a fastball in and you miss the middle of the plate, the league doesn’t care that you’re a really good kid. The game says you better execute the pitch.”

• On pitching coach Butch Thompson: “He’s been phenomenal. He’s a great pitching tactician. He really understands the delivery, and I think every one of these guys has increased in velocity, and their secondary stuff has gotten a lot better.”

• On his attacking style: “Every opportunity there is to confuse, attack your opponent, we’re going to do that. There’s no question, we’re going to bunt, we’re going to run, we’ll do some crazy stuff. … We’re going to get thrown out at home plate, but we’re not going to be afraid to do it. That’s kind of my style, it’s a little bit more aggressiive than Coach (Ron) Polk’s. I think this ballpark really dictates that you have to be super-aggressive offensively in order to score.”

• On how good an offensive mix he has: “We’ll see. That’s what the great Zen master always says, right? We’ll see.”

Now, some thoughts from Bowen, a junior pitcher:

• On starting over with Cohen: “Last year is in the past, and basically the way I look at it and the way the team looks at it is it’s in the past. Learn things you’ve got to learn, and other than that, forget it. We really are trying to create a new day, create a new game, a new pitch.”

• On the pitching staff: “We really have developed and matured a lot over the ball. I’ve got to give credit to Coach Thompson for that. He’s done such a great job with me and the rest of the guys. Our ability to spin the ball, our ability to locate and really just overall compete, it’s tremendous to see how much it’s gotten better.”

• On the pitchers’ approach: “Our approach is to attack. Attack the hitter, attack the running game, the bunting game, whatever we can do, we’re just going to attack. It’s about hitting your targets, it’s about making the hitter beat you.”

• On Cohen’s success at Kentucky: “To see some of those changes being made, it definitely helps your confidence. If you know what your leader’s doing, and you know that it’s worked, it’s definitely easier to buy into it.”

Now, from Hogue, a senior outfielder:

• On playing small ball: “When we’re bunting and stealing, that moves the defense around, which opens holes. Whenever you shift the defense, there’s always a better chance of getting it through the infield. They’re all thinking something.”

• On becoming a closer team: “I think communication is a big thing. We have a lot more meetings, and we’re actually reading book, ‘The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player,’ and we meet on that. I think our team is improving more. We’re closer; we spend a lot of time together.”

And finally, Powers, a junior infielder:

• On last year: “For me it’s completely irrelevant what happened last year. It’s just one of those things that didn’t go our way. Sitting here thinking about it or dwelling upon it’s not really going to do anything good for you. I’ve completely forgotten about it already.”

• On Cohen’s offensive philosophy: “I could never bunt before, and now I can. But that’s not the only thing he brings as a coach. He adapts his strategy for you as a hitter based on what your strengths are.”

• On the offensive lineup: “There’s a lot of guys who can run, there’s a lot of guys who can hit for average, hit for power. I think it’s a real good balance.”

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7 Responses to “Cohen, Players Speak”

  1. BirdZ! Says:

    “I think every one of these guys has increased in velocity, and their secondary stuff has gotten a lot better.”

    “I’ve got to give credit to Coach Thompson for that. He’s done such a great job with me and the rest of the guys. Our ability to spin the ball, our ability to locate and really just overall compete, it’s tremendous to see how much it’s gotten better.”

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, to Coach Cohen and Coach Thompson.

  2. imabulldog Says:

    Now let’s kick it!’…in a completely non- “vanilla ice” kinda way 🙂

  3. maroon1white Says:

    Word to ya motha!

  4. imabulldog Says:

    so cold…so cold, stop! I’m having flashbacks of sequined American flag hamma pants, with EKG lines carved in haircuts…aaaahhhh! 🙂

  5. imabulldog Says:

    maroon1white come visit me on my site man, you are one of the few to not come over.

  6. imabulldog Says:

    i meant to say that haven’t come over.

  7. leeearl Says:

    BL, thanks for getting some words in from Butch!

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