Saturday Statements - Pat Murphy, NCAA tournament selection committee member (not a typo)

When I interviewed Arizona State head coach Pat Murphy in April of '06, he told me that this year he was going to be a member of the NCAA's tournament selection committee for the first time.

But he also told me of his re-occuring dream where he's in the room with all the other guys and he's talking up a blue streak... but nobody is listening.


PatMurphy.jpg
The former pugilist is now putting on the gloves for West coast love.

Well, whether that becomes a reality or not, Murph is indeed on the committee, as planned. So after today's 3-0 win over Oregon State, I managed to ask a few quick questions on the matter with the former boxer, just to check in on his committee assignment.

Me:
So coach, how is your tournament committee thing going?

Coach Murphy:
It's going smooth, it's going smooth. I've been pretty busy with it though.

Me:
Like, every free minute goes to it or what?

Coach Murphy:
No, but really busy. Right now the busiest guys are the ones on the Regional committees. They're the ones doing all the legwork right now. We'll get the bulk of the work next week.

Me:
Is being on the committee a real stretch of your time?

Coach Murphy:
Oh yeah, it's a stretch. It's making me keep up with everything that's going on. But it's good. I'm just there to make sure that the West gets good treatment this year.

Me:
A lot of people are talking up here this weekend about how Oregon State may be in trouble for an at-large berth. What are your thoughts about that?

Coach Murphy:
Oh there's no question in my mind that they're in the NCAA tournament. No question. They did great in the non-conference. Everyone has their rough spots during the course of the season. Theirs just happens to be now. But look at their losses too. They've got a lot of one-run losses. People are making a big deal out of them losing at Washington State. But Washington State beat Texas this year, so they're good. And if you think about what Mitch Canham and Darwin Barney have done for the sport of college baseball, being defending national champions and everything, it'd be a crime if they didn't get in.


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Murph the goodwill ambassador---
As I was walking over to talk to Coach Murphy after the game, he was engaged in a conversation with an Oregon State fan right next to the dugout. After they were through and Murph went over to talk to his team, I asked the OSU fan what he was talking with Coach Murphy about. The fan said, "Oh I was asking him maybe we should switch uniforms for one game. And he said that there's nothing wrong with the job that (OSU head coach Pat) Casey was doing this year. He told me how hard it is to get a team back up to championship level after winning a national title and that Casey was doing a great job."

So I said to the fan, "I thought maybe for a moment you guys were exchanging heated words or something."

The guy said, "Oh no. Pat was very respectful. He said the reason we have such great fans up here is because of the success that Pat Casey has brought to the area and he likes bringing his team up here to play us. I think Murphy really likes Coach Casey."


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What I saw at Goss Stadium today---
Arizona State - 3 8 0
Oregon State - 0 2 0
It was all about great pitching today, on both sides.

Josh Satow was spot-on again for the Devils. The off-speed master went 8.0 innings, giving up just two hits, striking out eight and walking three en route to his 10th win of the year (against three losses). Meanwhile, Joe Paterson had what Coach Pat Casey called "his best outing of the season... just outstanding." Paterson pitched 8.1 innings, giving up just seven hits, striking out five and not walking a single Sun Devil. But he ended up the hard-luck loser to fall to 6-6 on the season.

It was a sparse effort by both offenses today, but a pair of home runs was the big difference for ASU. Seldom-used Jared Bogany looped a two-run shot to left field in the 5th inning to break the deadlock. Then, in the 9th inning, ASU second baseman Eric Sogard launched a solo shot to the risers in right field to put the Devils up 3-0.

But just like Friday's game, OSU would make a run in the 9th (why do they wait until the 9th inning to get determined?). This time, they managed to load the bases without the benefit of a hit and just one out. With the bags juiced Jordan Lennerton (who had a grand slam vs. Portland earlier this season) was tricked into a flyout to left field. That was followed by Scott Santschi's swinging strikeout to end the game.

Jason Jarvis came on to get the save, his 9th of the season and second in two days up in Corvallis. Game three is tomorrow at 1pm left coast time. I'm supposed to have a short Q&A with the Beaver head man, Pat Casey, beforehand.


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Another tux fitting completed---
Prairie View A&M.
The Panthers beat perennial SWAC power Southern today, 8-7, to send them to their second straight NCAA tournament. Center fielder Calvin Lester, hitting out of the No. 9 spot, was voted the SWAC tourney MOP after going 2-for-3 with two RBI today to lead the PV attack. Strangely, the Panthers could only muster five hits all day, but the Jags helped by committing five errors, issuing three walks and hitting a batter as well. Prairie View, whose narrow 6-5 loss to Rice in last year's 1st round game in the Houston Regional has become legendary, goes into the Big Dance with a 34-23 record and will surely get my first place vote in the next Black College Baseball poll due out on Tuesday.

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The Ouch List---
Usually this is reserved for Sunday nights but since a lot of conferences wrapped up their weekends today, here are those teams that took it on the chin in today's weekend finales (we'll get to the rest of the conferences tomorrow night).

- Memphis
Today: lost 7-4 at Rice
Why it hurts: Some people had the Tigers in their NCAA projections, but I never really saw it. With an RPI at No. 56, it was a long-shot anyway. C-USA is a three-bid league this year.

- Georgia Tech
Today: Lost 17-11 vs. Florida State
Why it hurts: Tech is hurting. Even longtime Jacket fan Bill Gessler told me he hasn't seen a Tech team this bad since the early 80s. Losing three straight to FSU by a combined 44-15 is flat ugly. Believe it or not, their RPI of No. 26 might actually get them in... though they don't deserve it.

- Georgia
Today: Lost 14-13 at South Carolina
Why it hurts: Because the Dogs had a chance for one last bit of glory to their season but gave up nine (yes, 9) runs in the 8th inning to lose this one. UGa finishes UGa-lee at 23-33.

- Arkansas
Today: Lost 5-0 vs. Ole Miss
Why it hurts: Despite Jean Neuberger's repeated pleas, this may have cost the Hogs a national seeding. Don't worry Jean, they'll still get a home regional again. But if this is any indication...

- Mississippi State
Today: Lost 9-7 vs. Alabama
Why it hurts: (What is this, SEC pile-on day?) MSU had still entertained thoughts of hosting a Regional, but a series loss to an average Alabama team has shut that door completely.

- Creighton
Today: Lost 4-3 vs. Missouri State
Why it hurts: The Bluejays had a chance to at least grab a share of the Missouri Valley title with Wichita State, but couldn't subdue the otherwise underachieving Bears today. Red flag this: CU gathered only 13 hits in this three-game series.

- Richmond
Today: Lost 7-0 and 8-1 vs. Charlotte
Why it hurts: The Spiders not only get shut down all weekend long (outscored 20-2) but also fall down to 3rd place in the A-10 standings. So they won't be getting a bye in round one now.

- Houston
Today: Lost 7-2 vs. Southern Miss
Why it hurts: Like Memphis above, the Cougars had an RPI within striking distance (at No. 55), but three straight losses this weekend by a combined 17-2 means they're heading to their summer assignments early as well.

- Boston College
Today: Lost 11-3 vs. Virginia
Why it hurts: Not only did the Cavaliers halt BC's chance at making the ACC tournament, but rain forced the cancellation of the second game of today's DH. So the Eagles knew beforehand that their hopes of making the post-season were dashed. And they played like it.

- Old Dominion, Delaware and Virginia Commonwealth
Today: All three teams lost (though VCU split a DH at Northeastern)
Why it hurts: Now NOBODY wins the Colonial by themselves. Not only that, but UNC-Wilmington also took a share of the regular season title with a win over George Mason. Four freakin' teams! All with 18-11 marks. But Old Dominion wins the No. 1 seed in the CAA tourney after going 7-2 against the other three teams, Delaware is No. 2 with a 5-3 record in those games and VCU is third with a 3-6 record.

- St. Peter's
Today: Won both games of a double-header with Manhattan by 50 runs, but the MAAC officials are so crooked and so corrupt they're going to say that the two schools split the two games. But we ALL know that SPC won both games and qualified for the MAAC tourney, right?
Why it hurts: Because MY Peacocks finish the MAAC season a half-game behind Canisius for the 4th and final tournament spot. Dammit!

- Central Michigan
Today: Lost 11-10 in 10 innings at Ball State
Why it hurts: The Chippewas lost a chance to be the No. 1 seed and host school for the MAC tournament with today's loss. Instead, Eastern Michigan, who also finished 21-6 in league play, will now host the post-season tournament by virtue of beating CMU in their series a couple of weeks ago.


OestrikeStadium.jpg
The MAC tournament returns to stately and spacious Oestrike Stadium, home to Eastern Michigan.

- Florida
Today: Lost 11-7 vs. Tennessee
Why it hurts: Oh boy. The Gators are now 28-28 at the end of the regular season. That means they'll have to have a winning record in the SEC tournament to even be considered an at-large team. So for the most part, let's just say the Jekyll & Hyde Gators will have to win that bad boy.


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This is one SICK all-bench team---
Got to thinking about this as I was watching today's Oregon State-Arizona State game. How much depth does Pat Murphy have on his squad this season? Here's a list of Mudville Nine players that did NOT get to start today's game:

- Ryan Sontag. (.313- the Big 10 Freshman of the year in 2005 at Michigan State)
- Joey Parigi (3-1, 6.39- pitched in 35 innings, going 1-2 and 3.86 at Texas in '06)
- Mike Leake (10-1, 3.72, but also has four starts and 22 appearances in OF)
- Joe Persichina (.321- was a Freshman All American in 2004)
- Matt Hall (.317- has 40 starts on the season, mostly at 3B)
- Kiel Roling (.382-12-54- what other team in the country would sit the National Hitter of the Week last week?)
- Rocky Laguna (.340- has appeared in 45 games this year)
- Mike Jones (.286- hit .313 last year and made 24 catches for the ASU football team as well)
- Matt Spencer (.388-7-43- Played in the championship series against OSU as a member of North Carolina's team)


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Okay, more tomorrow. I'm scheduled to fly back to Los Angeles on a 9:20pm flight from Portland. My guess is that either Pepperdine (who is playing at the University of Portland this weekend) or UCLA (who will probably have a connecting flight from Spokane) will be on my plane with me. We'll see.

G'night.

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Eric Sorenson Eric Sorenson
Eric Sorenson is CSTV.com's National Baseball Columnist, and also appears on CSTV as a baseball expert