Tuesday, October 16, 2012

SxSE: Coach Kevin O'Sullivan's Florida Gator

Recruiting footprint:  Based on recent rosters, O'Sullivan recruits heavily from Florida, plus Georgia, and reandom players from NJ, PA, KY and NC.

♦ State Of The Gators (Baseball America, May 4, 2012)
That includes Florida, a team that entered the season as the clear-cut favorite to win the College World Series and reinforced that position by dominating its first-half schedule. But injuries (especially on the mound) and a midseason offensive slump joined forces to cause the Gators to lose three of their last five weekend series, two of them at home against LSU and Arkansas. Florida looks considerably more mortal now than it did a month ago
. . .
"What we haven't done is we haven't done a good job of maintaining innings, getting innings started," O'Sullivan said. "We rely on the big inning too much. We need to do a better job applying pressure each inning and not relying on the three-run homer. We need to get the leadoff man on and do a better job situational hitting. You've got to be able to manufacture runs, get on base, handle the bat. . . . We just haven't really clicked offensively for a while, but I know we'll get back to it, hopefully this weekend."

Coaches who have faced the Gators walk way saying the bottom half of the lineup is not as imposing as it was a year ago, but O'Sullivan said that part of the lineup has done exactly what the Gators needed it to do. The key is getting the top five hitters all swinging the bat well at the same time.

2011 College Coach Of The Year: Florida's Kevin O'Sullivan (baseballamerica.com)
In four years at the helm, O'Sullivan has transformed the Gators into a college baseball powerhouse. After missing regionals in 2006 and '07, Florida exceeded expectations to make a regional in O'Sullivan's first season in 2008. The next year, the Gators won a regional. The year after that, they made it to Omaha. And this year, they earned a preseason No. 1 ranking, ended the regular season atop the rankings and advanced all the way to the CWS Finals. For constructing a model program with a rock-solid foundation, O'Sullivan is Baseball America's College Coach of the Year.
. . .
O'Sullivan made sure to make ample use of all his options over the course of the season. From the start of the spring all the way through the College World Series, O'Sullivan managed his team with an eye toward the biggest prizes: winning a national championship this year, and competing for a championship every year. He used midweek games as an opportunity to get innings for all of his pitchers, and if the Gators took a few more midweek losses, so be it. At least all of the key arms would be fresh—and none would be inexperienced.

It was a winning formula. And while Tanner's Gamecocks might have denied O'Sullivan's Gators a championship this year, both Tanner and O'Sullivan said they expect Florida to be back soon, and often. . .
Two bits: Kevin O'Sullivan (onlygators.com)
Florida Gators head baseball coach Kevin O’Sullivan touched at the two hottest topics surrounding his team on Wednesday. Addressing Florida going 4-4 in their last eight games (all on the road), O’Sullivan noted that he was not worried one bit because, simply put, these things happen. “Every year every team goes through something like this. Every single year. It doesn’t matter how talented you are or how much experience you have,” he said. “This game is a humbling game and you’re not going to go 50-6 through the regular season. You’re going to have some stretches where you’re not going to play your best. The key to this whole thing is not to have this stretch at the need of the year as you go through tournament play. That’s the key. This will make our team better. It is frustrating and sometimes you don’t want to go through this obviously but ultimately it does build character and puts you in a better position at the end of the year.”
Florida Gators' Kevin O'Sullivan isn't happy just being at College World Series; he plans on winning it (palmbeachpost.com)
Kevin O'Sullivan is making it look easy. 
It's not, of course, because it's baseball, which is intricate and complicated in ways both silly and wonderful. And it's baseball in the College World Series, which means those intricacies and complications have to be handled by young men frequently not prepared for the mix of a welcoming embrace from America's Heartland and the steaming pressure they find there in Omaha, Neb.

"It's not easy, and nobody here thinks it is," said O'Sullivan, who is in his fourth season as head coach at the University of Florida and has the Gators back in college baseball's big show for a second consecutive year. "The thing is getting everybody to understand that just being here isn't the ultimate goal. That's a cliche, but it's important,"
. . .
"We hadn't achieved any consistency until Sully got here," he said. "We'd be in and out every year or every couple of years. Our goal was to be like Miami and Florida State, who have set a standard by having a chance to go to Omaha every year. We wanted to be considered one of those teams expected to challenge for a championship all the time.

"I wouldn't have told you we'd be 2-0 at the College World Series four years in, but I knew Sully would have a big impact."
Florida Gators' Kevin O'Sullivan is close with Vandy's Tim Corbin, but focus is on getting to finals (palmbeachpost.com)
Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan and Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin worked together as assistants at Clemson. They developed a friendship that is strong today.

"Me and Tim go back and awfully long way. I care about him deeply," O'Sullivan said. " Our families know each other. It goes well beyond the baseball side of things."
. . .
What the heck was that, Florida!!! (Message Board thread at Rivals.com)
LHSNaughts: That's the last thing those guys needed. They are in borderline meltdown mode right now. A few details.....

After the series loss last weekend, the pitching staff had to run on Monday until they vomited. Then on Tuesday, they lost 10-5 to UNF. After the game, Sully called four of that night's pitchers in front of the team and told them they were the sorriest mother f--kers he has ever seen, and that none of them would be playing for Florida next year. To top it off, he told Preston Tucker in front of everyone that he was the most arrogant s.o.b. in baseball and that he wouldn't do sh-t at the next level.

So I can only imagine what kind of wrath will come from that 9th inning tonight.
. . .
As for the players who told me, one is already set on getting the hell out of there, while the other thinks Sully should be in the hall of fame. It takes the right kind of kid to play up there.

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