3-Minute Interview: Nino Giarratano

USF’s baseball coach, entering his 10th season, is taking his team to Hawaii this morning in preparation for a four-game series against the Warriors beginning Friday. The Dons finished a disappointing 27-28 last season following their first NCAA appearance in 2006, but return a wealth of senior leadership this season.

How did you hook up the Hawaii trip? One of our former coaches is their pitching coach, Chad Konishi (the former Cal star was at USF from 1996 to 2001). It’s a great place to start the season and you’re guaranteed a pretty good chance of playing [due to the great weather]. It’s a pretty good trip for us. We recruit kids from that area, it’s a great stadium and a good crowd. It’s a good test.

What is your outlook on this season? I’m very excited. I’m excited about the way we will pitch, especially from a depth standpoint. We have good team speed and will play good defense. Offense, that will be the question. If we can drive in some runs, we should be able to keep teams down.

Has it been easier to recruit since you made the NCAAs two years ago? There’s been a lot more interest in the last two to three years since making the tournament. We’ve been able to get some kids that we might not have before and we’ve been able to spend a little less [money on recruiting] than what we have been.

You were picked to finish sixth in the West Coast Conference. Is that more of an indication of how tough the conference is? I think — No. 1 — our conference is very strong. [Being picked sixth] I think basically that’s great for us. I don’t see us as a sixth-place team. We didn’t play too well from the lead position. It’s good to be the underdog again and I think we will play better from that role.

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