Tigers Off Limits As Team Attempts To Recover From Loss To Gamecocks


by - Correspondent -
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OMAHA, Neb. - Another day, another wacky chapter in the Clemson-South Carolina rivalry.

A day after Clemson head coach Jack Leggett complained about Gamecock players showing up his team during Wednesday's 12-4 USC victory at the College World Series in Omaha, South Carolina coach Ray Tanner took the opportunity to respond following his team's practice at Creighton University.

Though not angry, Tanner obviously wasn't happy with Leggett's decision to go public with his frustrations.

"I think it was blown out of proportion a little bit. We had a great game, and I'm disappointed some of those things came out," Tanner said. "I have great respect for coach Leggett (and) his assistant coaches. I consider myself friends with those guys, (but) quite frankly I was not happy he spoke about some things he spoke about.

"He tends to talk about what his team doesn't do when they lose, and I tend to talk about what teams do to beat us when I lose. It's just a different path that we take, and I think it took something away from the game."

Asked if he planned to speak with Leggett before today's 2 p.m. (EDT) rematch at Rosenblatt Stadium, Tanner said yes, he would.

But again, his displeasure with Leggett showed.

"Just like normal. Whenever I see him I'll speak to him," he said. "I don't have any ill will about anything. It was a baseball game, and things happen. I've been in many a situation where things have happened on his side that I didn't particularly like. Did I say anything about it? No, I didn't bring it up. But that's just the different path that we take."

Meanwhile, at Clemson's practice earlier Thursday Leggett said he had no plans to talk with Tanner about the incidents of Wednesday night.

"No. I don't plan on talking to anybody," he said. "We just have to go out on the field tomorrow and play our game and do what we have to do to try to win. But no, there's nothing to be said."

He also appeared to backpedal a bit on the source of his anger after Wednesday's game.

"What we have to do is focus on what we're doing, and focus on how we play," Leggett said. "I was upset yesterday because of how we played, not any other factor. I just didn't think we played our best baseball. We weren't zeroed in the way we needed to be. We talked about it, we took care of it, and we'll make a change in it."

"I don't have any questions in my mind that we'll be ready to play."

Leggett declined any further discussion about Wednesday, saying he chose to focus his team's attention solely on being ready for today's game, a matchup in which the winner advances to the national championship game and the loser goes home.

To that end, he barred all media from the practice field Thursday - a move which was in direct contrast to all previous practices in Omaha - and allowed only Khalil Greene to speak to reporters.

Today's starting pitcher, Matt Henrie, and all other Tigers were off limits.

"We just want to focus on the game. It's no offense against anybody (in the media)," said Leggett. "We just, at this point, need to zero in on we've got to do to play, and there doesn't need to be any added pressure on any of our players, Henrie or anybody else.

"The obvious answer is he's got to go out and pitch well, pitch his game. So I think I can say that for him."

Leggett disputed the suggestion that his team may be tight and nervous after missing a chance to eliminate the Gamecocks and gain a berth in Saturday's title game, though his actions with the media and the quiet, almost stoic manner in which his team went through practice seemed to contradict those feelings.

The mood was in stark contrast to South Carolina's practice, which ended with a small pep talk from athletic director Mike McGee.

"We're sort of the same all the time," Tanner said. "We're a loose group and we have been all year. We've had some adversity and we've bounced back. These guys are who they are, and they have fun when they come out to the yard every day."

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