Holbrook prepping to continue South Carolina's run
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina's Chad Holbrook is ready for everything that comes with being the Gamecocks' new baseball coach, even the enormous expectations to match the success of his old dugout boss Ray Tanner.
Holbrook was named the program's first new coach in 16 years last summer, promoted when Tanner became the school's athletic director. And Holbrook says rarely has a day gone by when he hasn't been reminded that Tanner had the program peaking with College World Series championships in 2010 and 2011, and a runner-up finish in Omaha last summer.
"I have to stay narrow-minded in regards to that because if I look at what coach Tanner accomplished what our program has accomplished, that's too much to even think about," Holbrook said Friday.
Holbrook was hired by Tanner after the 2008 season. He was instrumental in assembling and guiding a South Carolina program that has 198 victories the past four seasons — the most in Division I. Holbrook acknowledged he'll lean heavily on Tanner's principles of being aggressive, playing mistake-free on the field and giving maximum effort in the moment, without looking too far down the road.
"I don't talk to our team about Omaha, I don't talk to them about the pressure of getting back to the College World Series," he said. "I talk to them about, 'Hey, let's be good today.'"
Holbrook was Tanner's chief counsel since arriving. The two have plenty in common. Both played baseball in the ACC in North Carolina's Research Triangle, Holbrook with the Tar Heels and Tanner with rival Wolfpack. Each are relentless recruiters, consistently convincing some of the country's best talent to locate at their schools.
Holbrook, as a North Carolina assistant, helped that school reach the CWS in three straight seasons (2006-08), and continued that run with the Gamecocks from 2010-12. Holbrook even handles the media like the Gamecocks former coach, using a soft-Southern dialect and mimicking Tanner's trait of asking a question before answering it.
"Would I be disappointed if we don't make the College World Series? Yeah, I'd be disappointed," Holbrook said.
If Holbrook and the Gamecocks hope to reach a fourth-straight CWS, it will be without the standouts that fueled the current run. South Carolina's rotation will be without last year's senior ace Michael Roth and lockdown closer Matt Price, who gave up his final season after getting drafted by the Baltimore Orioles.