Kansas making the College World Series was a surprise to many, and Kansas winning the CWS would be shock. But that doesn't mean the Jayhawks are going to Omaha as tourists.
"We feel like this is a great accomplishment," first baseman John Wuycheck said. "But we still feel like we have a lot of work to do in the World Series. This is an entirely new season starting right here. Tomorrow is the first game of the rest of our season."
As the eighth seed, KU (45-16) will open against top-seeded Texas A&M (52-9) at 3:06 p.m. Friday. The game will be televised live on ESPN.
"WE HAVE very little information on Texas A&M," KU coach Dave Bingham said. "What we do know is that they have three guys who are potential first-round draft choices. Fortunately, they can only pitch one of them at a time."
That would be left-hander Jeff Granger (14-3).
"We understand that Granger is probably going to be a first-round draft choice," Bingham said. "He still has to throw it over the plate. Our guys like to hit fastballs. If he has a change-up, he could be trouble for us. If he has a breaking ball, he could be more trouble."
Kansas will counter with right-hander Chris Corn (9-3).
"He's a young man that's grown tremendously this year in maturity," Bingham said. "He's probably as composed a guy as we can put out there. Outside of Jamie (Splittorff), he's the guy who's been able to win the big ball games."
THE TRIP to Omaha will be especially gratifying for KU's seven seniors -- Wuycheck, Jeff Berblinger, Jeff Niemeier, David Soult, Tom Stewart, Rory Tarquinio and Jimmy Walker. Wuycheck, Berblinger, Soult Walker and Niemeier have been at Kansas all four years; the other three were junior college transfers.
"When we sat in their homes and talked to them about being at Kansas, that someday we'd be in the College World Series was probably about the most far-reaching thing that you could possibly dream," Bingham said. "When it actually happened Monday night, you just can't imagine what a feeling that was."
Now that the dream is reality, what will Bingham do to keep his team loose?
"I don't know. I know Roy (Williams) does a magnificent job," he said. "Maybe spitting in the river or something like that -- there is a river (the Missouri) running right through Omaha that we could use. We may try to do something like that to break a little pressure."
BESIDES CONTINUING the spitting tradition, another factor that could relax the Jayhawks is their 7-3 record against the CWS field (5-3 vs. Oklahoma State, 2-0 vs. Wichita State).
"I think when you're talking about LSU and Texas A&M, Texas, people like that that they may not be sure about, to know that the others there are also guys that you've beaten maybe lends a little to the fact that those others might be beatable in the same way," Bingham said.
Win or lose, the Jayhawks will play again on Sunday against either LSU or Long Beach State. Friday's winners are scheduled at 6:36 p.m. Sunday; Friday's losers at 3:06 p.m. in the double-elimination format.