Chris Curry

I spoke to Chris Curry this evening about the Arkansas-UALR game next year. Chris is the UALR head coach and used to be a volunteer assistant at Arkansas in 2009 and 2010. Here is the transcript. The quotes will be part of a larger story on the Razorbacks reversing course and playing in-state teams.

How did the game come about?

“Privately, Coach Van Horn and I had talked about how it would be good for the state, good for the community, good for baseball, good for our fans and our players. He’s coached at other places where they played in-state schools. I’ve coached and played at other places where you play in-state schools, and so we’ve seen first-hand the excitement it brings and the positivity and the fun games. We got a call recently that they were interested, and I’m not sure the details of how that went down in Fayetteville, but we got a call to see if the date was open, and it was open, and of course we were happy for the opportunity to play against the national runners-up and an in-state school.”

What was the reaction of your players?

"They’re fired up. If you ask any in-state player in any state in the union, they’re excited to play against an in-state school. We’re going to play against other Big 12 and SEC teams that are already on our schedule, but it’s just a little more special when it’s inside the borders.
“I’m excited for the guys, excited for the players. The environment, it’s probably going to be 10,000-plus in April, hopefully it will be warm. I’ve been in that other dugout and experienced that environment, and I want these guys to experience it.”

Will the series extend beyond 2019?

“There have been some talks, but nothing is finalized. I’m not the authority on this, but I don’t believe this is a one-year deal.”

Do you think Arkansas will play in-state teams off-campus?

“I think it has great potential of doing that. I’ve experienced this playing for Mississippi State and coaching at Northwestern where I saw LSU travel several places. I think it’s goodwill and it’s a good gesture by Coach Van Horn to the schools in the state that are in the UA system, that down the road we’re interested in maybe coming to your park.”

Does playing in-state teams make it easier to schedule?

“Yes, no question, because, No. 1 from a budget standpoint all the money stays in house. We’re all UA system schools. We’ll both be in conference play, so we won’t have to drive as far for a midweek game to get back for the weekend. It will be a huge game, but we’ll both be in the middle of conference play. Being able to drive two-and-a-half hours for a midweek game and being able to come back that night, it’s great for us. It helps with the budgets, travel and it just makes a ton of sense.”

What are your thoughts on facing Van Horn as an opposing head coach?

“I’m proud to be in his coaching tree. He’s been in Omaha five times now, a runner-up. He’s a hall of famer, and so to be associated with him brings a lot of credibility and respect from other coaches. You want to measure yourself against the best and he’s one of the best baseball minds in college baseball. You never know what he’s going to do or what play he’s going to put on, and that will be fun. We talk about it in our locker room: you came to Little Rock to measure yourself against the best, and here it is right in front of you. Well as a coach I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t have that desire. Coach Van Horn has that desire. You just like measuring yourself. It’s an awesome opportunity. I’m thankful. Hunter Yurachek had a big hand in this. Nothing happens without his blessing and probably some folks even higher than him that I don’t know about. I’m just grateful for the opportunity and I think it’s great for the program and the state.”

What kind of team do you have in 2019?

“We have 13 seniors back and 78 percent of our innings pitched. I like the fact that these guys are older and have played at different parks and different stadiums. I know there will be electricity in the stadium and I know we’ll have a little excitement, but with an older club you hope they will be able to settle themselves down quicker and slow the game down - block out all the distractions and go play ball. Plus, this game is not early in the year - it’s kind of later and we’ll have had a chance to play a few games and know who we are and travel to some places.”