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Coach Stan Ross’ Conference Call Transcript

Written by Lee Roggenburg on . Posted in .
Every Wednesday on the LaxSportsNetwork the MLL holds its’ weekly Coaches Conference Call.  We have posted Coach Ross’ section here and the rest of the league’s coaches below.
  Stan Ross What was the dynamic offensively against New York? We’re starting to be able to put the same lineup together and the guys are starting to know each other. Our month of June was so strange in terms of the MLL I think we only played 2 games so you lose your rhythm. I understand they’re all professional but it’s still difficult when you’re playing that far apart and not getting a lot of practice in. I think it showed we were able to get in a good game in New York and it carried over and competed well against Chesapeake. We fell short against a great Chesapeake team and hats off to them they were able to pull it together and pulled a win over us. If you’re a fan that’s the game you want to see just going back and forth like that. Just being able to get out there and be together for that amount of time and now we’re going to do that this weekend. We play charlotte and when the game ends we’re going to get on a bus and travel to Atlanta so we’re going to spend a lot of time together these next 48 hours. What is Casey Powell’s commitment to this team for the rest of the season? When he got his new job with Jacksonville he was going to have to make some commitments with them and we are well aware of his schedule and he had communicated with us and our front office. He is committed and we knew in advance where we were going with him. His season is not done and he will be back in a launch uniform he needed to take some games off to start his new career. How much of this is getting the guys together and playing as a team versus going out and trying to hit a playoff spot? I think we’re just going to go out and play and worry about one game at a time. The difference with charlotte is they get two home games we have to get on a bus after and travel to Atlanta. So there’s positives and negatives to it but it can be a positive spending that time together it’s going to be like a college everyone taking the bus together. I think the guys are excited to do that be able to spend time together get to know each other even more and get to have two games in 48 hours. How do you see these two matching up with Charlotte’s fire power? Charlotte has a lot of firepower. Sankey can dodge anyone in the league and Ryan Brown who I thought was one of the best shooters to play college lacrosse. I think there’s a lot more to the game than just those two guys. I think Charlotte is dangerous. They’ve got some players that are extremely dangerous as well. I think it’s looking at their top guys not just their top two guys and we need to be able to control our slides and so we don’t create those opportunities for Ryan and Sankey.   ———-   John Tucker (Atlanta) – (Author’s Note, Coach Tucker was let go today) What went wrong for you guys last week in that second half? I give a lot of credit to Denver, I think they were outstanding and brought a lot of energy and they were just a step faster than us in the second half of the game. I was happy with our first half performance. Our defense was doing well we did a good job controlling the ball but in the second half, they had the ball and we just couldn’t get on the board. Their defense did a great job stepping up. We have to challenge ourselves and each other and get a little bit better especially in the defensive end, face-offs, and maintain possessions and I think that we’ll be ok. Who did you see step up in the absence of Kevin Rice and Matt Mackrides? If you look at our production in the first half, it was good. We had 9 goals and I thought we were doing really well offensively and I was happy with Jeremy Nobles performance, he’s been a jack of all trades kind of guy for us and I was very happy with his performance but I think we need to improve our midfield scoring and that across the board has to continue to get better and we hope it will against the Bayhawks defense. How have you seen this team come together and stand together and face the adversity? I think we’re competitive. You really take a look at what you’re doing from a coaching perspective like are we really doing the right things and I think each game we really played well in first halves and third quarters throughout the entire season have been abysmal. It’s not for lack of trying to change things up I think we’ve gone different routes at what we say during halftime talks. Again, we tried something different this time but we were flat again. We’re just scratching our heads to see what it could be. We did switch goalies in the second half and that didn’t seem to help as well. We’ll continue to try different things, we have some experienced coaches and we keep looking for the magic potion to see what we can do to change that potion in the second half. Who is the one that steps up as a leader on that team? The two guys that consistently remain at the top of the charts for leadership are Scott and Adam Gittlemen. Scott Ratliff, I have not seen a guy with a motor he has. He plays so hard all the time. We ask so much of him and I’m so grateful to have his leadership and he’s still a young kid. He wants to be this driving force and has this desire and urge to be the best player in the league and he won’t rest until that happens. I’m pretty impressed with him throughout the year and watching him in his career has been a true blessing for me. Incredible motor, plays with so much heart and intensity and he’s not a large guy, he’s fast and just does all these things that make you shake your head and he’s out there for 60 minutes and brings the passion and I couldn’t be happier for him. How do you prepare for this team (Bayhawks)? They have a lot of stars proving commodities. Myles is having a great year for them. Joe, Matt Donowski, Brendan Mundorf and Donovan you have some incredible players for them so we’re going to have to be better with the ball, we’re going to have to get our share and we will see what happens. I think it’ll be a good test for us, and I’m glad we’re coming back early it’s a short week for us and I’m really excited. The guys are looking forward to the challenge we’ll have tomorrow night How do you defend a guy like that (Mundorf) who has changed his style? I’ve been really impressed with watching Brendan throughout the year. Shocked to see such a low assist number for him because I know he’s a good passer. You can’t afford to take your eye off of him, he can beat you 1 on 1 and he’s very strong and fearless going underneath to get to the net so we’re going to support when he has the ball and be very careful when he doesn’t because he’s veteran enough to find the right gaps.   Sean Quirk (Boston) What was going on out there for the Cannons last game? We talk about playing sixty-one minute games for the entire game. That one play was unfortunate but it didn’t win or lose us the game by any stretch of the imagination. For us as coaches we could have done a better job setting with setting up something a little better with the clear to give our guys more opportunities to push the ball more up field. We typically clear the ball with three polls. We feel that gives us some more security down there and we feel that our middies with Max Siebald, Kevin Buchanan, Brent Adams, they’ve been in those positions before to clear the ball. It was one of those plays that was unfortunate but we had several others throughout the game that we should have capitalized on as well and others that we did capitalize on so obviously we all felt terrible for Mitch but like we told him its one play of many throughout those sixty minutes. Talk to me about your thoughts during that fourth quarter and when did the wheels start to come off for you? Even looking back to the first quarter, we’re down 5-1 and we know our guys are going to grind as they have all year and we tie it up we’re up by two goals in that fourth quarter and we’ve been in that situation before in the game against New York down there. We just don’t finish it off and it’s frustrating for the players and the coaches because of the work they put in to get to that point in the game. It’s something we’re going to talk about with our guys and continue to try and get better at. We have two games left, one against New York and Florida which are must wins for us, our backs are against the walls to get into the playoffs but it certainly was frustrating for us there. What are the pros and cons of having a bye week at this point in the season? This week coming up I think it can be a positive. Our guys can sit back we are banged up a little bit, get some guys healthy and we stress to the guys in the locker room after the game and the players did as well, like let’s get our workouts in, let’s get on the wall do one on ones and let’s better these next couple weeks to push to the playoffs so I think it’s a good thing for us to get better and to keep getting healthy and then we can sit back and watch to see what these teams do the next couple of weeks. What can you do to improve that 19% conversion? It’s disgusting, it’s inexcusable we have great players out on the field that play for the most part play unselfish. We as coaches have to put these guys in better positions to score goals and to get hockey assists and the players have to take care of that ball when we have these opportunities. We’ve done a bit better job of limiting turnovers but particularly on man up that’s something we need to get better at but it’s the coaching staff, the players doing their jobs, we just have to keep getting better and better.   Jim Stagnitta (Charlotte) What went wrong on the field for you against this Rattlers team that led to the loss? I think predominantly we didn’t have the ball enough. Obviously they’re a very talented team. We were inconsistent at times in both ends of the field a lot of that having to do with having two weeks off.  At the end of the day the difference is we didn’t win face-offs at any consistent level. And like I said last week one of the keys to the game is to take down Galloway and we had a couple opportunities early that we were able to cash in on but couldn’t do it consistently. He played very well and it felt like every time we made a mistake they capitalized on it and we missed a couple key groundballs and we had a couple of mistakes in the clearing game where we threw the ball to them and when you’re in a one goal game late in the fourth quarter and have made those many mistakes at this level you’re going to have a hard time coming out of it with the W. Why are the young players coming in and having such successful careers right away? Brown is a very talented player. He’s the best shooter I’ve ever been around, he’s a tremendous scorer and he’s coming in with guys that have tremendous talent also. I think our midfield unit is a little more robust than it was in the beginning of the year, Joey Sankey has developed his game as a feeder and has been able to make the initial dodge and once he draws that attention he’s been able to find open people and move the ball and I think that plays into Ryan Brown’s game and once he settles in and becomes more comfortable with the pace of play in the League, he’s been very successful. He also has pieces to his game people are figuring out. People try to put a short stick on him thinking it’s going to take him out of the game and he’s able to dodge and shoot the ball off the dodge at tough angles and he’s got a skill set that is conducive to him being successful in this league. Two games back to back, what does that mean for you and what does it mean to be playing this game in front of your fans? I don’t mind having two games in a short period of time. We don’t get to spend that much time together and we had two weeks off and with young guys, they’re used to going hard every day so having them together for three days straight I think that’s good for us. It’s our stadium, it’s grass it’s a little bit of a different facility. It’s a big weekend. The only way you can look at it is we have to get one at a time. Florida has a very talented team at any day they can explode offensively and Denver all of a sudden is right back in the hunt with five wins so every game for them is do or die so it’s exciting it’s fun I don’t think many people even expected us to be in this situation this far down the stretch but we need to take advantage of it and get ourselves into that playoff at the end of the year. These two games are playoff games for us in reality starting this Friday. What do you talk about with the goalie or do you? It depends on the goalie. Cip had a tough weekend…we have two rookie defensemen. I think it’s lost on people that Goran Murray has not played competitive lacrosse in two years. We’re trying to coach those guys down there and keep everyone on the same page. Schmitty got hurt early in the last game which forced us to move Flannigan down there so all of that led to, Cip was a little out of kilter he was frustrated and we’ve talked about that piece of it and understanding where he is but first and foremost he needs to focus in and we said, do your job first and he had one tough day against a guy that had a great day and he’s had a phenomenal season and I expect him to return to form this weekend. How do you keep your players up through this whole weekend? The fact that it’s home we’re going to have some extra bodies so we may shuffle the lineup. Denver has to fly in so they have their challenges so there’s always challenges in this league, even if you’re the home team some guys have to fly in. It’s a bonus we get two home games. Another bonus is we have young guys they’re used to practicing every day and going out and having stress on their bodies every day so are younger guys will be able to handle it and some of the veterans so being home gives us the opportunity to use some of the local guys on our roster there in case we need to go deeper than usual.   Brian Reese (Chesapeake) What was Florida able to do to contain you in that third quarter? A lot of it came down to face-offs, we didn’t win a lot of those, we were sloppy with the ball and had some turnovers and they played great and stole some goals from us made some great saves and that culminated into a bad third quarter for us but we were able to rebound and get a good win against a really good Florida team that’s playing well right now. Did you make adjustments between the third and fourth quarter? It was simple, we have to have the ball to score goals. We made a real emphasis on ground balls I think we did a better job getting groundballs in our defensive end and offensive end. We got some goals off of riding and groundballs that really helped us get the momentum going and then Myles had a big 2 pointer that tied it up which got the sideline energized and got us going again. Guys didn’t play as well as they usually do so it’s always good to get a win when you don’t play your best game. Is Mike Poppleton the new number one guy for you at the faceoff x? We’ll see. Anthony is coming off a little injury so we’ll see how he’s feeling, Charlie Raffa has been injured. I though Mike played exceptional down in Florida In the fourth quarter he helped us get that comeback and won some face-offs and he’s doing what we need him to do which is win some face-offs, get up on transition and let us play six on six defense if we lose the face-off and he even scored a goal in the first quarter last week and he’s been everything we asked to him to do and we’ll see how it goes based on how Anthony is feeling we will do what we think is the right choice. When Brendan Mundorf changes his style, is that more difficult for you? Yea, credit to Brendan he’s kind of changed the way he plays he’s not the same dodger he was a couple years ago he’s become a smarter off ball player, he can still beat you in dodges he’s been killing teams off ball which shows what a student of the game he is and he knows how to get himself open and have the ball in his stick and with guys playing unselfish he’s really working hard to get the shot off which makes him a pretty hard guy to stop. What’s going on with Jimmy Bitter’s injury? We haven’t seen him at a practice yet and kind of saw him down in Florida and I don’t think he was 100% yet, we really want to see him in the lineup so hopefully in the next few weeks here…… (service cut off).   BJ O’Hara (Denver) What changed at the half with your squad that allowed for that second half success? We were getting some great shots in the first half and they had a lot of great goalie play. I thought we got a little antsy in the second quarter when they got a bit of a lead on us but we settled down at halftime and started moving the ball. We started the second half in a man up situation we were able to get a goal right away and from there we did a great job all over the field. Defensively we only gave up two goals in the half and offensively especially the third quarter, I think we scored 8 we really started to get more assisted goals which is a good sign for us because that means we’re moving the ball on offense and we were tough to stop. What was going on with that team in the third quarter, what were you seeing that made that happen? There wasn’t any great string pulling by the coaching staff the players just started to get some rhythm and Atlanta pulled their goalie in the quarter and put in the former outlaw and he didn’t have some time to warmup so we could get some by him quickly and after that he played pretty well but by then it was too late and we were able to be smart and use the shot clock and get a good look towards the end of the shot clock and it started to fall. Were you happy with Jack Kelly’s play in this win? Yes, very much even in the first half when they got 9 by him there weren’t too many that I thought he should have had. Second half he really made some outstanding saves and he’s gaining momentum and confidence and showing us that he’s got the right stuff to be an outstanding MLL goalie. What do you guys need to do going into Charlotte to make sure that’s a win? Well hopefully score more goals than them. We’ve got our hands full Charlotte took a tough one last week with Rochester. They have to play a makeup game on Friday against Florida so that’s unusual playing back to back how that’ll work who knows. We’ll get a chance to look at them and scout them and get a sense of who they’re playing and it’s going to be a big one for us. We know we have our fate in our hands with extending our season and we clearly have our destiny under our control so that gives us a lot to get excited about. We’ve got three games in seven days to finish off the season so we have our work cut out for us. How nice is it to have two guys that work as a duo and are playing really well right now at the X? Our face-off game is as good as anyone else in the League right now. Tommy and Brent their percentages are both very and our wing play is getting consistent. We’ve figured out who’s most effective for us. Brendan Fowler is a tough matchup so we’ve got our work cut out for us, it’s going to be a battle for us. We’re not sure if we’re going to bring one or two of our face-off guys with us but we have confidence in both of them. What changes in the offense have you seen since losing John Grant Jr.? John was playing fine for us that’s not why we traded him he was not a hindrance he was playing very well but we were trying to look long term and to get able to get a second round draft pick next year we saw that as a good opportunity to get a bit younger and look to the future. Mike Bocklett is able to play the left side really well even though he is a righty, we plug Bailey Tills in there and the two of them have a pretty good chemistry going. And sometimes well play Matt Kavangah down there and get Bocklett out of the box. We couldn’t bring Jr out of the box effectively so we just have a bit more of flexibility in our offense but he’s doing wonderful for Ohio, he’s got seven goals in just two games I think so.   Bear Davis (Ohio) What’s the locker room like now after the big win against Boston? It’s just hard to really pinpoint one thing you can beat yourself up the reality is there might be one turning play that really changed the game or one player and it can be real simple and when you lose sometimes you overthink it and when you win you don’t think enough about it. It’s a finite situation. When you lose three games you start to doubt and just keeping the guys focused, those inches are out there we just have to find them and get them to come our way. We were inches away from losing that game but the guys found those little areas where we can make improvements and follow up with some positive plays to get us in the win column. How important is it to have Kyle Harrison out there playing at 100%? I think he’s feeling pretty good. These byes late in the season are certainly helping us. There’s things we’re going to play in his favor he could have come back a little earlier from his injury but he’s smart and understands his limitations. I think with Kyle he knows his body pretty well and what he’s capable and not capable of doing I think this last game we got to see him back to as close to 100% as he can be and bring him the shots that we know he’s capable of bringing. How good was it to see the offense sharing the ball and have five guys come out with a hat trick? That was a big talk of the game was us not being selfish and moving the ball and not letting the ball die in our sticks and understanding the talent we have and going for the smart opportunity we saw a lot of skipped passes that were potentially a good option but maybe not the best and I think the guys played a little bit cleaner and took smarter opportunities. You’re sitting fifth with two games left to play, is the stress level high? This is where we’ve been the last two years so it’s pretty much our comfort zone at this point. Our guys play best when our backs are to the wall they know it’s playoff mode. We tend to get in playoff mode a little bit earlier in the season. Our guys are excited about the opportunities ahead and getting worked up about it is not something we need to do at this time. We just need to focus on ourselves and bring the best version of ourselves in Atlanta.   Tim Soudan (Rochester) Why are you guys such a consistent team and get better at the back half of the year? Our guys just start bantering early in the week and it just creates this excitement to come into the weekend and half the battle is enjoying what you’re doing on the weekend and they have to enjoy what they’re doing and enjoy who they’re around and a big part of what we’re doing is culture and us being a family. After our win the other day they all went to dinner together and it’s a special place to play and I think that’s a big part of it and our defensive coaching staff and on our defensive end the plan came together and everything we do is what our players feel is best and sometimes it feels like the inmates are running the prison but that’s what makes us successful, we understand what they can be most successful at based on their skillset and we kind of lead them to make decisions based on that and they have ownership and game planning too. It really is a culture of winning right now and they feel bad if they make mistakes because they’re letting the guy next to them down. We just created a good culture and consistency wise its picking the right guys and understanding when you have the right guys and when you have the wrong guys and getting rid of the wrong guys. What’s the game plan going up against New York that’s going to hand them their fourth straight loss? We have to be good at the things were good at. They’re one of the best offensive teams in the league and pose a lot of problems because they have a lot of guys that could be number one guys on other teams so guarding them is a challenge. From an offensive standpoint I think we have started creating a more dynamic approach to how we play offense and they’re starting to understand after beating a dead horse that we can’t do the same thing over and over again. That’s how we lost the last two championship games not being productively offensively so we threw some new things in. Asking guys to leave their comfort zone and play out of other spots…they’ve seen some success in it. The other thing that makes us much better is Ned Crotty. Having him take some of the pressure off Jordan Wolf is incredible. He possesses the ball very well and he’s a smart player. A lot of times he defers to Jordan but he doesn’t need to he can score goals himself, just has changed things a lot for us. We’re looking forward to the rematch that was one of the games I feel we could have won we were a couple guys short because of an injury and we automatically were down a guy and had a guy who couldn’t make it over at halftime, it’s one we want back its one we could have won but like us they’re much better than they were and going to be very motivated this week coming off a couple losses so we’re going to have our hands full.