MLL Coaches Conference Call Transcript

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via press release   Week 15 Press Pass Transcript     Coach Ross (Launch)   What was it like for Casey Powell’s last home game?   It was pretty unique, special. It was a heck of a ball game too. It was back and forth, we were ahead and then the third and fourth quarters they went ahead and kind of put a damper on the Casey Powell party. He got on the mic at the end and thanked the fans, Rochester stayed out on the field and showed some respect for his career. It meant a lot to him, and to all of us.   Did Casey ever slow down?   For the last two years I would say no. This year, I would say a little. We were talking about him getting into the college coaching and I think he realized his body isn’t able to do what his mind wants to do. You could tell he was wearing a little bit and rightfully so, but two years ago he got MVP for the first time ever in his MLL career at 38 years old. He’s had incredible career hopefully we can send him off this weekend in a win.   Are we going to see all the guys show up for Casey Powell this weekend, is Casey even going to be there?   We’re hoping that, we’re still working on our lineup for the weekend. Lyle did tweak his groin against Atlanta and he’s been hurt so we’re still waiting to see where he is physically right now. It takes a couple games to get the chemistry with the team and that’s kind of been it this year. When you go to practice Friday night and there’s ten guys there, you can’t do a whole lot. We try to do everything we can and get everyone warmed up but it’s difficult to get everyone to South Florida and get everyone to practice on a Friday night.   What needs to change to get Florida to get back into it?   I’m just looking to finish the year. A lot of changes need to be done. I think the front office is doing a great job our players are doing a great job. We need to revamp what we’re doing we need to make some personnel changes, we need another middie we need to play better. I feel comfortable with the defense I think we’re missing one piece in the offense and we need to get everyone there and it’s tough. You count on a couple big time players and they get hurt or whatever and that can really change the chemistry of the team and you go to go from game to game and see where you are and that’s difficult.   What does Casey Powell and the sport of lacrosse mean to you?   I think he’s grown the game so much and especially down in Florida and I don’t know if everyone can tell just how much the game has grown in the past 3 years in the state of Florida. We now have over 180 schools in the state of Florida playing lacrosse all the way from Key West to Tallahassee and that’s a span of about 9 hours… (Author’s note: unfortunately LSN needed to wrap up the broadcast and cut Stan off on this answer . . . really wish they would have let him finish this section up).   Coach Huntley (Atlanta)   You’ve always been called the money ball guy, the guy that goes out and manages by numbers and percentages, how much of that have you implemented or was that already implemented prior to Coach Tucker’s departure?   That’s something we tried to implement from the start with being an expansion team and trying to look for players with values and I think we put together a pretty good team and as far as our record goes I don’t think it reflects the quality of our team but how we tended to play throughout the season. It is stuff we work pretty hard on and will continue to implement going forward.   Does this Atlanta Blaze team have enough heart and fight to pull off one more upset to end this season?   Yes, I don’t really view things as upsets or whatever, everyone’s getting paid, these are all really good players so I don’t view it as people getting upset or people playing to their potential. There’s a lot of good players and coaches in the league and whatever happens happens and were ready to put a good game on and hopefully we do.   You’re playing a spoiler, is that a fun place to be in?   It’s not as fun as playing for a spot in the playoffs and I think it speaks for the quality of the league if you have seven teams playing for four playoff spots on the last weekend we wish we were one of those but one of the things the guys have ceased upon is we still have had an opportunity these last two weeks to have a say in who makes the playoffs so we put a little dent in Ohio’s shot last Saturday and hopefully we do the same this weekend.   Have you spoke with anyone in the front office since you’ve taken over? Are they happy or pleased with everything?   Yea, I’ve spoken with Pete rafter the game and this week and I think he was real happy with how we played on Saturday and just the way the guys played. It was an exciting game, a physical game, got some exciting plays. I think the goaltending on both teams was fantastic and made some great saves on some spectacular shots and we saw some good hard hitting and we were just happy to give our fans in the first season something to talk about in our last home game.   Is there any talk with you becoming the head coach there?   What we decided to do was wait until the end of the year both ways and see how things play out and the focus from two weeks ago was to make sure our players had some direction after two Thursdays ago and the guys responded well and I told them that I’m devoted to finishing the season up and try and finish it on a good note and see where it goes from there.   Is Ward ok and which one, Ward or Ghittelman, are we going to see get the start in the next game?   Dylan’s fine, our plan when I took over was I like to play two goalies in games and I talked with the guys and they were open to the idea and open because they’re such good quality people. In that particular game, Ward got the start and Adam was scheduled to come in the second half so what happened was one got a little nicked up so Adam came in and he carried on in the second half and he was a key part in our victory and that’s going to be our plan tomorrow night is they’ll split time, one will play the first half and the other will play the second half.   You seem to sidestep the head coach spot, are you worried? Is that a superstition?   No I’ve been a head coach in this league before so it’s not a superstition thing or anything I just think we need to focus on what’s in front of us and worry about the Ohio Machine last week and have all our energy on the Rochester Rattlers and I just don’t think it’s the responsible thing to do by talking about next year when we still have this year to finish out.   If you had to grade this first year, what do you give it?   An A.   With no idea if Jordan Wolfe and Jordan Macintosh are going to play for Rochester, how do you prep for a team knowing two of their weapons might be in or out?   I think Jordan Wolfe just got put on the 2 game IR so I believe that solves one issue and Macintosh obviously represents a tough cover and is a solid two- way cover, he played for my Canadian team so I’m pretty familiar with what he can do so he’s a terrific player that can do a lot of things so we’ll see what we can do but that team has a lot of good guys. They won a game last week in Florida against a team that beat us without either of the Jordans and Jesse King and they have a great goalie and defense and a whole bunch of guys who can get the ball so it may sound easier if the two Jordan’s don’t play but it’s a terrific team.   Coach Quirk (Boston)   When that game last week went into overtime, what’s going through your head when you see Joe Nardella and Greg Gurenlian line up for that overtime faceoff?   Once Nardella and Gurenlian are set to go down, the one thing you think of are here are two of the best in the world in the game going at it head to head. We knew it was going to be a battle, we knew our wing play would be key…   In that win over New York, why did you put a short stick on Paul Rabil?   We put Josh Hawkins on him who did a great job. We put Josh on him, lock him down and if we had to slide to him we’d put a couple of long polls. Josh knew his role, our defensemen knew theirs, so we executed that one once again.   Was the physicality of that game something you planned for?   Yea, it was certainly part of what we talked about in the locker room the days leading up to the game. We all know this has become a pretty big rivalry game in the MLL. When we play hard and physical that’s when we’re playing some of our best and smart lacrosse. I don’t think we did anything outside of the rules of physicality but we went in there with a mindset of playing blue collar and our guys did nothing less of playing that style last week. Hopefully we can keep that mentality going into Florida.   We saw Will Manny coming out of the box because John Uppgren was brought in, is that the game plan against Florida?   We’re finalizing our game plan. It certainly worked against New York. We will definitely be dressing John Uppgren again. Will Manny will be used out of the midfield I think he draws some interesting matchups. Justin Turri will be back in the lineup he’s been playing very well so well be full steam ahead, we’re not banged up were pretty healthy so well just be looking for guys to take on their roles with the team mentality against Florida and hopefully keep advancing to play in the semifinals next week.   Is it frustrating to a coach to have a guy miss a game that has so much on the line?   Definitely, 100%. If Justin told us that week or the week before it would be incredibly frustrating. Justin let us know back in training camp that that would be his only conflict the rest of the season so told us early on so we had plenty of time to prepare and plug other guys in the role and that was Justin’s first game he missed in his entire MLL career and the guys understood. We haven’t had any issues of guys dropping bombs at the last minute and I think that goes a long way in our team mentality and what our team is all about. It is frustrating but in Justin’s case he let us know early on and it is what it is.   How does it feel having to root for the Lizards this week?   I may have to call Joe Spallina and tell him I’m his number one fan right now. Obviously we’re rooting for them, they have a really good team. That’ll be a great game, I’m glad we’re playing before that so all we can focus on is the Boston Cannons and to win that game and we’ll see what happens.   Coach Stagnitta (Charlotte)   What is Charlie Cipriano’s status for the last regular season game?   It’s going to be tough to keep him out of the lineup. He was trying to get in last week and he wasn’t prepared for that but he’s worked awful hard here and he’s been rehabbing and we’d love to have him there and it’d be tough for him to not be in the lineup and sit back so I’m expecting him to be there.   How different is it in the defensive scheme when you have two different goalies in there? Does it change the dynamic?   The dynamic itself last week was changed anyways. We had rookies all over the field and we were really young down there. We have one defensemen who hasn’t played lacrosse in two years and another rookie who came in and Joe Mauer has been a bit of a journeyman so you combine that with pierce having his first action of the year so we knew it would be a challenge. Having been our guy all year it would have helped but we were certainly challenged from an experience standpoint there.   What has to go right in this meeting with the Bayhawks for you to be successful?   We had college guys coming in, some of the MLL guys were coming in. I think we have a better understanding of who we are this time around. We couldn’t get the ball by Phipps very well, he had a great game and we were a bit wide eyed playing in Chesapeake in front of a nice crowd so I think with a little more experience and understanding, it was a real eye opener for our young guys.   What’s your most concerned matchup you have?   It’s always at the X. When we have the ball, it’s pretty good. They have guys in every positon and they have experience. Joe Walters can play in so many different ways and he takes pressure off Myles and then you have Mundy who is having one of his best goal scoring years and then you have Matt Danowski so being able to control them and their offense and not letting one guy go off and have a great night. If we can stay balanced and keep one of their premier players for taking off that’ll really help and having the ball will help with that.   Is there a 100% belief that this team is going to make it to the playoffs?   Yes, I’ve done this for a long time. You can’t walk into any game or situation thinking you’re not going to be successful. I have high expectations for these guys and they know that and started to respond to that and they have expectations for themselves and it took them a while. We’ve overcome a lot of things, injuries. If you were going to tell them that we were going to be playing game 14 and playing for a playoff spot I think everybody at that point would have taken that one and be happy with that. We’re playing with house money and I don’t think there’s anyone in that locker room that feels that way and this is going to be a good game. They’re going to put everything on the line and going to give us the best possible chance they can to beat Chesapeake.   How would you guard your offense?   Win face- offs, when we have the ball we do a pretty good job. We missed Crowley last week and that was a big piece for us because he’s a horse and brings a lot to the table and takes pressure off Chanenchuck and Haus. If we have the ball, we tend to be able to score and that’s one of the challenges with Chesapeake. They don’t beat themselves but they take advantage of unsettled situations. One of the best defenses against us is a good patient offense.   Coach Reese  (Chesapeake)   What was your reaction to the very violent play made by Dave Lawson?   Surprised I guess. I’ve been in the league for a long time and that was one of the most egregious things I’ve seen in my history. You’ve seen guys push guys and that was kind of beyond and we’re fortunate he didn’t get too injured and then it was more of how to keep the peace and keep it together and focus on the game and not doing anything that would hurt us. I’m not happy with it but I think it’ll help push it to the playoffs.   What’s the biggest thing you need to do this weekend?   Winning face-offs. With New York, we didn’t have a ton of possession and obviously with Greg Gurenlian we didn’t expect to go out and win 80% of our playoffs, but I thought we didn’t do a great job of taking care of the ball and we didn’t get shots in our end. Time of possession is key, when offense has the ball and is smart we can capitalize and our defense got worn down. Limiting their big guns the Haus, Sankey, Chanenchuck, so offensively we have to compete with those guys and play solid team defense.   Is there a matchup you’re looking forward to watching or a guy you have in mind to shut down Joey Sankey?   Michael Evans played him last time and he’ll be in the lineup helping this weekend. With Joey it’s never going to be a one on one matchup, it’s got to be team defense and just play well around him. The guy on the ball will have a job to do and everyone around will have their job to do. Its 7 of us versus their six guys so we have to be dialed in and focused.   What goes through a coach’s head and a player’s head to understanding that this could be the last game of the season?   These guys have been through the ringer. These guys know what the deal is they know playoffs take a different intensity and level of focus. We’re not going to tell them a ton of new stuff and expect them to know it but the stakes are higher but it’s sort of irony because it’s double or nothing and we’re treating this as a playoffs game it is for us and it’s the best part of the year.   How do you contain yourself in these emotional games?   My emotions can be one of my greatest strengths or my biggest weaknesses so I take it how it is. I was fired up about the referees last week and that’s what happens when they don’t take control or they don’t call it evenly. My emotions could be good or bad. The guys know I care I want to win I care about them doing well and I get fired up when I see them succeed and play well. I need to make sure I’m not getting penalties or hurting the team but for the most part it’s a good thing and our guys have found that energy level and passion to be successful. We didn’t have it for four quarters last week but we know what it takes and ready to get back there on Saturday.   What do you say to your players in the locker room to get them fired up and knowing this is a must win game?   The guys will probably tell you, I’m not much of a pregame locker room guy. I think pregame locker room speeches, if you have to rely on that you didn’t get a good job during the week getting ready. When it comes to the pregame, they know they have a job to do so it’s our job as coaches to remind them and get them going to compete at a high level. As a coach, you can’t make guys do that but you can find a couple guys that will buy in and we have this year so I think there’s no reason our guys won’t be up for this game so my job will be easy so just get them in the right place and let’s go to work.   Coach O’Hara (Denver)   Are you shocked that this team very well could be in the playoffs?   Shocked no, certainly pleasantly surprised. We felt good even when we were struggling in terms of the win column. We were playing some pretty good lacrosse, we had a tough time with Ohio we went to overtime and had a bunch of chances to win that one so we were hanging around. We felt once we got our roster set that we would take it one game at a time and that’s what our guys did. we had some good leadership from our veterans and obviously had some of our rookies step up and we just went on the run like we did.   Would you rather be on the field right now?   We’ve kind of been in the playoff mode for the last six weeks, win or watch. Now we’re in this position where there’s nothing we can do to help ourselves except watch and that’s a little unsettling because anything can happen in this league as we all know.   Is this defense in front of him playing with a ton of more confidence because the way Jack Kelly has been playing?   Oh no question. They’ve really meshed. We’ve got Jack as a rookie and BJ Grill and we also have Schmitt, Bocklett, and Simon are veteran guys so it’s a nice blend. But Jack has been there.   How much do the other players look to Jack Kelly as a leader on this team?   When you’re not making saves, it creates a lot of pressure everywhere else. Every faceoff is a lot more critical every possession is more critical and when we’re on defense, the other teams smell blood and start taking shots that they wouldn’t and now, well it takes a good shot to get by Jack. We’re a lot more stable, we got the guys in the right places as far as how we matchup on different opponents.   What about Matt Kavanagh, mentally and physically, let you know that this was something he could do?   We drafted him with the idea we needed a left handed attackman but we still had John Grant Jr. so we brought him out of the box and he’s pretty comfortable doing that. He liked going against the short sticks early on and as he got more comfortable, the last couple games we put him in on attack and his numbers have gone way up and it just gives our attack group balance in terms of righties and lefties and he’s certainly got a bright future in this league and he’s become the attackman we thought he would be.   What game are you watching this weekend?   All we can do is be ready, mentally ready if and when we do get the call. We’re going to be thrilled if we can still play together and that was the theme of last Saturday against Charlotte. We were guaranteed to have one more game together so let’s give it our best and try to enjoy it and that’s exactly what we did so I wish we had a little more control but we’re fortunate to be where we are, that’s for sure.   How is it to see BJ Grill who is physically so small have such a big presence out there on the field?   He’s been dealing with this his whole life. He’s energetic, confident, never shuts up on the field and off. He’s a great talker on the field and in the locker room and he’s just a fun guy to be around and it’s nothing for him to matchup on anyone and he’s done a great job for us.   Is there any player that might enjoy this week off?   We have a few guys that are a little banged up so it’s not the worst thing for them injury wise. Kelly has been taking a lot of face- offs lately so that takes its toll so I’m sure it won’t hurt him at all. We had 3 games in a week last week it was a big grind so I think in retrospect it’s not horrible we can’t play but it’s frustrating someone else has to be doing our work for us, we’d rather be doing it ourselves.   Coach Spallina (New York)   Is there any one win out of the 41 wins that sticks out to you as the sweetest?   I think the championship win I remember vividly. And the first one I think you always remember the first one. We were 0 and 2 to start the season and you start to think you can never win a game but I’ve just been lucky to have support and put the great players together and have some success in this league.   Was it justified to suspend just one player or should two players have been suspended?   I think the biggest thing for me is knowing the character of Dave Lawson and knowing the point that a game has to get to for a guy of his character and demeanor to get that angry. It was a lot of cause and effect and I don’t think there’s room in the league for that kind of play but I don’t think Dave Lawson went out there and decided he was going to do that. It continued throughout the game, there was a certain player on the Bayhawks who started a fight with Rob earlier in the game and was taking runs at 99 and the play before that he threw a butt end and the guys rightfully so get upset about. What Dave did was wrong and he’ll be the first one to tell you that and the thing for me was throughout the game I was telling the officials that this was going to a place it shouldn’t go and the game needed to be handled the way hockey officials handle it which is early in the game, you just throw everyone in the box. It’s the way I deal with my kids sometimes, it nips it in the butt so it doesn’t escalate. The suspension, there’s no room for that in our game, I have issues with how quickly it was dealt with because we didn’t have a chance to appeal or talk and I wonder how much of the suspension plus the promotion of the suspension and how much of it was the league forced to do because it was all over sports center. I think guys care a lot in this league more than they ever have and there’s some natural rivalries going and guys are competing hard and sometimes this kind of stuff happens and it’s crazy if you look back at the game…there’s guys that aren’t known for that kind of stuff that were doing that kind of stuff so you have to ask what happened to get it to that point because it’s a little different. Its water under the bridge, we certainly could have used him Saturday night.   What has to go differently this game for the Lizards to be successful?   Well I’ll be there this time, I wasn’t there last time so if I wasn’t there the game doesn’t count. I think we’re a different squad, we’ve been a different squad since the Florida game. For us, it’s playing to who we are and this is a team who, you look at the game and the last three games have meant something to the team and we had something to play for. The team who has something to play for is really good. There’s times in a season where there’s challenges and they take their eye off the prize and it’s too much talent across the board. If you look at the Boston game, it took Tyler Fiorito to have 23 saves which is an ungodly amount of saves and for us to not have Lawson in the lineup, it’s a one goal game and went into overtime so the level of focus in the Chesapeake game and the week leading up to it was something I haven’t seen since last year going into the championship and it’s a proud group. Some people kick the bees nest with our guys and we love that, say we’re overrated and whatnot, but it’s good our guys need that. There’s a lot of alpha in our locker room and sometimes it our strength but also can be our weakness.   Last time against Ohio, Rabil and Pannell really shut down. What has to change and what are you going to do to open it up?   We’re just different. We’ve adjusted to our offenses and it’s just growth and it was a point where we were 3-0 and the guys are feeling real good about themselves and had a little fool’s gold. When the money is on the line, I’ll take my roster over any roster in the league and the moneys on the line this week so that’s not a knock on anyone else’s roster, its belief in me and my men. I’m fired up the talks we had and breaking down the film, it’s playoff-esque and we’re in the playoffs this week. There’s a couple scenarios and we leave no doubt. We don’t want to get into playoffs we want to kick…   Coach Davis (Ohio)   Is there an update on Scott Rodgers’ injury?   He’s going to be fine, he took one off the hip in that 2 pointer and it was a stinger so it gave Kyle the nod. It got his feet wet and he stepped up to the challenge and did a great job.   How do you approach this game?   I think we all know the magnitude of the game but I’m not sure every time we play them there’s not some level of magnitude to that game. When you have the opportunity to play such a high caliber team the reigning champs, it’s hard not for guys to get upset. They’re great, I think we got humbled this past weekend and now it’s a great opportunity for us to come back and get ready for the post season.   Do you think you’ll be able to hold Pannell and Rabil back like you did in the first game against New York earlier this season?   Some incredible individual and team dynamics need to take place in order for that to happen.  They’re tremendous, they’re not the defending champs for nothing, they’ve mastered their craft and Paul looks like he’s playing healthier than he was at the end of last year and beginning of this year and certainly we have some great players who have done some nice jobs at their matchups in the past so we’re looking forward to it, it’s a heavy weight fight for sure.   What injury is Tom Schreiber dealing with?   Tommy Schreiber takes a knock every week so it’s nothing he hasn’t dealt with. With this game and the magnitude of it, the adrenaline will help bump some bruises and I think that’s where he’s at and he’ll be ready to go.   What are your keys to this game offensively?   At times when you have so much talent you can be your own worst enemy and I think that’s not just us it’s everyone in the league. I think just going through and knowing that everyone knows their role and will stick to the game plan and they master that role and don’t step too far outside of it because that’s generally when we get in trouble.  You’ve got to make sure you have the mindset it’s the whole game, not just an offensive game and we have to respect defense.   What does the offensive chemistry look like to you, how would you rate it?   We’re at a C+, we know we need to do better, in Boston we showed flashes and last week we did not play to our capability but after 3 games, with this squad we can narrow some things down and collectively put it together.   Coach Soudan (Rochester)   How much extra pressure does not having Jordan Wolf put on Ned Crotty to come out and have a huge game?   I think Ned’s handled it pretty well, he’s getting that skill set to do it all this year. It’s taken him a little time but he’s getting top side on people, he’s pretty comfortable back there. It puts pressure on him especially when we didn’t have King or Macintosh but King will be back and we’re looking forward to competing and doing our part to get into the playoffs.   How difficult is it going into a game against Atlanta who has nothing to lose?   I think it’s pretty difficult because they have some really talented guys on the team. They lost a lot of games this year by a goal or two so they’re very dangerous. We have a lot to lose I think when that’s all said and done that’ll motivate us to play a 60- minute game compared to some of the outings we’ve had the past month where we were relaxed at the beginning of the game and then had to chase our tail at the end of the game. I know a lot of the guys looking at the past felt we gave a lot of the games away and I could have called a couple of time outs and I feel guilty about it but at the end of the day we need some things to happen and there’s 6 or 7 scenarios where we get in but the ideal is for Florida to beat Boston. We have to take care of our business about taking care of the Atlanta Blaze this weekend.   Does it ever occur to you that something crazy could cost you post season play?   You don’t think of that during the year but it’s certainly being highlighted but that’s unfortunate. I could point at a lot of other things where we lost games we shouldn’t have. It really comes down to the way the tie breakers are written, we have tie breakers on lots of teams yet those teams could make it before it if Boston could get it and it’s something to look at in the off season but at the end of the day we still have to win this game Thursday to even complain about something like that so we just take it as it is and hopefully we get the help we need to make the playoffs. I know our guys are really excited to make the playoffs so we just need to handle our business Thursday and see what happens on Saturday.   How have you addressed the players at this point to make sure that they’re aware that this is not something they’re used to?   I think the guys, we went on a 5 game run this year and we just relaxed and took our foot of the pedal and some unfortunate injuries happened and it’s taken a while to figure out how to play with Jordan Macintosh, Wolf, and when you throw different guys out there, practice feels different. We’re driven a lot by our culture and how much fun we have at practice and shoot around and when those guys are missing the culture and atmosphere feel very different but we’re adjusting to that. We’ve had some really good leaders step up so I think we just have to take care of our own business. Obviously we didn’t do some things good enough this year but we’ll address it after Saturday. Unfortunately this could be the last time we’re together this summer and that breaks a lot of guys hearts because they love the time we spend together.