MLL Weekly Coaches Conference Call
Note: If fans would like to watch the Conference Call live they can tune into the LaxSportsNetwork Wednesdays around 12:30pm Coach Stan Ross What changes did you make at the half to have more success in the second? We were just able to compete a little more and get some groundballs and our defense played a little better and our offense and it’s pretty simple to do that. I think we came out a little flat and then we were able to get things going and we carried that over to Saturday night and we were able to play well against the Atlanta Blaze. What do you prefer, to see your team sharing the ball or someone out there like Kieran scoring and having a huge game offensively? When Kieran is shooting the ball well, he’s pretty dangerous. He gets a lot of goals in a lot of different ways. When he’s getting the ball and can catch and shoot off and other people getting some opportunities that’s when we’re really dangerous. What did you learn about your team over that 24 hour period when they were able to handle all that adversity and go ahead and get a win? We just knew we had to go out and show our true character and go out and play hard. The great part of having two games, I prefer the Thursday Saturday but you can use that to your advantage. We were together as a team for 48 hours, we were on a bus for 5 hours although it was 11pm to 3am but it’s a great opportunity for the guys to really get to know each other even more and just spend some time together as a team and grow together and you don’t get that opportunity a lot in this league so when you do you have to take full advantage of it. How committed are these guys to getting two wins left to finish out this season? We were out of it when we played Atlanta Blaze and we came out and played hard. I expect that we’re going to come out, play hard and put ourselves in the positon to pay the ball game. Are we going to see Casey Powell out there in a Launch jersey? Yea, it’s going to be really exciting to watch the legend in his last lacrosse game. It’s going to be great going against his new head coach, John Galloway, and then there will be bragging rights on the line between those two. So I think it’s going to be really exciting for the state of Florida to see two professional lacrosse players representing a division 1 lacrosse program. What can Florida do to take down the Rattlers? We’ve got to continue to share the ball. That’s the most important thing and with Casey Powell in the lineup, hopefully we’ll be able to move the ball and share it with each other. The big thing is trying to get it past John, he’s such a tremendous goalie, he’s having a great season this year and hopefully maybe he’ll have an off night. But we’ll see what happens, I think that’s going to be a key part and just shooting well against him, being able to control the tempo of the game and I think the faceoff work. They’re pretty good there and Chris will have to be there for us. Who have you been most impressed with? What player has elevated himself amongst everyone in this League and is the best player in this League? I think Mike Chanenchuck, John Galloway, and Joe Walters have had really good years. Those 3 guys have had tremendous years for their teams. I think Connor Buczek had a great year for us this year. We’re going to build around him in the future and get some good guys around him. So we’ve got a couple guys we’re going to build around, there’s ups and downs and he hasn’t shot the ball as well as he had in the past but when he’s on, hopefully he will finish off the year strongly and on a positive note. What do you want to accomplish in these last two games? I think we want to go out, compete, and try to get the win. I think that’s all you can ask for. Whatever motivation you need, whether it’s the spoiler or your own character inside, we just want to go out and put the best team out there and hopefully compete and get the win. If you’re doing those and you can look yourself in the mirror, hopefully that’s what we’re going to do and next week up in Boston. Spencer Form, Atlanta Blaze Were you surprised that John Tucker was fired? Sure, you’re always surprised. The skill of trying to pick up the pieces and figure out where we went wrong. It’s an unfortunate league, kind of in this league and most leagues, you’re kind of hired to get fired. It was an unfortunate situation, we came in together the three of us and it just didn’t work out the way it should. A lot of times the players play and they do well, they get credit and when they don’t play and they don’t play well, it’s the coaches who take the backseat to that so it’s unfortunate, terrible timing as always and the season has had a lot of ups and downs it’s been very close but we just haven’t been able to get over the hump so it’s just an unfortunate situation. What was the reaction of the players when they learned they had been fired, what was it like in the locker room before that game against the Bayhawks? I think that Coach Tucker has gained and earned the respect of many of players and many of locker rooms and that doesn’t change ours. I think the guys were upset and they look within and wonder if they could have done something different. Everyone looks at it and says could they have done something different. It’s uncomfortable to talk about the situation when we don’t have all the absolute facts, that’s Coach Tucker and our owner. I don’t feel super comfortable chatting about that because it wasn’t something I was involved in. Has there been any discussion in regret of making that Myles Jones trade? I don’t think this has ever been discussed. Myles is a heck of player and a heck of a person, better person than he is a player and that’s a great quality. The Atlanta Blaze at the time were an attack oriented team. The ball didn’t touch our middies unless it was to transfer. And if you noticed, not only Myles but Kevin Cooper is playing with a heck of a lot of fire right now to. I think it has to do with getting a lot of touches with the ball. For us Kevin Rice and Randy Staats was going to be one and two and then we had Mark Matthews and Jeremy Noble, those were the guys we were giving the ball to so when one of the best players if not the best player in college lacrosse is getting the ball as a fifth or sixth option, that’s probably not great for lacrosse and not great for Myles. We made one call to Coach Coddle and being around his old coach and being with guys like Joe Walters who could help him, it’d do lacrosse a justice. It wasn’t like we were uncomfortable with him it’s just that it wasn’t the way our team was going to play and I think Myles is showing that he’s doing exactly what the Bayhawks are asking him to do and to be able to play with guys like Mundorf, Joe Walters, and Dunowski, that alleviates a lot of the unnecessary pressure to play as a rookie. What’s the goal now for the Atlanta Blaze franchise? Full credit to Coach Ross and the Florida Launch, they’re in a similar situation as us and when they came out and had a higher compete level than the Atlanta Blaze and so kudos to him and keeping those guys committed and keeping them playing. As far as for us, nothing changes. We’re going to Ohio and try to the best of our ability to play against Ohio first and then against Rochester, we’re going to to lay it on the line and have a game plan, we’re going to go out there and play very high level, smart, physical fast lacrosse and we feel like if we can get that done and be mature about it and be disciplined, I think that we could come out on top. One thing is for sure, we’re going to be there and we’re going to battle and we’re going to do our best. Us trying our best and working our tails off for the rest of the season takes precedence over everything and then we move to next season. We still have plenty of season left and we’re going to do our best to make sure we give our fans a show and our coaching staff won’t take a play off and neither will our players. Who have you been most impressed with? What player has elevated himself amongst everyone in this League? Three players come to mind. One of which we had for the majority of the season, he still leads the League in points and he hasn’t played in a month, Kevin Rice is absolutely sensational. His turnover ratio was crazy good. His assists, points, goals, everything he did for our team, I think that kid became a superstar very very quickly. I think he Tommy Schreiber is quickly becoming if the not the best is one of the best to take steps behind Paul Rabil and the kid is very good, his ability to feed the ball and score. He’s very tough to cover and if someone figures him out kudos to that group that does it but that kid can play. Joey Walters is the best player our league has seen in a long time. His ability to lead teams and even when he’s off the scores book, his team still finds a way to find success and he takes the attention of so many and you have to know where he is. Mike Evans has really played well up until the point of when he got hurt. He was just a physical and dominant player. I think those guys are doing really well and I think that we’ll see them at the end of the season awards at least we should and I hope that Kevin doesn’t get left out. John Klepacki, Boston Cannons What goes down for coaches during a bye week this late in the season when you’re prepping for a huge game against New York? I think we’ve had time to discuss what we want to do with matchups and evaluate the past couple of weeks. This late in the year we have to find out how we stay with our identity and how we keep our rhythm going at both ends of the ball to play Cannon lacrosse. What makes this Lizards team so hard to beat late in the game or in overtime sessions? They’re obviously very talented top to bottom with their roster and they have a ton of experience and late in those games you see that experience really show. They have a bunch of veterans who have been around the League for a while that have been there before and know when the game is on the line, they don’t panic and just go about their business so definitely credit to them and how mature they are as a team. We’re just looking forward to getting another shot at competing with them these games have been exciting for us and right now we just need a one game winning streak so the only focus we have is with New York and taking it to them on Saturday. What can you say to these guys to dial in and focus and not turn the ball over, respect the possessions you get against New York? There’s two types of turnovers, the ones you speak of are inexcusable with the lack of focus and the lack of fundamentals. We’re not afraid to take chances and that’s part of the way that we play and some turnovers in our eyes are good turnovers but it was the ones you alluded to when we do have a lack of focus and our sticks aren’t there, that’s when we get into trouble and a bunch of our leaders on the roster some of our more experienced guys right after that Ohio game challenged everyone to make sure mentally we’re focused, our fundamentals are there. And our guys, after two weeks off are chomping at the bit and putting in that work we need to make sure we don’t have any of those mental lapses on Saturday. Who have you been most impressed with? What player has elevated himself amongst everyone in this League and is the best player in this League? For us, it’s hard to look outside our own roster. You see a guy like Brody Merrill come week in and week out put in the effort and production he’s put in on the field having been in this league this long and continue to do that. He’s a leader inside the locker room and outside on the field. Coach Stagnitta, Charlotte Hounds With Ryan Flannigan, what were you thinking about that diving into the crease? What are your thoughts about it? I think it’s tough, it was a tough weekend overall. I’m not sure that playing two games back to back at that level when you’re in a playoff hunt or not is not smart. There’s a lot of injuries with guys with overuse. In Ryan’s case, the dive, that’s one of the reasons they looked at it so closely in the college game. You are susceptible to injury in that regard. It was heartbreaking for everyone to see him him to go down like that. Maybe they do need to take a look at that. We’ve had a couple close calls and a couple sprains, but definitely nothing to that level. Are we going to see Charlie Cipriano playing this weekend? We’re not sure yet, we have a couple guys we’re rehabbing from hamstring and calf, a couple different things that popped up that we haven’t had to deal with in the past. I can’t help to think it’s because we had to play back to back like that and with a roster of 19, it was pretty challenging to say the least. How much of a factor was playing those back to back games in the loss that you sustained when playing against Denver? It was huge, we ran out of steam. We did things that were uncharacteristic. Our bodies got tired and our minds got tired. For 117 minutes, two games straight, we were able to maintain and play at a high level and we had the lead but we didn’t have a whole lot the second half, it was a sloppy game with a lot of turnovers and really uncharacteristic of how we’ve been playing. Then losing a couple guys and having a couple guys that were playing with bumps and bruises and borderline injuries, it was a tough second day I give us a lot of credit for hanging in there and doing what we did. As a coach, I’ve never played back to back games so it was a new experience for all of us definitely. What has to go differently for you out there on the field to get a different result this time when you face Denver? Shot selection. I think a lot of that had to do with fatigue. A lot of assisted goals the night before and the next night, not many assisted goals, mostly unassisted. Just not a lot of movement off ball. We weren’t moving, we weren’t dodging at the speed we usually do. We got back checked a number of times including the last shot of the game, when the game was tied we had an opportunity and John Haus got checked from behind and we haven’t had that happen multiple times. Just getting back to full strength, playing the way we play, moving the ball, sharing the ball, we were just out of sorts that night. Who have you been most impressed with? What player has elevated himself amongst everyone in this League and is the best player in this League? Kevin Rice was terrific back to back games against us. We had a lot of trouble containing and controlling him, he was our biggest challenge thus far. Unfortunately, he was unable to finish out the season but was having a hell of a year and we had our hands full with him but he was very impressive to me. Tom Mariano, Chesapeake Bayhawks What changed for your team that led to that 6 goal run in the first quarter? Early on we had some bad possessions on offense, some turnovers, didn’t take care of the ball, Ghittleman had some great saves and they just have some great guys who made plays early on and we just had our composure, settled in and stuck to the game plan. How great of an addition has Jay Carlson been for the Bayhawks? He’s been unbelievable considering he hadn’t really been playing and then we pick him up out of the player pool and kind of throw him into the mix. His numbers are 3 plus points every game, more than 3 groundballs every game. He’s been a great addition and a great teammate. What was your reaction to Coach Tucker being fired and that he wouldn’t be there that day when you had your game against the Blaze? It’s a disappointment at the coaching pier but at the same time it’s a business, we’ve got a job to do, they’ve got a job to do. It’s not a distraction everyone is there to win lacrosse games. How is it to see the veterans gel together with the young guys that you have and lead you to the top seed in the League right now? I think we wouldn’t be anywhere without those guys. Those guys have changed their roles and changed who they are and have become tremendous leaders. I can only speak to coaching these guy for a year but they’ve been tremendous leaders and I think that’s made the meshing and the chemistry of the youth and the vets extremely easy. They’ve been tremendous. What’s the most difficult thing for the Bayhawks when it comes to taking down New York? They’re excellent. They’re well coached, look at their roster. They’ve got player of the year candidates at every single position. They come off the championship and in some ways you think that they’re better and in some ways they are better. It comes down to thinking about the Bayhawks, playing our game plan sticking to our philosophy and hoping that’s good enough and come out with the W. Are you focused on the playoffs and nailing down that top spot? There’s two ways to do this, you look at those artificial scenarios of who’s going to make it to the playoffs. There’s so much information and I don’t know how to read those, it makes your head hurt. The other alternative is to focus on who you are and what you can control. We know if we win lacrosse games we can get to playoffs and that’s our focus right now. Chesapeake and New York can be the last two teams in the league and this would be a battle regardless. Everyone knows what’s at stake. They want to beat us and we want to beat them. Who have you been most impressed with? What player has elevated himself amongst everyone in this League and is the best player in this League? Every time we watch our players play I’m amazed. When I watch other players play, I’m amazed. Kevin Rice hasn’t played in 24 days and still leads the league in points I’m pretty amazed by that. I don’t know if I could pick one, I think obviously Paul Rabil, Kevin Rice, Joey Walters has been excellent. I think those guys have been exceptional across the board. What is the number one strength of this Bayhawk team and the reason you’re sitting in that number one spot right now? The belief in each other, the team and what we’re doing as ag group. We’ve had games that Joey Walters scores six points, Mundorf scores, and then we have games they didn’t score and we still found a way to win whether it was John Maloney getting eight groundballs. Our face off guy, making plays when we need it. It’s really been a team effort, the energy, the passion they have for each other in the locker room and on buses. They really love each other I think when we’re down they believe in each other when we’re up, they believe in each other. Coach O’Hara, Denver Outlaws How were you able to contain that offense and secure the win? We were doing a good job at the X and most importantly, Jack Kelly was up to the challenge and made some big saves in the fourth quarter and that led to the victory. What does it mean to retire a legendary goalie and have this rookie come in and be really impressive? He’s getting stronger every week. It’s no secret that we struggled trying to replace Jessie which is hard to do. We tried a bunch of different guys once Jack was available post NCAA season we saw right away he was going to be the guy. Like a lot of rookies, he struggled the first game or two but he’s found his momentum which has taken a lot of pressure off of everyone else on the field. When you know your goalie is going to be there for you, the guys step up a little bit more and that’s been the secret. How important was your first win on the road to the confidence of your players? It was a milestone for us getting our first win on the road. Our first five out of the six games were on the road and that’s when we were trying to finalize our roster and get things organized. It wasn’t as much playing on the road as it was we just didn’t know who we were yet. Now we’ve got our lineup pretty well set. Hopefully we can continue our momentum that we’ve got. Is Matt Kavanagh adjusting to the role he has with the Outlaws? For sure, when we drafted him we thought he might be the lefty apparent that was held down by Grant Jr. and going forward he may be in the future but right now for Matt and by his request, he likes coming out of the box. He likes the freedom to get into different areas with the ball and create. Who knows where he’ll be long term. Often times we’ll get a short stick, when we put him out there with Sieverts and Snider, it’s a difficult matchup for the other teams. Obviously we’ll continue with that look for the remainder of this season. Are you going to look to continue the ball in transition or settle down and play some settled six on six? You take what you’re given. We like to think we get up the field pretty well too. A lot of it will depend on how the goalies are doing, a lot of that is created by timely saves by the goalkeeper and if we’re getting good goalie play I think we can get out and run. Obviously John Galloway is one of the best out there not just at stopping the ball but equally strong at passing it up on the field so a lot of that will depend on him. What do you have to do to get your second win over the Hounds? It’s not going to be easy. They’ve got a lot on the line as we do. It’ll be our third game in seven days which in our league is very tough with all the travel so we have our hands full. We’re going to spend the night in Rochester and get an early flight to Denver and traveling as a team is very rare in MLL these days and we’re going to get there and hopefully recover and get ourselves ready for a big regular season game. Who have you been most impressed with? What player has elevated himself amongst everyone in this League and is the best player in this League? There’s so many good ones, on any given night you see just amazing performances. I think for us, we’ve had guys step up each week, in fact this past week none of our go to veterans, Snider, Berg, none of them scored a point so a lot of our points came from different places. The guy that’s really turned it for us is Jack Kelly. The guys have so much confidence in him. Our team is playing with a little more spring in their step knowing that Jack Kelly is behind them. Coach Davis, Ohio Machine How do you build on your last win to keep the team headed in the right direction? We had some injuries, some personnel changes and trying to find some continuity and during that time, you find some other potential struggles and I want to find those out then instead of august and let’s get through that lull and find those out mid- season. We found out what some of our kryptonite was and now we’re fixing that and I really enjoyed how our guys responded in the Boston game. I think our guys were relentless in that fourth quarter and played some fun lacrosse and that’s when we’re playing at our best, when our guys are having fun and just getting after it. How do you slow down Scott Ratliff and the other threats that Atlanta has? They beat us last time out. They beat us almost at a style that we like to play and that’s a scary thought. Scott’s great, probably one of the best in the League at what he does and we have to be smart about that look at our subbing game and get better in that area and figure out what kind of game we want to play and where we’ve been exposed in that kind of scenario and make sure that doesn’t happen this weekend. Percent wise, where is Kyle Harrison’s health? After this bye week, 100%. He’s pretty aware of his body and with the bye and All- Star break, those things have helped him out tremendously. Do you feel like your Greg and the wings that you have are the top in the league? I think it’s an interesting matchup each week. There’s certain matchups, there’s things you can do to manipulate the wing play. Certainly, Scott Ratliff is great on the wings, he does some great things and at times Brian Karalunas does some great things. Surprisingly, face off guys call their own number a lot and try to not rely too heavily on their wings and those are the adjustments you can make is when your face off guys needs to rely more heavily on his wings. We’re going to keep evaluating each week and Greg has certainly responded. Nardello is great and he has not been great some past outings but in this past game we did some adjustments and that made the difference so real happy with his development. What was your initial reaction when you heard that Coach Tucker was fired? Coach Tucker, him and I came into this League around the same time. I’ve spent a lot of time on the phone with him and kind of picked his brain because I know he has a lot of experience so I have a lot of respect for Coach Tucker. He kind of opened his book to me as far as what he thought was the right thing to do and I respect that. I think he’s a tremendous coach and a good person and whatever went on down there, that’s their business. I try not to clutter my mind about too much with the other teams and I wish the best for him and his family and I know he’ll land on his feet. Who have you been most impressed with? What player has elevated himself amongst everyone in this League and is the best player in this League? There’s plenty of guys on any roster to brag about. Scotty Rodgers being a backup for the most part for many years and playing at a high level in that role. And coming in this year as a starter and having a bit of an injury and then bouncing back and being MVP and now playing a great game against Boston. Just really impressive going from the role he was in to the role he’s in now, and doing everything he is to embrace it, I think he’s pretty impressive. How do you keep yourself and this team from overlooking that game with Atlanta? The main thing is we can’t forget about today and we’ve got to focus on being a better team today than we were yesterday. If we start talking about all these scenarios, we’re going to forget about what we need to do. We need to talk about winning and that’s something we can control. We can control our prep and put ourselves in the situation and making sure we’re doing the right things, prepping right, and making sure we’re having fun while doing it. Coach Soudan, Rochester Rattlers What makes the Lizards so tough to beat in the final minutes of games? Just their offensive fire power for sure. Our guy did really well against Gurenlian but down the stretch there, they won a couple that were really important. Those things combined made it really tough and a tight situation. Is there an update with Jordan Wolf’s injury or when we will see him back on the field? Not sure yet, he’s seeing the doctor tomorrow and we’ll have a better idea of if it’s hamstring related. It’s been a chronic injury he’s had since high school. Not being overly pessimistic about things so we’re going to see after he visits with his doctor tomorrow? Is there a time table of when Jordan Macintosh will return for you guys? It’s not going to be this weekend, that’s the only thing I’ve been told. We’re certainly hoping he makes it back if we make a playoff run which I think we’re certainly capable of doing. We’re anxiously awaiting some idea of what’s going to happen with both of those guys? How is the team going to be affected with missing those guys and what’s going to be changed around out there on the field? It’s been a tough couple days trying to figure out what things look like with injuries. You’re going to see Jack Near back out there as D-middie and you’ll see some new faces out there throughout the weekend. We’re not exactly sure of how we’re going to play them, the addition of Dane Smith and Eric DeJohn and Eric DeJoe out of Syracuse so those are guys we picked up off the waiver. What are you going to do to slow down Denver and serve them their first loss in a five game span? The nice thing is we’re going to be whole at the defensive end of the field so that’s one good thing. We’ve kind of not had our d-middies with Jack Near being out with a groin strain so now we’re going to be back kind of full strength at the defensive end. Offensively, we have to figure out the moving parts without Wolf. We have to establish ourselves offensively to win this game. I certainly think defensively that we will be able to contain them, we just need to outscore them. They’re a great team and they’re kind of on a win streak and we took a bad loss so hopefully our guys come in to Rochester tonight ready to practice and excited to get back in the winning ways. When you look at the road ahead, what is the most difficult challenge between now and the playoffs? What could keep you guys from getting into the playoffs? I think a lot of it is ourselves. I think we shot ourselves in the foot against Long Island. They came out really excited and we were a little flat. I think we were flat in warmups and I told the guys and just nothing we could do to turn it around and they put the pedal down. The most important thing for us is to establish some consistency we have with our lineup moving forward and hopefully we get some good games out of these younger guys and it’s not an easy league to just come in and start playing in and so that’s a little stressful. At the end of the day, defense wins championships and we need big games out of Galloway and the rest of our defense. Who have you been most impressed with? What player has elevated himself amongst everyone in this League and is the best player in this League? I think there’s a couple guys that have impressed me a lot and one of them is Drew Seminole. He went 15 of 34 against Gurenlian and I thought last week did a great job he was around 60%. He’s trying to make the face off thing a non- factor for us and he’s been around the 50% range as we’ve been playing him full time and he’s really impressed me. Another guy or two is Steven Mundorf, he’s been developing been into the player he once was and has been really fun to watch and the rookie Maloney who I’ve known since he was a little guy playing lacrosse for me in clubs has really impressed me with what he’s able to do on the field.