Q&A with Dave Pietramala

Q and A with ...

February 25, 2005|By Baltimoresun.com Staff

Read our transcript with the Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse coach

Dave Pietramala, a 1990 graduate of Johns Hopkins, enters his fifth season as head coach at his alma mater. Johns Hopkins finished with a 13-2 record and reached the NCAA semifinals.

Baltimoresun.com: What is your outlook for the season?

Dave Pietramala: This is the first team we've had that is very experienced. We've always had a lot of younger guys playing for us. Our first recruiting class has gone through four years and we have a larger group of seniors that are playing. But your strength can be your weakness. One of our strengths is our experience. Our guys have been through so many big games. They have played in final fours and in the national championship game. They are poised, experienced and I guess they are unflappable. They don't get rattled easily. But on the other hand, you just want to make sure that just because you've been through the battles, you still remain hungry.

We're still a work in progress. We had a number of guys that missed the fall because of injuries. So it's been important for us in the preseason to develop chemistry.

Dan, Cibolo, Texas: What does Hopkins need to do to get over the last hurdle to a national championship?

Dave Pietramala: I've learned quickly that winning a national championship is not easy. A lot of things have to go right. That's why I admire and respect Princeton, Syracuse and Virginia so much because of what they have done and that's why I respect what Hopkins had done for so many years.

We've been good enough to get to the national championship game. We've played against some quality teams. We lost to a very good team two years ago that had a very talented goaltender. ... There is such a mental thing of getting over that hump to say once you win it, the whole mindset is a little different. Obviously you have to catch a break, make your own opportunities, stay healthy and get good goalie play. Up until this point, we've been oh-so-close and we'll keep working until we get the right ingredients and hopefully, we'll get there and win it. But that doesn't mean the following year, if we do the same things we're going to win it again. Every year is a little different because every team is different.

Bill, Overlea: It is very unusual for a coach to get to spend time coaching with his former teammates at their alma mater. What has it meant to you to coach at Hopkins with Bill Dwan and Seth Tierney, who were your former Blue Jays teammates?

Dave Pietramala: We all know what it's like to play here, we all know what it's like to do the academics and we know what the expectations are. We are all extremely grateful and passionate for Johns Hopkins so it's easy for us to recruit here. It's easy for us to tell people about Hopkins because we believe it in so much.

In regards to the three of us having played together, I think it provides a unique chemistry. We're all different. Coach Tierney and I are the more emotional two. Coach Dwan is flatlined. There are things that can be done without things being said. We know each others' personalities and moods. We were friends before we were co-workers. I think our guys really see how we interact and see how close we are and how much we push and challenge each other. And I think that environment has been helpful to our players and our staff.

Keith, Baltimore: Are face-off specialists recruited specifically for that ability or are they selected from a team's middies and then designated as a face-off specialist with the task of refining their face-off skills?

Dave Pietramala: We look for players who have faced off in high school. There is a lot of technique involved, there's a lot preparation involved and we found it very beneficial to have guys who've done it before. It would be very difficult to take a player who has never faced off before and teach him how to do it and the little nuances. For us, the face-off guys we have we have recruited from high school. Some of them we have recruited specifically to be face-off men and some are guys we recruited to play offense for us with the understanding that we know they are also talented face-off men.

India, Baltimore: In your opinion, who was the greatest face-off man of all time?

Dave Pietramala: I don't know if there is one guy that comes to mind and I can say he was the greatest. But I think a school that has done unbelieveable job with face-off personnel is Towson. Year in and year out, they have had great face-off guys. This year they have Matt Eckerl. They have had Mark Goers, Tim Lucky and a number of talented guys. They just seem to be one of the best teams at that part of the game.

There has been so many. I think back to Greg Matthews from Hopkins and Todd Ensor from Maryland and [current Loyola coach] Bill Dirrigl from Syracuse, and Navy has had a terrific group of face-off guys.

Short Hills, N.J.: You are getting two top recruits from New Jersey. Has your staff been more active recruiting in the N.J. area? Will you continue?

Dave Pietramala: We haven't targeted any one state in particular. I think what we try to do is broaden our horizons a bit. I think we've made a consicous effort to get to areas that maybe we haven't spent, in our opinion, enough time in. That's not specifically to New Jersey, it's to a number of different areas. No longer is it just in Maryland, Long Island and upstate New York. There are talented players in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, California and Denver. We're trying to hit more places than ever before.

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