Mount St. Mary's recipe for success includes days off for players

Coach Tom Gravante has taken somewhat offbeat approach of scrapping practices on days after games

March 14, 2013|By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun

Mount St. Mary’s coach Tom Gravante admitted that he erred when he didn’t give the players the day off after a road game against Virginia. The team followed up that 18-11 loss to the Cavaliers on Feb. 26 with a 13-5 setback to Towson on March 2.

Since then, Gravante has adjusted his coaching philosophy, giving the Mountaineers (4-4) a day off after contests. The change appears to be working as the team followed a day off after 19-9 loss to Johns Hopkins on March 5 with a 16-7 rout of Manhattan last Saturday and then a day off after Manhattan with a 14-6 thumping of Georgetown this past Tuesday.

While maintaining the discretion to discontinue the policy at any point in the season, Gravante said he learned his lesson.

“I actually gave them Sunday off after that Manhattan game,” he said Thursday afternoon. “They played a good game, and I could tell that they worked hard, and I don’t know if my assistants agreed with me, but they didn’t fight me on it. … We practiced Monday morning and then played a great game on Tuesday. What I saw in practice leading up to that Georgetown game was what we got. It was fun to watch.”

Not surprisingly, the players got Wednesday off and returned to practice Thursday to prepare for Saturday’s road contest at No. 18 Drexel (4-2).

“They played another good game,” Gravante said, referring to the win against Georgetown that snapped a 14-game losing skid to the Hoyas. “So I gave them Wednesday off. I thought we had a decent practice this morning, although the weather wasn’t very nice to us. We’ll look for them to have a strong practice tomorrow morning and get ready for a very good Drexel team.”

The Dragons followed an overtime loss to then-No. 12 Virginia with a one-goal upset of then-No. 15 Albany and strung together three more victories before absorbing a 17-8 thrashing from Bucknell.

Gravante pointed out that Drexel was forced to play without freshman goalkeeper Will Gabrielsen because of an illness. That’s why Gravante is emphasizing with the players avoiding the temptation of overlooking the Dragons.

“We saw that score, but we’re certainly not going to underestimate them,” he said. “We heard that their starting goalie was out with a sickness. So the second guy came in, and Bucknell took advantage. … This is a very well-coached team by a former Hopkins grad in Brian Voelker. He’s going to throw many things at us on Saturday. He’s going to game-plan certain players on our team, and he’s got kids on offense that have ability. This is not a team to underestimate because of that score.”

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