Weekly Coach Jordan Interview :: 11/24/15 Weekly Coach Jordan Interview :: 11/24/15 With the kind of season that you’ve had, running the table in the regular season but going into the tournament knowing that you would likely need to win the tournament to get into the NCAA tournament, how do you feel like your team handled that? They looked like they were as focused as they’ve been all season.
Mike Jordan: Yeah, unfortunately with RPI being such an important part of the selection criteria even though it shouldn’t be, it should be tossed out completely. Our players are very aware the fact that our RPI now stands at 64 which puts us outside of the bubble if they go exclusively by RPI or if the majority of the choices are made by RPI. The committee says that they’re not but it obviously is. I think they understood that and it adds pressure but a senior laden group that we have should be able to handle a little bit of pressure and they did and I’m proud of them. Andrea Tauai had a big match in the championship match against Bakersfield and was a big key as to why you were able to win that match.
MJ: She played even better against UMKC and has been playing very well the last half of the season. She’s a really competitive kid and coming in as a transfer from the junior college ranks a year ago, it takes a year to acclimate for sure. Last year was hard for her to go from the junior college level to the Division I level but she’s really made a lot of progress and she understands what we’re doing a little bit better and she’s a much more skilled player than what she was when she got her. All of that is starting to pay off. You add that to her competitiveness and you’ve got yourself a really good player. How would you evaluate your team’s play overall in the tournament?
MJ: I thought we played pretty well against UMKC, I was really happy with the way we passed the volleyball which obviously leads to our offense doing what it does. We think our offense stacks up with a lot of teams in the country. I think we’re Top 10 in the country in hitting percentage and there’s a reason for that. We’ve got good arms and we’re very, very balanced and I think those are some things we did very well. We did not pass it as well against Bakersfield. Some of that was nerves and some of that was Bakersfield’s serving. They did a good job at the service line and forced us into a few more errors than normal. You’re not going to play your best match every day but I thought we played well enough to win and that’s the important thing. Andrea and Gwen Murphy made the All-Tournament team with Gwen getting the MVP and adding to the outstanding year that she’s had and you also had five total players on the All-WAC teams.
MJ: Yeah, I was a little disappointed that Bradley Nash and Andi Tauai didn’t make all-conference. I think from a numbers standpoint they belonged. You could make a case for Taylor too and the fact that she sets in three rotations and we had by far the best hitting percentage in the league. Our statistics are kind of watered down because we are in the 6-2 and we work so hard for balance. Not to say that any of the other kids weren’t deserving as well but I think sometimes coaches put too much credence in the total numbers like four kills per set over two kills per set or 2.3 kills per set, that seems like a big deal but we had balance. We’re not setting someone as often and they’re hitting for bigger percentages. Just because they’re getting more swings per set does not mean they’re a better player. We have to deal with that issues because of the system that we’re in but our players are very selfless people and they don’t care too much about the individual awards, they care more about how the team is doing and I’m proud of that. What is the status on Nathalie and her injury?
MJ: She’s getting examined today. We’ll know more pretty soon. She’s dealing with some lower back pain that’s been getting gradually worse. Hopefully with 10 days of rest, we won’t play her against UTEP on Wednesday. That’ll give her time to prepare herself to play in the NCAA Tournament, we’re hopeful that will be the case. But at this point we don’t know for sure. Your team responded very well after that long injury break and you got the ball to Gwen Murphy on back-to-back points coming out of that. Obviously that’s a tough situation to deal with and it reminded me of what happened in the 2007 tournament in Las Cruces when Krista Altermatt went down in the fifth set against Hawai’i and you had that long break and it was tough for the team to come back out after that.
MJ: Yeah, it’s never easy. I’m sure the players stand there and think “Oh no” for a little while but hopefully that “Oh no” is followed up by a “I’ve got to pick up the slack” mentality and I think some of them did that. Gwen obviously, Sasha-Lee came up with some big kills, Kassie Tohm came off the bench in the third and gave us a couple of kills and I thought everyone played pretty well. How do you approach the match on Wednesday night as far as getting some players some rest or do you play them all and try to keep them in a rhythm since you don’t play until the NCAA Tournament?
MJ: I don’t think it makes sense to play the regular rotation the whole time. Obviously we want to win the match but it’s not necessary that we do. It doesn’t matter if we win or lose. I’m definitely leaning toward making sure that some people get some playing time that haven’t been able to play as much as we like and I definitely want to rest a couple of people but still get them some work. The point of scheduling the match as this point in the calendar is to not have to wait almost two weeks without playing with out playing before playing in the NCAA Tournament. You don’t want to have that kind of rest. The Wednesday match gives us a five day break from Saturday’s championship and we’ll be a little bit sharper come NCAA Tournament time. The goal like I said is to get people some quality time on the floor and compete a little bit and hopefully we’ll get the win but it’s not at the top of my priority list. When you look at your overall tournament resume, you don’t have any bad losses. Do you feel like you’ve done enough to avoid getting sent to one of those top eight home sites?
MJ: People always forget this and this is important for people to know. Volleyball is not chosen like basketball. It’s the same number of teams but volleyball is only seeded one through 16. There will be 16 hosts that the committee believes are close to being the top 16 teams in the country. There may be one or two teams that can’t host that would have been seeded because of a scheduling conflict or something like that. From there is geographic. There’s no question that wherever we go we’re going to wind up playing a one through 16 seed at some point. The thing that people forget is that they’ll seed within that foursome but that could very easily be the fourth ranked team in the country, the 18th ranked team in the country, the 23rd ranked team in the country, the 25th ranked team in the country. So you don’t know in that foursome what you’re going to get but it is then mostly geographical. I think we have a great seeding but it very well could be that we wind up with USC and Hawai’i and Arizona and us and Arizona, Hawai’i and USC have all been ranked Top 20 all year long. So at that point it doesn’t really matter. It’s not a fair way of doing things but it is what it is and we have to deal with it.

When you pick the four teams that go to the site, they look at the four and try to decide who is one through four. I don’t think they’ll really say that publicly. Teams that play in the same conference can’t play each other in the first round. We know that to be fact. So SC can’t play Arizona in the first round. If it’s Hawai’i and us with Arizona at USC, and I’m speculating based on geography only, then they’re going to look at us and Hawai’i and they’re going to make a choice as to who USC should play and that’s going to be us. Hawaii has got a better RPI, Hawai’i has been nationally ranked, we’re going to wind up playing SC. It doesn’t mean that we’re a typical four seed, that’s just the way geography said it was going got get done. What are some things that you want to see from some of your players that are going to get some more playing time on Wednesday night against UTEP?
MJ: We’ve seen progress in practice and I want to see that translate into games. I want to see them compete really hard and play with confidence. It’s not easy to do when you don’t play a lot but hopefully they’ll get in a groove, compete really hard and do their best to get a win. I would like to see that improved skill level in practice translate into extended play on the court during a match.