bleedCrimson.net: You closed out WAC play last weekend with a pair of wins. I'm sure if someone had told you that you'd get a sweep and play in a five set match you wouldn't have been too surprised but obviously who those came against were a bit of a surprise.
Mike Jordan: Yeah well at this point nothing is a surprise really. It's an up and down affair sometimes with this group. We played the first set okay against Chicago State and then just made mistake after mistake and Chicago State played very well and Juma [Armando] got hot and we struggled even getting good swings. We really made a lot of silly mistakes. In the five sets we played two of them well, one of them well enough to win and then two of them poorly. Obviously not a good night. As with anything you applaud the fact that we stayed persistent and came back and got our act together before it was too late.
UMKC I thought we played very well. We were efficient, we played good defense, we did a lot of things exceptionally well. I told them after that match it's hard to believe we're the same team that played on Thursday but that's the nature of this season. We're happy to be 2-0 on the road.
bc.net: Were you happy with the way the team bounced back against UMKC? What do you see different when you have a match like Chicago State and you have a match like UMKC where it's like you had two different teams take the court?
MJ: Our skill level with some of our players is not great, they're still learning. When you make the mistakes we make physically and you compound them with mental mistakes it can get ugly pretty quick. I felt like against UMKC we were pretty on task. We seemed to be ready to compete and we did that from set to set which we failed to do on Thursday [against Chicago State]. Maybe a bit better focus because we learned our lesson maybe on Thursday.
bc.net: This week you host the WAC Tournament for the first time since 2007. Obviously a tremendous opportunity for the program and the team. Now that you've had a chance to go through the regular do you feel like having the tournament in Las Cruces with this team in particular is more of an advantage than you might have at the start of the year?
MJ: I think it's always an advantage. Last year's team it didn't matter where we would have played that tournament, we were that much better than everybody else. This year's team, we're closer in level of play, much closer. To have home court advantage on paper certainly is a big deal. If you had asked me if I'd have rather had it last year or this year, this year by far. I think it's important for a young team to have a crowd behind them and cheering and it helps. The familiarity with our arena and how the ball flies in it and all that stuff, it's important for us. Like I said, if you had asked me five years ago to map it out when we started going school to school again, when would you want to do it, I certainly would have picked this year for sure.
bc.net: Since you haven't had the tournament at home in such a long time, what's the difference in the way you're able to prepare during tournament week versus being out in Las Vegas or at a school site?
MJ: You get to sleep in your own bed, that's a big deal. But you also have more distractions here. There's more going on. We have all these functions and things we have to be at. When you're on the road you sometimes benefit from there not being any of that to worry about. You can get your sleep in the hotel room, there's no boyfriend, there's no socializing until the wee hours kind of stuff going on on the road. We have to make sure we're not being distracted, that we're staying focused but the fact that we're more rested, we don't have to travel, just the familiarity with the building that's important. The home crowd, we need it to be big to give us some momentum.
bc.net: What do you see with the first two matches on Thursday night.
MJ: I see a lot of pretty good volleyball being played. There are a lot of teams that are very different and matchups play a big role. When you look at Seattle who struggled in the second half of conference play, you've got to remember that one of their best players has been out of the lineup quite a bit. They've had as much injury issue as anybody. If they come in here and are a little more rested and healthier, they're not going to play like a typical six seed. They're going to be pretty solid. I think the results from this year show that anyone can beat anyone. Teams are going to have to play well in order to win and they're going to have to take advantage of the matchups that they have.
bc.net: Are there any additional things you want your team to be focused on this week that are different from the regular season or is pretty much more of the same?
MJ: I think it's more of the same. Status quo here. We prepare the same for everybody. Obviously right now we don't know who we're going to play, that changes things a bit for us. We have to prepare for two different teams on Friday. But really right now we're more focused on making ourselves better in practice. We have limited practice time when WAC tournament practice starts, we only get 90 minutes so we have to take full advantage of it and make sure we're more efficient in practice. Again, it's an exciting time. The winner gets to go to the NCAA Tournament. We wish it wasn't like that. It makes no sense for this conference to have a conference tournament. The league winner should go but we have a tournament. It's playoff time. Let's get to it.
bc.net: Is any benefit that either of the teams you're going to face are teams that you will have faced in the last week and a half or so as far as preparation goes.
MJ: No because they have the same familiarity. Not really. I think it's important to remember that each day is different. Teams change day to day. Personalities change. For instance when we played Bakersfield and lost here, we had three players that were struggling with the flu and they just didn't have the same energy level they normally have. Are we the same team that played Bakersfield two weeks ago? No. You never know what's going to happen day to day.
bc.net: How is the team from a health standpoint?
MJ: We're okay. We've tried to rest them and done what we can. There's just a couple of issues that aren't going to be resolved until the season is over. A couple of them are going to need to go under the knife and get some things taken care of but we're okay. We are what we are and I think we've learned to deal with it. I wish it were different, I wish they could practice more. It's difficult to have players sitting out on the sideline. They can't improve, they can't work at the things you need them to work at. We can't scrimmage so it's been a hard season that way but sometimes that's the hand you're dealt and you deal with it.
bc.net: Sometimes in these conference tournaments you have a player who maybe didn't do a whole lot during the regular season that has a breakthrough moment. Is there anyone in particular that you think might be that player?
MJ: I hope so. I'm not going to tell you any names. I don't want to jinx anybody. Yeah, we've got a few players that it would be great to see them put better numbers and step up and make some big plays. That'd be quite a gift.