Nov. 21, 2006
2005-2006 Coach's Corner Archives
June 12, 2006
On Kevin Mulvey: It certainly comes as no surprise that Kevin was the first player chosen from the Big East. All the reports we heard indicated that he would be a high pick, and it was just a question of where he would go. It is very exciting to have Kevin going to the New York Mets and I couldn't be happier for him. He is a quality person and deserves all of the good things that are happening for him.
The Mets will find out very quickly that Kevin is a great talent. He has electric stuff and we will miss him a ton at Villanova. What we are going to miss the most is the quality guy that Kevin is. He has great character and values and is the baseball version of a gym rat. I wish Kevin all the luck in the world.
On Jeremy Hunt: I am so happy for Jeremy to have the opportunity to play professional baseball. It is always special for a senior to get drafted because it is their last chance, and it is even more special for someone like Jeremy because he went from being completely off the radar to someone who was sought after by many teams. We had seven straight pitchers among Villanova draft picks in recent years before Jeremy was selected, and we hope that he is the first in a long lone of position players from Villanova that will be drafted in this and coming seasons.
Jeremy did an outstanding job for us in two seasons after transferring here from St. Petersburg College," Godri said. "He put up impressive offensive numbers during his career and his success absolutely warrants him being given the chance to play at the professional level.
June 5, 2006
On Kevin Mulvey as a prospect for the amateur draft: It is a feather in the cap for the whole university to have a professional prospect that is regarded as highly as Kevin is. A few years ago Brian Slocum was a high draft pick and that helped us get a player like Kevin. When one of our players is projected at a level where Kevin is at, it makes a statement about the success a player can have and the good things that can happen if they come to Villanova University and play in the Big East Conference. There is simply nothing better for a coach than to see a player come in as a freshman, mature as a player and a person during his time here and then have chance to play professionally.
On Kevin Mulvey as a pitcher: Kevin has unlimited potential because he is not just a guy that throws hard. Through his own hard work, Kevin has developed into a truly complete pitcher. His offspeed pitchers are as good as anyone's that we see around the country each year. You can be excited about the fastball and the slider, but I know that the pro scouts who watched him were just as impressed with his curveball. Kevin can be a true major league starter with a repertoire like that; he is going to come to the table with four pitches and he is not just a thrower. Those are the qualities that are what the professional scouts and executives are excited about.
On Mulvey's contributions to the Villanova program: Taking aside the talent that he has, what I am going to remember about Kevin and what we will miss the most is the type of person he is. Kevin is a quality person who is always at the ballpark and rooting on his teammates. Every day that he was here he was all about Villanova baseball, and anytime we tried to make some adjustments with him he was all about the team. That is a unique characteristic about him that I hope he never loses. He is a great person and first and foremost that is what he meant to the Villanova program.
On Jeremy Hunt as a prospect for the amateur draft: I would put Jeremy in a group of about five hitters we see throughout the year that are better pure hitters than the rest of the competition. It Jeremy had been on the radar a little bit earlier there would have been more hype around him, but in my mind he has really developed into a professional hitter. It looks like things should go his way in the draft, and whichever team winds up with him is going to be getting a player that is heading into the peak of his career. He is someone that I want to keep an eye on for the future.
On Kris Molloy as a prospect for the amateur draft: I have my fingers crossed that things will go well in the draft for Kris. There simply is not a better defensive guy in the outfield. In this day and age you look at a player's physical stature and I think sometimes the defensive part gets overlooked, but the fact of the matter is that Kris saves runs for the pitching staff. I hope that he is given an opportunity to show that. I know that if he gets drafted the pitching staff will love him and I feel confident that the coaches will feel the same way.
On the team's 27-win season: It was a year filled with a lot of peaks and valleys. The season was different than any I have experienced as a head coach, and maybe anywhere else as a coach. There were a lot of good things to take out of the season. We had some great individual performances, and did something which Villanova teams haven't always been able to do, which is get wins late in games.
I think this team fought through adversity better than any team I have coached, but starting out 14-17 with a 1-8 record in the league was probably a bit steeper of a battle than we could come back from. The players and coaching staff really dug their spikes in and gave us a shot at the end, which is a testament to how hard the team worked. It didn't work out to go to the Big East tournament, which is a disappointment. However, we can learn as a team from the new conference format with 12 teams and an eight-team playoff and how that impacts the entire season. It is an adjustment to the three-day conference series as well. Despite not reaching the playoffs this season, the way the year played out shows me that there will be good things in the future for this team.
Once again I was very impressed with the team's non-league record (19-9) and the ability to dominate local teams. I think we did a very good job of dominating other Pennsylvania teams, including winning a series against Pittsburgh which we have been unable to do in the past. We also beat Penn State for the fourth straight time and beat Lehigh, who won their conference. In addition to going 7-1 against the new Diamond Five opponents, I saw a lot of little things that were a big positive for us.
On the Diamond Five and Big East awards: The awards the team received this year were great, and they speak to how our season went. We had a lot of great individual performances, and the offense especially was probably better than any other year that I have been here. The recognition from both the Diamond Five and Big East is great, and we are hoping to maybe get some all-region players as well. The awards are exciting for the program and it is also exciting that a lot of our good, young players will be coming back next season.
On Individual Performances
On Ryan Arcadia: The most exciting thing about Ryan for us is that he is only going into his junior year. He is the spearhead of our offense out of the leadoff spot and absolutely came into his own as an offensive player this season. He was able to hit for a high average and get on base, and then stole bases and was usually able to come around to score once he as on base. He is a great table-setter for the offense and we are looking forward to continuing to see him grow as a player.
On Craig Mirsky: Craig had a great senior year. He did as good a job of anyone I have ever seen of putting together an outstanding senior season after maybe not always getting the opportunity to play every day in other years. He was up there in the nation among the most sacrifice bunts and did a good job of moving runners along. Craig also hit for a good average and was a great RBI guy. He was able to DH everyday and most of all I was happy for him to be able to complete an entire season injury-free. We saw what Craig Mirsky was all about this season.
On Derek Shunk: Derek continues to do well as an offensive player and in the future I hope that he can wind up his career as one of the top offensive hitters to come through the program.
On Ryan Wendler: Ryan had a tough freshman year in 2005, no different from the experience that probably 75 percent of all freshman have anywhere around the country. He was mentally tough through the waiting period and this season was finally given the chance to get some innings. He dominated people during weekday games and had a very impressive 25-inning scoreless streak. That allowed him to come out of the bullpen in Big East games and I thought he did a great job with that too. We are excited to see where he will be next season and we think that he will continue to be a big-time contributor to us in Big East games.
On Gus Guida: Gus had a great sophomore season much along the lines of Ryan Wendler. He was able to develop as a pitcher and take over the closer role, which is such an important role on our team because of our successful record when leading after seven innings. Gus has the ability to come in and shut a team down, and to compete in situations regardless of whether we are protecting a lead, the game is tied or we are trying to come back from a deficit. He has one of the great intangible qualities that any closer needs, and that is a short memory. I think back to the series against West Virginia when he allowed a walk-off home run on Saturday and we told him to be ready to pitch again on Sunday. We needed a big win in that Sunday game and Gus came in and dominated them for two innings to help us win that game. Going into his junior year the best thing about Gus is the great potential that he has.
On the Big East season: It was an interesting season to watch because of the new teams that were a part of the league this season. We saw a lot of traditional teams do well again, with Notre Dame winning the league and St. John's and Rutgers each playing well all season. We didn't have an opportunity to play against South Florida, but we won a series with Cincinnati and faced Louisville at their field. There is a lot of excitement about new facilities in the Big East and trying to get the league to be one of the elite baseball conferences in the country. It seems to me that we now have the right people and the right teams involved in making that happen, and the future of the league has never been brighter.
On the parity in college baseball on the national level: College baseball is growing all over the place, but the major hurdle for teams like Villanova and other Big East programs is still the opportunity to play in the postseason. The RPI is working itself out and giving teams opportunities to play in regionals, and once you get there anything can happen. A team like Manhattan this season is the perfect example. They are a team that might struggle to win two series if they were in the Big East, but then we watched them go to Nebraska and beat them 4-1 and hang in with San Francisco and Miami. Another team is College of Charleston. They might not get into the tournament if they don't win their conference, but now they will be in a super regional series. The parity is there and there are great players all around the country, but there are still teams out there that need the opportunity to show what they are capable of in the postseason.
May 9, 2006
On next week's Alumni Weekend: Next week is going to be a huge week for us. We have our alumni golf outing with over 100 golfers playing, and Notre Dame is in town so we are going to be playing a top-15 team. Hopefully there will be a lot of playoff implications during that series. Notre Dame travels well and we should have huge crowds all weekend. It is good for our alumni to come back and see everyone and see the team. For things like this, my hope is always that we will just come out and play well in front of the alumni. We have a rich baseball tradition and our alumni have had success on and off the field; it is good for them to come back and meet this version of Villanova baseball.
On the Cincinnati series: We went in thinking that we had to win the series and felt good about playing these games at home. Our goal was to put ourselves in a situation where we could maybe win all three games, and I think we did that. At the same time, in any one of the games a play here or there could be different and we could have lost all three games.
On Friday's game: Our offense did a great job on Friday of going out and jumping on the other team's pitcher. He came in with a great record and had been pitching really well, but we just went out and had him in all kinds of trouble. Cincinnati kept getting out of it with double plays and everything else, and then all of a sudden they get one extra-base hit after the fourth or fifth inning and then we are trailing. We don't always play well in situations where we are trailing late, but Darren Griffith got a big hit in the ninth inning and then extra innings took care of itself.
On the ninth inning comeback Friday: The tough thing about that situation was that we felt in the eighth inning we had the best part of our lineup at the late. It was a situation where you don't get anything in the eighth inning and you start thinking about the missed chances earlier in the game, when we hit into four double plays and seemed to have several bases-loaded situations. We couldn't put them away and the next thing you know we are trailing. The players are in tune with that, too. They know that coming back in the ninth inning isn't what we usually do. At that point in the game you aren't going to hit one out of the park. You need to be able to string two or three hits together and we did. Darren Griffith leads off the inning and got the biggest hit of the season so far.
On the ending of the game in the 11th inning: Craig Mirsky was up with first and second and nobody out, and everybody knew he was going to bunt. If he does, they have to walk Derek Shunk and pitch to Jeremy Hunt, which they avoided whenever possible during the weekend. Mirsky had an outstanding series and he had hurt them too. They ran a pickoff play and after the ball got away I think there was just a lot of chaos. It was a tough decision whether or not to pitch to Mirsky and the next thing you know their pitcher is in his motion and steps off.
On Saturday's game: I thought both pitchers in that game gave their team a chance to win. Kevin Mulvey pitched very well and I thought it was a very well-played college baseball game with the exception of maybe one play after they took the lead. Cincinnati came in with a young pitcher and he did very well.
On Sunday's game: We came into a must-win situation with a freshman on the mound and despite having the other team in a lot of trouble it is only a 1-0 game. In the middle of the game, their leadoff hitter hits a home run which you don't expect and the game could really go in a number of different ways after that. Our offense picked us up by scoring two runs in each of the next two innings, and you don't realize until the game is over that you got a win and only had five hits. I was very excited about winning the game. It was a great team victory and a stepping stone game to give us three wins in our last four conference series. It puts us in a great situation going into the last six Big East games.
On Josh Eidell's start on Sunday: I was a little concerned about him starting the game. He started a little bit like he did against West Virginia, where his velocity was down and the location was inconsistent. He got past a tough spot in the first inning and then settled down. We put him in some uneasy situations at times and their leadoff guy hit a home run, but I thought that at some critical points in the game we were able to slow things down and let him catch his breath. Over his final three innings he had outstanding velocity and was much stronger with the velocity and his pitch control than early on. That is simply a testament to his composure, background and toughness.
On holding Cincinnati's top two hitters to 4-for-23 hitting: We trust our ballpark and trust our pitching staff. I think that [pitching coach] Rick Clagett and our pitchers, along with [catcher] Andy Wendle had a terrific game plan on Cincinnati going into the series and really knew what they wanted to do. We wanted to let them put the ball in play and keep it in the ballpark. It is hard to hit opposite-field home runs in our ballpark, so that was less of a concern for us. Hitters are smart, too; they know how they have been pitched before and what to expect in certain situations, but we just went right after them.
On having the opportunity to control own destiny for conference tournament: I think that is all you can hope for. When you go out and win a conference series, you put yourself into a situation where you can control what happens the next weekend. We are in a spot where we have to play one game better than Georgetown or South Florida, but there are other teams in the mix as well with West Virginia and Rutgers. Other teams in the standings have some tough games left as well. If you win each day things will take care of themselves, and you can go home and see what happened elsewhere. When you look at the standings now, on one hand it seems like there are three teams competing for one spot, but really we are just 2.5 games out of fourth place.
On the upcoming Louisville series: This weekend will be a lot like Cincinnati was last weekend, where we are walking into the unknown. They don't know a whole lot about us either, and sometimes I think that favors us slightly because of the nickel and dime stuff we do with the bunting and running game, plus the strength of our pitching staff. They are coming off a great weekend with taking two of three games at Notre Dame, which doesn't happen very often. Louisville has talented guys up and down their roster and they play well at home, so it will be an uphill battle all weekend.
The key for us is that we are baking on the momentum we have coming into the series. Our guys are playing fearless baseball and working hard for nine innings and we are making people beat us. They have fought very hard to get to this point after a 1-8 start in the league, and no matter how many times they have us on the mat we will get up each time. When we catch the ball we are very strong. A series like this is why we go to places like Texas and Georgia Tech. We expect Louisville to have a big crowd each night and we have to recall some of the past experiences we have had.
May 2, 2006
On the West Virginia series: So many things happened during the series this weekend, both positively and on the negative side. Offensively we were outstanding all weekend and we pitched well. Mike Loree had a good start in the game on Friday and had some hard luck. I wish we would have played better defense, but at times we struggled with a very hard infield where the ball was moving very quickly.
We struggled defensively for the first two days and unfortunately we paid a heavy price by losing both of those games. I don't know whether we would have won both of those games otherwise, but I would have felt pretty good about at least winning one of the games. In Friday's game we had total control until one inning. If you make three errors in an inning against anybody in the Big East, there will be a price to pay, but the price was especially heavy against a team that is as talented offensively as West Virginia.
In Sunday's game we were down 4-0 and looking at a situation where our season was on the line, but we climbed back and found a way to rally and score in the eighth and ninth innings. Winning that game put a lot of energy back in the team and has us very excited going into the next weekend.
On winning the last game of a series for the first time this season: I talked to the team on Saturday after the walk-off home run beat us, and emotions amongst everybody were all over the board. I really felt good about winning Sunday's game and that is what I told the team. It wasn't just talk; I really did feel good about winning that game. We didn't start off the way we wanted to, but the team has a lot of fight in it. It seems this year that we have dug ourselves a lot of holes and then need to spend time climbing out of those holes. That is what we did against West Virginia. We dug a hole during the first two games and dug it a little deeper at first on Sunday, but we still found a way to crawl back and get a win out of that.
On winning a back-and-forth, high-scoring game such as the one Sunday: That last game against West Virginia was one of those days where nothing was going right at the beginning of the game. Josh Eidell came out after the second inning, but that wasn't a decision that reflects what we think about his pitching. It was just a decision where we wanted to throw everything we had at them to try to get back into the game. Ryan Wendler had been pitching well and had some good innings for us, and we put him out there to see how far he could go.
In the third inning we knew that we had hit into some double plays early in the game, and sent Matt McFolling up as a pinch-hitter. He got a hit to keep a rally going, and then Kris Molloy hit a grand slam. It was one of those games where almost everyone who could play did play and each guy we put in made a positive contribution in the game. The bullpen did a good job and the win was a complete team effort. A game like that is atypical for us, but it was just that type of a day and it really gave us a lift.
On the added pitching depth with fewer mid-week games late in the season: I think it will help our depth somewhat to have fewer games during the week, but our guys don't get too much into things like that. Ryan Wendler and Jordan Ellis have done such a great job all year in the midweek games. The person who will benefit the most from the remainder of the schedule is Wendler, because he is a guy that can be a bullpen pitcher or can get in the game and be a starter for us. Instead of throwing 80-100 itches during the week, he becomes a guy that could pitch on multiple days during a weekend series.
On scoring runs in the first inning: I think scoring early in the game is pivotal. I remember us doing that against Pittsburgh and in the first game against Seton Hall. We have a lot of confidence offensively and the guys understand that our offensive is based on getting on base. Ryan Arcadia and Craig Mirsky have hit at the top of the lineup all year and when they get on base it makes it very hard for opposing pitchers to get through Derek Shunk and Jeremy Hunt. They are both on fire right now and are tough outs.
On Jeremy Hunt's hitting for both power and batting average: Jeremy is a great hitter who struggled at the beginning of the year, much like everyone else on the team. He is going to eventually hurt you at the plate. He is a patient enough hitter and a good enough hitter to make you throw it in the strike zone, and then he can hurt you either over the fence or in the ballpark. He has power to left field and all parts of the field, but if a runner is on second he can get a base hit and drive in a run without having to swing for the fences. It has been great to see his maturation as a hitter.
On the season's Diamond Five games: I think these games are good. Beating Temple was a positive note because we finished 7-1 in the games against Diamond Five opponents. All of the other teams in the city are improving and some have new coaches. Sometimes I think these games mean more to the other teams than to our team, which is a natural process when you are in a position like ours. It is similar to us playing teams like Notre Dame or Florida and Texas, where a win means more to our organization. We have seen that when you don't play well you pay for it, most recently when we beat Saint Joseph's 4-1 but didn't play good defense, which carried over to the series against West Virginia. I think that we are in a situation in these games now where we just want to play well and play good defense. If we do that I think the other city teams are going to struggle against us.
On the team's position in the standings: We are really excited about the Cincinnati series. The two teams don't know much about each other and this will be the first Conference USA team that we have played. It is nice to get them at home, and I just look at the standings and see that we are 3.5 games behind them and they are in fourth place. If we can win the series we get into the next weekend. Our situation now is one where we can't lose two games in a row. We have to go out and approach each game as a one-game series. We are trying to put the mental part together that every time we win a game it will be a huge positive in the standings, and every time we lose we will take a hit. When you are one game out in the standings and you lose a game it is punishing. Everybody else is playing each other and we have a great opportunity this weekend. Cincinnati is a really good ball club but we hope that getting them at home will bode well for us.
On playing a strong offensive team like Cincinnati: In the past, our history has shown at our ballpark that we have handled things well when good hitting teams come in. If that holds true this weekend we should be in pretty good shape. The ballparks helps us against teams like that and our pitching staff gives us an advantage too. The ball will fly a little more this time of year than early in the season but our offense is playing well right now. Normally when teams come in that are towards the top of the league in hitting we do a good job. This weekend is a little different, though, because we have never seen Cincinnati before and there is a bit of an unknown factor to the series.
April 25, 2006
On Brian Slocum being called up to the major leagues: Brian called me and said that he was at the airport, and that meant he was either going to the big leagues or that he was going back to Double-A ball. We kind of laughed about that but he was really excited to be called up by the Indians and to meet the team in Kansas City to have a chance to pitch out of the bullpen. Getting called up is awesome for Brian, and I couldn't be happier for him to have a chance to fulfill his dream and pitch in the big leagues.
I think that Brian's promotion really goes back to him making a huge decision during the winter to buy into pitching out of the bullpen. He is a typical starting pitcher and pitched in that role throughout college and his professional career. The Indians came to him during the off-season and wanted to put him in Triple-A and pitch out of the bullpen. I know that wasn't the happiest day of his baseball career but it goes to show you that sometimes when you keep your mouth shut and work hard everyday, good things will happen for you.
On the wins over La Salle and Coppin State: Coming off the Pittsburgh series I think there was a lot of excitement about our team. It felt like we owed La Salle because they had beaten us two straight times and really handled us in the last game at their field. It was good to go out and not only beat them but to really make it a no-contest. Coppin State is a team that has improved as a ball club but has been hurt by injuries. Their coaching staff does a nice job with them, but this is a tough point in the season. I give our guys credit for being able to get some runs on the board in games like that.
On the Seton Hall series: Our games against Seton Hall were another important matchup between Villanova and a New Jersey team that at some point probably has recruited the players we have from that area. We played extremely well offensively and really had our A-game the first two games. Ryan Arcadia was outstanding in the series; he, Jeremy Hunt and a number of other guys really did a great job.
In the game on Friday we beat Dan Merklinger, who I think is one of the top three to four guys that we have seen all year. To be able to go out and score 13 runs in a game that he pitched in spoke volumes about our style of offense. Saturday's game should have been a great matchup between Kevin Mulvey and Dan McDonald, but the weather just didn't cooperate in that. They pitched through such tough conditions through the five innings we played that it really made for an atypical matchup. On Sunday in the completion of that game we found ourselves down by a run and scored eight times in the seventh inning. That is a lot more runs than we normally scored late in the game against Big East teams, but the offense erupted with some balls in the gap and did a good job with two outs. I give Seton Hall a lot of credit for playing their best game of the series in the third game. They made some good defensive plays where, if they don't make them, maybe we would have won the game. It was exciting to win two Big East series in a row and to win a conference series on the road.
On the team's remaining schedule: We have been able to battle back from last place to ninth place and, the way the schedule sets up, we are only a couple games out of the middle of the standings. With our next three weekends being against West Virginia, Cincinnati and Louisville, we will see teams in front of us that at times this year have played really great and at other times have struggled. We need to go out and play with the purpose of capturing wins and capturing conference series'. We control our own destiny and can keep it that way if we continue to win. It would be nice to sweep someone somewhere along the line but it would be difficult if someone did that to us. If we can win two of three games in a series it puts us in good shape for the next weekend.
On Ryan Arcadia: Ryan is starting to live up to the expectations that we had when we recruited him. I thought that coming out of high school he fit our offense better than any other player I have brought in. He can hit leadoff and is very on-base conscious. He can go first to home in a heart beat, steals bases and can get the bunt down. Recently he has developed some more pop to the gaps. Teams need to know where he is at on the bases. He has also picked up his defense and is playing very well defensively.
On Ryan Wendler: Ryan has been extremely impressive and is pitching with a lot of confidence right now. To roll out a streak of shutout innings that he has had is remarkable, and it will give him a chance now to get into some conference weekends and pitch in those situations.
On Matt McFolling and Wes Borden playing in midweek games: I don't know what other teams goals are in those midweek games, but our goal is always to go out and win and to develop our players. Early in the year we faced so many left-handed pitchers that it was tough to get lefty hitters like McFolling and Borden into the lineup. Then we had our struggles and were trying to get to .500, and we made the decision just to start playing these guys. Matt and Wes are guys who give you a spark; they know that these games are their audition and they have also been able to jumpstart the offense more than any other group of young players we have had. They are playing extremely well and are giving us some hard decisions for the weekend games. That is how Joe Rosati got in the lineup earlier this season, and now he is batting fifth for us.
April 20, 2006
On the win over Lehigh: I think this game might play out to be the most important game of the season for us. We were coming off the Connecticut series, where we played well at times but had nothing to show for it. The Lehigh game was the night of the Liberty Bell championship game, and we lost our title without having a chance to defend it in the final game. It is a long way to Lehigh and there isn't anything exciting about their field. It isn't the easiest place to get motivated and we did a good job of jumping out on them early on. It was a close game for a while and then about the fifth or sixth inning it seemed like they weren't going to win it and we ended up scoring 11 runs that day.
Winning the game against Lehigh gave us some momentum and really helped us going into the series against Pitt. It may have salvaged our season too, because if we lose you fall four or five games below .500 with nowhere to go, whereas now you cut it in half and have a chance to get into the next weekend.
On the Pittsburgh series: When we play Pittsburgh it always seems to be the baseball version of a backyard brawl, where every spark can turn into a forest fire. They had gotten the better of us during my time here and the series against them always seems to be a situation where someone's season is going to end. Last year we had a great record and they battled back, and this year we were both just battling to try and get into the next weekend.
In the first game we pounded [Billy Muldowney] in the first inning and the next thing you know you lose. I thought it was a real gut effort to come back and win two games the hard way after that. The second game we were down 3-1 against a good lefty pitcher that has won some games in this league. He had that game totally in control and we just willed ourselves back into the game and got a win. On Saturday the play was outstanding. The team was excited about Kevin pitching and he got out of trouble early and allowed just one run in the first inning. Then we score five runs in the first and stay in control. I was pleased and happy with the effort. We played with a high energy level and played tougher than [Pitt] did.
On Ryan Wendler starting in midweek games: Ryan has done a nice job starting for us. We tried him out of the bullpen last season and early this year and he really never got comfortable. We initially gave him some starts just to get some innings. He is a highly recruited kid with a lot of confidence and he is in the big picture for us in terms of playing time. As he has gotten innings under his belt, he has cut down on the walks and pitched with good velocity. He is still learning how to fight through some things, but the experience he had in some of his earlier starts paid off in the starts against Lehigh and La Salle. We would like to get him into some conference games out of the bullpen and he would be the next guy in if something goes wrong.
On Josh Eidell pitching well in Big East games: It is nice to see Josh pitching so well. We have just been letting him go and he trusts his stuff. You hear people say that pitchers need to be over the plate and trust their defense, and Josh has figured that out as a freshman. He reminds me a lot of Nick Allen when he got here. They come from different backgrounds in terms of baseball programs and opportunities, but Josh does a good job of getting ahead and he can get ground balls in situations when he needs to throw the ball over the plate. He was our top pitcher on the board last year and that is just kind of playing out for us right now.
On scoring runs in the first inning during the Pittsburgh series: At times our offense has been very good during weekday games but we haven't played with the best of confidence offensively in the Big East. Looking back, we played St. John's and Connecticut who are near the top of the league, and Rutgers is now playing well. We swung the bats pretty well against Rutgers and the other two teams really shut us down. We really needed to have that big first inning - even though we lost - on Thursday because it gave us confidence offensively. It was more important on Thursday than the five runs we scored on Saturday because we got our momentum going and knew that we would be alright swinging the bats for the weekend.
On Jeremy Hunt and the team's power game: The increased power of the team as a whole is just a tribute to getting better players through recruiting. We are getting players now that aren't just speed guys, who have some pop and can knock the ball out of the yard if you make a mistake. Instant offense is a big boost at anytime and we're happy to get that. Jeremy Hunt leading the Big East in home runs is outstanding. He is a quality kid and has tremendous power, and right now he is continuing to develop as a hitter. He hits well to all fields and recently he has been doing a good job of playing to the ballpark. At our field it is tough to hit the ball with power to left field so he looks for pitches away. Then at Penn the wind was blowing out to left field and he looked for a pitch to pull. His success this season is a testament to his maturity level as a ballplayer and a hitter.
On Joe Rosati: Joe is a guy who is still learning the game as a freshman. He was a three-sport athlete in high school and this is the first time he is going through a whole year playing nothing but baseball. He is a big, strong kid who played football and basketball in high school and he adds speed to the lineup. He is one of those guys that if you make a mistake to him he has a knack for putting the barrel of the bat on the ball. He can hurt you on a bad pitch, as he did with the home run against Pitt. We thought he could hit for power in college and we are looking forward to seeing what he can do as his career goes on.
On James Dolbier's eight-game hitting streak: James is in the same category as Derek Shunk and Ryan Arcadia. As our number-five hitter, he has to protect Jeremy Hunt in the order. He can hurt you in a lot of ways. He has power and can hit it over your head but can also lay down a bunt in front of you. He has good speed and should develop into one of the top quality outfielders in the Big East. Although he has had his struggles at times, I am really pleased with the effort. He is figuring it out as a sophomore and trying to get on base within our system and not by playing to a batting average or slugging percentage. I am pleased to see his growth and development this season.
On Kevin Mulvey: Kevin is just starting to hit a different gear. In watching him pitch, you are seeing the maturation of a college player who is getting ready to begin a professional career. It is so nice to see the growth in Kevin since he has been here. He has great talent and it has never been about his arm or anything else. I am happy to see how he has matured at Villanova and his growth has been very evident in these last three starts.
Kevin battles and challenges hitters and doesn't let outside things that he can't control affect him. When he puts a game together as he has done in his last three starts it is exciting to watch him pitch. If he continues on the path he is on, hopefully we will see him on TV one day. We can't ask any more of him than what he has done for us; he has been awesome.
On Mulvey's start against Pittsburgh: The back half of that game was a blood-and-guts performance. Kevin got a little tired in the fifth inning but I saw the sixth through the ninth and that was about a guy going out and saying that he's going to be a pitcher and not just a thrower. He went out with the poise of a guy who is going to make quality pitches and get you out, not by trying to throw 94-95 on every pitch and blow hitters away. That why we won the game 6-3 and didn't get into a situation where it's 5-5 and Kevin gets a no-decision and maybe the outcome is different.
On playing Seton Hall this weekend: This weekend is a huge series for us. We are taking guys back to New Jersey and that is always important for us. It is a recruiting issue when we play them because we have gotten the better of recruiting and need to continue doing that. I think that games between Villanova, Seton Hall and St. John's are the richest and most traditional series in the league. These three teams are kind of the original three big baseball schools in the Big East and Seton Hall has some excellent history with Craig Biggio and Mo Vaughn going through their programs. We had success against them last season and when these two teams play you just expect the records to be thrown out of the window and have both teams play extremely well. Seton Hall has three good, quality guys throwing against us and there should be good pitching matchups in all three games.
March 21, 2006
On the four games last week: It started out as a real tough week. We didn't play well at La Salle and wound up with a loss. The St. Peter's game I thought was a critical day for us in the sense that Kevin Mulvey was pitching and there was a lot of excitement about the game. We had been scoring a lot of runs, but to get beat 3-2 just shows that St. Peter's rose to the occasion. That is a tough spot for our club to be in.
On Saturday I thought the players did a good job of identifying that we just weren't playing good baseball. It wasn't a matter of not getting it done on the mound or not doing the job offensively. We just weren't playing good baseball. On Saturday Mike gave us a good start and the interesting thing is that we were able to get a win with the wind blowing in quite a bit, as it was all weekend. We were the ones probably hurt the most offensively by those conditions. To be down 3-1 and rally back and be able to put together 18 hits for the day was important. I tip my cap to the players for that.
Against Long Island it was another rugged day and we had a 2-1 lead that we were able to break open in the eighth inning. We just needed two wins and we got that done.
On the conditions of the four games: We know that the cold and the wind is a part of the games we play this time of year. We practice in it all the time and don't shy away from it. Those kinds of games come down to whoever can get the most hits in the infield. We are usually prepared to do that and we went into the weekend swinging the bats so well. Unfortunately some of our hits that maybe could have gone for extra bases went for singles or were caught. Playing in these conditions is just a part of baseball in the Northeast. We are fortunate to be in Philadelphia and not in New England.
On playing from behind in games: It seemed like we were playing from behind the entire weekend. We were down in all four games and didn't help ourselves early on in some of the games. I think that in the conditions we played in last week, sometimes playing from behind in those conditions wears on you a little bit. On Saturday and Sunday we got the lead and handled everything appropriately after that.
On the team's schedule: We have done well in the past few years against teams from the area. However, with the La Salle game last week we saw right off the bat and need to understand that when we go play these teams it is a big game for them. They are going to give us their best effort and aren't just going to hand us baseball games. That level of competition is a tribute to college baseball in Philadelphia continuing to get better.
On beginning conference play: The key for us as we get into conference play is to settle things down with our pitching staff. Kevin Mulvey and Mike Loree know what days they are going to be pitching now and that should give them a quiet confidence in terms of getting ready for their starts. We have some guys coming back from injuries and rehab and the goal is to get into our five-man rotation as quickly as possible. I think we are as close to being there as we have been at any point in the season, but we are still about a week away. I think we have a good idea of what we are trying to do in the bullpen.
On Kris Molloy: Kris had a great week and I think he just played up to his ability. We have seen bits and pieces of that in the past where he put a good weekend or two together, but right now he is swinging the bat as well as I have ever seen him hit. He isn't doing anything above and beyond his ability. He is exceptionally strong and when he drives the ball into the middle of the field it opens up a lot of possibilities for us. His bunt game has been very good also and of course his defense is second to none.
On the offense: I am happy with how the offense is coming along. After the Texas series we recognized the situation we were up against, having played Norfolk State in cold weather and then being a Northeast team facing Texas pitching in February. That is a steep challenge and although we had some good individual days we couldn't put it together as a team.
Coming out of the Texas series we talked about our philosophies of on-base percentage and the bunt game and tried to get our offense going that way. This team, better than any other team I have had, grasped that idea and was comfortable it. I think we are seeing the results of that. In the past it has taken us longer to find out what we are trying to do offensively as a team and individually.
On the pitching staff: This past weekend it was good to have our starters out there. The difference between the past two weekends was being able to have Kevin Mulvey and Mike Loree make their regular starts. Combining them with a start for Ted Aust and Gus Guida doing a good job out of the bullpen, it felt like the first time we had all of our top guys out there. The starting pitchers did a good job of getting guys out and pitching to our ballpark. I think the result was us seeing the most impressive three days we have seen all season.
On Ted Aust: Ted has done a lot of things for our program and is capable of wearing many different hats. He stepped up in a starting role on Sunday. It didn't start pretty, with Long Island getting a guy on who steals a base and then quickly scores a run. That was it. After their run in the first inning they didn't come close to doing anything after that. They threatened once with two outs, but Ted had command of three or four pitches and dominated the strike zone. He did a good job of getting some groundball outs early in the count. Overall, it was an outstanding start.
On the St. John's series: Playing St. John's will be a very stiff challenge, just like every Big East weekend is. We are getting the defending regular season conference champions and they are playing very good baseball right now. They have a good batting average and are very strong offensively. They do a nice job with their pitching staff and have a nice mix of veterans and freshmen who pitch for them.
Like we have seen the last two weekends there will be some very rugged weather. We need to control their offense through some combination of our starting pitchers and the climate as well. Our goal is to keep them off base. The key to victories this weekend will be whichever team has the higher on-base percentage. St. John's does similar things to us and manufactures runs and moves runners along when they need to, but they have some guys who can hit it over your head too. The key to winning this weekend will be on-base percentage.
February 28, 2006
Godri on the pitching in the Texas series: I was very pleased with the pitching this weekend. As expected, and as needed, Kevin Mulvey and Mike Loree went out and gave us a great chance to win games. You look at the game Mike pitched and it's a 2-1 game in the eighth inning, but Kevin really pitched well too. The one defensive mistake we made in the outfield let them spread it out a little bit and we couldn't give Kevin any momentum offensively. Mike has been a great pitcher early in the year during his career, and we are very conscious right now about his pitch count so that he can expand his performance later in the year.
Aside from Mike and Kevin going out there, we had a lot of guys make their first appearances of the season. I thought that Bill Hoffman, Josh Eidell, Ryan Wendler and Ryan Shockley all did a yeoman's job of keeping the game right where it was. They got out of some really tough jams, as did Frank Jankowski in his appearance. In some very tough situations, the pitchers stuck with our philosophy of throwing the ball over the plate no matter who is up there. We want the pitchers to trust the defense to make plays behind them and it was very, very encouraging to see that.
Godri on the Texas batters: I don't know how often we are going to see a team with the offensive capabilities of Texas. They have so many ways to beat you; they aren't just looking to bang the ball over the wall. I think our pitching staff exhausted all of their avenues of scoring runs, and made them beat us in different ways. That's what they did, and you just have to tip your hat to them for doing that.
Godri on the Texas series: It was a great experience for our program to be able to play Texas, maybe more so than the other top 10 teams we have played in past years. It is great to see the style of baseball they play, where they generate offensive off their bunting game and generate momentum off the pitching staff. They may have been struggling a little bit when we went down there but they have the makings of a great team. I can see why they won the World Series because they don't hurt themselves defensively or with two outs. They have so many options and so many things they can throw at you. I thought we forced them to run the gamut of getting on base and using their bunts and hit-and-run game. The reason they had to do that was because our pitching and defense put them in some bad spots at times. It was great to play in front of big crowds all weekend and I can't say enough about the Texas fans and how they appreciate good baseball.
Godri on the alumni support in Texas: It was great for our players to meet guys like Cliff Foley and Dan O'Dea and all of the other alumni that came out to support us. I can't say enough about their support and hospitality. It is so important for us to go down there and meet those guys, and that impacts our team and players when we get opportunities like that.
Godri on Jeremy Hunt: Jeremy is a good hitter and we know that. He is an established guy through the junior college ranks and in the Big East last year. He has to hit for us and we know that he is going to hit for us. He has had some tough luck and this weekend he was going against as good a pitching staff as there is in the country. I thought he gave himself some good at-bats, and on Sunday with the double and home run maybe he was the best hitter on the field that day.
Godri on Ryan Arcadia and James Dolbier: Both of these guys have been finding a way to get on base. Ryan, as a leadoff guy and such a threat on the bases, is important to us because he opens the door for our offense. We need to get better in that area. Jim has been striking the ball really well; he has hit some atom balls where he hit the ball on the button but hit it right at someone in RBI situations. Those hits will start falling for him and we are very encouraged with that.
Godri on Craig Mirsky: Right now Craig has been doing everything that we can ask of him. He gives us some energy in the lineup and allows us to stretch the offense with him in the two hole of the order. Craig is a senior guy that knows how to hit and put the ball in play. On his behalf, he gives himself a chance every time at the plate to get something done. We hope that he can build on the early momentum that he has going.
Godri on the team's defense: We want to base our team in the mode of a squad like Texas. We have to pitch and play defense, and going into the season I thought this could be our best defensive team by far. We have more range than ever before in the outfield and the infield. Right now we are just playing up to our ability and it has given a big lift to our pitching staff. The pitchers have a lot of confidence in the defense, and as that continues I think the momentum can shift to the offense. We want the guys to feel good about what they are doing in the field and carry that momentum into their appearances at the plate. But right now I am extremely pleased with how the defense is playing.
Godri on Gus Guida at third base: Gus is a good player who came in with some great accolades out of high school. He was behind a senior at third base last season so he got more time on the mound. Right now it looks like he has hit his stride. It doesn't look like he is trying to just feel himself out in the lineup; he is making some defensive plays and doing a great job.
Godri on making adjustments in Florida: The season is so young but we have six games under our belt now and I hope that we can go down to Florida and carry ourselves the same way we have in the first two weekends. We have been very successful in Florida during my tenure and I expect that we can go down there and play to our abilities. I don't think we need to play above what our capability is. I think that our pitching and defense will show even better potentially than in the Texas series. On the other side, we need to get the offense going. The key is to do what Texas did, where on Sunday all 24 outs were put in play. Mentally and physically we want to make the adjustments where at the end of the day you look at how many balls you put in play. If we do that we have a chance to be successful.
Godri on the teams the Wildcats will play in Florida: We are going to play some good teams, and some teams that we haven't seen before. We have played Duquesne and Holy Cross one time each, but schools like Toledo, Central Michigan and IPFW we will see for the first time. I would expect all five of these teams to be good teams. I know that Central Michigan is coming off a 40-win season with a lot of returnees. These teams will give us some good challenges at this point in the season. They are teams that know how to win and have the expectation of going out and winning. We need to play with confidence and what we need to do is get some wins down there.
Godri on playing a different team five straight games: In the two three-game series we have played, we have had a chance to prepare for our conference series and making adjustments within a series. These formats in Bradenton are exciting because you play a different opponent each day. It is a battle of the unknown where you have to go out there and play to your strengths. There are no chances to make adjustments throughout a series. These tournament games have helped us be successful in our mid-week games because we go right to our pitching and offensive strengths. We can work solely on our game and be less concerned with what the other team has.
Godri on the IMG Academies where the team will play: This facility is a little new to me but from what I know it is a place where someone goes to polish their tools and basically learn how to handle their game in a professional manner. They concentrate on diet and physical conditioning in all skills. Jeremy Hunt went down there for a summer before he came to Villanova and the experience was very beneficial to him. The IMG Academies are a place you would go for an extended period of time and just concentrate on your sport and learning in detail about your particular sport. The facilities are outstanding there and the people I have talked to all have conducted themselves at the highest level of professionalism.
Godri on the Winter Olympics: The Olympics always come and go and I only got to see a little bit of it. I guess what I concentrate on is being a hockey fan and it was frustrating to see the U.S. and Canada come up empty again. It seems like hockey is our sport but right now the world is doing a better job of it. I hope that with having two Flyers on the gold medal team can maybe build momentum towards the Flyers winning the Stanley Cup this season.
February 21, 2006
Godri on the Norfolk State series: Looking back at the series, I am happy that we took two games. I give both teams a lot of credit for playing through adverse conditions. It is unfortunate to have games played in poor conditions, but it is something you can't avoid when you play games in February. Despite the rain and cold, everybody had their mind set on baseball. Although we didn't necessarily show it, the conditions took away, at times, from both team's offenses.
The pitchers on both sides were excellent. We continued to throw the ball over the plate, and both teams played relatively solid defense without hurting themselves. When you win the first game you would certainly like to try and sweep the series, but that didn't happen because [Norfolk State] came out and beat us in the second game. In the two games Sunday, I think they had the lead for 13 of the 16 innings, so we were on our hells the entire time. One of the goals for us during the season is to be ahead late in the game because we have a tremendous record when leading after seven innings. At the same time, we kept battling this weekend and went out and won a game, which is something we need to do if we are going to move forward as a program.
Godri on Kevin Mulvey: Kevin was outstanding in his first start of the year and I am very happy for him. He went out and did what he needed to do. He threw the ball over the plate and wasn't trying to strike everyone out, although he finished with five strikeouts and no walks. He fielded his position well and made several plays on come-backers or bunts; even adjusting his slide step showed his poise on the mound. Kevin showed a lot of maturity in his first outing.
Godri on Ted Aust and the bullpen: Ted Aust came in to a 4-2 situation in the first game and they didn't hit a ball hard off him in two innings. He was pumping in strikes on a day when it was hard to throw his breaking ball, but he grinded it out and threw enough stuff over the plate or near it to keep the other team off balance. In the third game, Nate Hall came in and we are down 2-1, but he kept the game that way for six innings. He allowed us to have a chance to win the game, because if he got into any kind of trouble and if we get down even 3-1, I'm not sure what the outcome would have been. Frank Jankowski came in after that and did everything he was supposed to. He threw strikes, had good velocity and was able to get out of a minor jam in the ninth inning. If these are the kinds of contributions we are going to get from the bullpen, we're going to be okay.
Godri on Kris Molloy and James Dolbier: Kris had a very good weekend and showed again that out of the nine hole he does all of the things that we always talk about. Our offense works when we get on base, and at the bottom of the order Kris kept turning it over time and time again. If we can get on base two or three times with the bottom third of the order, we can be very tough at times. That is what Kris did; he swung the bat well and got some nice bunts down, and then he can hurt you on the bases and got three steals.
James Dolbier had a very good weekend as well and swung the bat very nicely. He faced a tough lefty in his first at-bat on Saturday and looked to be struggling. After that he made some nice adjustments and that is something you like to see as a coach. As a sophomore it is encouraging to see the little adjustments that are made at the plate. He hit a home run in the final game after we had just given up two runs, and then had another big hit later in the game.
Craig Mirsky also really stepped up and did some nice things offensively in the series for us. In the first game he had a big pinch-hit for us, which is very tough to do. It is difficult enough to be in that situation, but after sitting on the bench for basically two-and-a-half hours in tough conditions, for him to deliver a key base hit was remarkable. He also had a big hit in the third game.
Godri on the Villanova offense: The offense did a really good job this weekend, especially compared to where we have been in the opening weekends in some other years. The bottom line is that it was our first three games out and the other team had already gotten six or seven games under their belt. It was a good start to the season. Our offense revolves around getting on base and doing a good job of situational hitting and running, and we did an excellent job of that. We need to get better at driving the runs in, but we are still young and will get better at that with more experience. We got on base 40 times in the weekend and that's really a key; that's how our offense has to work.
Godri on playing Texas when they are 5-6 to start the season: Momentum can go either way and we'll find out what happens this weekend. I would prefer to go into Texas with them 10-1 and us 3-0, but that's just not what we're going to see. I think that when you look at who they have played so far, it is a `who's who' of college baseball. They are hitting well and you know they have great arms on the pitching staff. If they put a complete effort together and give us their A+ game - and I don't think anything differently - it will be extremely challenging for us.
We basically need to play the best that we can regardless of records in order to give ourselves a chance. Anytime you play one of the nation's top teams, which we have done before, we have to find a way to battle through a game and hang in there for seven innings to turn the thing into a short game. We are capable of doing that with our pitching and defense, and with some of the things we can do offensively we are capable of pulling out a game. That's what we are looking at this weekend and I think we will see a very focused team.
Godri on playing top teams around the nation before: It is the goal every year to be able to put a team like this on the schedule. My main point has always been that it takes time to get used to playing a team like that, because a program at our level will not see those kinds of teams on a day-to-day basis. We have had a series like this each year and hopefully have gotten enough experience to know what we need to do. I hope that the Florida series and getting a win down there last year will pay big dividends. The awe factor should not affect us too much. It is also going to be a great experience to compete against a coach from the other team that is, in my mind, the greatest coach in college baseball history.
Godri on the formation of the Diamond Five: The Diamond Five is a huge thing for college baseball in Philadelphia. It is long overdue in my opinion. One of the big things is that since I got to Villanova there are all new coaches at the Big Five schools and the level of competition is rapidly increasing. All the coaches now are full-time professionals who want to grow their program. The Diamond Five is a natural fit for public awareness. We have good, solid college teams and great players and I hope that will get out to the media and the public, but most importantly to the student-athlete. We want kids to be able to realize that they can stay in Philadelphia and play a real high quality of college baseball. Looking around at things this weekend, we are playing Texas, Temple is playing LSU and La Salle is playing Arizona. It doesn't get any better than that.
Godri on the food in Texas: They have my favorite restaurant in the whole country down there, which is the Great American Land of Cattle. You can't get a better steak in this country than that place. Also, having spent some time in New Mexico I know that in the Southwest there is Mexican food that we just can't come close to around here. Friday night the alumni are putting together a dinner for the team and I am excited to have the opportunity to have dinner with some Villanova alums that for the most part we haven't had the chance to see or meet. Cliff Foley has done a great job helping to organize that dinner. He was a great player here and was part of two Big East titles, and I am really looking forward to the weekend.
February 14, 2006
Godri on preparing for the first weekend of the season: We talk about having different phases to our season. It starts with coming in and playing in the fall, and then we get into the individual workouts during the winter. Then when you get to the spring you have your preseason and now it's time to get the spring season going. We are at a point where all the adjustments have been made and we just need to go out and see a team wearing a different uniform. The team has done all the things in practice that it needed to in preparation for playing games. There are no more mound sessions or batting practices that need to happen. We just need to play.
Godri on being able to practice outside for most of the preseason: The team has been able to get outside and practice on the turf in good weather conditions for most of our preseason. The biggest difference practicing outside is for the defense. The players, especially the infielders, are able to throw across the turf at an actual distance from third base to first base, or from the outfield. For the first time since I have been here, we did not take infield indoors at any time. That is something which should definitely make a difference when the season gets going.
Godri on the challenge of not being on a field until the first game: There are definitely adjustments to make when you get on the field for the first time. Defensively, the speed of the ball coming off the bat is an adjustment in a live game situation, and you also have to contend with the wind and some of the other outdoor conditions. To me the biggest thing is for each player to get his first assist out of the way in the field, his first at-bat under his belt at the plate. It can be tough to finally get into a game and then maybe have a fielder stand around for a whole game without having a chance to make a play. I think getting those first plays and plate appearances out of the way is important for making the adjustments to getting out on the field.
Godri on Norfolk State: This series with Norfolk State is one that I feel has been a great one for us. We have gone down to their field for a few years now and we know that every year when we get down there we are going to play some very competitive, tight baseball games. Norfolk State was 0-8 when we went in there last year, but we played three good games against them and then they wound up making it to the final of their conference tournament and being nine innings away from an NCAA Regional. I think they are a much improved team; they don't hurt themselves by making mistakes and they give you their best effort every time out. I am looking forward to this series with the expectation that the games will be as close as they have been in the past. Norfolk State is a good opponent to start the season and they play on a nice field that they do a good job taking care of.
Godri on the format of the weekend series and the starting rotation: We get started this weekend with a doubleheader on Saturday and then play a single game on Sunday. The games on Saturday are both going to be seven-inning games, and Sunday will be a nine-inning game. The games on Saturday add kind of an extra challenge because you are shortening the game and there is a little pressure to get your work done in somewhat of a shorter amount of time. We are going to go with Kevin Mulvey pitching the first game of the doubleheader, and Mike Loree will pitch the second game. They are our two top guys in the rotation and they both had successful starts against Norfolk State in the series we played last year. On Sunday, Jordan Ellis is going to get the start and be on a strict pitch count. After him it will be Nate Hall coming in and then we will take it from there. All of our guys are going to be on pitch counts this weekend for the beginning of the season.
Godri on his expectations for the first weekend of the season: I think when you get out on the field the first time you are just looking for the players to make the necessary adjustments to being on a field for the first time. You want your pitchers to go out and throw the ball over the plate, and in turn that will help everyone else play crisp defense in the field. In the opening weekend everyone is going through things for the first time, getting their first play and first at-bat taken care of and getting into a flow after that. From a coach's point of view, I think you want to see those adjustments be made and try to get into a flow. Two seasons ago when we started at Norfolk State, we were in a bases-loaded situation and Mike Ciccotelli comes in and gets a big strikeout to get out of the inning. I think that really set the tone not only for winning that game, but for us getting into a successful season and for Mike to have a great year and wind up getting drafted afterwards. Last year, it was similar with Nick Allen pitching a no-hitter and us getting three wins under our belt early on. I think the success you have early in the season is important to set you up the rest of the way.
Godri on the Super Bowl: The Super Bowl definitely had a different feel this year because of all the excitement over the game last year with the Eagles being in it, and then with the Patriots being there and trying to win it for a third time. With this year's game, unless you are a Steelers fan or had another rooting interest in the game, there wasn't a whole lot to get excited about. It wasn't the most well-played game but I think there were still two good teams and either one could have come out on top. There have been 40 Super Bowl games played, so there have been 80 Super Bowl teams, and I'm not sure where these two teams would rank among the other teams that have made it there in the past.
December 8, 2005
Godri on the team's accomplishments in his first four years as head coach: Looking back over the past four years, we have been able to accomplish a number of things. There are still some things that we want to get done, but I am pleased with the progress that has been made. During the four years we moved into a new facility, and our stadium completely changes our recruiting and the way that Villanova baseball is perceived.
The team has posted a winning record in three out of my four seasons and has done well in the Liberty Bell Classic. The Liberty Bell is a local tournament that is very important to the program, and we have been to two finals in the last two year and won the title in 2005.
Villanova has also had the opportunity to play against teams ranked among the top 10 in the nation. Over the past few seasons we have played Tulane, Georgia Tech and Florida. After coming up just short, we got over the hump and had a big win against Florida last year, then played them to the wire in two other games.
The bottom line is that we have been able to do some things that hadn't been done before and have had the opportunity to go to some different places and play in tough baseball environments. It speaks volumes that the team has been able to accomplish all of the above thins in such a short period of time.
Godri on the success of Villanova alumni in the professional ranks: It has been important for the baseball program to see our guys doing well in the pros. We feel that we can say a player who comes to Villanova will have a lifeline to extend their career beyond the collegiate level. We have several guys playing in the minor-leagues and I am just as happy for guys like Mark Cardillo, Bob Grzenda and John Yeager who have had the chance to play internationally.
Godri on the team's recruiting efforts: Our recruiting has gotten a lot stronger in the past few years. We are no longer in a situation where we bring guys in and feel pressure to recruit over them after two years. We do not need to rely on getting the best junior college players or transfers to come up and make a difference. Our recruiting has evolved to the point where we bring in a good flow of guys who are all capable of making significant contributions to the program. We don't have to hope for a couple of good players with the rest of the group filling in around them.
Godri on alumni support: Our alumni support has increased drastically in recent years. Improving relationships with that particular fan base is one of the most important things in college baseball. The baseball program is coming off a very successful campaign in the recent V Club Online Auction. In addition, the alumni golf outing has doubled from 50 golfers to well over 100 golfers at the annual event. The team has also had two jerseys retired in the past three seasons. Most importantly, I feel that the basic objective we have accomplished is to get some excitement back into Villanova baseball. The level of excitement makes a huge difference when it comes to doing projects like renovating the locker room, purchasing video technology for the players or making an extra trip each year to places like Savannah State or Texas.
Godri on the makeup of the 2006 team: This season we are bringing back a sophomore class that I think has a chance to be phenomenal. Our sophomores include a lot of position players who made significant impacts as freshmen and they all have a chance for a great career with the Wildcats. To say that about a group of sophomores is very impressive when you consider the talent of players a year or two ahead of them, a core group that includes Kevin Mulvey, Mike Loree and Andy Wendle. Our pitching has been dominant over the past few seasons and the team's offense is now starting to rapidly close the gap with the pitching staff.
Godri on the team being young in 2006: I can only gauge my expectations for this team based on what I have seen from them so far and the experiences I have had over the past several seasons. You sometimes see guys have a bit of a sophomore jinx and then really take off their junior year, but we were fortunate to get very strong contributions last year from Kevin Mulvey, Mike Loree and Andy Wendle in their sophomore seasons. When you play so many games, the speed of the game can sometimes get by you.
Our players benefit from our offensive system and the style of baseball that we play. We don't have to rely on hitting a home run or doing anything that is not within our capabilities. We go out and try to get five runs a day and that is not a steep task give the way the team plays. It takes some of the pressure off the hitters to know that there are a variety of options that we have offensively. Our hitters know that if they go up and get on base there will be a lot of different things we can do to manufacture runs.
Defensively the team buys into the fact that we are a team that must pitch and play defense at a high level. Our players are committed to playing strong defense. One thing you can say is that when you arrive at the ballpark each day you should always have your speed and your defense with you. We have experienced some success on the field and that will help us moving forward.
Godri on the team's goals this season: We have four basic goals every season and they are as follows: to graduate every player, win a Big East playoff spot, win a Liberty Bell title and outwork our opponents. I will elaborate on each of those, but first want to also mention the importance of playing well in the early non-conference schedule. We are 40-11 against non-conference teams the past two years and I feel we need to do that again. The more you win, the easier it is to get on a roll and use the early games to set the tone and temp for the rest of the season. You are trying to get everyone healthy and put in the right spots in the lineup and bullpen, but at the same time you want to go out and win some games and then get into the middle of the season and go from there.
Godri on the Big East Tournament: There are eight spots in the playoffs this year and that is a great opportunity for teams, although there are some new challenges and hurdles with some of the new teams that are coming into the league. It is a benefit for a strong pitching team like Villanova to play three nine-inning games from Friday-Sunday. It is important to concentrate on winning those Friday games, because the wins and playoff spot will take care of themselves after that. The old four-team format for the conference playoffs was so tight because of the parity at the top of the standings, but there is a little more room for things to shake out in an eight-team postseason format. Making the Big East Tournament is one of our most critical goals. Whether or not we are successful this season depends on making the conference tournament. It would be a big step for our program and it is not a good substitute if we go out and win 30 games but don't wind up with up with a playoff spot.
Godri on winning a Liberty Bell title: There are some new coaches of the teams in the Philadelphia area and each of the teams has improved. Baseball in the area has improved overall and I still think we are the dominant team locally. However, the other teams are working hard to close the gap and it is a big game for any one of them when they play us. We want to be on guard and go out to win another title. There is no better way to judge the local teams - we each have the same opportunity out there for us and it is important for recruiting to be able to say that we are the best team out there.
Godri on graduating every player that comes through the system: I am excited to see our guys graduate after four years here. The seniors are very special to me and it is a good feeling to look around a room and know that if I see 33 guys I can feel confident about them coming out with 33 degrees. It is a great source of pride for a college coach to see his players graduate after four years.