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Aug. 28, 2007
Head coach Barry Gorman
How do you think the team has looked in the preseason?
Overall, we are very pleased. The guys are slotting together nicely. We still have a few kinks to iron out, but overall I think I am very pleased.
You have a large, young group of players to complement a group of seniors, how have you seen those groups meshing together so far?
From a coach's point of view, it has been good. They are coming together well. I think it's great testimony to the seniors that they are embracing the younger players and helping them make the adjustments.
On the health of the team...
Everyone has come in in great shape. That's the pleasing thing. Everybody is healthy. Every day the trainer sends us an injury report and so far, knock on wood, it's been pretty mild. Just the usual knicks and scratches. We certainly hope that continues and they continue to look after themselves. The big thing is to avoid unnecessary tackles in practice.
What type of team do you think you have this season?
I think this is a well-balanced team. It is a team that likes to work together. They can defend as a unit and attack as a unit. And I think that the goal scoring will be spread through quite a few people. Obviously, if Jason Yeisley stays healthy, he is going to be a big gun up front for us. Jacobo Vera, who was also out injured last year, people have not seen the best of him yet. The kid shoots and he always seems to find the target. I think when he gets a little more playing time, he is going to be a potential goal scorer at the Division I level. Treavor Gelsinger, a freshman from Pennsylvania, is a proven goal scorer at other levels. Now, if he can step up, I think he will have a lot of support people around him to help him fill that role quickly.
You have to be mentally tough to win and win a lot, does this team have that intangible that some of your better teams have had?
I think so. We have a group of seniors that have been through the good times and the bad times. I think they are mentally tough and I think they are hungry. Then, we have a number of young players who have had success in other places and they are equally hungry to continue that success. There is a lot of depth in this squad, so if someone decides he is going to take an off day, there is someone else who is going to step in. Added to that, we have a few players who are capable in two or three different positions and can fulfill different roles. So, nobody can rest on his laurels. But I think the fact of the matter is is that we have a group of seniors and two co-captains that will drive people on and I think when it gets down to the nitty gritty, there are going to dig in. You are going to find this year that we, as a team, have a lot more teeth to us than what we did last year. Last year, we were in a lot of games and lost a lot of close games. The defense kept us in the games but without our forwards, who were out with injuries, we were like a toothless lion last year. That will not be the case this year.
How good are you in goal?
We have three goalkeepers on the roster and all three are looking good. Warren Gross is a man mountain at about 6-3. He has had time with the under 18 national team. I wouldn't say that Conrad (Taylor) looks over his shoulder but he looks upwards and backwards and there is a shadow. He knows that and it is pushing him, which is great.
Does it seem like Conrad Taylor has been here forever?
It does, especially when you consider that he hasn't missed a minute in regular season games. That's incredible. Conrad is incredibly gifted at reading the game. He picks things up very early. They tell me in baseball that a good hitter can pick up the flight of the pitch very early. Conrad does the same thing with crosses and shots. He is a guy who is mentally tough.
Senior defender Stephen Reihner
How will success be defined this year for the team? Will it be in a number of wins or do you have certain goals you want to achieve? We always will strive to win a Big Ten Championship. We are looking for a Final Four finish. Getting there would be the best thing for us.
How good is the team in goal?
In the past, it has just been Conrad and that's it in goal. There hasn't been anyone to challenge him. This year, he has two players who can push him and challenge him.
Can you talk about the how difficult it was last year dealing with so many injuries?
We tried a number of combinations, putting defenders on offense and offensive players on defense. It was a struggle, but we got through it. This year, I am excited to have everybody back and healthy.
Senior defender Grady Renfrow
How frustrating has the struggles on offense been for you?
Our defense has always played well and been really tough. When our forwards miss chances, it's a little frustrating. Our defense may keep us alive in a game, but it can't put the other team back on its heels. It would be nice to have some goals.
How good is the team in goal?
With our younger guys, their shot-stopping ability is definitely noticeable. I don't know that their field presence is as good as Conrad's but their shot stopping is there. The rest will come with experience and more playing time.
What makes Conrad Taylor so good?
It's a little bit of everything. He is really smart. In terms of seeing things that a defender might not see, whenever he makes a point, you say `oh yeah, that is a good point. I should have seen that.' Also, he can probably jump over the goal. Technically, he is really good.
On achieving team goals for the season...
Our coaches say that they have seen teams that are in the Final Four and that, right now, we can match that quality or caliber of a team. Whether we are or not, it definitely feels like we are right now. The confidence is high with everyone - guys on the bench and on the field.