Dave Pietramala, a 1990 graduate of Johns Hopkins, enters his fourth season as head coach at his alma mater. Johns Hopkins finished with a 14-2 record and lost in the NCAA championship game to Virginia last year.
Baltimoresun.com: What do you like about your team?
Dave Pietramala: I like that we are more versatile in our ability to attack in different ways We're a little more athletic between the lines. We return all three face off guys from last season and that's an important piece of our puzzle. Defensively, I like that we've got our whole defensive midfield intact and we return two starters at close defense. We didn't graduate a lot of people, but we did graduate a lot of contributors and leaders.
Baltimoresun.com: Sounds like you guys are loaded.
Dave Pietramala: There's that saying that goes you're ever as good as you think or as bad as you think. Well, I don't think you are ever as deep as you think you are. Sure, we start the season and say "Wow, we've got some depth," but then all of a sudden, there's a hand or an ankle and then you're down a couple guys and moving people around and that depth is not there.
I think we have a talented team. But what we did last year, we did last year and I'm not interested in discussing what happened because it was a different team with different leaders. This year we have to start anew and be respectful of our opponents.
Tony, San Diego, Calif.: Given the championship game appearance last season, what do you see as the last piece (or pieces) to firmly place Hopkins back up on the platform on which Princeton, Virginia; Syracuse have sat for the last 10-12 years or so?
Dave Pietramala: That's the next step. I think getting [to the championship game] and getting a taste of that and not winning makes you hungrier. Ultimately, only one team goes home truly happy. Having been there and knowing what it takes to get there and what it's like to be there and that experience is very helpful. I think it helps build confidence. We've been to the quarters, semis and finals and now we're hoping to take the next logical step.
Question, Baltimore: Congratulations on your success last year. This year you return most of your No. 1-ranked offense from a year ago. However, you do lose a big leader in Adam Doneger.
Dave Pietramala: I don't know if you replace an Adam Doneger, a Bobby Benson, a Rob Scherr or a Mike Peyser by replacing them with someone just like them. You have new people step up and assume different roles. We had tremendous leaders with those guys. We have new leaders that are going to be different because their personalities are different.
A.J., Baltimore: Do you see Conor Ford (St. Paul's) playing more attack or midfield this season?
Dave Pietramala: He'll play a little of both. Conor, very much like Bobby Benson, knows everybody's spot in the offense. What he does bring is the ability to stretch the defense more because of his ability to shoot from the perimeter.
Question, Baltimore: Why has offensive coach Seth Tierney's system has done so well? What is his secret to success?
Dave Pietramala: One of his greatest assets is his understanding of what people do well. We try to recruit guys that fit the way we play. He puts people in position to take advantage of their strengths. He's been willing to be different. The schemes we play are different and our philosophy is different. He's done a wonderful job of getting guys to buy into the "We" instead of the "Me."
Michael, Reisterstown: Would the NCAA coaching community support standardizing crosse head widths and limiting the degree of offset?
Dave Pietramala: The sticks today are different and the offset heads are pushing the regulation limits as much as possible. I do think the game has changed because of the development of equipment. I don't know how every coach would feel. I think shooting has taken on a different life because of the offset head and larger pockets. The passing has been affected the most. You don't see a lot of takeaway defenders and part of that may be because of the team defense concept, but part of it is it's a bear to get the ball out of one of those sticks, so why bother trying. Chances are if you check hard, you're going to either draw a foul or get beat. Do I think this is for the better? No. I'd like to see more passes, more accurate shooting. I think back to Syracuse and the Gait brothers. Neither of those guys had big pockets, but they were great shooters.