Debate over whether Johns Hopkins has done enough to warrant an at-large berth in the NCAA tournament continues, but the general consensus is that if the No. 13 Blue Jays (8-4) lose to No. 7 Loyola (10-3) on Saturday, the program's streak of 41 consecutive appearances in the postseason will be perilously close to ending.
But if the scrutiny associated with the team's fate grows elsewhere, senior defenseman Tucker Durkin said the conversation has not reached the players.
"We haven't really talked about playoffs very much," he said. "We've talked about how our focus needs to be on every single practice and every single game. This week is only about Loyola. It's only about what we need to do to be successful. As a team and defense, what do we need to do to win this game? … Really, that's where our focus is. We're not looking ahead to Army [on May 4] and we're not looking back at Navy [on April 20] or Maryland [on April 13]. I think we've done an excellent job of keeping our focus at the task at hand, and right now, that's Loyola and playing well at practice and knowing the game plan. That's what we've done the last couple weeks, and that's really important."
Refraining from discussing the NCAA tournament does not mean that Johns Hopkins is impervious from thinking about the postseason. Coach Dave Pietramala conceded that point, but said the emphasis throughout the program is concentrating on the present, not the future. That approach has benefited the Blue Jays, who have defeated No. 4 Maryland and Navy since losing to then-No. 19 Albany on April 5.
"You can't control what's around them, but you can certainly help foster an attitude, and the attitude has been, we don't care what anybody else thinks," he said. "… It's been about, let's just take what's in front of us and all we can control is what's in front of us, and that's practice, our preparation, how much film we watch and how we play on Saturday. That's all we control. You can't control what the media says, we can't control what people think. It can't matter. It's nothing but distractions and noise, and you have to avoid the noise and focus on the task at hand."