Describing his recovery from a lower back infection that required hospitalization and a surgical procedure as "a day-by-day thing," Dave Pietramala said he isn't sure when he will be able to return to coach Johns Hopkins.
"Imagine something that is a part of your being and you not being able to be a part of it," he said Wednesday morning. "That's been the challenge."
Pietramala has missed the last four games for the No. 16 Blue Jays (5-4 overall and 0-1 in the Big Ten). Associate head coach Bill Dwan has directed the team in his place. Pietramala praised Dwan and colleagues Bobby Benson, Larry Quinn and Tim O'Branski for their work in his absence.
"I've got great people that I trust implicitly, and I know in any situation, they would do what's best for our program and do things the way I would want them done," Pietramala said. "I've been blessed with Bill Dwan and Bobby Benson and Tim O'Branski and Larry Quinn. They were put in a very challenging situation."
After answering a few questions about his health, Pietramala made it clear that he would prefer the focus shift to Johns Hopkins' recent run of alternating wins against No. 9 Syracuse and UMBC with losses to No. 20 Virginia and No. 19 Rutgers.
"This isn't about me, this is about our team," he said. "My situation is my situation. This is about our team and what lies ahead of it."
Saturday's 16-9 setback at the Scarlet Knights has already put the Blue Jays one game behind Rutgers (8-1, 1-0), No. 5 Maryland (7-2, 1-0) and No. 14 Penn State (7-3, 1-0) in the race for the Big Ten Conference regular-season title and the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. But Pietramala recalled last year's squad rebounding from a loss at Ohio State to capture a share of the league championship and the tournament crown.
"We've been here before," he said. "So it's not like we're unaware of how to handle this. The way to handle this is to simply understand that we're guaranteed four games and that's all we're guaranteed and focus. ... It's important for this team to have a full week of practice. Last week, the staff and team did more walkthroughs than anything. Our margin of error is minimal. It's very slight and that means we've got to practice, and we've got to continue to get better at the things we need to get better at."