Sports

Q&A with Quint Kessenich

 
Quint Kessenich, a 1990 graduate of Johns Hopkins University, has been a TV analyst for college lacrosse for the past 11 years. Kessenich, twice named the Outstanding Goalie in Divison I and a four-time All-American, played on the 1987 NCAA championship team with current Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala.

BaltimoreSun.com: Thanks for joining us, Quint. We'll get right to the questions.

R. Gassert, Towson: How do you see the field of 12 shaping up and does Towson have any chance if they win out?

Quint Kessenich:The field of 12 can be divided into a field of six at-large and then six automatic qualifiers. Right now, I think there are four teams who deserve strong consideration for the six slots - Virginia, Johns Hopkins, Syracuse and, now, Georgetown with their win over Loyola.

For the 6 automatic qualifiers - there is Fairfield (Western) and UMass (ECAC). In the Patriot League there is a three-way tie between Bucknell, Hobart and Army. In America East it's between Albany, Hartford and Stony Brook. Princeton right now would be coming out of the Ivy League and then there's the MAAC champion.

The remaining two at-large bids could be filled by teams like Duke, Maryland, North Carolina, Loyola, Hofstra, Cornell, Yale or Brown.

Brian, Timonium: Do you think Maryland will make the NCAA Tournament as an at-large selection? Who else do you think will make it as an at-large?

Quint Kessenich: Maryland has a very slim chance. They would need to beat Yale, Cornell to lose to Brown and, I think they would need Hofstra to lose to Duke and then beat UNC. Then, Maryland may have a case. Maryland's problem is the lack of "quality" wins, which the selection committee uses as a barometer. Maryland has four excellent losses - Hopkins, Virginia and two to Duke. Maryland's wins are against Hobart, Towson, UNC and Navy. None of those wins are Top 10 wins, so they don't get much credit for beating those schools.

Matt, Cockeysville: Quint, How does the NCAA committee justify having six automatic qualifiers for a field of 12? I understand the "fairness" premise behind this decision. With the limited number of spots available, how fair will it be come Selection Sunday? To allow a team whose only "quality wins" are over No. 18 Ohio State and No. 20 Brown is ludicrous. The bottom line is this: The NCAA needs to quit tinkering, and make an "educated decision" (assuming they are capable). Either expand the field, or let the best teams play, period.

Quint Kessenich:Short-term pain, long-term gain. Next year, the tournament will be expanded to 16 teams from all indications. They'll have seven automatic and nine at-large. Six and six right now is not fair, and I would hate to be on a team like Maryland that beat Mount St. Mary's 18-0 this year and Mount St. Mary's actually has a better chance of making the tournament [because of automatic bids].

Joe, Philadelphia: Is the Princeton dynasty dead?

Quint Kessenich: No, Princeton is alive and in May their record speaks for itself. Early on they lost some games, maybe they got caught with a false sense of security. As the season progressed, they improved and played to their press clippings. Guys like Ryan Boyle had a shaky start, but now he's playing great and he had a huge game against Harvard.

Princeton is playing their best ball right now after a rough March. The only game they lost that surprised me was the Hopkins game, and then March 30 when they gave up 15 goals to Yale. If they can finish out the season at Brown [May 4] and win the Ivy League then they'll be in the tournament. Princeton's defense and the fact they have a lot of players back who have a lot of playoff-game experience gives them a slight intangible advantage.

Justin, Baltimore: How can UNC become one of lacrosse's elite teams again?

Quint Kessenich: They took a huge step this year in that direction. It all starts with recruiting. They will only lose one player of significance this year [to graduation]. Next year's freshmen recruits will be the second year coach John Haus brought in a Top 5 recruiting class. He has re-established the Baltimore pipeline there and the future is extremely bright for that program.

John, Eldersburg: Why did Maryland not hire Gary Gait as head lacrosse coach? Would he not have been a huge draw to top prep players as the best of all time?

Quint Kessenich: I think Gary wasn't hired because he had no head coaching experience at any level and no coaching of men. If you look across the board in sports, great players don't always make great coaches. It's pretty quick to jump at the notion that a great player is always going to make a great coach. The great players who have become great coaches are the exception to the rule. I do think that Gary can eventually be a successful Division I men's coach, but I didn't think the timing was right given his resume.

Fan Man, Owings Mills: Do you think the NLL will ever consider bringing an indoor team back to Baltimore? Also, how well do the Bayhawks and the MLL need to draw to stay in existence?

Quint Kessenich: It's highly unlikely the NLL will return to Baltimore. Dennis Townsend gave the Thunder a great three-year run, but the fan support wasn't there. The team then moved to Washington and found the fan base didn't exist at MCI or the Capital Centre. That team will move to Denver next season.

As far as the Bayhawks, their goal this summer is to get home crowds over 10,000 on a consistent basis. The move to Ravens Stadium and playing Thursday night games bodes well for that franchise. League-wide I think you'll see bigger crowds.

Steven, Ellicott City: Did you really play all four years at Johns Hopkins without a chest protector?

Quint Kessenich: I wore an old catcher's chest protector through high school and part of [my first year at] Hopkins. For the remaining three years at Hopkins and many years of club ball with Team Toyota, I didn't use one, which by today's standards is illegal and idiotic. There were only two times I got hit hard enough to fear for my personal safety - Adam Wright nailed me in the sternum in practice, and in 1990, one of the Gait brothers hit me from 6 yards out. All goalies are a little bit off between the ears, that was just my way of getting a mental edge.

Steve, Baltimore: If you would, please give a performance rating [this far in the season] on Dave Cottle's coaching at Maryland after a rough initial entrance into College Park. Cottle starts off the season great every year, but why does he always seem to get bumped off by an inferior team at the end of the season, especially this year when Maryland has such a talented team on both sides of the field? Lastly, can Cottle win the big game? Your thoughts?

Quint Kessenich: I think Coach Cottle has done a wonderful job with Maryland. The unfortunate truth is that they've lost four games all by one goal, games they could have won. They domianted Duke in the ACC semifinal game, outshooting them 43-22. They had a two-goal lead at Hopkins and gave up two short-handed goals in a loss to Virginia.

This is a team a couple breaks away from being undefeated. On the offensive end, Cottle's impact has been immediate. Their shots per game are up from 30 to 40. The only disappointing thing I see is their failure to win close games and their shooting percentage hasn't been what he would have liked. Their team defense was also incredible.

Pat, Lombard, Ill.: Why has Towson fallen so far this year? Did they play over their heads last year, or get swelled heads this year?

Quint Kessenich: I've analyzed Towson's stats and seen them on four different occasions. There are about 11 reasons why they've had a disappointing season, the most significant is matching the hype and expectations. This season I think they were the hunted and people were more prepared for them. I think they have played on eggshells this year. They didn't play with the same fervor they did a year ago.

I think their schedule this year hurt them much the way Maryland's did. Towson plays a top-heavy schedule but underneath the top teams, they don't get credit for destroying teams like Delaware, Villanova and Rutgers. Towson is a team that can score in transition and this season opposing coaches have limited Towson's transition game and they have exposed some weaknesses in Towson's invert defense. I thought Maryland and Loyola attacked Towson's defense with great precision. Lastly, they had some extended scoring droughts and fourth-quarter power outages that have caused four key losses.

Tommy, Sheboygen, Wis.: Do you find that the "Hopkins mystique" and tradition has actually hindered their success in the past years? Maybe they have put too much pressure on themselves with the NCAA tournament, and not concentrated on the individual games?

Quint Kessenich: The tradition has been rekindled with Dave Pietramala and his staff, who are all Hopkins alums. I think they understand the tradition and history but don't overburden the student-athletes with that. It's one thing to look over your shoulder too much and feeling responsible for the past. But, now, they are free to create a tradition of their own and they are moving forward and not looking over their shoulder.

Ted, Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.: Who had the "heaviest" shot that you ever faced, either in a game or in practice as a Hopkins goalie? I remember Dave Huntley of JHU having an awesome shot, but he may have been before your time. Ted Robertson - JHU Class of '81.

Quint Kessenich: "Hot Rod" Huntley was before my time. The fastest shots I faced were Paul Gait in the 1989 championship game. The ball passed me before I even picked it up. John Wilkens [Hopkins Class of 1989] was a left middie who routinely bruised legs and shoulders in practice.

Will, San Antonio, Texas: What do you think about Petro [Pietramala] as a coach? You played with him as a player. Will he be a Hall-of-Fame coach like he will be as a player?

Quint Kessenich: He's off to a great start at Hopkins. I've been impressed with his attention to detail in all aspects of teaching and coaching. He works so hard at recruiting. His focus on teaching the skills of the game and having the team mentally and physically prepared to play have been oustanding. He's a young coach extremely hungry to have success. He has returned Hopkins to the era of coaches Scott, Zimmerman and Ciccarone.

Jay, Amherst, Mass.: Do you think UMass can make a good run in the tournament?

Quint Kessenich: UMass is a dangerous team - they play a creative offensive style.They have been held to single digits twice all season. They are coming into their best ball right now having defeated Georgetown for the ECAC title. They've scored over 12 goals on eight different occasions this year.

Jason, Baltimore: When you played indoor lacrosse for the Thunder why did you play defense instead of goalie?

Quint Kessenich: I was orignially drafted by the Pittsburgh Bulls to play goalie, but an indoor goalie plays bent over at the waist like a hockey goalie. The Thunder was looking for practice players in 1998 and I'd practice once or twice a week. To me, the goalie position was never an option because I'm not an indoor goalie.

BaltimoreSun.com: Do you see yourself getting into college coaching?

Quint Kessenich: I would like to. It would mean leaving the booth, but given the right opportunity as an assistant at a top Division I program, I would consider it. The assistant coaching I do at the high school level allows me to teach and give back to the kids.

Old Man, Maryland: Don't you think programs like Penn State, Ohio State and Notre Dame should be able to outrecruit schools like Loyola, Towson, and Hofstra? Just based on facilities and educational opportunities, how can a kid lose at these nationally recognized athletic powerhouses?

Quint Kessenich: The resources of those schools make it easy to argue that they are more impressive than those of the small East Coast lacrosse powers. But the fact is when you walk in the athletic centers there I don't think you get the same respect when you walk on the Loyola campus and say you play lacrosse. There's something to be said about tradition. Lacrosse is a big sport at some schools here and a secondary sport at schools like Notre Dame and Penn State. Will it always be that way? I hope not, but that's where it is now.

Jon, Williamsport: Is Kevin Boland at Hopkins any relation to the Kevin Boland that played midfield for Maryland in the mid-70s?

Quint Kessenich: Yes, he's the son.

Ross, McLean, Va.: As a JHU alum, that was an intense game against the Terps. Do you think that the Hop can keep up the momentum and intensity for the rest of the season or have all these one-point games burned them out?

Quint Kessenich: Good question. If I knew the answer, I'd be a genius. Battle-tested? Yes. Battle-worn? Who knows? The five one-goal wins is the most in a season for Hopkins and they won four one-goal games in 1995 and 1987. The Hopkins staff uses techniques similar to the way Brian Billick coaches the Ravens and keeps the team fresh late in the season. He sometimes goes shorter in practice, throwing in a day off out of the blue and focuses on guys being mentally and physically fresh. It's easy to get in a routine late in the season and not see the athletes are burnt.

Lloyd, Council Bluffs, Iowa: How can we get lacrosse games on Midwestern cable channels. I listen via the Internet but it would be great to see the games televised?

Quint Kessenich: Call Harry Kakel at Channel 2 and find out if a network out there would be willing to run game feeds. They can buy the tapes from all our games through Inside Lacrosse.

Ralph, Floral Park, N.Y.: If Hofstra wins out the remaining of their schedule against Sacred Heart, Duke and UNC are they in the NCAA tourney with an at-large?

Quint Kessenich:Yes.

RedBird1, Cockeysville: Do you feel that lacrosse stifles the development of certain high school athletes from furthering their college careers playing other sports, most notably, football? This question is aimed mostly at the Baltimore area.

Quint Kessenich: I'm a huge advocate of playing two or three sports. The perception is that college coaches want kids to focus on lacrosse but the reality is the opposite. The coaches are looking for athletic kids who have lacrosse potential. They don't want a 24/7 lacrosse kid, they want someone who has played football, hockey or soccer.

Ward, Woodbine: From my sideline perspective, one of the toughest shots that a keeper has to deal with is the high bounce shot from a fast approaching middie on natural turf - those that pass over the keeper?s shoulders on their way to the upper corners. Once the ball exits the shooter's stick, the keeper can quickly read that the shot will bounce, but, how does he/she best protect against the uncertainty of a low or high bounce? It seems like they have to be in two places at the same millisecond.

Quint Kessenich: Much like playing shortstop or third base, the key technique is to play the shot from the ground up and make sure you stop the shot with your body if the stick misses. If the stick is not down on the grass, there is a chance the ball can skim underneath. So, get the stick down and play up.

Dave, Rochester, N.Y.: Who is your pick for Division I Coach of the Year? How about Jeff Tambroni at Cornell?

Quint Kessenich: To me it would have to be between Tambroni, Pietramala and maybe Greg Cannella of UMass.

Mark, Woodlawn: What did you and your JHU teammates make of the Hopkins Bananas--the knot of fans usually parked next to the band, hailing victories and MVPs with the yellow fruit?

Quint Kessenich: They were a unique part of games at Homewood and on the road. You know you were doing well when your lockers smelled like rotten bananas.

Beau, Wilmington, N.C.: What has to happen for the other four ACC schools to field varsity lacrosse teams?

Quint Kessenich: Gender equity and its specific relationship to big-time college football is holding the growth of lacrosse back. If you look there are now hundreds of [club] teams at BYU, Michigan, Colorado State, Florida and Texas. But the likelihood those teams will compete on a scholarship basis is seriously hindered by Title IX.

Bill, Arnold: I have a 13-year-old (eighth grade) daughter that has been in goal for seven years. She has played in various all-star teams at all age groups. My problem is that she attends a small, private school that plays in a minor league and lacks proper goalie instruction. What camps/summer leagues do you recommend? (I've already called about your camp in June although I have not recieved anything yet.)

Quint Kessenich: I just got the camp brochures back from the printer! As for coaching, there are some local coaches who do do one-on-one tutoring sessions. To me, the key is to find an ex-player or coach that can teach you the skills.

Scott, Lancaster, Pa.: I played goalie, coach goalies, and my son in ninth grade is playing goalie. I'm 6-2 and my wife is 5-10. He's got size 13 feet, is 14 years old and already 5-10 and could well be on track to be taller than me. Is there a height which makes playing goalie more difficult? Is there an ideal height for a goalie?

Quint Kessenich: The ideal height for a goalie would be 6-1 where you fill up the cage while in your stance. The bigger, the better, as long as quickness and agility aren't sacrificed.

Kevin, San Diego, Calif.: Do you feel that NCAA Division I goalie play is down this year? There have been few if any 20-save games from goalies and much more scoring. Is it a down year or a trend in the game to more offense?

Quint Kessenich: It's a trend in the game that teams no longer take as many bad shots. Most teams take shots from 10 yards and in. The quality of shots is up and that's putting more pressure on the goalies. The athletes are stronger, bigger, faster and the shooting velocity has increased and stick technology allows them to be more accurate. The goalies are being tested more as the game is modernized.

Charley, Rockville: Hey Quint - great job with the broadcasts. What was your favorite moment so far this season?

Quint Kessenich: Last week's Army-UMBC game touched me on a personal level - it was most the touching game I ever covered. Tim Flanagan, the UMBC goalie, lost his father to a heart attack earlier in the week and made 19 saves and was the game MVP. The team and coaching staff rallied around him. It touched on a similar moment when my father died when I was in high school. I had trouble composing myself during the broadcast late in the game.

BaltimoreSun.com: Thanks for your time, Quint.Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun

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