Nov. 3, 2011
Coming off the conclusion of fall practice last week, NavySports.com had the opportunity to catch up with head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. Kostacopoulos talked about the highlights of fall practice, along with what lies ahead for the team in the coming months.
Talk about fall practice and what you were able to get out of the team.
"To answer it succinctly, I think we did a good job. But, fall is a very tough time to evaluate because you're trying to do so many different things and you don't necessarily overlay with a finished product. You're putting a lot of pieces in and it doesn't necessarily show up, positively or negatively, in your scrimmages or live competition.
"So, it makes it very difficult to evaluate the team as a whole. I think, more specifically what we are trying to do is evaluate individuals who we think are going to fill certain roles by getting a better idea of their skill sets. That way, when it comes time to put the whole thing together in the spring, you at least have a good idea of what the individual can do."
What were some of the positives you saw from the team during fall ball?
"We had a lot of scrimmages and we were lucky because we seemed to get a lot of playing time for everyone. I liked our middle infield, with the additions of David Wiedeman and Brad Borosak and of course Dylan Wheeler and Greg Bryant.
"Our catching, which was primarily handled by Jeff Bland last year, we've now got some competition with Dave Milanes and a newcomer, Chris Cannon. I thought that was good because I could see them getting better throughout the fall.
"We had some younger pitchers come on and do a pretty good job for us in the sense that they threw strikes. That is such a critical piece - you have to start somewhere and the younger guys certainly threw strikes during the fall.
"There were certainly some bright spots, but like I said, it still truly goes back to trying to get an understanding of what you have as a team."
The team lost a senior class that contributed so heavily to the team's success last season. Talk about the challenge of replacing them and trying to develop the freshmen.
"One of the most exciting things about coaching in college is the transition of bringing in new players to the program. There is definitely a part of you that is sad to see last year's seniors leave, along with all their contributions in the special year we had. But at the same time it's so exciting to get new guys into the program with new personalities and different skill sets that add different dimensions to the team. I've always found the fall to be exciting for that reason. It gives your team a chance to transition from what was last season, to what will be this spring."
Talk about the opportunity the team had to play Air Force at Regency Furniture Stadium, the home of the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in Waldorf.
"It was just a really fun event. We had a chance to go to a really nice venue and had surprisingly high attendance, which always makes it fun. In the fall, if ask any baseball coach, they almost all run up against the mundane because you're not able to play a lot of games. So, when you get that opportunity to go out and do something exciting, it's fun and the people down there were excellent. It was great to have Air Force make the trip. I think, overall, everybody had a really fun experience, so we were grateful for the opportunity."
One of the unique aspects of the fall was the alumni game. Talk about the opportunity to have that event this year.
"It was the first time in the last few years that we had an opportunity to put something together and all the credit goes to our friends and parents group - Friends of Navy Baseball - that put it together. It was a strong idea and it was a great time.
"Obviously, the alums that came back made the day and we had them from a lot of different eras. I think they had a good time and we were certainly happy to see them. Our players came out on their own, it wasn't something I mandated that they do, and they really enjoyed meeting and greeting the alums and seeing how successful they are today. It gave our current guys a chance to see what the Naval Academy experience has led our former players to - some are career military officers and some are in the business world.
"I thought it was a great day and I think everyone really enjoyed themselves."
With fall team practice now over, talk about the training that lies ahead of the team.
"Our main objectives after fall team practice ends is to get in the weight room four times a week and spend some time with the players a few times during the week to work on individual skills. Whether offensive or defensive skills, you cater to the individual and what they need to improve upon."