LMU coach discusses season's hopes
Witt knows what team needs to do to return to tournament
It has been two years since Loyola Marymount pulled one of the biggest upsets in NCAA women's water polo history when they ended UCLA's five-year championship streak with a 5-4 win to advance to the 2010 national semifinals. Kyle Witt engineered that win and this year's squad looks primed to have a season just as successful
What does Loyola Marymount need to do to win the WWPA and get back to NCAA tournament?
Kyle Witt: We simply need to return to a mindset of outworking, outpreparing and being relentless in everything that we do. Last year was a huge disappointment for us and I think that everyone re-evaluated their positions and roles within the team. After a big loss, you can either feel sorry for yourself and have nightmares of chances missed or you can be honest with yourself and work to improve every aspect of your program. The coaching staff and administrators at LMU have worked to make necessary changes and our athletes have as well. I am very excited for what we have done in our preseason and what we are doing early in our 2012 campaign. LMU has a lot of development to do now and before our conference tournament, but I love our energy, focus, and desire to improve every day.
You have an intriguing transfer on your roster in two-time All-American Whitney Delgado (previously of Cal State Northridge). Can you tell us a little about her?
Witt: I have known Whitney for a little over 6 years through her membership with the Los Angeles Water Polo Club. Whitney, Casey Flacks, and Elle Quane (captain for UCSB) all played together for something like 8 years and I got to coach the team for two years in the 18U division where we placed fifth and second at the Junior Olympics. They were also key members of LAWPC's 20U and Open Championships in the summer of 2010 as well. What I am trying to say is that Whitney was a member of a tight knit group of girls that had a lot of success and she knows what it takes to win. Whitney always led her Northridge teams on the offensive end of the pool and that has continued for us here at LMU; however, her defense is something that has improved tremendously and is really helping our squad. Whitney is beginning to see where she can step in and take shots, where she needs to focus on defense and shut someone down, and when to lead the team by either example or verbally. Senior transfers are rare and she has really helped our program; not only from a talent standpoint, but from a leadership position. It has been a lot of fun coaching her this year and I hope she enjoys her time here at LMU.
Casey Flacks has been a mainstay for you and I think one of the more underrated players nationally. What makes her the effective player she is?
Much like Whitney, I have been coaching Casey for about six years through both the Los Angeles Water Polo Club and her four years here at LMU. Casey is probably every coach's dream in that she is self-motivated, never stops working, and always will do what is best for the team. She is relentless on the offensive end of the pool with her speed and endurance, and her driving is probably some of the best in the country. She moves very well on the defensive end and is constantly ruining what the other team is trying to do on their offensive end of the pool. She doesn't get too much recognition in the stat books sometimes but her contributions are always seen by the team during the game and later in the film room. Replacing seniors is always the hardest part of our job and Casey is going to be another irreplaceable student-athlete for our program along the same lines as Nicole Hughes, Teresa Guidi, and Lucy Windes.
Loyola Marymount just came in a strong sixth place at the recent UCI Invitational. Can you tell us about that?
Witt: Our team goal for this tournament was to focus on our first game and give everything that we had against an extremely talented UC Irvine squad. Our team really executed within the game plan and refused to let their mistakes become regrets. I am really proud of our squad for having only a two-game break and then coming back and giving USC a great match. USC is tough, deep, and talented and we fought all the way to the end. On day two we had a great start to our day by defeating Michigan. We had a very balanced attack with all of our players producing on the offensive end and everyone doing a great job of helping each other on the defensive end. The challenge for this team now is to ensure that this is not the high point of our season. We need to come back on Thursday the 1st of March after our short Spring Break and begin focusing on the next part of our season which includes a lot of conference opponents.