Coach’s Candor — 11.30.11

Sports Staff

Editor’s note: Phil McDaniel led the Jacks to a 14-18 record, including a 7-11 mark in Summit League play in his first season at the helm of the SDSU volleyball program. The 2011 season was a disappointment considering the Jacks returned most of the talent from a top-four team in the league in 2010. We caught up with him to see what went wrong this year and how the Jacks plan to right the ship in 2012.

Q: What were the biggest problems that hindered the success of your team this year?

A: Well for us, I think it was our team chemistry and just getting up to speed with the pace of play and how it all came together. I think we had a good start to the season, I think we came together very well especially on the road those first two weeks. Once we got into conference play it got a little tougher as the teams became more familiar with what they had to do to stop us.

Q: It was your first season back at SDSU after three seasons at Drake and your first season as head coach for the Jacks. Do you think there were any first-year transition problems?

A: I certainly think so. I think there always is whenever there is a coaching change, you’re going to have some things that go well and others that just take some time. I think, for us, it’s a matter of getting through that first year. I certainly expect us to bounce back and develop and progress through the spring.

Q: With only two seniors departing, you’re going to be bringing back the majority of your team next year. Do you believe that a challenging year like this provides a learning experience that your returning players can grow from?

A: I certainly hope so. It’s one of the things we talked about when we went through our rough stretch and wins were hard to come by. After each game, we talked about how if we don’t learn from these losses and take these lessons and go forward, then it becomes a big waste of a season. So, I hope that they all took that to heart, and I really believe that they did, and I think we’ll learn from the bumps and bruises that we saw this year.

Q: What’s going to be your main focus heading into the offseason, recruiting or otherwise, that will improve the team and help them move forward?

A: Certainly recruiting is at the top of the list. We need to go find players to replace the ones that we lost this year as well as next year. We have a large senior class next season, so we’re working very hard on the 2013 class as well to replace the six seniors for next year as they prepare to graduate. But, our main focus for next season is going to be our ability to maintain balance on the court. It’s going to be about passion and drive, the same things we focused on throughout the year. We’ll have a little more time and opportunity to work on those things and then incorporate the freshmen when they come in next fall.