Friday, September 12, 2008

Coach's Mailbag--September 2008

With informal practices under way and the Icebreaker Tournament just a month away, we’ve asked Terriers head coach Jack Parker to answer ten questions about the upcoming season in our first “Coach’s Mailbag” session of the 2009-09 season. Questions were submitted by several blog contributors and other BU fans.

Q—Matt Gilroy's return was welcome, but unexpected return. That suggests you felt the other returning four defensemen and two freshmen on the 08-09 roster were all going to be capable and deserving of regular shifts. Now with seven such defensemen, do you plan to use any kind of rotation to keep them all in the mix, or is someone eventually going to be odd man out? Conversely, being thin on bodies at that position, will you practice forward or two on D for depth?
JP—Actually, if Gilroy had left, we had another right shot defenseman ready to come. Since Matt decided to return, that allowed the other guy [editor’s note: presumably Max Nicastro] to take another year of junior hockey and come in September of 2009 as was the original deal. We have moved forward Steve Smolinsky back to defense for practice purposes.

Q—What type of powerplay set up will you use--an umbrella or the 2-point man system? With so much blueline skill, might it be different for the first and second units?
JP—In all probability, one unit will have a left shot and a right shot at the point and the other unit will utilize two right shot points. Therefore, the units will have two different looks.

Q—With the abundance of offensive talent on the blue line, do you anticipate having Brandon Yip playing forward on the powerplay?
JP—Brandon Yip will be used upfront most of the time on the pp unit unless we lose a defenseman to injury.

Q—David Warsofsky will be the third consecutive USNDTP captain to join the Terriers. To what do you attribute the ability to gain commitments from not just skilled players, but strong leaders?
JP—We have had strong ties to the USNDTP for many years. Also, our guys were Eastern guys to begin with.

Q—With BU having two talented but inexperienced freshman goalies, are you planning to start the season with a rotation or might one of them immediately seize the starting job?
JP—Actually, Adam Kraus is in the mix as well, so the job is wide open. A rotation of two guys will most like be the way we go got the first few months with one guy out of the rotation.

Q— With last season’s improvement on faceoffs and now the addition of another center with strong stick skills, will BU leverage that strength with more planned plays off draws?
JP—We have always had numerous faceoff plays in all three zones. If we continue to win face-offs, the fans might notice the set-ups more often. Hopefully, we will continue to improve in this vital area.

Q—Can you discuss the recent trend of slow starts by BU teams. The last time BU won more than half its first ten games was 2004-05 (7-3). The last exceptional start was in 2001-02 (8-1-1). How do you plan change that trend this season, especially with three strong Western teams visiting BU in October?
JP—Over the years we traditionally have broken the team down and then built them up again. But with the advent of one week of practice and then the games, we need to find a different formula. There is no question that the “slow starts” fall directly on my shoulders. We are trying a new approach we hope will work. But with North Dakota, MSU, UNH and Michigan as four or our first five games, even with a different pre-season, we will have our hands full getting off to a good start. (I did the scheduling also!)

Q—Last season’s team’s home record was just 10-7-1 and over the past two season, BU has won just over half its home games. In a very balanced league, what does it take to re-establish a significant home ice advantage? How much of that comes from a team mindset?
JP—It is all team mindset. We have played better on the road with more quality efforts than we have at home. It’s a trend that also has occurred at Maine and BC. It’s a tough league but obviously we are more focused on the road or we take things for granted at home. Probably a little of both. We are working on it.

Q—In the same vein, last season BU had just three home games in the first two months. This year, starting with the Icebreaker against North Dakota and Michigan State, you have nine home games in October and November. An opportunity or added pressure?
JP—I would rather be home any time during the season despite what was discussed in the previous question. The only time it’s good to be on the road is when the students aren’t here. We should be better off starting out at home.

Q—Which returning player is going to surprise BU fans this season?
JP—If by surprise you mean make the biggest jump production wise, I’d say either Colin Wilson or Nick Bonino. They both had solid freshmen seasons but their upside is so great, they both could become dominant players. However, I am hoping that Chris Higgins, Brandon Yip and/or Jason Lawrence can do what Boomer Ewing did in his senior year.


TC said...

Just as I was thinking, "Wow, these are some pretty stock, boring answers" he goes and lays it all out there answering the slow start question. With all the questions "out there" about JP's supposed resistance to change, it's nice to see an answer like this. Hopefully they (he and the team) come through.

Great job putting this together, Terrier Blogger; and thanks to Coach Parker for taking the time to participate.

Puckmeister said...

Good questions and good answers Coach. Thanks Blogger!

Go Terriers

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