Q & A with Phil McDaniel
As the 2014 Jackrabbit volleyball season gears up, GoJacks.com sat down with head coach Phil McDaniel to discuss the upcoming season. McDaniel talks about the upcoming season, the schedule and The Summit League. The Jackrabbits kick off practice Aug. 10, while their first match is on the road at UMES Tournament in Princess Anne, Md., August 29-30.
GoJacks.com: Last year South Dakota State had a down season. How can the Jackrabbit program build off of last year's positive lessons and translate them to 2014?
I think the biggest thing is you have to wipe away last season because thinking about last season isn’t going to help us. What can this group on the court right now, what can we do to have the biggest impact on our program right now. It’s about staying together as a team, working hard in the classroom, the weight room and on the court. That’s what we can do now; work with this group now to figure out how to be the best team this fall.
My expectations of them are to be the best two middles in the league and I share that with them on a regular basis. I don’t want to have anybody to have middles how work harder than ours. They have a great attitude and work well together. They both have different skills sets, making them hard to stop. They are both fun to watch. As long as we can get the ball to the setter and the setter makes the right decision, they are going to have great seasons.
GJ: Margit Hanson spent last season watching from the bench because of a season-ending injury. Tell us how she was worked herself back into potentially the starting lineup?
As soon as Margit could get back on the court she did. I know it beat her up last year not to be on the court last year from a competitive standpoint. She’s our most competitive player in everything she does and that translates on the court.
GJ: The Jacks have two transfers in Carley Gerving and Ashley Beaner who join the program last semester. In your opinion, how have they been able to transition to South Dakota State’s system as well as the school in general?
They have done a great job. Carley and Ashley got here at the beginning of the semester and they have fit in nicely with the team. They are positive and will have an impact here.
GJ: A spot that needs to be filled will be at setter. Who is in the running for the starting spot?
We will mostly likely be in a 6-2 with the right side hitters we have brought in and the fire power we have over there, we will start two. Both Brooke and Jessi are the frontrunners to be our starting setters.
GJ: You've got some depth to work with on defense. Talk about that depth and what they can bring to this team?
Depth for us is important. It does a couple of things. It pushes people to be better than what they are currently because if they take their foot off the gas pedal, someone will take their spot. So it’s going to give us that competition on the court during practice. Plus, depth gives us some options if someone is struggling, becomes ill, etc. Any minor thing like that, we can make switches and not take a big step backwards.
GJ: The schedule looks competitive both in The Summit League and in nonconference play. Can you talk about the upcoming schedule?
I think the schedule sets up nice for us. We have an away tournament to start the season that kind of gets us going and hopefully we can come out of that with a few wins. More importantly, we have two home tournaments over back-to-back weekends in September, which is great to get us home early so our fans can see us. The players can be home in their own beds and experience all the things that Frost Arena can bring. We have one more tournament at Chicago State that will be challenging but a good tournament to end on going into The Summit League schedule. It’s going to be a challenging league just like it always is. I think the top few teams will continue to be at the top and the rest of us who weren’t there last year will be fighting for those three though six spots, and I think it will be a battle.
GJ: Oral Roberts returns to The Summit League this season. Talk about the Golden Eagles return and their impact on the league.
I think all teams coming back this year are gunning for that top six spot. Oral Roberts won’t be the exception. They want to come back and make a statement right way just like Denver did last year. Oral Roberts has been a foreign-based team. So it will be something different for our league because no other team is built that way.
They are usually a very solid team, but not seeing them the last two years I’m going off what I remember about them. I know she typically recruited foreign players, so that is what we are expecting. It’s a little bit different style of play. They aren’t quite as fast, but they are physical. It will be kind of a mystery because we just don’t see a ton of. We will have to make some adjustments on the fly.