Investing In The Future

I am capturing this article in my blog since I will eventually be moving the article off of the home page.

In the post-match press conference after Team USA’s 3-0 World League victory over Italy, there were several discussions by both coaches on the future of their teams. I thought I would share some of their thoughts and comments.

Coach Gianpaolo Montali, the head coach of the Italian National Team took some time to discuss his philosophy for the 2007 World League competition. Coach Montali became the head coach in 2003 and his many accomplishments include the silver medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics.
The Italian team currently has four experienced players who are recovering from injuries and did not travel with the team to the US. Players such as Luigi Mastrangelo (MH), Matej Cernic, and Alessandro Fei (MH) are expected to return to the team this fall. Although they may have missed some practice with the team, the Italians will be ready for 2008 Olympic qualification tournaments including the key European Championships qualifier.

During the World League series, Coach Montali stated that he was using this opportunity to prepare his less experienced players for the future. He feels the experience they gain in the World League will prepare them for competition in 2009-2010. While he feels the athletes are very good, they do not have the experience necessary to play at the highest level. Montali offered an example using Saturday night’s second set against the US. The Italians has three match points but were unable to close it for a victory. The US ended up winning the set 30-28. Coach feels that a more experienced team would have most likely been able to turn those opportunities into a winning set for Italy instead of the US. Coach Montali also offered that the roster he has chosen for the World League matches in Chicago would most likely not qualify for the Olympics based on that inexperience.

Montali was also asked if he would prefer if his national team players would stay in the Italian leagues during the off-season. He mentioned that Matej Cernic, who played for Fakel Novi Urengoi in Russia this past season, was one player who did not. Coach stated that he personally did not have a problem if team members did not play in the Italian league.

Coach Hugh McCutcheon, the head coach of the USA National team also offered some insightful comments regarding the future. Another reporter inquired why Sean Rooney did not have substantial playing time while playing here in his home town. Sean did substitute in for the setter in a blocking role for a couple of occasions during the two Chicago matches. Coach McCutcheon responded with the fact that Sean is a great athlete and represents the future for US national team. Coach did start Sean for the first couple of matches in Portland and allowed Sean to play most of the sets in those matches. The reason he choose Riley Salmon to start along with Reid Priddy was based on Salmon’s experience and its impact on the team’s passing consistency. Coach stated that Sean is a good passer and was known as a good passer in his NCAA college level but international volleyball is “light years” ahead. McCutcheon once again emphasized that Sean is a great asset and can continue to develop into a key national team player.

Coach McCutcheon was asked if the Korean league that Sean has played in for the past two years was strong enough to develop Sean’s skills to the level he desired. While McCutcheon did not respond regarding the Korean league specifically, he did mention that he understood Sean was talking to 3 or 4 other teams in other leagues. He also offered that he believes Sean realizes that the money is better in indoor volleyball than beach volleyball but that it is a choice for Sean to make regarding whether he wants to play AVP.

Lastly, Coach McCutcheon stated that US players are slightly handicapped in developing to world class volleyball players due to the NCAA rules. In other countries, the college age players are not restricted by NCAA rules on numbers of practices and hours of practice. As a result, the foreign players get more “reps” in at an earlier age and develop faster. This is the reason many of the US players develop at a later age (post-college).

While both coaches are focused on improving their current team, both have an eye on the future...


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