Sitting at fifth in the preseason national rankings lurks a squad that is quietly primed to make a big move this spring. The Spartans of San Jose State are coming off a banner 2010-2011 season that saw them place fourth in the MPSF Tournament (ahead of more celebrated squads like USC and Hawaii) and fifth in the national rankings. The top five ranking they achieved represented only the second time it had been done in school history and the first time in the past ten campaigns. Perhaps last year’s finish was a surprise, but finishing that high this season will be expected as the Spartans return an array of talent.
Leading San Jose State’s charge is Head Coach Lou Tully. Tully is in his fifteenth season as the Spartans leader and he has done an exceptional job of churning out high-quality players. This is evidenced not only by San Jose State’s success from last year and expectations heading into this season but also by recent appearances of alums Juliet Moss (at the 2010 FINA Women’s World Cup) and Adriana Vogt (2011 World University Games) for the United States National team. I sat down with Coach Tully to discuss his squad and below is our interview.
San Jose State is coming off a banner year that saw the Spartans finish fourth in the MPSF Tournament and end the season ranked fifth in the country. What can you take from your strong end of year performance and use to build on for this season?
It reinforces to our team the importance of team chemistry and senior leadership. Our senior captain, Adriana Vogt (First-Team All-American), had a fantastic season. We had outstanding performances from our other front line players who are all returning for this year. The team did a great job working together and improving as the season progressed. Our goal is to pick up where we left off last season and continue to improve.
What does San Jose State need to do to break into the NCAA Tournament this season?
Win the MPSF Tournament. This year there will only be two at-large teams selected. If we do not win the tournament, we will have to be second or third in the country using the criteria that is used in the selection process. This is our goal every season.
Dani Curran is a returning three-time All-American and will be a leader for the Spartans. What are you expecting out of her this spring?
Dani has had an outstanding three year run (three time All-American). She has a great “game brain” and has wonderful vision. She not only is a leading scorer but leads our team in assists as well. Dani is a great “quarterback” for our team.
Timi Molnar won MPSF Newcomer of the Year honors and scored sixty-nine goals last season for San Jose State. Can you tell us a little about her and what makes her the dangerous player that she is?
Timi has tremendous fundamentals and game experience. She is a very effective shooter outside and inside which presents problems for many defenders. She is an absolute delight to work with. She is always happy and loving life. She is also a member of the Gospel Choir at San Jose State. How great is that!
Meagan Minson earned All-America honors and is back for her senior season. What makes her the effective goalkeeper that she is?
Meagan took over the starting job as a freshman and has progressed at an amazing rate. She is a tremendous athlete and is very coachable. She works extremely hard to improve and respond to Johnny Bega’s coaching. He has been her only coach here and together they make a great team.
With that our interview ended. We have been big fans of the way Pacific has emerged on the men’s side as a squad with the talent to challenge the “big four” and San Jose State has that same look entering this campaign. The Spartans have a lot of experience returning to the fold and it is in the right spots as Curran and Molnar are a nice one-two punch on offense while Minson is a formidable anchor in the cage. Do not be surprised if San Jose State crashes this season’s NCAA Tournament party.