Volume1: Number 10 Men's Varsity Coaches March 1, 2007

Bi-weekly a varsity coach from the west coast and a varsity coach from the east coast is given the same question solicited from a member of the water polo community. The coaches answer the question independent of each other and their answers are posted here together with a photograph and short biography of each coach. We hope to have the men's varsity coaches to answer the questions in the fall and winter and the women's varsity coaches to answer the questions in the winter and spring.

QUESTION: Your team has only stopped 2 in 10 person-up situations against a team. What are several things you could do to try and eliminate this weakness when playing this team again, and explain why you think these suggestions will work.

Ed Newland, Coach Emeritus of UC Irvine

ANSWER: I do not believe in secrets or quick fixes.  When we played USC  they kept scoring from 6 down the pipe behind our defender.  The 6x defender just was not getting his left arm down deep enough to stop the shot coming down the pipe. The 1x  must use his left arm to stop 4 from shooting strong side and also be able to slide quickly to his right  to stop 1 from catching and shooting quickly down the pipe behind 1x. How does a player learn to help cover both the 1 post and stop the 1 from shooting behind him?  Practice doing this a couple of 100 times.

Defense against the extra man is really all about shot blocking.  To get good at shot blocking one has to practice shot blocking as much as possible. Under the new rules getting a piece of the ball is much more important than ever because if it goes out of bounds it is a turn over. So it seems to me coaches should obviously spend more
time giving their players a chance to practice shot blocking.

Extra man shot blocking is all about knowing what part of the cage you must cover in all 5 positions.
  We generally try to match arms with the shooter except at 1x and 3x   where the first move must be to stop 1 and 6 from shooting down the pipe behind the goalie.  So at 1x position the 1x man must use his right arm to block the shot even though he is not matching arms.  The 1x must square his shoulder quick to the 1 man to make sure he won’t shoot down the pipe.  On the 3 side the 3x must use his left arm to block the shot.  A lot of defenders playing 1x and 3x will switch arm if the offense man move up into the pocket.  What ever works best for the individual is fine with me.

If possible use at the 2x position a big player who can keep one arm up and still play physically with the 2 and the 3.  The 2x should play a little farther out from the cage than the 1x or the 3x. But he must read and help on a 6-2 pass and a 1- 3 pass.

The 4x must be able to shot block the 4 and also step back to stop a 4- 2 pass and  a shot.  Most teams like to slide the 2 into the pocket on about a 45 degree angle between the 4 and the 1. There is usually a lot of open water in the pocket between 4 and 1, so the 4x must try to fill this opening when he can.

The 5x takes more mobility than any other position in the extra man defense.  He must help back on the 3, go out when the 5 moves in, and stunt towards the 4 when he comes center.  He must be able to move quickly over his hips to cover all that water. We practice covering all three positions over and over again. So players can get better at making these three moves and recover.

Both the 4x and the 5x need to be able to move quickly over their hips as well as to be able to shot block with either arm.

Smart offensive teams will slide their players either right or left. and rotate the 1 and the 6 up and down, trying to stretch the defense out of position . The 2x can help by communicating this to team.

Every player needs to spend a lot of time blocking shots.  We  play a 2 on 2 drill on both sides of the cage all the time. Just so 1x can practice  going over his hips to stop the 1 shooting strong side and also trying to get an arm up to stop the 4 from shooting toward the 2 post. On the other side  we have players at 6 and 3x; 5 and 5x;  Try to teach 3x to cover the 3 post and slide to stop the 6 from scoring down the pipe behind 3x.  The 4 and 5 can only shoot strong  side so the1x and the 3x must learn to cover the post and still block shots with the opposite arm. They also are to cover strong side with this arm when needed.

We start working  the left side for a shot from either the 1 or the 4 then we go to the other side  for shots from the 5 and the 6 . We change shooters on the 1’s side by rotating the players – the 1 becomes the 1x, the 4 slides down and becomes the 1, the 4x becomes the 4, and the 1x becomes the 4x. We rotate the same way on the 6’s side.  So everyone gets an opportunity to shoot and defend these 2 positions over and over again. Hopefully they will improve on the key moves both defensively and offensively.

It is a long slow process  but practice does help and the players do get better in time. What does it take? Obviously it takes self discipline and self motivation like everything in life. The drill is fun and very competitive.

Ted Newland

Coach Emeritus Ted Newland, a 1999 inductee into the UC Irvine Hall of Fame, is recognized as one of the most successful mentors and innovators of the game as he remains involved with the Anteater water polo program.

Newland reached a major milestone when he became the first NCAA water polo coach to reach 700 victories in 2004 and he currently stands as the all-time leader in wins in the collegiate ranks with a career mark of 714-345-5 as UCI's head coach the last 39 years. He notched victory No. 700 in UCI’s 19-8 win over Redlands Sept. 4, 2004, at the UC San Diego Triton Invitational.

He directed UCI to national titles in 1970, 1982 and 1989. His 1982 squad went 30-0 en route to the NCAA championship. UCI has finished ranked in the nation's top five 25 times in the past 37 years and Newland's Anteaters have competed in 21 of the 36 NCAA tournaments conducted. In addition to the three NCAA titles, UCI has finished as NCAA runner-up six times, third place four times, and fourth on five occasions.

At UCI, he produced 69 individual NCAA All-American water polo players who received that honor a total of 113 times. Eleven of his players have gone on to compete in the Olympics 22 times. Five former UCI players were members of the 2004 United States Olympic Team. One of his former All-Americans, John Vargas, served as head coach for the U.S. National men's team while another one, Chris Duplanty, is a former assistant coach for the United States women's squad.

Newland, the 1989 NCAA Coach of the Year, received that honor on three other occasions and he was conference Coach of the Year eight times. He guided UCI to eight conference titles. Newland was inducted into the U.S. Water Polo Hall of Fame in 1995 and Occidental College's Hall of Fame one year later.

He also served as UCI's head swim coach in the 1970s, leading the Anteaters to three NCAA Division II championships. Prior to arriving at UCI in 1966, he initiated the water polo programs at Newport Harbor and Corona del Mar High Schools. He led CdM to its first CIF water polo championship in 1965.

Newland served as head coach for the U.S. teams in the World University Games a total of five times: 1999 in Spain, 1995 in Japan, 1991 in Great Britain, 1979 in Bulgaria and 1973 in Russia. He has previously coached the U.S. National Team and American squads in the Pan American Games. He has been president of the American Water Polo Coaches Association and served as secretary-rules editor of the NCAA Water Polo Committee. He is the only coach to have had two teams in the top four of the Outdoor U.S. Water Polo Championships, and he has accomplished that three times. Over all levels of his coaching career, he has won over 5,300 games.

A 1954 graduate of Occidental College, Newland and his wife, Anne, reside in Costa Mesa.

(The coach given this question failed to send in his answer. Ted graciously consented to answer this question so this article could be posted with answers from both a west coast coach and an east coast coach. Thus WPP wishes to give a special thanks to Ted for helping us out of our predicament - THANKS TED!

Louis Nicolao, Coach of Princeton University

ANSWER: Any time you are playing man-down in a game the most important things a team can do to be successful are to out hustle the opponent and play smarter than the opponent. When a team scores on eight out of ten chances then the defensive unit is not playing hard enough and making to many mental mistakes.

The first thing that has to be corrected is the mind set, you need five players in the water that are willing to give twenty seconds of everything they have. It is vital that every defensive player hustle and move as much as they can in order to keep the offense from getting set.

Secondly, there has to be a game plan. The defense has to be able to help the goalie by insuring that the shot will come from a certain position in the pool, try to limit the amount of space the offense has to work in. If the goalie can trust his defense not to allow a shot for the post or one position then he or she can concentrate more on the perimeter shot.

Shot blocking is a third important step. Again, help your goalie out by making the perimeter players shoot around arms and hopefully into the goalie, With the new tip out rules shot blocking has become a vital aspect to any man down defense.

If the defense takes these three tips into account they will have a much better chance of stopping the shot. Six on five is a mind set, if you are willing to give everything you have to making a stop then you will make it. The important thing is to give your goalie a chance to block, minimize the area they have to cover and force a bad angle shot. If you can do this then the percentages will come out in your favor.

Luis Nicolao

Luis Nicolao is in his ninth year overseeing both the men’s and women’s water polo programs at Princeton. Last year, Nicolao received his third CWPA Southern Women’s Coach of the Year Award as he led the women to their ninth-straight 20-win season and their fifth Southern Championship. On the men’s side, Princeton notched its fifth-straight 20-win season and finished second and Southerns. Both teams placed third at Easterns.

The achievements of Princeton water polo in 2006-07 continued the tradition of success under Nicolao, who has a combined record of 361-126 (.746) in eight years with the men and women. Nicolao has an identical .746 winning percentage leading the men and the women.

Nicolao received three coaching accolades in 2004-05 as both the men’s and women’s teams set school records for wins in a season. He led the men to a 25-6 record, which included the Southern and Eastern titles and Princeton’s first trip to NCAA Championships since 1992. Nicolao was named the Eastern Coach of the Year and the National Coach of the Year. On the women’s side, the Tigers were 27-9 and won Southern’s. Nicolao was named the Southern Coach of the Year for his efforts.

In just his second season at Princeton, Nicolao led the men to a 22-3 record and their second CWPA Southern title. The Tigers also finished third at Easterns and were ranked 13th in the nation. The women finished 25-6, won their first-ever Eastern Championship, second consecutive ECAC title and a Mid-Atlantic Championship, and earned an eighth-place finish at the National Collegiate Championships. Nicolao was named the CWPA Eastern Coach of the Year. The next year, the women were ECAC and Southern champs, and in 2001-02, the men took first place at Southerns and third at ECACs. In 2002-03, the women won ECACs, while the men were second at both the ECAC and Southern tournaments.

Success in the pool runs in Nicolao’s family. His mother, Lee Davis, was a world-record holder in the distance freestyle and his father, Luis, was a world-record holder in the 100 butterfly. The younger Luis followed suit as a two-time high school All-America in water polo, leading Bellarmine Prep in California to its local championship each year.

Nicolao then attended Navy, where he was a three-time All-America and All-East selection and the all-time leading scorer in Navy history. The Midshipmen won two Eastern Championships and reached the NCAA tournament three times during his career. After earning Navy’s Athletic Association Sword as the top graduating male athlete in 1992, Nicolao served as an assistant water polo coach for a year. He was also a member of the U.S. National Team that won the gold medal at the World University Games. He then served in the navy for five years as a lieutenant.

Nicolao returned to Navy’s pool in 1996 as an assistant before coming to Princeton in 1998, when he received an honorable discharge from the navy. He also served as the men’s national “B” team assistant coach in 1998 and 1999.

Nicolao earned a Master’s Degree in adult education from the University of Phoenix. He and his wife Kellie have two daughters, Madison and Morgan.