|(above) The Baltimore Sun blog notes that Hopkins lost to DU because their players weren't excited about playing Denver|
By the numbers, Johns Hopkins, not Denver, should have advanced to the Final Four at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Saturday.
As coach Dave Pietramala correctly noted, the Blue Jays were superiors in areas like shots (36-29), ground balls (31-23) and faceoffs (16-of-27). So why did #3 Johns Hopkins fall, 14-9, to the #6 Pioneers in an NCAA tournament quarterfinal at Hofstra University’s James M. Shuart Stadium in Hempstead, N.Y., on Saturday?
“I don’t think our team gave them the level of respect they deserved,” Pietramala said. “Why that is, I don’t know. I’ve seen us play other teams, and you come out of the locker room and you get a feel for your team. You watch your team practice, you watch your team warm up, and I just don’t think that we as a group gave them the respect that they deserved. And that’s a shame because we allowed an opportunity to slip by us.”
Asked to elaborate on that lack of respect, Pietramala began his answer by asking the reporter if he had any children.
“I can tell you from experience, kids understand certain things,” said Pietramala, the father of seven-year-old twin boys. “They understand Syracuse. They understand Virginia. They understand Carolina. They understand Maryland. Teams that have won championships. This was a new team for us. I’m telling you that when we got on the plane [after scouting Denver’s 13-10 victory over Villanova in the first round on May 15], we walked away like, ‘Wow.’ [Coach Bill Tierney] inherited a very talented team, but what I would say is, what a magnificent job they’ve done as a staff of actually making them a team. … Listen, I know my team. I know the feel of our locker room. There are no excuses. We got beat, and we should’ve prepared better. Shoot, if you want to blame anybody, blame me. I’m the head coach. That’s the way it goes. But I didn’t feel like we had that little extra something that we’ve had in some other games. I can’t attribute it to our guys not caring. They do care. If you know the things we’ve dealt with this year and the way they’ve done things, I can’t say they did not care. I just don’t think we played with the level of respect that maybe we should have, and that’s our fault.”