Q&A with Ray Looze, Jr.
Bloomington, Ind.-- Having recently returned from its winter training trip in Florida, the 25th-ranked Indiana University men's swimming team returns to Big Ten action on Saturday when the Hoosiers travel to Ann Arbor, Mich., to face the fourth-ranked Wolverines (4-2 overall, 1-0 Big Ten entering a meet with Purdue on Friday). The meet, which will be held at the Canham Natatorium on the Michigan campus, is scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m.
Michigan, who was ranked first in the country as recently as last week, dropped dual meets at No. 4 California and third-ranked Stanford during a trip to the Golden State last week. Last Saturday, in its most recent meet, Indiana (6-0 overall, 2-0 Big Ten), which is under the direction of first-year head coach Ray Looze, Jr., won at Ohio State, 145-96. This week, however, the flu has stricken as many as 10 IU swimmers.
The following text is a question and answer session with IU head coach Ray Looze, Jr., in anticipation of Saturday's meet at Michigan.
You face a daunting task against 4th-ranked Michigan on Saturday. What are your expectations for the meet?
"We want to win. Is that realistic? If we swim our very best meet of the year, and they underestimate us, we'll see what happens. I doubt they will underestimate us. When they were ranked number one in the country last week, they lost two meets to Cal and Stanford (both ranked among the top five teams in the country), and that's as bad as I've ever seen a Michigan team swim. I know their coach will be putting them through some intense workouts this week. They won't be caught with their guard down."
How do you approach the meet?
"We're going to take it one race at a time because we have a young and relatively inexperienced team. Our goal is to go in there and win every race as we go along. When we swim those guys, they have to know who they swam against. Win or lose, we have to get as much out of it every time so we are consistently sending a message."
Have you been pleased with your team's performances to date?
"We still have not swum a complete meet this year. Against Ohio State, I was disappointed in the 200 breast and the 400 free relay. We should have won both of those races and completely dominated the meet, having them on the run like we did. That's just lack of experience because we specifically talked about it in our team meeting prior to the meet."
What is your focus for the meet at Michigan?
"This meet, I'm hopeful that I can get the team to swim with heart for the entire meet. A 16-event format is harder for this team because it seems to have a shorter focus. To focus for the entire meet has never been asked of them before this year. There's never been an expectation for that type of focus, or to swim multiple things, or to beat an opponent that is better than them. They've always heard, 'Don't go after that recruit because he'll never go to Indiana.' Or, 'You'll never beat Michigan, or Stanford, or Texas.' We're talking about that now. Being successful, or winning, however you want to term it, is all about attitude and consistently applying that focus. We're trying to teach this team to do the very best they can at everything they do, every time they do it. Whether it's toweling yourself off--get every bit of water off of your body--on up. Everything is important."
What are the key events throughout the meet?
"In the medley relay, we are going in with a better time (than Michigan). (Michigan) is really going to want to win that one because no one likes to lose the first race. We're going to want to win that one. I'm throwing the best four guys I have into that event. We've had 10 guys out with the stomach flu this week and (Dave) Schulze just came down with it today. The other three guys are swimming very well and are very healthy. Hopefully, Schulze can get over it. That's nothing we can control.
"We're going to concede the 1,000 free. We don't have anybody we can put in it. In the 200 free, we are going to throw Richard (Bryant) there. He was laid up the entire week and I think the 200 free will be a better shot for him than the 1,000. Pick your poison on that one. They are outstanding in both events.
We are favored in the 50 free. We have a remote chance to win the 100 free, a remote chance to win the 200 back, a chance to win the breast. Probably not the back because they have one of the best guys in the country, probably not the 500 and probably not the IM. We'll have a chance to win the free relay and we have a very good opportunity to win both boards".
How close can the meet be?
"When you do the math, if we are swimming really well and we get a few breaks, it can be a meet. Our team has swum hard every meet. The only thing we haven't done is swim a complete one. As long as we are doing a better job each and every dual, which we have to this point, I can live with it."
Indiana is ranked 25th in the most recent poll. What does that mean to you in your first year with the program?
"It's meaningless. Meaningless. If we stick the season like we had talked, we could finish in the top 20. But we can't make any mistakes. I don't know why we are ranked 25th. We've only beat one ranked team and that was a long time ago. I don't know where that's coming from. Maybe they were thinking of Doc Counsilman. The only ranking that means anything to me is at the end of the season. At Indiana, to me, when you even say 25th it doesn't sound right. Things in the top 10 sound right to me here. That's just my take on it."
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