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Johns Hopkins' Pietramala not worried about criticism

Monday’s blog included a post on Johns Hopkins’ 18-5 loss to No. 5 seed Duke in the first round of the NCAA Tournament – a setback that cemented the program’s first losing season since 1971.

That entry generated 14 reader comments, perhaps the most by a single post this year. While some cited the team’s youth, lack of speed and/or conservative style of play as reasons for the Blue Jays’ troubles, several pinned the blame solely on coach Dave Pietramala.

Let’s review Pietramala’s resume. Under the 10-year coach, Johns Hopkins has advanced to six Final Fours and four tournament finals, capturing the national championship in 2005 and 2007. The team has compiled a 113-38 record, and Pietramala is 45 wins shy of tying Bob Scott for the most victories by a Blue Jays coach.

On the flip side, Johns Hopkins struggled to make its 39th consecutive tournament appearance, defeating Towson and Loyola in its final two regular-season games. The Blue Jays have lost 10 of their past 13 meetings with Virginia, including the past six. Johns Hopkins has lost five of its past six games against Syracuse and dropped annual showdowns with Maryland and Navy, the latter breaking a 36-game losing skid in April.

Pietramala didn’t seem bothered that he might be the target of criticism during the offseason.

"People are going to do what they want to do," he said. "Right now, we lost in the first round of the playoffs, and we’re going to get criticized for it, and we deserve to be. That’s the way that is. That’s part of this job. Am I concerned about the criticism? I’m not concerned about the criticism. I’m concerned that we’ve put ourselves in a place where we can be criticized. Am I concerned about the criticism? No, we deserve it. I’m not hiding from anything. Am I worried? No. My body of work here has been tremendous. My staff’s body of work here has been tremendous. Should [Syracuse coach] John Desko be worried now [after the Orange lost, 9-8, in double overtime to Army in the first round]? If it was easy, everybody would be doing it, and everybody’s not doing it. No matter what everybody wants to say, go back and look to see who’s won championships in the last 10 years. It’s the same teams. Did we fall down? Absolutely we did. Am I concerned that in our last two playoff games, we did not do a good job? Yeah. So we’ll fix it. We’ll adjust, we’ll adapt, we’ll change if we have to, and we’ll address it. But everybody wanted to say that Hopkins wasn’t going to make the playoffs and that it was going to happen. It didn’t happen. Isn’t it funny how we found a way to make it? We didn’t let what happened to Syracuse, Princeton and Virginia happen to us. People will look at it in one of two ways. They’ll say, ‘Well, it didn’t happen to them, so that’s a good thing.’ Or, ‘But they didn’t do the job in the playoffs.’ In the end, I’m happy that we kept that streak alive, although I’m not a streak guy. But we found a way when our backs were against the wall to do the job, and I know we’re capable of doing the job. Now we’ve got to find a way to do it all the time. … Criticism is the way it goes. That’s part of the job, and I have to deal with it. Our performance has put us in a position where we can be criticized. In the end, the only criticism that matters is the one from my administration and my staff here, and we’ve been supported tremendously here."

Pietramala vowed to take a critical look at every aspect of the team – beginning with himself.

"We have to figure out, as coaches, the mistakes that we made," he said. "That’s where it starts. You look at yourselves first. So we’ll do that. We’ve already met with our strength coach to talk about how we’re approaching the summer, the fall and the winter and what changes needed to be made there. We have to meet as a staff, but I think right now, each of us is kind of soul-searching and asking, ‘What could I have done better?’ And for me, I’ve got to do a better job of communicating with my team. Maybe when we meet, we’ve got to talk about the people we have here and do we have to adjust our style or change our style? Do we have to keep doing what we do? … We’ve been asking ourselves those questions and thinking about them as we’ve gone through the season. It’s not something where you say, ‘We’ll wait until the end and then figure it out.’ We’ve got to be, as coaches, willing to adjust to change, and I’m at the head of that list. I’m in charge of this."

Posted by Edward Lee at 1:00 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Johns Hopkins


It isn't criticism to point out the simple fact Hopkins isn't keeping up with the jones based on the field results.

It is sort of hit on the article but against Hopkins toughest opponents SU, UVA, UNC, UMd, Princeton, Duke over the last 4-5 years has a winning record against one of them MD which is 3-1. After that it is
Duke 2-3
UNC 1-4
SU 1-5
UVA 0-6
Princeton 2-3

That's the facts.

Add in the senior class lost 28 games in 4 years (about 10% of all Hopkins loses through 126 years), Hopkins lack of competitiveness with other teams didn't just happen this year but has been building for several years.

Burger's right. And so is Petro - they need to look at the program top-to-bottom and begin to make some fixes. I have confidence in Petro's confidence.

several years? They won a title in 2008. That senior class had a championship ring on their hands. Petro, in ten years, has accomplished more than most coaches in division 1.

I'm not defending this year's team, as there was something fundamentally wrong with them. But I feel like this happens to every team at some point... UVA is '03, the Orange in '07, etc.

Hopkins lost to Syracuse in the '08 NC; last title was '07. But look at the big picture - back to back blowout losses in the tournament; more losses than wins against top 10 opponents over the last 4 years; and now with players transferring out, they have glaring holes at every position and zero depth - where's the player development? Why insist on playing settled 6-on-6 when you don't have the players to do it and teams like Syr, Duke, and UVA kill you in the transition game?


Last title was 07. Petro's job isn't to be better then most other DI coaches but play with the other top dogs in DI lax...Syracuse, UVA, etc. And right now, that isn't happening.

As for trusting him to make the changes, I hope he does but take a look at an area of weakness for Hopkins the past 5-6 years and no changes were made.

Hopkins Man Down Defense over the last 6 years has never been better then 41st ...from another board

--2010: 57
2009: 41
2008: 48
2007: 47
2006: Top 50 were ranked so at least 51.--

That is pretty awful and either they made corrections and didn't work (meaning any changes might not work either) or they never even recognized the need to make corrections. Either way, that is somewhat scary to think about.

Let's be honest, with the exception of Kimmel and occasional spurts from Gvozden and Boyle, the program got nothing from this class of seniors. The junior class has been a huge bust with Wharton being the only thing close to an impact player. You just can't have 2 bad recruiting classes and expect to keep up with UVA and Syracuse. From what I saw this year, I don't see Harrison or Rabil-level dominance from Ranagan or Greeley. Like any other sport, championships are won with great talent and this program doesn't have any. Petro can evaluate everything from S&C to special teams, but JHU needs an infusion of blue chip talent to return to the top.

Well, I feel secure in writing something here as the Coach isn't worried about what I think...

This season wasn't a one-time hiccup: the program has been heading downwards for the last three years. All of the "experts" gave Hopkins a thumbs-up for their recent recruiting classes -- so why isn't it translating into wins? Uh, coaching, maybe? They either can't develop or can't evaluate.

This year, the EMO was terrible (think back to the Maryland game just before halftime, when Hopkins had a 6-on-4 -- and threw the ball away), the man-down was laughable and pointless (just give the other team a goal and knock :30 seconds off the clock), ground-balls were an exercise in futility and face-offs were painful to watch.

But the Coach who oversaw this is going to re-evaluate this?

At least their uniforms are still top-knotch...

The areas where JHU fell down - ground balls, EMO/man down defense, clears, and poor faceoffs - these are all coachable areas. So, while these fundamentals seem under-stressed, the intangibles - like a joy of playing, a chemistry on offense or fast breaks - those things seem absent. My hunch is that the players were over-coached in these areas and too scared to screw up with an improvised move that might not work out.

Bigger questions remain about the team's style of play. Hopkins has always been a control team - more akin to Princeton than Syracuse. But if you look at the D-1 champs over the past decade, a lot of them play a faster, offense minded game. It suggests Hopkins might need to evolve.

Wonder what Coach "My body of work here has been tremendous" has to say now that his second leading returning scorer -- Attackman Tom Palasek -- is transferring from Homewood?

Why, "In the end, I don't think it [impacts our attack] too much."

No, it doesn't. Shake a tree and you'll find an Under Armour All-American uninterested in playing in an open, up-tempo offense who rather yearns to be bored to tears while he's on the field.

Earth to David! Earth to David! Houston, we have a problem...

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Faceoff is The Baltimore Sun's blog devoted to college and high school lacrosse. Faceoff contributors include Sun reporters Edward Lee, Mike Preston and Katherine Dunn.

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