Dec. 5, 2013
PITTSBURGH – As his team prepares for finals week and its holiday break, Pitt baseball head coach Joe Jordano took some time to sit down with PittsburghPanthers.com to discuss the state of the program.
How did the fall play out?
The fall season was solid. We have a lot of new players on this year’s team and it took some time to determine where everyone needed to be. I believe there are still some unanswered questions, but I say that in a positive way because there is solid competition. Come opening day, the players that are in the lineup will be there because they earned it not because of default and that is encouraging.
Our individuals went well and I felt like we made significant improvement over that segment as the guys are heading into reading week and finals prior to the end of the semester.
On the strength/conditioning side, I really like where we are at. When you can visually see physical improvement, that is significant. I am confident our team will be in the best condition possible entering the season.
What is next on the calendar for the Panthers?
Upon return to campus, there is a two week period of “ramping up” prior to beginning the pre-season segment of our program. Our players will follow a specific program during the holiday break and should not need much time to get back into playing shape upon returning. It is imperative that our players maintain where they are at right now when they get back to campus. Following the two week period we will transition into actual pre-season practice in which we will begin our preparation for our first weekend series. Time goes by very quickly but I can tell you that this team is working extremely hard.
How did recruiting go for the Panthers?
I am very pleased with our signing class. Due to the fact that we have several preferred walk-ons, we will announce our entire class when those individuals are admit/paid at the University. Regardless of being on scholarship or not, we respect these individuals and want to announce our class when we are permitted to announce all as per NCAA rules. We have a very nice mix of freshmen and junior college players coming in next fall. It was our goal to continue our effort to raise the standard and the quality of player without sacrificing integrity and character. Each of our recruits will fill a specific position and will certainly elevate the quality of our program. Our staff did a great job and is continuing that momentum right now moving forward with our 2015 & 2016 classes.
How many times have you been asked about the transition into the ACC?
I wish I had a buck for every time I have been asked that question. My response is simple. We will be ready. Listen, I cannot predict wins and losses at this point, I don’t think any program can, but what I can say is that we can control what we are doing and I can assure you we are working harder than ever and our team is well aware that we are taking a huge step up competing in the ACC.
I do feel that the “old” Big East did not get the respect it deserved. Louisville, St. John’s, UCONN, USF, Notre Dame as well as others were very competitive. Most of the time, the Big East teams that made the regionals fared well with several going to Supers and Louisville most recently going to Omaha. That is good baseball but there is no question that the ACC is arguably the best baseball conference in the country. Each weekend we will be facing potential first rounders on the bump and at the plate, great teams lead by great coaches with an abundance of incredible players. With that said, any coach or player would embrace this opportunity.
What do you feel will be the biggest challenge for the Panthers?
I’d say depth. This is our first season of being fully-funded so it will take some time to add quality depth to our roster. If anyone analyzes our statistics, we have had 6-7 players, each year, play almost every inning of every game and 5-6 pitchers with the vast majority of the innings. Now that will be the case with many teams; however, in our case, we did not have many choices. The key for us is that we need to be able to have multiple lineups on any given day to match-up well with what we are facing. Over the past several years, we have basically had one lineup regardless of who we are facing. That takes its toll on your front line guys. Next season, we will add to that depth and will continue this trend into the future. Our goal is to close the talent gap of the everyday player and the backup. Quality depth equals more quality options and those options will put your club in a better position to win consistently.
Your schedule is very tough what was the theory behind such a tough one?
We need to be prepared for conference play. I believe we have always tried to schedule to firstly meet our needs and secondly to prepare us for the conference. Now we are preparing for the conference as well as a potential post-season bid. Many of the teams on our schedule are teams that have played in Regionals and we need to compete against these teams. Our first three weekends are against very, very good teams. We will know where we are at after the first three weeks heading into our opening ACC series against North Carolina.
Overall, what are your feelings about where the program in now?
I feel very good about where we are at. This is an incredible opportunity for all of us to transition into a new conference – one that is as competitive as the ACC. I love my staff, we have great support personnel from equipment, to strength & conditioning, athletic training, video and academic support. All of these areas are locked in and ready to make this move. All of the things that we directly control could not be any better. Mind you, we are always looking to improve in all aspects, but we have a solid foundation and we are getting better.
Ever since I was fortunate enough to named head coach at the University of Pittsburgh, I have kept the agenda simple.
1. Be the best we can be.
2. Focus on the process.
3. Control the things we control.
4. Represent the University of Pittsburgh to the highest level of integrity possible.
5. No excuses.
If you look at what we have accomplished over the past 16 years, even though I do not like to talk about things in the past, it is impressive. And what we accomplished with what we had to work with, and all of our past players know exactly what I am talking about, I could not be more proud of those teams.
Today, our athletic administration has put us in a better position than we have been in at any other time in the baseball program’s long history, and I very much look forward to leading this team and program into the 2014 season and into the future.
As Bear Bryant once said as he was asked about the next game, “With the good Lord willing, we will show up”! Exactly! When the umpire says play ball the Pitt Panthers will be ready.