Will Pacific break into NCAA tournament this season?
The 2010 season was a banner campaign for the Tigers. They earned their highest national ranking in program history, climbing to fourth in the polls. The turnaround of Pacific can be traced to one man — James Graham, who is entering his fourth season as head coach.
Graham arrived at Pacific from Santa Rosa Junior College and quickly lifted Pacific’s ceiling. The Tigers now enter this year as a legitimate NCAA contender. Last season’s success earned him the coveted Monte Nitzkowski Distinguished Men’s Coaching Award from USA Water Polo.
He recently took time to discuss what the Tigers learned during their opening match, if his squad will challenge for a title and what makes Goran Tomasevic so special.
Pacific received quite a scare from UC-Davis during the opening weekend. Can you tell us a little about that game and what you learned from it?
Graham: UC-Davis is a very good team. They have a strong center, great goalie and some nice perimeter attackers. Trevor Allen is a redshirt-freshman who is very good for them. We were playing guys in different positions and were trying to see who would play for us. We learned how to keep our composure and win a game when things are close. It was a tough game and great learning experience.
What does Pacific need to do to challenge for a national title?
Graham: We need to have a maximum team effort from the 12 guys who are going to play. Everyone needs to know their role and embody their role. Our stars also need to be great.
Can you tell us a little bit about last year’s Cutino Award nominee Goran Tomasevic and what makes him such a special player?
Graham: Goran is a very well-rounded player and is dangerous at both ends of the pool. He has amazing strength, is extremely mobile and has a great understanding of the game. In addition, his teammates also do an incredible job of passing him the ball in the right situations.