Wigo says team is ‘ahead of schedule’
UC-Santa Barbara's high tempo team building toward future
When discussing the greatest Americans to play the sport of water polo, it does not take long to mention the name Wolf Wigo. The three-time Olympian and former captain of the United States Olympic team is one of the most dominant players to ever compete. In 2005 Wigo was named head coach at UC-Santa Barbara, since then the Gauchos have been a fixture in the Top 10.
UCSB is coming off a NorCal Invitational where you defeated UC-Irvine 11-5 and hung tough with UCLA. The win over UCI was a reversal of a 13-8 loss from earlier in the season. Can you tell us about your team's progression and the score reversal against the Anteaters?
Wigo: We are a really young team. We have no seniors. Our rotations are mainly comprised of freshmen and sophomores. We improved playing games and breaking down the video with the team. We are ahead of schedule, and I was happy to be tied with UCLA midway through the fourth quarter with this young team. That being said, we have a long way to go and our goal is to win those games in the second half of the season. It also helped that UCI played great in the first match, and I thought played below average the second time. I expect a very tough match next time we meet them.
Milos Golic was an incredibly dominant offensive force who graduated last season. How do you replace a player like that?
Wigo: We are relying on playing more of a team game. We have our most depth ever in our program since I have been coaching as we can freely substitute fifteen players which allows us to be stronger in tournament play and keep a high tempo during all games. This year was our strongest finish ever at NorCals in a final match [not in terms of placement].
One player that has been generating a lot of buzz is Matt Gronow. What makes him the great player that he is?
Wigo: It was really hard for him to shine last year with the other stars that we had. He has really taken charge this season. He has a strong shot. It doesn't have to be accurate all the time as he beats the goalies before they can even get into position and overpowers them other times. That shot has been getting into the cage quite a bit this year. Matt is a great all-around player with other strengths being very strong physically, and possessing DI swim speed.