Transcript: Eaves previews weekend series against Ohio State


ON WISCONSIN
ON WISCONSIN

ON WISCONSIN

Jan. 21, 2014

Eaves Press Conference

Q. Mike, are you getting pretty good at managing the byes? What did you guys work on at all in the last one?


COACH EAVES: I guess the proof in the pudding, in terms of managing the byes, is how successful we are the other week. It's been kind of an interesting process because I think the number of byes we have forces us to be creative in terms of what we do with our kids to keep their interest up, to keep the competitive edge going.

And that's actually been fun, I think, as a coaching staff, that challenge of trying to do things that are different, that are -- keep their interest, that pushes them.

This last bye week, because it was the middle or we didn't have school, we actually had a day where we went to a different sheet of ice and went curling out of McFarland. That was all part of the challenge of how to keep it interesting. We had an extra day off on one sheet, went to another sheet of ice and kind of did a team bonding sort of thing.

It's been an interesting challenge, because of the number of byes we've had, to try to keep that level up.

Again, I think, if we are or the coaching staff were to look how to measure that, you'd have to see how we do on the weekends.

Q. Mike, did you expect Nic Kerdiles to play this weekend? And question for Sean Little?

COACH EAVES: Sean is possible. Nic is out.

Q. I know you discussed this before. I'd like to ask you again about Ohio State and the link your father had with that program. What do you know about exactly what he did to help get the Ohio State hockey program on its feet basically?

 

COACH EAVES: I had a conversation with him this week about it. We were there from '66 to '68. Dad was getting his Ph.D. there. They had an ice hockey rink on campus, and we had just moved from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where we just played outdoors. And Dad was trying to get us some ice, and the only ice we had was indoors.

 

So we were getting up early in the morning and going to skate, and Harry Hall was another Canadian that was down there at the time -- not Harry Hall. Harry Neale, excuse me. He was down there at the time, two Canadians. What they really did, I think, has been overblown as to they started the program, they got interest going because they had a personal interest for them and their families. We would get on the ice, and people said where are you going? Where's this ice? What is this? That kind of sparked interest in ice hockey at the time, but to say they started the program is probably a little bit overplayed.

 

Q. I think there are two kids from Wisconsin playing for Ohio State. To what degree did you recruit Max McCormick and Tyler Lundey?

 

COACH EAVES: Max we went after early, and Lundey we liked, but we were a little too late. At one point when the offer was made, we actually were asking questions about him, and he had already committed. We knew of both young men and had some interest in both of them.

 

Q. After a couple slip-ups earlier in the season, you guys have won 9 of 10. How do you feel heading into the meat of the conference schedule?


COACH EAVES: Well, if we had have played last week and we were still on a roll, I'd say we feel pretty good. But we've had another bye week. So we have to kind of get that engine rolling again here.

I think the first period after any bye week is always important in terms of how we get that engine running, make sure that we're simple and get through the first 20 minutes.

But there's an extra little step in everybody's gait right now because of the fact they recognize we're in the Big Ten -- we're getting into the meat of our season in terms of being in league play, and I think that's really elevated everybody's attention and focus as we practice.

Q. I'm not sure how much you've thought about this, but where have you seen the greatest improvement with this team since the very beginning, since back in October, when the games actually started playing?


COACH EAVES: One thing would be consistency. I think there's a greater level of that, which one would hope for the more you play. I know the area that we are striving to make more gains is our line rush against the defensive zone coverage, so when people are attacking us on the rush and we get into our own zone and how we can sort that out quick as we can and take time and space away. I think that's an area that we continue to focus on.

As we -- as our season continues to go, if it we can improve there 10, 15, 20 percent, it would be a big deal for us.

Q. Mike, you and your players have talked about how much you like the chemistry amongst the players on the roster, yet when it comes to, as you say, forging an identity, that process is still ongoing. What do you need to see? What do you think your players need to do to fully embrace that idea to your satisfaction?


COACH EAVES: There would be a level of no matter what is thrown at us, Andy, we have the ability to handle. I think that the greater level that we can do that shows a maturity. And team maturity is part of that identity that we would like to forge. I thought that against the Michigan series we did that to a high level.

So as we move through these conference games, what you saw against Michigan is something that we want those roots of that to continue to grow deep and become solidified, being able to handle any situation, any call by the referee, any kind of situation that comes up on the ice with a great maturity that doesn't throw us off, that we can continue to play hard, smart, and well as a team.

Q. Do you expect more, or are you about getting what you want out of your defensemen in terms of offense, in terms of goal scoring?


COACH EAVES: If we were to look at the raw numbers, the points we put up, I would say we'd be pleasantly surprised. I think we've had -- the fact that Joe Faust has put up the numbers he's had. He's almost tripled his point number from last year. And Kevin Schulze has had some numbers.

I would say overall we've been pleasantly surprised.

In the same breath, they've played well, they've been putting points up, and they're playing well without the puck also. They're doing nice things, and, again, that consistency level for them is key for them to go to the next level, and they're striving to do that week in and week out.

Q. How much have you looked at Ohio State? What have you seen from Steve Rohlik's club so far?


COACH EAVES: I watched them a little when they played Michigan State and then watched their power play against Minnesota this past weekend. I heard some, through coach Shuey and Matty, they played well Saturday night in Minnesota. I think they came out of there with a loss, but I think their confidence level -- they had a 2-0 lead, and they thought they played pretty well.

So they'll come in here with that in their hip pocket. That serves them well, and they'll be a tougher opponent for us because of that.

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