March 28, 2008
2008 NCAA MEN'S ICE HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIP
NORTHEAST REGIONAL DCU CENTER WORCESTER, MASS.
MIAMI (OHIO) PRE-TOURNAMENT PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES
MARCH 28, 2008
Head Coach Rico Blasi, Senior Forward Ryan Jones
Blasi: We're definitely excited to be here, we've had a great regular season, and the guys have done a really great job. As a coaching staff, we're extremely proud of them, the things they have accomplished this year as a team and the way they've handled themselves from the get go. Our philosophy all year is to have fun and make sure we're living in the moment and playing each day as if it was our last. We're just looking forward to playing Air Force and playing our best.
Ryan, can you explain the "brotherhood" that is shared among your teammates at Miami?
Jones: The "brotherhood" is everything we do together, whether that being school work, practice, workouts. That daily process has made us a close group.
Last year you came in as a fourth seed defeating the No. 1 seed New Hampshire. How do you think that has helped you coming into this year?
Jones: I think we proved to a lot of people especially those who questioned our team and this program and the school no matter what the sport. It definitely helps having that experience, but this is a tournament where you can be a one and done. We were the No. 4 seed defeating No. 1 seed last year, defeating UNH, showing that it doesn't make much of a difference between the two teams. It just so happens that this year the tables are turned and we are the No. 1 seed. Coach has been reminding us that we cannot over look where we were last year as a No. 4 seed.
Can you talk to us about your length of hair?
Jones: I decided I was going to donate my hair to "Locks of Love." There was a process I went through where I met a 13 year old girl who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. After talking to her and getting to know her I decided to donate my hair.
How much longer are you going to grow your hair?
Jones: The minute I step of the ice at season's end it will be cut. Barry Melrose wants me to cut it. I think he's just getting jealous that I'm starting to look better than him.
How do you prepare to take on a four seed as a one seed?
Blasi: Every team in this tournament can win the national championship and that's the way we've approached it. We've watched a lot of film on Air Force, we know they're a great team, and they're coming off their championship in their league. We focused all week, just like all year long, that we're playing our best on the weekend and it really hasn't been any different. These guys know what to do, they know what's at stake here, there's no reason to warn them or anything like that. They know what they did last year as a four seed. They know what they need to do now.
In addition to his stats, what else sets Ryan Jones apart as one of the best?
Blasi: He cares about other people, he never puts himself first, and it's always about the team. Even at road games, he texted me from the back of the bus asking how did we do, not how did I do. He always does things in a caring fashion and he plays that way. He loves to play the game; he has a bright future with Minnesota. We're going to miss him dearly; he's the leader of our team. He's the guy that has put us in this position. I can't say enough about they way he has conducted himself.
Instead of playing in the NHL, Ryan Jones, Nathan Davis, and Jeff Zatkoff decided to continue playing at Miami. What has them returning to the team done for the program?
Blasi: First and foremost, it shows the type of commitment those guys have for Miami University and their teammates. All three of them agonized over the thought of leaving their team - it wasn't about money or playing the National Hockey League, it was about having to leave their team. Ryan Jones was the last to decide and once he decided to stay, the confidence in our team went to a new level. It means a lot when guys that can leave, don't. The NHL pro hockey will always be there, but you can only have your college days once. I'm thankful they've had a great year; these three guys are good examples of this for Miami and for college hockey.
Discuss Nathan Davis' injuries, and how it has given him more of a perspective of his game?
Blasi: It's been a tough year for Nate. One of the first shifts he had against Vermont in our first game, he's injured, and then he's come back and gets injured again and ended up missing pretty much the entire season. I think he appreciates where he's at right now; he's played some really great hockey for us over the last couple of weekends. I think he's finally comfortable again. Despite all the injuries, he's one of the best players in the country.
Discuss the teams playing in the regional.
Blasi: Air Force is coming off back-to-back championships in their league. If you've seen how Minnesota has played over the last five to six weeks, I don't know if there's a better team in the country. Boston College, what can you say about Boston College? Every time this year, they kick it up a notch. I don't see any holes in any of the teams in this regional. Anybody can win it and we're excited to be here. Anytime you're playing for a national championship and you're one of the 16 teams, you've got to feel good about yourself.