After then-No. 11 Texas swept K-State last weekend, head coach Suzie Fritz said her team had lost its identity and needed to refocus. On Tuesday, the day before the Wildcats’ match against Iowa, she said the team must embrace its strengths and be consistent.
“I know that, if we’re going to be that team — whatever team we’re going to be — that’s the team we need to be all the time, day to day, match to match,” Fritz said. “I know that we can’t waver. If this is the team we’re going to be and these are the things we’re going to be good at, then those are the things we have to embrace and be good at.”
Being more ambiguous in such a long quotation would be difficult, and a worthy challenge for any coach. But Fritz said what she meant and did not mince her words.
Her team could be amazing, trouncing top schools and cutting a line to the national championship. Her team could mimic those at the bottom of the league, losing to the worse and chasing away hopes of even one conference win. Or her team could find a nice spot in the middle, picking up wins over minor teams.
No matter which one comes to fruition, Fritz wants her team to get there and stay there. This would help her in a couple of ways.
First, she can only make improvements if she knows what is wrong. When her athletes have a stellar match in one area and then cannot repeat the performance, she is unable to correct the mistakes, because she cannot positively identify what they are.
Second, her team needs a definition of its strengths and weaknesses so she can modify her strategies and techniques to maximize the strengths and minimize the weaknesses. Right now, the high notes from a few weeks ago — e.g., the back row — have been swinging to the opposite end of the spectrum. Before, a defense-heavy game plan would have lessened the opponent’s scoring opportunities and given the offense a chance. Now, this strategy might rack up points for the other side of the net too quickly to counter. Fritz needs to know which one to predict, so she can map out K-State’s plan.
This is why she needs her team to settle into a consistent rhythm. Once the team has found its identity, Fritz can begin to build it into the top program that it is destined to become.