With the return of men's water polo to San Jose State University after a 34-year hiatus head coach Bruce Watson is ecstatic about the upcoming season.
"We've been looking forward to this for a long time, we are ready to go," Watson said. "We've got a team and it's going to be fun."
Still learning the players' names after a couple of days of practice, Watson envisions how the reinstated men's team will play this season.
"We're going to be like the Runnin' Rebels of UNLV from years ago," Watson said. "We're going to be a real pressing and counter attack motion team, be aggressive and try to be fast."
ANCHORING THE DEFENSE
Watson is looking to build a strong defense with the leadership of junior college all-American sophomore goalie Matej Matijevic (pronounced MAH-tay MAH-tee-vich).
"Matijevic is very skilled in the cage and is working really hard to get into playing condition. His technique is good," said Watson. "He's very experienced and knows the game. He's going to be a good quarterback for the defense. I'm really excited."
Matijevic was a member of the Croatian junior national team prior to playing at Long Beach City College last season.
Sophomore 2-meter defender Igor Miljan is another key player in Watson's defensive strategy.Also from Croatia, Miljan played for Watson at West Valley College last season.
"He's a little older and has international experience as well," Watson said. "We also have some fast guys, if they learn how to play together, we could be a fast team. It's just a matter of developing some experience."
COUNTING ON FRESHMEN
"'Some of the freshmen have played high level club water polo and at the junior Olympics. I'm excited about how coachable they are and their talent," Watson said. "I think they are going to have really good careers here coming in as freshmen."
SEASON OPENER COMING UP FAST
The Spartans will open the season hosting the Santa Clara Broncos at the Aquatic Center on September 5.
"Our first game is going to be our first time under fire," Watson said who has 25 student-athletes competing for 20 roster spots. "Playing games like that lead up to the Mountain Pacific schedule to see who can play and who will come through and step up."
San Jose State will be competing in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, the same conference as defending NCAA national champion UCLA.
"We have a lot to do. All the teams we are playing got to play all summer," Watson said. "We will do the best we can this year but we are also looking to the future. We have a lot of kids who want to come here next year."
by Brian S. Stanley, SJSU athletics media relations student assistant