The CBB recently had the opportunity to send some questions to Rob Valli of Temple. He is entering his third season in charge of the program coming in with a two year mark of 30-78. He came to the Temple program from Gloucester County College (NJ) where he made the NJCAA World Series in each of his five seasons.
1. Temple had a tough 2007 season which saw them go 18-37 overall and 9-18 in the Atlantic 10 which was good enough for an eleventh place. With six position players and eleven pitchers coming back, what are some of the goals for the 2008 season?
Our goal this year is the same as it will always be – win the A-10 Championship. I’ve been at Temple for 27 months and finally feel like we have a chance to turn the corner and become a winning program.
2. Sean Barksdale is receiving some preseason accolades including being named to the Brooks Wallace Award Watch List. Do you expect anyone else to compete for conference or national awards?
Sean works so hard every day and is becoming a complete player. It’s great to see that he is receiving attention for his development. According to what many of the scouts are telling us, we could have as many as six players in the draft this year. Stan Orzechowski (CF) had all-conference type numbers last year (.349, 82 hits, 20 doubles, 6 HR, 52 runs), but fell short on votes. Tom Dolan (LHP) performed as well as many of the top starters in our league in his first 8 starts (4-2, 1.80 thru April 8, 2007) including a National Pitcher of the Week performance. Arshwin Asjes (RHP) enjoyed tremendous freshman (34th round Indians) and sophomore season success (26 scoreless innings streak), but just couldn’t get on track last year. Matt Mongiardini (RHP) has made the most improvement since last season. His jump into the low 90s combined with great stuff may make him our #1. Transfer Mike Mongiardini (LHP) is a pro prospect with three years experience and command of a plus fastball.
3. Who do you expect to take over the closer’s role in 2008?
That’s the question our pitching coach Joe Thomas and I ask each other every day. We have four pitchers in Asjes, Dolan, and the Mongiardini brothers who can all be effective starters in our league. We are going to use the first 17 pre-conference games to let their performances dictate the rotation.
4. Your entering your third season in charge of the Temple program after a successful run at Gloucester County College where you took the program to the NJCAA World Series in each of your five seasons. What is the biggest difference in coaching at the Division 1 level when compared to Junior College?
The biggest difference is now we have the opportunity to develop players over a much longer period of time with more coaches, support staff, facilities, and resources. The x-factor is motivating individual players over the course of their careers. At Gloucester it was easy. Our players had three very attainable realities: a national championship, the pro draft, and scholarships offers. At Temple, the goals of winning a championship and being a pro prospect are the same. The difference is that it’s a longer process and most players must fill a less visible role from time to time.
5. How is the team coping with the passing of Richie Gargel and are there any plans to honor him?
Richie was a special person who left a lasting impression on everyone involved with our program. We have decided to dedicate the 2008 season to the memory of Richie. As a symbol of our dedication, his number is on our caps and stenciled on our field.
6. What is your biggest challenge on and off the field in dealing with young men from 18-23?
The biggest challenge is to plan and organize our baseball program in such a way as to meet the developmental needs of 30 very unique college students. Each player comes to us with diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, motivating factors, and academic-athletic-social skill sets. It’s our job to create a culture with common goals and expectations that they can all benefit from. In my opinion, winning at our level, is more about creating a culture of players and coaches finding ways to get better every day, than what kind of bunt defense we teach.
7. What player or coach have you enjoyed working with the most?
I know this may sound cliché, but there are so many players and coaches that have had a positive impact on my career. I’m in my 16th year of coaching and 12th at the collegiate level. I really enjoy staying in touch with former players and hearing how the lessons they learned in baseball have impacted their lives.
8. Final question, who has been your biggest influence professionally or personally?
I’ve had the good fortune of working for four hall of fame caliber coaches. Tom Lemon at St Mark’s HS (DE) taught me how to win with class, Rick Dell at The College of NJ was the consummate professional, Barry Davis at Gloucester (now Rider) taught me the value of the 18-hour work day, and Fred Hill at Rutgers is the best I’ve seen at developing players.
The College Baseball Blog would like to thank Rob Valli for taking the time to answer some of our questions. Special thanks goes out to Kevin Bonner of Temple Media Relations for setting up the interview and providing us with the photo.
The CBB will be providing interviews with head coaches throughout the preseason with more coaches coming in the near future. If an SID wants me to interview their head coach feel free to email us by clicking here.