The College Baseball Blog continues our series of interviews with head coaches checking in with new Holy Cross coach Greg DiCenzo. He is entering his first season in charge of the Crusader program after coming over from Northeastern. He takes over a Holy Cross club which went 12-23 and 8-11 in the Patriot League.
1. Greg, You are entering your first season as a Head Coach of a Division 1 program after spending the last five seasons as an assistant coach with Northeastern. What is the biggest challenges you face in your first year with Holy Cross?
I believe the biggest challenges for this year, is merely getting accustomed to the way Holy Cross operates. The game doesn’t change from school to school, and the kids are just as GREAT! For me, it is truly getting a sense of the daily operations of a new institution.
2. Catcher Brendan Akashian had a solid season in 2007 where he was named to the 2007 All-Patriot League First Team. Who else do you expect to compete for conference or national awards?
Obviously, I am expecting Brendan to have another solid season for the Crusaders. He has continued to work extremely hard this off-season, and has demonstrated that this will surely not be his last season of playing baseball. The door is wide open for a number of players to step up and contribute. In order for this team to have significant success on the field, we will undoubtedly need players with limited experience to raise their level of play.
3. Holy Cross lost about half of their starting pitchers from 2007. Who do you expect to step up an fill the spots in the rotation?
Again…there are too many pitchers on our staff to single any of them out. I am extremely comfortable where our staff is at, and the I am excited that these 12-14 pitchers have bought into our pitching philosophy. I firmly believe that a number of these staff members will raise some eyebrows this season.
4. What is your expectations for the program in 2008? What team in the Patriot League will be your biggest challenge to bringing Holy Cross back to the NCAA Tourney?
My expectations all along have been the same. We will flat out compete and expect to win every contest we play. Every team in this league is a solid program and we have the utmost respect for each of them and their coaches. That being said, however, I think the one team we need to concern ourselves with is the College of the Holy Cross. If we worry about ourselves, and we are accountable for our own actions, we will be headed in the right direction.
5. What is your biggest challenge on and off the field in dealing with young men from 18-23?
The greatest challenge in working with a new group of 18-23 year old men is enabling them to trust and confide in you as a mentor and coach. If I can get every player that puts on a Holy Cross uniform to truly realize that I care a heck of a lot more about them as a person and a student, I have done my job. The baseball aspect of coaching will always be there, and each player will continue to get better on the field. For me, the ultimate satisfaction is for a player to know that I care about who they are and where they are going.
6. Final question, who has been your biggest influence on your coaching philosophy or career?
Every coach that I have worked for and played for, I have had the opportunity of learning from. For a couple of them, I have probably learned more about how I do not want to coach, but for the following individuals I have seemingly adapted my coaching philosophy after. The first is Dr. Tom Fay at St. Lawrence University. He is the most influential figure that I have had the opportunity of playing for and working for. A GREAT person, a knowledgeable coach, and someone who values the student-athlete concept. The second person is Jeff Trundy of the Falmouth Commodores in the Cape Cod Baseball League. I had the pleasure of working with Coach Trundy for four summers, and I learned a tremendous amount about the game of baseball and the importance of respecting the game and your opponents. Nobody is more respected in that league than Coach Trundy! The last individual is a gentleman by the name of Foster Cass. Coach Cass was the Duxbury High School soccer and basketball coach for my entire 4-year career, and he is truly the greatest competitor I have come across. He is a coach who ALWAYS got the best out of each player and flat out knew how to win.
The CBB would like to thank Greg for taking some time to answer some of the questions we presented him with. We will be providing some coverage of the Holy Cross program as we attend about 5-6 games in 2008. If any other schools would like to do an interview feel free to email us.