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Colleges:

Coach speak no part of this UCI huddle

February 02, 2009|By BARRY FAULKNER

It has been nearly 15 years since Mike Myers played Linda Richman on “Saturday Night Live,” but a recurring theme in the character’s fictitious television call-in program “Coffee Talk,” was on display on the UC Irvine men’s volleyball team’s bench during the Anteaters’ Mountain Pacific Sports Federation home win over UCLA Friday.

UCI Coach John Speraw didn’t reprise Richman’s request for viewers to “tawk amongst yourselves,” but when he and his staff didn’t budge to engage the players coming off the court late in a Game 1 setback, the Anteaters immediately began handling their own tutorial.

“I’m very analytical about what we do tactically on the court,” said Speraw, whose team rallied for a four-game triumph. “But I’m also trying to teach these guys to be responsible, independent young men, and part of that lesson needs to start on the volleyball court with how they strategize and how they communicate with one another. So I’ve started saying less and asking more questions, instead of telling them what to do. And that time, in particular, I told my staff to sit down. I wanted [the players] to talk among themselves. I’ve done that periodically and with some good results. I like it.”

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UCI senior Taylor Wilson, who had a season-high 17 kills against the Bruins and was named National Player of the Week, as well as MPSF Co-Player of the Week on Monday, said there was no surprise when the coaches looked the other way during the timeout.

“We talk a lot about being a self-sufficient team,” Wilson said. “We talk a lot about what’s going on and what the other team is doing and we try to figure out ways to score points on the other team. [Speraw] really promotes that a lot. He likes to have the staff sit down. They say a few things here or there, but he really enjoys when we can try to figure out how to try and stop a team.

“I think it empowers us a lot. And because we’re being so vocal with each other, we can understand it and put it into terms better for other guys on the team, especially the younger guys, who don’t have as much experience.”

 Wilson’s performance Friday was yet another positive sign for the Anteaters, who had received only sporadic contributions from the 6-foot-7 senior outside hitter since he was slowed by an ankle problem last season.

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