John McDonnell Press Conference – NCAA Regiona
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas’ track team is competing in the NCAA Regional meet at Ohio State May 30-31. Following is a partial transcript of head coach John McDonnell’s press conference.
Athletes Arkansas can qualify for the national meet:
“I don’t know. We can probably get 14 or 15.”
Thoughts on the addition of the NCAA Regional meets:
“The way I look at it is, if they don’t have a chance to place at nationals, they don’t need to go to nationals. They’re trying to compare us to basketball and baseball with 64 teams. To me, the 64th-place team doesn’t need to go to nationals. There’s no need to give a pat on the back to mediocrity. It’s completely different from basketball or baseball. We’re not a team sport. We’re individuals and you can never legislate the team concept and that’s what they’re trying to do.
“We’re one of the reasons they’re doing it. Every time we voted on in public, it was defeated. In a straw vote, or over the summer, or over the summer in a vote I never got to vote in, surprisingly the mailman never showed up, it passed.”
“As far as I’m concerned, we’re treating this like it’s the national meet. If you don’t get through, there is no national meet. Everybody is going to be running for their lives to get in the top five. Even if you’re in the top five, you can’t depend on those guys picking you. There’s an ‘honest-effort’ rule at the NCAA. This committee, for example if Alistair Craig finished sixth or seventh in the 5,000, they could say, ‘Well, we don’t think he put in an honest effort. We’re not picking him.’ He’s out of the meet but he’s a top guy.”
Deciding who to put in what events:
“We made a decision and it wasn’t a good one. We put him in the 1,500 instead of the 800, and now everybody has scratched out of it. That’s the way it goes.
“In the past, Daniel Lincoln scored 16 points. Last year, he won the steeple and got third in the 5,000. He can’t do that this year. Alistair Craig can’t double in the 10,000 and 5,000.
“In the regional, they’re going to run about 50 guys in the 5,000. That’s okay, but in the national meet we can run only 25.
“They’re forcing our hand to make a decision (on who competes in which events) three weeks before the national meet. That doesn’t happen in any other sport. Other sports have an allotment of players and they can play them anywhere they want all the way up to the last game.”
Ahmad Carroll’s chances in the sprints:
“I think Ahmad (Carroll) knows he can win. Well, maybe not win but compete with the big boys. Now he knows he can do that. If he has one more (good) weekend, then he can move himself up there in that echelon with the cream of the crop. That’s what Ahmad needs – he needs some confidence.
“A meet like this could help him. I think he was ready anyway, but he’s got to learn to compete with the top dogs. I was really impressed with the way he came on at the conference meet.”
Getting out of the regional with a shot at a national championship:
“It will be tough. We have a shot. We cannot use Daniel Lincoln twice like we did last year. We cannot use Alistair Craig twice, so it limits our star athletes. It will take more of a team effort the way they set up the schedule.
“The West Region is weak and there are, I think, seven 200-meter runners, period. That’s it. There’s only enough for one race. We have, I think, 23 in our region.”
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