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Water polo prepares defense to face 49ers

Water polo prepares defense to face 49ers

first_img“Our priority is defense,” Pintaric said. “We lost our first game against Santa Barbara because we played poor defense. [We] allowed too many goals overall in the first official four games of the season because of poor defense. So our maximum effort will be to tighten up those issues that showed, and I’m looking forward to [seeing] how the guys will respond to that.” “I believe nothing is changing honestly,” Dasic said. “It is flattering and shows the work that I’ve put in, but I honestly think nothing should change, and I should just keep going and focus on the games, focus on the next win.” After USC broke its 55-game winning streak over No. 2 UC Santa Barbara in a 13-9 loss Sunday, head coach Marko Pintaric stressed the program’s need to refocus on its next ranked opponent. “We know what to focus on, what we should improve on, and definitely our defense,” Dasic said. “On offense, we kind of executed what we were supposed to, and we scored nine goals [against Santa Barbara], which is also good.” Last season’s two wins against Long Beach State came at the end of the season, when the Trojans were able to best the 49ers’ combined 14 points with their total of 27. But with a rare upset loss against Santa Barbara in the back of the players’ minds, the team is taking this opportunity to address its weaknesses.   Long Beach State also participated in the Inland Empire Classic, posting three wins against Whittier College, Concordia University and Air Force as well as one loss against No. 8 Pepperdine University to improve its overall record to 6-2.  The 49ers’ scoring drives are something to keep an eye on, as they have eight players boasting a shot percentage at or above 0.700. Sophomore utilities Matt Morris and Garrett Zaan both collected 7 goals in the tournament, while redshirt senior attacker Austin Stewart racked up an impressive 15 scores. Their performance has not gone unnoticed by USC. Following its 3-1 run at the Inland Empire Classic this past weekend, the No. 5 USC men’s water polo team will look to improve its defensive effort in its first home game of the season against No. 9 Long Beach State Thursday. The Trojans are also expected to continue as an offensive powerhouse after strong appearances last weekend from sophomore two-meter Jake Ehrhardt, junior driver Jacob Mercep and senior driver Marin Dasic. With 26 goals total from the three players across the first four tournament games of the season, it is unlikely that their scoring effort will slow down Thursday. Dasic hit a career milestone by passing the 100 goal mark during the Inland Empire Classic. “We take every game as a test to correct our mistakes and to get the team better,” Pintaric said. “Every game is super serious, as if it’s the most important game of the season.” Dasic also said that while the priority is defense, the team continues to work fiercely on the offensive side in order to outscore Long Beach State’s high-scoring attack. USC will rely on a strong group of goalies to counter the offensive firepower of Long Beach State. Junior Vaios Vlahotasios had an impressive first tournament with 21 saves, while sophomore Nic Porter had eight saves and sophomore Jere Ashby had nine saves in his first appearance as a Trojan. “[We spent] a day and a half watching films, watching to analyze our play over the weekend, to show the good and bad stuff that we did, so we can fix our problems,” Pintaric said. “And [we watched] what Long Beach [State] did the last couple of weeks, so we can make an adjustment and play the best game possible on Thursday.” Sophomore goalie Nic Porter reaches out to defend a shot. Porter was a three-time Newcomer of the Week during his freshman season. (Daily Trojan file photo) USC’s first home game of the season against the Beach begins 5 p.m. Thursday at Uytengsu Aquatics Center.last_img read more

Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger ready to put 2018’s platoon days behind him

Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger ready to put 2018’s platoon days behind him

first_img“Had we had a meaningful lead in our division, we probably would have just let him play it out. The fact that it was so tight we felt that was the best thing to do to help us win our division.”Bellinger was “really good” against lefties in 2017 indeed. During that National League Rookie of the Year season, only three left-handed hitters had a higher OPS against left-handed pitching than Bellinger’s (.903) – Cincinnati’s Joey Votto, Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon (who won the NL batting title that year) and Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager. No lefty hit more home runs off lefties (12) than Bellinger.Things changed in his second season, however. Bellinger’s overall production dropped in large part because of his struggles against left-handed pitching – he batted just .226 with a .681 OPS and half as many home runs against lefties.“To follow up a Rookie of the Year campaign with the season he did is tough,” Roberts said. “There’s a lot of expectations put on a player. I think mechanically he was never in sync. Then you start looking at the scoreboard and you see your average and you start pressing a little bit and the game speeds up.“It’s just one of those things where he got into a funk mechanically and the results weren’t there. The quality of at-bat, for me with what I saw, wasn’t what I saw in ’17. … There’s a quality, results notwithstanding, that just wasn’t there.”It actually seemed to start during the postseason – the World Series, in particular – in 2017. Bellinger was 4 for 28 with 17 strikeouts in the Series and the Astros’ gameplan against him was copied by everyone in 2018.“Last year it started with the league making an adjustment on him,” Roberts said. “They were throwing him balls above the belt and they were tying him up. Then when you get into May and you start looking at your average, there’s some anxiety that sort of sets in on a young player. Then you start trying to make some mechanical changes and the lefties were beating him away, spinning him. Balls that he was taking (in 2017), he was swinging at. Then it gets into the mechanical piece.”Bellinger put a good deal of work in this offseason trying to “clean things up mechanically.” The result is a swing that is not much different from his rookie year. But he understands a lot more about how and why it works.“I would say the swing itself is the same. But the way I’m going about my swing isn’t the same,” he said. “I have more understanding of how to go about it – rather than just going up there and hacking.“Beginning of this offseason, Rob (new hitting coach Robert Van Scoyoc) took me and we just watched a whole bunch of video from 2017 and what I did well and then what I didn’t do well because I went through some slumps. And when I was going through those slumps in ’17 I had no idea why I was really going through those slumps.”Related Articles How Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling topped the baseball podcast empire “That was hilarious,” Cody Bellinger said, giving the barb two thumbs up. “I made it – that’s what they said.”Bellinger could laugh about his status as a made man because he has emerged from the dark side of platooning, assured of his full-time status by early-spring conversations with Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. They assured the 23-year-old Bellinger they see him as he sees himself – as an every-day player.“He led us in plate appearances last year,” Roberts said. “I expect that again this year.”Bellinger did make a team-high 632 plate appearances last season. But he was one of only two players to top 520 (Chris Taylor was the other). No team in the National League had fewer and Bellinger’s tapered off in August and September – and in the playoffs – when the Dodgers went all in on platooning to try and solve their offensive imbalance against left-handed pitching.“I think he handled it pretty well. I mean, it’s hard for a young player,” Friedman said of Bellinger. “We waited until the end of August. He obviously had a really good year against lefties in 2017 and was struggling more in 2018. It was one of those things where we could have crossed our fingers and hoped he improved or been a little more proactive just to finish the 2018 season and work on it in the offseason. Dodgers’ Max Muncy trying to work his way out of slow start Dodgers hit seven home runs, sweep Colorado Rockies Midway through spring training, Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart donned hair-band wigs, added David Freese and A.J. Pollock on guitar and minor-league pitcher Mark Washington on improvised drums (an overturned bucket) and livened up the drudgery of a morning team meeting with a rendition of “Kryptonite” by 3 Doors Down.Stripling modified the lyrics to suit the audience, opening with this stanza.“I watched the world float to the dark side of the moon,” he crooned. “I can’t wait to watch Bellinger get platooned.”The line landed with his teammates, everyone in the room aware of how the second-year player had chafed at being benched against left-handed pitching over the final weeks of last season (and during the postseason).center_img Cody Bellinger homer gives Dodgers their first walkoff win of season A big emphasis from Van Scoyoc, Bellinger said, has been on keeping his swing path in the hitting zone longer, creating more margin for error.“I would say I did it (in 2017) – but that was because I was just doing it, not really knowing why I was doing it,” Bellinger said. “Now there’s drills to help you stay there and when you are feeling off … you’re going to understand why you’re off.“That’s why the really good players really understand their swing and get out of those funks sooner.”Belllinger has emerged, Friedman said, with a better “mindset, approach, thinking about right-handed pitchers and left-handed pitchers differently” – things that have put Bellinger “in a really good mental space” and make the Dodgers confident a return to platooning won’t be necessary.“I would say it was a learning year, for sure,” Bellinger said of his sophomore season. “I wouldn’t say it was a bad year. A learning year, for sure.” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Fire danger is on Dave Roberts’ mind as Dodgers head to San Francisco last_img read more