Pacific Mens' Waterpolo: Tom Koning Named MPSF Mikasa Player Of The Week
Junior Tom Koning (Poway, Calif.) of Pacific's men's water polo team has been named the MPSF Mikasa Player of the week on Monday, November 22, 2010.
This is the first time Koning has earned the award in his career after tallying a season high five goals against Long Beach State. He currently has 43 goals in 24 games for the Tigers, for a 1.79 goals per game average. Additionally, Koning is eleventh in conference in scoring heading into the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) tournament. Koning paced the Tigers with five goals on Saturday, November 20, in Pacific's 15-10 vicotry over No. 9 Long Beach State.
Additionally, he is the third Tiger to earn the distinction this season. Teammates Goran Tomasevic (Split, Croatia) and Alex Malkis (Yoqneam, Israel) earned the award on September 7 and November 8, respectively.
For the second consecutive week Pacific's men's water polo team was featured in Trevor Freeman's weekly water polo column on NCAA.com. Last week senior Joey Gullikson(Sonoma, Calif.) was named player of the week following his five goal performance that helped Pacific snap Stanford's 13-game winning streak at Avery Aquatic Center. In this week's edition, Freeman spoke with head coach James Graham about the program's No. 4 national ranking, the team's growth over the past three seasons and what it takes to win the MPSF tournament.
An excerpt of this week's column featuring the Graham and the Pacific Tigers is available below. Freeman's column in its entirety is available on the men's water polo home page.
It is finally that time. From Lewisburg, PA to Santa Clara, CA, teams lined up to bid for a ticket to the grandest ball in American water polo. There are many tournaments but none in this country mean more than the NCAA Final Four. Dreams were fulfilled for two small schools in Brooklyn, NY and Los Angeles, CA while the flame was extinguished for many more. We will get into this week's incredible action and more in our first postseason report.
On Wednesday, the polls were released and one program found itself with its highest national ranking since 1995. Sitting at fourth in the country were the Tigers of Pacific. In three short years, Head Coach James Graham has transformed Pacific into a program that not only has a chance to be playing at NCAAs this season, but will likely enter next season with a top-three preseason ranking. I caught up with Coach Graham prior to his team's 15-10 win over ninth-ranked Long Beach State and below is our interview.
Pacific scored its first win over Stanford since 2006 and is surging into MPSFs. What do your Tigers need to do to win the tournament?
"We need to do a better job of taking care of details. Little things can add up to big wins. Each team is so strong that little mistakes can make the difference between a one-goal loss or a one-goal win."
Joey Gullikson had a huge game in your win against Stanford and has quietly been a great contributor for your team. What makes him so effective?
"Joey is a tenacious kid. He goes out there and he makes his presence felt. I have coached him for five years and know he is capable of doing great things. He has the complete set of skills."
Your program has grown in your three years from not making MPSFs to now being a threat to win it. To top it off, you will return a team that will most likely be preseason top three next year. Can you tell us about that?
"I learned a lot in those three years. I learned to not deal with expectations and just worry about where we need to be. It's been a tough road as those first two years were difficult. It is a testament to the team's discipline that they kept believing that we could be successful and kept working hard. It is pretty exciting now. We are looking forward to MPSFs and the future."
Graham and the Tigers return to action on Friday, November 26 at the MPSF tournament hosted by Stanford at the Avery Aquatic Complex. Pacific's men's water polo team will take on the No. 3 seed UCLA Bruins at 1:30 p.m.