Coaches Have Created New Culture of Expectations at Union
by Jashvina Shah/Staff Writer
See all of CHN's Tournament coverage: articles, brackets, history and more.
PHILADELPHIA When Rick Bennett was named the recipient of the Penrose Award as the best Division I coach (and CHN Coach of the Year), he said it belonged to his staff.
This season, Bennett has worked with assistant coaches Joe Dumais and Jason Tapp, as well as volunteer assistant coach John Ronan.
The three coaches have forged good relationships with their players.
“They’re really good about being blatantly honest but without tearing your life apart,” Union’s all-time leading scorer Daniel Carr said.
When Carr was a freshman, he practiced shooting twice every morning with Bennett, who was an assistant coach at the time.
That culture has carried over to Bennett’s current staff. All the coaches, including Ronan, are available for extra work.
“Any time you want to work on something they’re always there,” Carr said. “They’re always pushing you to do it and trying to get guys out there in the mornings, get guys doing extra to get better.”
As a volunteer assistant coach, Ronan helps wherever the coaches ask him. But he specializes in working with the forwards and the team’s power play. Union’s power play ranks ninth in the nation.
Ronan, who was looking for a job this season, wanted to join Union because he knew the program was on the rise.
“I’m there in the mornings if they need me to do one-on-ones,” Roanan said.
Ronan said the players who seek extra work range from the program’s all-time leading scorer Carr to fourth-liner Sam Coatta.
“Some of the guys who aren’t in the lineup right now, they’re working to get in the lineup,” Ronan said. “Heralded guys, unheralded guys, they’re all working.”
For Jason Tapp, a former Boston University goalie, it’s something he learned under Jack Parker.
“He was always fairly calm with the guys and never seemed to get rattled,” Tapp said.
After playing for the Terriers from 1998-2002 when Boston University made the NCAA tournament in three of his four years. Before Tapp arrived, the Terriers had made it to four consecutive Frozen Fours. Nothing but winning a National Championship was expected.
It’s the same culture at Union, now.
“The culture’s kind of the same here,” Tapp said. “Expectation every day (that) you come to the rink, still work hard and get better.
“The feeling in the locker room is you expect to win every night.”
Tapp joined the Union coaching staff as a volunteer assistant coach in 2009-10. He had moved to the area since his wife. Nicol, was a news reporter at ABC. He came across the position while looking for a job.
Since then, Tapp has worked primarily with Union’s defense and goalkeepers. The Dutchmen had the nation’s fourth-best defense, allowing 2.10 goals per game.
The assistant coach works closely with Colin Stevens, who is from nearby Niskayuna, N.Y., a player he’s coached since before Union. At the time, Tapp had a goalie school, and Stevens worked with Tapp at his school.
“Colin does a lot of extra work, does a lot of video,” Tapp said. “He’s got a great development I think maturity wise has probably been the biggest thing for him. … Physical maturity and mental maturity, I think he’s made great gains there the three years. He stepped up and he’s always been the key cog for us.”
After working together for a few years, Tapp knows his strengths and weaknesses.
“He tells it like it is. If you’re having a bad practice or whatever, he’s going to get on you,” Stevens said. “I really like that he pushes you because you can’t afford to sit back and get lazy for a practice or you can’t take a practice off.”
Whether Tapp is working with Stevens, Union’s other goalkeepers or other Dutchmen, he said he tries to instill condidence.
“We’re trying to breed confidence and correct, making sure we're always building them up,” Tapp said.
While the coaches are trying to build a culture of confidence, the players see it in the extra work the staff brings out from the team.
“It’s kind of one of the culture things here at Union and I think it’s been really good,” Carr said. “I think the coaches, they kind of see what you have to work on and they really help you get better at it.”