Q&A: Notre Dame coach Jim Kubinski
Last year Notre Dame was a disappointment, failing to win the Big East Championship advance to an NCAA regional.
This year, Notre Dame has been anything but. Coach Jim Kubinski has the luck back for the Irish, and the team is back in the top 30.
Question: I know I have been hard on Notre Dame the past few years, but what a turnaround this year. The team has four straight second-place finishes and is ranked in the top 30. How do you and the guys get over that hump and back into the winner’s circle?
Answer: It’s definitely something we need to look at. Guys are playing really well and are hungry to go out and compete. I can guarantee you we want to win really badly right now after these finishes. We have had four different guys play in the final pairing at all four tournaments and none has been my No. 1 yet. I think that says a lot about how good and talented this squad is. Also, I don’t have any seniors in this lineup and I think that says a lot, as well.
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Question: Last year you lost to Georgetown at the Big East Championship. Did the guys end the year down or revved up to go back to work for this season?
Answer: I’d say guys were ready for this year. I don’t think we ever anticipated falling short of reaching a regional last year, but it happened. I thought going into the final round it was a deficit we should have overcome and be able to win. When I saw all the guys back at work the first week of August, I saw they were being accountable and motivated for the season to begin. I think the way last year ended was tough, but to be honest, I think we needed that kind of push to get us motivated to go for it this year.
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Question: You talked about players being motivated, so is there a new attitude in the clubhouse this year?
Answer: It is interesting to see how the attitude has changed this year from last. Looking back these juniors were freshmen just a couple of years ago and still were getting adjusted, I think. Last year was tough, and we had our No. 1 struggle often but we kept with him. We had good kids, but I just don’t quite think they knew how to win or finish. This year our scoring average is better and may be the best in school history. The success all starts with the kids’ attitude, and these guys have the right one. They want to get better, they want to compete, and they want this year to be a big success.
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Question: The team is ranked 27th in the country, but a first-place finish could really help you guys jump up the rankings. What does the team still have to work on?
Answer: I think we have had four consistent guys, but we have to get a fifth. The importance of a fifth guy contributing a score here and there is the difference between a good team and a great team. I kind of feel that we have ridden our top four horses each and every week, but we need a No. 5 to step up and help out. That will be the key for us to get better and get over the hump.
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Question: How would you describe the Big East?
Answer: One thing is, it’s not a level playing field. I feel the coaches in our conference do an amazing job with what they have to work with, but it’s not a level playing field. Ourselves and Louisville are the only schools in the conference that seem to have the facilities and support from the school to be a success. What Georgetown did last year was magical, and I would love to see more schools from the Big East Conference commit to their men’s golf programs like we do. I really feel that a few schools in the conference go full out, where as some schools can only do part of what is necessary to be successful. That’s why I would like to see more schools get behind their programs. It will make the conference better and stronger in the long run.