January 8, 2013

Matador Minute with John Baker

Q. Heading into the season opener at UCLA, what are your expectations for the season?

A. It is crazy to think Jared, Drew and I are already starting our last season. I know we want to have a fantastic and fun year, but we also know how dangerous our team can be this year. Dangerous would definitely be an understatement. We had a young team lacking experience last season, but now we are more confident out there. It will be a great last year with these guys.  

Q. You head into the season as the starter at opposite, what is your mindset as a starter vs. coming off the bench?

A. Well as a starter you're mindset has to shift. Playing off the bench allows you to see what is working and not against the opposing team. As a starter you have to feel out how the game is progressing and be patient. Things will develop over time and you have to let the game come to you.  

Q. The MPSF is clearly the top collegiate men's volleyball conference in the country, how do prepare yourself to play the best competition night in and night out?

A. Oh man it is a blast playing in the MPSF. Regardless of who we are playing, you have to bring your "A" game every single day, as any team can knock you off. It is exhausting at times, but it makes every night memorable.  

Q. You, along with Jared Moore and Drew Staker, are the last links to the 2010 Final Four team, what was that season like from your perspective?

A. It was amazing, it was a great dynamic on the court. I had two All-American middles holding the blockers away from me, so my job was pretty easy. It was a very mature team with a lot of strong leadership. It was a great season that I will always remember. 

Q. What is your favorite road trip during the MPSF season? 

A. Definitely Hawaii. It's such a surreal experience playing there surrounded by their fans. A close second would be BYU. Having friends playing there helps make that atmosphere extremely fun to play in. 

Q. Who is the biggest comedian on the team? And can you share any funny stories from your career?

A. We all poke fun at each other, but redshirt Sam Pisker is by far the guy who can make us all laugh. He could be doing nothing and still have us laughing and joking with him. There are so many stories from this team, dyeing my hair because i thought it was cool, missing my first jump serve and most of the guys on the 2010 team remember our assistant coach asking for a Kringle pastry cutter. A lot of these stories still surface and it is fun to look back on. 

Q. What have you learned in your 4+ years under coach Campbell?

A. You better bring it every day. He is a demanding coach but he is that way because he knows there is a lot we all have to offer. He tries to get every ounce of potential out of each player, and I can't believe the improvements I have made since coming here. It is crazy the journey we have been on together and I find myself always learning something new about my game and what I can improve on. It has been a great time.