Sunday, August 25

Wright overachieves in first year as head coach


Former Bruin follows in predecessor's footsteps by leading men's water polo to NCAA Championships

Upon first glance ““ first names aside ““ there appear to be very few similarities between Adam Wright and Adam Krikorian.

Wright, who in June 2009 took over for Krikorian as head coach of the men’s water polo program, stands at 6-feet-3-inches and sports blonde curls, while his predecessor has a close-cropped black coif and stands a few notches short of six feet.

Then again, maybe they are quite similar. After all, Krikorian won a national championship in his first year at the helm of the program and Wright came that close ““ as in, a Cullen Hennessy goal that was not called as such in the championship match ““ to duplicating the feat.

“Coming into the year, I thought we were definitely behind Stanford, Cal and ‘SC,” Wright said. “But I thought that if we got on the same page, and got better defensively, I thought we’d always have a chance.”

Under Wright’s guidance, that defense went the entire season without giving up double-digit goals in a game. The Bruins gave up an average of just seven goals per game in their seven losses.

In the long run, it became a year of overachieving for UCLA, a year of younger players performing at a high level for a program that was supposed to be rebuilding. It was a feeling that permeated from the top down, as Wright didn’t miss a beat in stepping in for Krikorian, directing the Bruins on a masterful run through the MPSF Tournament that saw them knock off USC and California to qualify for the Final Four.

After surviving Loyola Marymount, UCLA was within one goal of another title despite being the overwhelming underdogs against the veteran Trojans. That said, Wright surely ““ and loudly ““ made his presence felt over the missed call on the Hennessy shot that could have changed the outcome of the Bruins’ season.

“This is an experience that I’ll never forget,” said junior Ben Hohl. “It will definitely add fuel to the fire. Now we know that you’ve got to put in even more.”

Hohl might as well have been describing his new coach when he used words like “fuel” and “fire.” Wright was certainly an imposing and vociferous figure on the pool deck, an intensity perhaps best reflected in the scrappy and tough-minded nature of his team.

His former coach and predecessor has certainly taken notice of that personality.

“Adam (Wright) was one of the most intelligent players that I’ve ever coached,” Krikorian said. “He had this energy and enthusiasm about him that was infectious. (Wright) has the unique ability to be very tough on players, but he can also be very playful.”

Read the full version of this story at

dailybruin.com/categories/sports

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