Chat with Inside Lacrosse
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, our friends from Inside Lacrosse will stop by to take your questions about the 2011 season.
Our experts may also be bringing by some special guests to the chat, so be sure to check it out!
Send your questions now and join Inside Lacrosse Thursday at 2 p.m. ET!
Matt Kinnear (2:01 PM)
Welcome to a pre-Final Four edition of the Inside Lacrosse live chat hosted by our good friends at ESPN.
Matt Kinnear (2:01 PM)
The biggest weekend of the year in lacrosse is upon us, and there's lots to talk about from the games, the festivities surrounding the weekend, the confirmation of Michigan going DI and much more.
Matt Kinnear (2:02 PM)
I'll be joined by some folks at ESPN to chat during the semifinal and final games, so please find that on ESPN.com and InsideLacrosse.com and join in.
Is it easy to learn how to play lacrosse? I would like to play it if my high school starts it.
Matt Kinnear (2:06 PM)
Great question, J. I'll answer that with a little background about myself. I'm in Baltimore, and I didn't start playing until sophomore year of high school. I played at a B Conference MIAA school, Archbishop Curley. My senior year I was starting attack. It wasn't too bad to pick up, but I think it's because I was a two-sport athlete (ice hockey being the other). I think if you have athletic skills and the intuition of an athlete, you'll be fine.
Matt Kinnear (2:07 PM)
And just play in any summer leagues you can. The league I played after my sophomore year of high school really helped me out my junior year.
Ira (New Jersey)
Why don't we see pressure rides, epecially in close games? Seems that clears are quick which helps the transition offense.
Matt Kinnear (2:09 PM)
I think you don't see pressure rides is the same reason you don't see a lot of teams pressing out on defense, it's a risk/reward balance. If teams don't feel the reward of forcing turnovers outweighs the risk of exposing your defense down the field, then you are going to back off. It is so hard to check the ball out of a stick, and there are so many fast, strong middies out there that it is hard to get turnovers in the clearing game outside of getting a good jump on a defenseman or goalie. In close games, instead of looking at it like an edge that could lead to victory, it can be viewed as a risk that could cost you some goals or possessions during the game. There is a lot of conservatism in lacrosse these days, with teams kind of daring an opponent to beat them instead of going for the win outright. Backing off of pressure clears kind of plays into that.
Matt Kinnear (2:09 PM)
Sorry, that last answer was from Zach Babo
Michael Kelly (California)
Denver needs to win, not only for themselves, but for the entire west coast. We get no respect.
Matt Kinnear (2:11 PM)
Michael, I think they earned that respect last week. You're right, though, the Pioneers did not get the respect they deserved all year (Mark Dixon might be the exception; he consistently told me how good they look). I don't think they're a surprise anymore, though. I was talking about this with my brother the other day, and I compared it with Boise State in football. They're a great team that doesn't play as many other elite teams....but I think that's because no one wants to fly out there for a loss.
What are the most important attributes that give a freshman the chance to contribute to a team in their first year?
Geoff Shannon (2:13 PM)
Well, obviously talent. If the kid's better than anyone on your current roster at his position, then, he's going to get a shot. Outside of that or course, there's a couple other caveats. Some freshmen are recruited purposely to fill holes that a graduating senior is leaving behind. That kid will be given adequate time to contribute. Lacrosse IQ also helps. If a frosh learns the offense or defense quickly, he gets in. A lot of intangibles involved is what I'm saying
I know Hopkins' loss was disappointing, but given that they are returning so many key pieces next year, do you think they could be ranked preseason #1?
Geoff Shannon (2:15 PM)
They will definitely have a strong case for that No. 1 ranking. They have nine of 10 starters returning including the veteran Boland at attack. Their bench depth is also young. Just from a cursory look, they'll have the least amount of questions among most of the top Division I teams.
Zach Babo (2:16 PM)
guess I should preface this answer by saying I am not a big fan of preseason rankings, or at least I put very little stock in them personally, because until teams start playing games, I don't care who is projected to do anything, it's about actually doing it when the season starts. That said, Hopkins will be a Top-3 preseason pick, and probable number 1, but I don't really know, and if Duke, Denver or Virginia, who also have some youth, wins it all, they could be easy picks for the top spot as well. While Hopkins does return a lot, they do lose two very key pieces to their equation. Kyle Wharton is a bomber and scorer from anywhere, so teams had to account for where he was all the time. Matt Dolente just crushed at the face-off X this season, and that dominance provided Hopkins an edge in a lot of their close games. Both seniors were also very important leaders on such a young team, and what hurt Hopkins in 2010 was a lack of strong leadership, so if new leaders don't step up the same way, Hopkins might have a little trouble next year. Of course, all those points can't be examined until teams actually play games.
With Michigan starting a D1 program, what other club programs do you anticipate making a similar jump in the next decade?
Danielle Bernstein (2:17 PM)
I think people look at what Michigan is doing and immediately ask who will be the next to follow in their footsteps but it's important to understand that the manner in which Michigan has done this is very unique. They're elevating a club program versus adding a Division I program. It's an attractive idea to think that others will just jump in and follow along but it's not that simple. That being said, a decade is a long time and I think another school with the name recognition like Michigan that could add is USC. This would be adding though, not elevating the club program. USC announced they were adding women's lacrosse in November and there seemed to be interest in also adding a men's DI program. How long that takes to come to fruition is unknown.
Regarding the Lacrosse Hall of Fame, is Jon Reese a lock to get in? Surprised it took him this long to be recognized. 82 games in one season! One of the most dominating midfielders of his era.
John Jiloty (2:19 PM)
He should be a lock. That one year will most likely go down as the most-dominating season by a player in NCAA history.
John Jiloty (2:20 PM)
82 goals for a midfielder is absolutely insane.Says one former Ivy coach: "He was a mean, big, strong a--kicking kid who could shoot the hell out of it."
John Jiloty (2:20 PM)
Also a stud football player.1990 North-South Game: The North midfield was Reese-Gait-Gait
Jennie N. (Virginia)
What do you think of Shamel and Rhamel not being there for the final four and what they did.
Zach Babo (2:22 PM)
Well I am not sure of "what they did" exactly, though like many of the lacrosse community I have heard different theories batted around. Frankly it isn't my business, and I think the team and Starsia have handled it fairly well (though I don't fully get why Rhamel has stayed with the team yet not been allowed to play). I think there must be a lot of conflicted emotions involved with the entire thing, particularly for Shamel, who sees his team advance and isn't a part of it. I think that for whatever reason Virginia has been playing with a new life since about halfway through that Bucknell game, though maybe it even goes back to when they rolled Penn. Everyone always brought up the Brattons first when talking about UVa, but this team is Steele Stanwick's squad, and frankly has been for a while. Now that that is definitive, he has really stepped up his game, carrying the team at points, facilitating it at others. He has a very old school kind of style to him, and it is really fun to watch.
What's the scuttlebutt on the Michigan job? Are there rumblings Michigan hires a bigger name to replace Paul?
Do you see Michigan sticking with John Paul or targeting a higher profile guy?
Terry Foy (2:23 PM)
I'm 99% sure that Michigan will retain John Paul, and the only reason that wasn't made clearer at the announcement was because of the administrative issues of hiring someone at a state university without publicly listing the job (which they obviously couldn't do before publicly announcing the program).
Terry Foy (2:24 PM)
Not only do I think Michigan and AD Dave Brandon are intensely loyal, but I also think they have faith in JP's ability to coach the team to reach the goals one would guess they'll lay out for the program. Paul doesn't have the same pedigree or profile of the candidates the job would surely attract, but he's a really impressive guy that just accomplished one of the seemingly most difficult feats the lacrosse industry has seen in -- what? -- a decade? There's reason to believe he'll translate his skills into becoming a top-tier DI coach.
Terry Foy (2:24 PM)
And finally, there's precedent -- Michigan retained the men's club soccer coach Steve Burns when that program went varsity. He took them to the College Cup last season.
Obligatory question: what are your picks in both semifinals?
Matt Kinnear (2:25 PM)
Maryland and Denver
Geoff Shannon (2:25 PM)
I like Virginia and Maryland? That Duke-MD game is vexing
Danielle Bernstein (2:26 PM)
I'm going with Denver and Maryland.
John (Math class (MN))
This might be a hard question to answer! But do you know if the University of St. Thomas beat Davenport University last weekend?
Matt Kinnear (2:27 PM)
Davenport with the upset. You can check out Jessi Pierce's live blog here: http://insidelacrosse.com/news/2011/05/21/mcla-division-ii-national-championship-davenport-university-shocks-st-thomas
Tyler Smith (Trenton, NJ)
Who has to play the best this year in Baltimore for their team to win it all?
Danielle Bernstein (2:28 PM)
Dan Wigrizer for Duke. He was key in their title run last year but again, he can be very inconsistent. An off day from him and he'll just get peppered. A close second would be Mark Matthews from Denver. Yes, DU has a number of other guys who can score and Matthews doesn't necessarily have to have a stellar day for Denver to prevail, but he can't be absent.
who wins the tewaaraton?
Matt Kinnear (2:28 PM)
David, I'm going with Steele Stanwick, just because of the precedent that the committee has set with the award.
Matt Kinnear (2:30 PM)
Every time but once it has gone to a player from a Final Four team. Pannell had an absolute fantastic season, and his overall body of work is more impressive, but I'm going with the precedent here. Is that fair?.... maybe not
MD's % of winning faceoffs and ground balls is their key to success, true or false?
Matt Kinnear (2:30 PM)
Side not: If you follow @inside_lacrosse on Twitter right now, we just sent out a trivia question where you can win Final Four tickets.
Were you suprised Duke was able to make a return trip to the semifinals after losing so much talent from last years championship team?
Zach Babo (2:31 PM)
Dave's question: It will certainly be a big key to success for them, as it is for any team in any game. I think they will also need a good day from Niko Amato, and the defense will have to figure Duke out better than Notre Dame did. I'd say the biggest edge for Maryland right now is that those seniors seem to be playing with a particular ferocity that could make a difference at the end of the game, much like it did against Syracuse. But yeah, if Holmes has a big day it will help Maryland control the pace. Groundballs are about athleticism and will, and whomever brings more of those to a semifinal game has a good shot at winning it.
Zach Babo (2:32 PM)
To JP's question: I'm rarely surprised to see the upper echelon teams continue to do well after graduation because what makes those teams the upper echelon is that they consistently bring in good talent and develop it well. I am a little surprised Duke made it to the Final Four mostly because I thought a more veteran Notre Dame squad would be able to defend Duke well, and frankly want it more.
Zach Babo (2:33 PM)
I didn't put too much stock in Duke's early season losses because this team always plays better at the end of the year than the beginning. In John Danowski's conference call earlier in the week, he mentioned that he had to remember how to coach a young team, because with the fifth years and a lot of veterans and even his last few Hofstra teams, he has dealt with much older squads. You have to change the approach in practice, in games, in most everything when you have a young team. Seniors know what the program is about and how to go about your business, but younger players need to learn all of that. Once Danowski changed his dynamic a little and brought the team along, they started playing Duke lacrosse, and they are looking pretty good right now.
Matt Kinnear (2:34 PM)
Related, but is this Danowski's best coaching year ever? He made the right adjustments and got this team playing its best at the right time. Is he coach of the year? He's in the conversation, but I think it's Peter Lawrence of Hartford.
When will Lacrosse gain poularity in the midwest, which seems to love contact sports?
Danielle Bernstein (2:36 PM)
It's gaining popularity in the midwest. Granted it's not to the same level as it is on the east coast but Notre Dame was in the final four last year, which created a lot of buzz for lacrosse in the midwest. Michigan and Marquette will have Division I programs. Denver (while more west than midwest) is in the final four and youth lacrosse in Colorado is booming. Lacrosse is never going to be football but it's definitely growing in popularity.
Do you think that the teams that are in the final four, deserve to be there? Any teams that should have made it?
Danielle Bernstein (2:37 PM)
Yeah, I think all four teams are deserving of playing at championship weekend. They all had to go through a team that was seeded higher than they were in order to get to this point and peaking at the right time is what winning in the NCAA tournament is all about.
Matt Kinnear (2:37 PM)
Jenn, I think if the opposite were true and we had a bunch of highly-ranked teams in the Final Four, we'd be saying someone else deserved to get in.
Matt Kinnear (2:38 PM)
The teams that are in beat arguably flawed seedings (Maryland especially) and still made it to the Big Dance. Now had Maryland been eliminated, I think you could easily say they were a Final Four team that got screwed by the seeding process.
Ross (Rockford, IL)
on a scale of 1-10, how shocking was the maryland over syracuse upset?
Matt Kinnear (2:41 PM)
I'm saying a 7. I actually picked Maryland (Full disclosure, I'm a MD grad). My pick was based mostly on intangibles. Syracuse is the more talented team, I just felt the Terps had the right mentality going into it. Against Siena, Syracuse just didn't look ready for a deep run.
How good will Duke be next year? They basically only lose turri and howell.
Zach Babo (2:43 PM)
Duke, like the Hopkins question before, will likely be a Top-3 or 5 team in preseason rankings. They should be very good next year, thought I think Howell is a very underrated player who makes a big difference on this team, so losing him may affect the offense more than most might think, despite the emergence of so many young players this year. Still, I think the experience they gained this year is invaluable and it should factor int to their success next year as well.
Matt Kinnear (2:43 PM)
And how about that Jordan Wolf. What a freshman season.
As per Mark (LA)'s question, we see a lot of teams playing at the east coast summer tournaments from Texas, Minnesota, Colorado, San Diego.
Matt Kinnear (2:44 PM)
There was a question earlier about Denver not getting respect. The biggest example of that was Mark Matthews not being a first-team All-American. That's criminal.
John (Math class (MN))
Who do you think is going to be a stand out player over all this weekend? who is going to be a stand out player for MD vs. Duke game? and the Den vs. UVA game?
Zach Babo (2:45 PM)
This is a tough question because it often seems that with so many big name players accounted for in preparation, often it is an unsung guy who steps up. I think Ryan Young is playing inspired lacrosse right now and he will do what he has to to win games. I think Steele Stanwick is taking over games for UVa at points. I think Jamie Faus will need a big game from a freshman for Denver to walk away the winner. I think Zach Howell has played behind so many great attackmen he will use this weekend to show he is another in that proud Duke tradition.
Geoff Shannon (2:48 PM)
Re: The upset question: Hmmm. I'd say a 6. Maryland's wasn't seeded, but that was a poor indication on how good they actually were. Syracuse struggled offensively several this this year, so no surprise they couldn't put up the point. Maryland had touted seniors that wanted to prove they were ready to win a title, while Syracuse's seniors already had two rings on their resume. A quality upset win, but not one of the great shockers of all time by any means
Matt Kinnear (2:48 PM)
That's going to be all folks. Be sure to join us over the weekend. I'll be chatting from the press box, along with some IL people and ESPN folks. Thanks.