Posted at 10:59 AM ET, 06/ 4/2008
Year in Review: Johns Hopkins. That should be coming tonight or tomorrow.
Posted at 10:51 AM ET, 06/ 4/2008
Year in Review: Georgetown
9-4, missed NCAA tournament
MVP: Brendan Cannon. Led the team in scoring for third consecutive year; this year he had 23 goals and 21 assists. Missed the disastrous Penn State season finale with an ankle injury.
What They'll Miss Most: The Jerry Lambe vs Matt Danowski matchup. Former high school teammates in Farmingdale, N.Y., had two pretty impressive showdowns the past two years. Danowski had one goal and one assist in a 6-4 win in 2007; this year, Danowski had two goals and two assists but the Hoyas won, 11-7.
Most Unusual Stat: Eight of junior MF Andrew Brancaccio's 18 goals came on extra man. Also, only two players had more than nine assists.
What They Need in 2009: Continuity in the midfield. Seven midfielders started games; it seemed like the lines were being juggled all year.
Reasons to Be Cheerful: Look at the roster. There is talent everywhere, from junior attackman Craig Dowd (team-high 23 assists) to shortstick defenders like senior Chris Taylor.
Reasons to Be Fearful: The Hoyas clearly are missing some intangibles. The best teams in the program's history had excellent leadership from the seniors. It started with the 1999 team that made the final four; those seniors were charismatic, hard-working and very good players and leaders. The 2000 and 2004 teams also had very good leadership and had successful seasons--especially 2004, which lost in the final seconds to Syracuse in the quarterfinals.
I also remember, however, the 2001 team that lost to Loyola in the first round. Afterward, one of the players said, "It was an honor to wear this jersey, and I wish everyone [on the team] had felt that way." And a 2006 quarterfinal loss to Virginia was preceded by a player being suspended for some off-field misconduct. It wasn't criminal, but the timing was extremely poor and it seemed to be a sign that not everyone was on the same page.
I think it was Vince Lombardi who once said that he didn't watch a man get knocked down, he watched to see how quickly he got back up. That's what we should do with Georgetown. The talent is there. The effort from the coaching staff is there. But overall, something clearly is missing. And unless or until that is identified and addressed, I doubt very much that the Hoyas will reach their potential.
Posted at 12:44 PM ET, 06/ 3/2008
The Case of the Missing Cell Phone Charger
My cell phone isn't the greatest. Essentially, if two tin cans connected by string could also take really fuzzy pictures, you'd have my phone.
New cell phones have batteries that probably haven't needed to be charged since the before the NHL playoffs began.
My phone's battery needs to be charged more often than Ohio State fans go on a riot.
So it was somewhat alarming when I realized that I left my cell phone charger at the random seat in the press box where I was sitting on Friday during the walk-throughs for the Division I teams at Gillette Stadium.
Thankfully, it was still there when I arrived on Saturday morning. I felt luckier than Navy must've felt after it was gifted four goals by UNC in the first round this year.
Vowing never to lose my cell phone charger again, I filed my semifinal stories not from my seat, but from an open-air portion of the press box one level below. On Sunday morning, I went back to that spot for some fresh air--and was greeted by the site of a cell phone charger. My cell phone charger.
This time, I grabbed the charger like Steve Looney getting a groundball and kept it with me at all times, even when I moved from my seat in the PB (too much sun) to a spot a couple rows higher to file my advance for the title game.
And that was the exact same spot where I found my charger the next morning.
Posted at 12:03 PM ET, 06/ 3/2008
NBA Finals, Lacrosse Style
In the New York Post today, Peter Vecsey writes that at the conclusion of the NBA Finals, the Celtics and Lakers will have combined to win half of the titles contested. This is the 62nd NBA Finals; the Celtics enter with 16 titles, the Lakers with 14.
Sounds a little bit like Hopkins and Syracuse in lacrosse. Those teams have combined to win 19 of the 38 NCAA titles.
Also, the Lakers and Celtics are meeting in the NBA Finals for the first time since 1987.
Hopkins and Syracuse met in the title game this year for the first time since 1989.
I submit that Hopkins is the Celtics; a long tradition of success thanks to teams that were defined by defense and rabid fans.
The Lakers could be Syracuse: both have been epitomized by a loose, fast-break style that is appealing to fans.
Now if only the Celtics had a pep band...
Posted at 12:30 PM ET, 06/ 2/2008
Year in Review: Maryland
Lost in quarterfinals to Virginia in overtime.
*NB years are for 2009; when no year is mentioned, the player was a senior this past year.
MVP: Joe Cinosky. Not only the team's best defender, but he and midfielder Will Dalton were the primary enforcers of the team's new drinking policy, which was much stricter than in past years. (Essentially it did not allow for drinking during the week.)
The policy was enacted to make sure that practices were better and that the team was more focused. It clearly worked: the Terrapins overachieved for much of the year.
I really hope someone takes the reins on this policy and keeps it going. Maybe junior Brian Farrell is the guy? His emotional reaction to the loss to Virginia was noticeable; also, he has strong ties to the program through his father, a former UMd player.
It is no coincidence that the first Virginia team to win a title in 27 years (in 1999) did so with a similar policy about off-field behavior. Maryland has a similar title drought; it last won in 1975. You get where I'm going with this.
What They'll Miss the Most: I thought crease defenseman Jacob Baxter was tremendous in the second half of the season. He worked his way into the starting lineup because he was a good communicator, and his work on the crease was particularly strong in the first-round win over Denver.
Most Unusual Stat: Junior goalkeeper Brian Phipps made 17 saves and gave up one goal in a victory over Pennsylvania and then did not start the next game.
What They Need in 2009: To play with the same emotion. Almost every coach who faced Maryland noted afterward how hard it played and how much the Maryland players, especially the guys on the sideline, were rooting.
Not easy things, especially on a team that started four freshmen and played six extensively. That's a lot of upperclassmen who put the team before their own playing time.
Reason to Be Cheerful: The starting attack is back, as are several top midfielders, two goalies and Farrell.
Reason to Be Fearful: Maryland's slot in the sport's landscape could change depending on who is hired at North Carolina. UNC may not be a sleeping giant, but at the very least it is an awfully large bloke who is taking a nap. (To borrow a phrase from When Saturday Comes, the excellent English soccer fanzine.)
With the right hire, UNC could be back in the top five in no time.
Maryland has caught a break by having so many talented players who also are the sons of former players (Phipps, Farrell and sophomore attackman Travis Reed).
Their window to end the title drought that dates from 1975 won't get much better than in the next two or three years, especially if North Carolina becomes rejuvinated.
Posted at 12:59 PM ET, 05/29/2008
The Situation at DeMatha
High School Insider Jeff Nelson has filed this.
In not renewing the contract for coach Scott Pugh despite his team's Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship this year, DeMatha Principal Dan McMahon said, "We wanted to go in a different direction," and did not elaborate further.
So I asked former DeMatha coach and frequent TFBO2F contributor Dick Long, now retired and living in Hilton Head, S.C., what he thought.
He said school officials had consulted him in recent weeks as they considered whether to bring Pugh back next season. And their decision not to do so came down to "communication issues."
Twenty percent of coaching is gamedays, according to Long. The other 80 percent involves keeping tabs on students' overall development (grades, temperament, behavior in school, etc.) and making sure the administration, parents and boosters are informed and feel comfortable with their roles in the program.
In regard to those responsibilities, Long said Pugh, 28, was not meeting the school's expectations, largely because Pugh did not work at the school. (Long did not work at DeMatha either.)
"They had talked to him and wanted him to really communicate better in all facets," Long said. "And inherently, it wasn't part of his makeup. And he's learning that."
DeMatha officials "were really frustrated," Long said, "and feel like he just needs more time to mature and understand the role of a head coach."
While McMahon did not go beyond his "different direction" comments, he was asked what the school will look for in a new coach and gave this answer:
"We hope they're a great communicator, that they have a great knowledge of the game, a wealth of contacts both to colleges to help kids advance who want to play [in college] as well as contacts in youth leagues. You want someone who has all different things."
When Pugh was told communication issues were cited as a potential reason he might be out of a coaching job, he said, "If that's what they want to call it, sure."
Long said he thinks highly of Pugh's technical knowledge of the game and believes Pugh could go to a college program as an assistant if he doesn't remain on the high school level.
Long, like McMahon, also spoke extremely highly of Pugh's character and said, "When you're young and not part of the school, it's very difficult."
St. Albans Coach Malcolm Lester
One prominent area high school coach said he was shocked to hear of DeMatha's decision and, not knowing the reason for it, said the job opening will have pros and cons to prospective candidates.
"It's like DeMatha, the name of the school speaks for itself," Lester said
the coach, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "But is somebody going to want to hop in where they have a coach who's there for three years, he wins two championships, goes to the championship game and loses by a goal the other year? And by all indications, he's well-behaved - and you see all sorts of coaches who aren't - and he does things the right way, runs camps and does things in the summer, and then he's let go?
"So it gives a reason for pause."
Posted at 10:15 AM ET, 05/29/2008
Season In Review: Navy
Finished: 10-6, lost in NCAA quarterfinals to Johns Hopkins
*-Note: Class years used are for 2009 season.
MVP: Junior attackman Tim Paul. A revelation. Finished with 26 goals; the Midshipmen were 10-3 in games in which he scored a goal. (And perhaps more pointedly, were 0-3 when he did not score.)
His four goals in the first round against UNC gave Navy much-needed confidence and, given Navy's offensive struggles, those goals were the equivalent of someone scoring eight goals for a high-tempo offense.
He needed little time or space in which to shoot and he varied the placement of his shots. Also, three of his five assists came against teams that used a zone against the Midshipmen (Mount St. Mary's and Bucknell).
What They'll Miss Most: Graduated faceoff specialist Mikelis Visgauss. He won more than 50 percent against top teams like Ohio State (11 of 16), Cornell (9 of 16), Colgate (7 of 13), Georgetown (13 of 24), Maryland (10 of 13), Army (11 of 16) and Johns Hopkins in the NCAA tournament (10 of 16).
Junior Frankie Coppola won 19 of 37 this year (.514 percent). He will probably be pushed by freshman Will Fields from Notre Dame Academy. Fields was heavily recruited and physically is more imposing than many of the freshmen faceoff specialists who struggled around the country this year.
Most Unusual Stat: In the first half of an early season game against Lehigh, the jersey numbers of the three midfield lines added up. The starting midfield was numbers 13, 15 and 28 (13+15=28). When senior Evan Boyle played on the second midfield with graduated Terence Higgins and senior Michael Beggins, their numbers were 6, (+) 11, (=) 17. The third midfield that day was senior Sean Standen (#2) with freshmen Brian Striffler (#27) and Kevin Doyle (#29).
In the second half, senior Shane Durkin (#35) took his usual spot on the second midfield in place of Boyle and ruined the whole thing.
What They Need in 2009: More creativity on offense. Or at least someone who can break down the defense with a dodge or pass. A healthy Basil Daratsos and/or Bruce Nechanicky and a confident Durkin might be those players.
If they can beat their defensemen and feed Paul, his split-second decision-making--either to pass or shoot--is certain to keep everyone on their toes, including opposing defenses and the Navy coaches.
Reason to be Cheerful: Navy is always good where other teams aren't--defensive midfield in particular. Senior Geoff Leone reminded TFBO2F at times of Steve Looney with his work on groundballs and in transition. Should he maybe play more offense next year?
Also, Navy's fan support is second to none in the area.
Reason to be Fearful: Navy lost a lot on defense with three-year starters Jordan DiNola and Brendan Teague. Sophomores Tom Mansfield and Michael Hirsch have a chance to start that cycle anew if they crack the starting lineup.
But the sophomores or seniors Andy Tormey or Thomas Zimmerman will have to develop into the lockdown defender that DiNola was for much of the season. After all, conference foes Bucknell and Colgate bring back a lot of offense.
Posted at 11:05 AM ET, 05/28/2008
Check back later for Year in Review: Navy. It will be up by tomorrow morning at the latest.
Posted at 10:51 AM ET, 05/28/2008
Year in Review: Virginia
Finished: 14-4, lost in NCAA semifinals to Syracuse in double-overtime
MVP: Bud Petit. Fifth-year senior goalkeeper was a backup for four and a half years. As Richmond Times-Dispatch beat writer Jeff White once wrote, Petit entered Virginia as a freshman in 2004 and by the time he became the starter, he was 23 years old, had graduated with a degree in studio arts and was enrolled in grad school.
Coach Dom Starsia noted that overtime games usually end quickly. And Petit did more than enough to give his team the chances to beat Syracuse in OT, starting with the pass he intercepted from Syracuse all-American Mike Leveille to Kenny Nims on the opening possession.
Nims was wide open and, if the pass had gotten through, Syracuse would have won without giving UVa a possession.
Petit also made two saves in the first overtime. One came on a shot from Steven Brooks, who had scored three pretty huge goals either late in regulation or in overtime this season.
What They'll Miss Most: Senior A Ben Rubeor. Willing to play when less than 100 percent physically. When he was finally fit, he scored the winning goal in overtime against Maryland in the quarterfinals and came extremely close to winning the game against Syracuse; his shot hit off the crossbar and bounced away in the second overtime.
It was so close that the replays on ESPN showed the players on the sideline had started to celebrate.
Most Unusual Stat: Freshman GK Adam Ghitelman was 8-1 as a starter.
What They Need in 2009: More consistent effort. This team seemed to lack heart in the regular season games against Maryland and Duke, in the first-round game against UMBC and in the first half of the quarterfinal against Maryland.
Reason to be Cheerful: Starsia and his assistants are probably the best coaching staff in the country. Virginia had excellent home crowds this year and Klockner Stadium became a much more difficult place to play than in past years.
Reason to be Fearful: The intangibles that are lost with Rubeor and Petit are huge. I think Matt Kelly will replace Petit as the heart and soul of the defense. Who will do so on offense?
Posted at 8:52 AM ET, 05/28/2008
Back from Foxborough
The plan for the rest of the week includes a year in review for our local teams and final thoughts from the semifinals and championship, etc. That stuff will be up starting later today.
Posted at 2:19 PM ET, 05/26/2008
In-Game Blog, Halftime
*Syracuse leads 6-5.
*SU is 11-0 this season when leading at halftime.
*Hopkins is 0-4 this season when trailing at halftime.
*Hopkins trailed 7-6 at halftime of the 2005 NCAA title game. It came back to defeat Duke, 9-8.
*The crowd has a heavy concentration of Syracuse fans.
*Coming later, the case of the missing cell phone charger.