What Hopkins Did Different
TFBO2F noticed a few changes in Johns Hopkins in its 10-4 win over Maryland. John Jiloty at Inside Lacrosse has a good piece on this, too.
1.) Hopkins had worked on its clearing game.
When they were attempting to clear against Duke, Hopkins looked like Carlito Brigante trying to get from Kleinfeld's hospital room to the 11:45 p.m. train in Carlito's Way: Despite trying very hard, you knew in the end there was going to be one hurdle too many.
Senior MF Garrett Stanwick, the team's designated clearer in 2006, reprised his role on Saturday and looked good except for one offside call that unfortunately for him happened right in front of Coach Dave Pietramala.
Overall, though, there were many options for the longsticks--middies placed in the middle of the field and on each sideline. And there were only three failed clears. They had nine against Duke.
2.) LSM Matt Drenan looked like a completely different player
Drenan changed his knee brace for the game: Gone was the bulky one he had worn to that point, replaced by a sleeve on his knee. And I must have said to myself at least 500 times that Drenan looked almost the same as he did in 2006, when he was the team's best defender. (He missed last year with a knee injury).
Prior to Saturday, Drenan had looked very hesitant and slow, especially when he gave up three goals on practically the same move to Duke MF Ned Crotty. The Hopkins coaches also took him off the wings on faceoffs in order to rest him a little bit, and that obviously helped. It will be interesting to see if he builds on that performance against Navy.
3.) Hopkins' offense was a step ahead of the Maryland defense
Offensive coordinator Bobby Benson kept things moving by altering the Blue Jays' offensive personnel on almost every possession. He changed the first midfield and second midfield lines, then at times changed them back again. The second time Maryland came out of a timeout and went to its zone, Benson countered with four attackmen (the three starters and freshman Kyle Wharton). He brought senior crease attackman Michael Doneger out of the box, as if he were a midfielder.
Benson also looked like he had been watching Norman Dale in Hoosiers, who insisted on four passes before a shot. On Saturday, everyone on offense got to touch the ball before they went into any plays. It was a good move: A lot of the dropped passes that hurt Hopkins in its losing streak were thrown to players who were "cold" so to speak, i.e. they hadn't touched the ball in a while. Again, something to keep an eye on for Saturday.
4.) Goalie Michael Gvozden played well
Some of it was that the defense in front of him was playing better, too. Pietramala said he met with the juniors who play defense--Drenan, Michael Evans and shortstick midfielder Andrew Miller--on Thursday and challenged them to play better. In particular, Miller was a wing on faceoffs rather than MF Paul Rabil for much of the game and played well. Evans held freshman Ryan Young, Maryland's leading scorer, without a point.
There was more energy, too. TFBO2F was surprised to see that in the Duke game, at least once a Hopkins defensive middie was casually running onto the field as Duke was in its settled offense. Duke scored just as the middie entered the offensive box. Pietramala and his staff do not suffer fools well, so we knew that effort, or lack of it, was going to change. And it did.
Meantime, Gvozden cut down the angles well and seemed very confident.
What do the readers think? Did Hopkins look good? Or was it because Maryland played poorly? Is Hopkins really back? Or are they overconfident, and right where Navy wants them?
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