Welcome to A Lacrosse Weekend, my weekly compilation of thoughts, ideas, history, stories, myths/truths, about the great game of lacrosse. I hope you find it enjoyable.
One of my favorite things to do is attend college lacrosse practices. I love seeing the team spirit, learn new drills, and see the over all tenor of the practice. Watching Loyola's practice yesterday was no exception. It was a day where they warmed up with basic stick work and played 4 quarters of scrimmages, mixing up the teams to get different personnel groupings. At the end of each quarter, the losing team ran across field down and back sprint for time. One thing that was really refreshing was watching Coach Toomey, Coach Van Arsdale and Coach Dwan coach and not over-coach. Coach Toomey was on the off bench sideline where I was watching and he was communicating with the players in the clearing game a bit, but in general there was not much, if any, coach orchestration going on. I never even heard Coach Van's voice. Why is this refreshing? Because in an age where we as parents and coaches, have taken away most of the thinking for the players, it is pretty cool to let the players play and figure things out for themselves. There is a true art to coaching..... and not coaching!
Watching this guy up close was a treat. If I had to create a player with physical attributes, skill set, IQ, competitiveness, feel for the game, unselfishness, to name a few qualities, I would create the Pat Spencer prototype. I've been studying high level skills lately and I watched Pat Spencer do 90% of them! Here are a few.
- Vision and deception: the master of seeing the field and looking defenders off is fun to watch. Yesterday on EMO, I saw him look like he was going to lob the ball over the top slowing down the backside defender only to jam it into the crease guy : Spencer no look pass look away
- Hesitations and Fakes: Spencer is such a great feeder defenses have a big time dilemma of whether or not to slide. Although it's a little counter intuitive (because most players think when they get a step they have to get straight to the goal), when Spencer gets a step, he immediately hesitates and fakes passes, buying himself precious time and space to get his own shots. Spencer roll back, fake up the field hesitation
- One of the most under-taught parts of feeding is getting as close as possible to the middle... shorter feeds are better feeds. Spencer uses moves and physicality to get inside the "hashes" Pat Spencer physical dodge wrong side alley feed
- Seeing the whole field, the sliders and the 2nd sliders, and the ability to manipulate all of them is part of what makes Spencer so special. Pat Spencer lob feed
- The squared up post up technique allows Spencer to literally push his man with his strongest posture and look right over his defender's shoulder and see the field. Pat Spencer squared up post up feed over man from wing
- A master of getting to the "Island" here Spencer uses a 2 man game to get a step and has the two handedness to make the lefty feed. Pat Spencer getting to his spot
- Spencer uses a myriad of moves when he gets into his man... I saw him rip move (use his bottom hand to gain leverage on his man during a 2 handed cradle) in yesterday's practice. Pat Spencer post up feed
- Spencer is a basketball player and played lacrosse with that style of play. Faking passes away from the man he's ultimately going to dump it to like this is part of what makes him great. Spencer pass fake away from feed
Coach Toomey told me after practice that Spencer will likely use his 5th year of eligibility to play basketball next year and he's thinking about Syracuse. I can't think of a cooler thing to do after finishing up his collegiate lacrosse career!
Michael R. Breschi Fall Ball Game
Each fall the North Carolina and Ohio State lacrosse programs get together in Baltimore to play a fall scrimmage, to bond as teams, and to continue the brotherhood, to honor the memory of Michael Breschi, and to celebrate the Michael R. Breschi Scholarship award winners. 14 years have passed since March 1, 2004 when Coach Breschi's 3 1/2 year old son lost his life, but his memory lives on through this annual event, the scholarship for an Ohio State athlete, and the players of these two programs. In a unique and really cool way, two Division I lacrosse programs come together, enjoy a breakfast together, hear important and inspiring messages from speakers, and then compete on the field in a fall ball exhibition at Calvert Hall. This year's speaker is John Gordon, who has become one of the leaders in leadership development and faith. It is a special event.