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!
I write to you today from the Inner Harbor at the Downtown Marriott in Baltimore for the annual Intercollegiate Men's Lacrosse Coaches Association Convention. What makes this weekend special is the fact that it was built around the business dealings of the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association meetings where coaches from all Divisions I, II, and III convene to discuss rules, league meetings, and other NCAA Lacrosse topics. This means that every program in every Division is in attendance which was a great foundation for the IMLCA to build a coaches education event. I love this weekend personally because of the combination of it being a reunion of great friends in the coaching world and an opportunity to "Sharpen my saw!"
Dave Huntley Pro Night
Last year on the Thursday Night of the IMLCA Convention was the first ever "Pro Night," an on-field demo by MLL and NLL players and coaches. My great friend Dave Huntley was one of the presenters at this inaugural event which was very well received. I remember Hunts explaining the "Spain" look which is a "Pick the Picker" action in a typical "Nations" look. Here's a video example of a Spain Look from Nobles & Greenough School outside of Boston: https://click.email.vimeo.com/?qs=729ca595eca42d44... Here's another https://click.email.vimeo.com/?qs=57bc07dc6963569e...
The world lost a great man when Dave passed away last December and the IMLCA renamed the event the Dave Huntley Pro Night. This year's Pro Night was hosted by Dom Starsia, who spoke eloquently about the man we knew as Hunts, one of the best guys you could ever meet, a brilliant lacrosse mind, as interested as he was interesting. We miss you Hunts!
Jordan McIntosh of the Georgia Swarm, who also works full time for IMLCA sponsor Hudl, kicked it off with a 20 minute demo on transition box lacrosse drills. The Swarm are very analytics driven and determined they need to score 33% of their goals in transition in order to win. One of the concepts I took away was the idea of picking in transition. Now, we've all seen pass down pick down to the attack in transition, but watching his talk made me think about midfielders picking for midfielders in transition like they do in transition basketball.
Greg "The Beast" Gurenlian was up next and let me tell you, this guy is SO dialed in with his craft. In 20 minutes he dropped about 6 hours of knowledge. What's really cool about listening to Greg is how cutting edge he is, how everything evolves, and he always has something new to add to his repertoire while maintaining a consistency of fundamentals. What's also cool is he holds nothing back! Greg is open and passionate about sharing his expertise. Two highlights: first, Greg showed us how he will sometimes give a traditional stance on two feet and a traditional grip as opposed to his patented one knee down "Moto-grip" to give a different, difficult, and more multiple look to an opponent. Second, he has a great new counter move that I'm going to need to hear again before I try to explain.
John Galloway, Head Coach at Jacksonville, talked about transition defense and walked us through the way he teaches his attack, midfielders, and defenders to ride, get in, and match up. A simple take away for any coach is this: when there is a shot save, one attackman gets in the goalie's face, one attackman finds the shorty coming back for the ball, and one attackman gets off bench side to jam up the part of the field where they want to take the ball. Simple.
Watching Rob Pannell talk about dodging was impressive. There is not a better dodging attackman in the game and when you see him in street clothes you can tell part of the reason why: he is jacked! There were three points that resonated with me. First, Rob said that most defenders are really good in their backpedal which is why he always "Drifts' or shuffles laterally before he attacks. Second, is his emphasis on changing direction AND changing speed. And that "If all you do is change direction you're not doing much." Third, is how quickly he is able to get his Questionmark shot off. His stick is cocked, he actually tries to punch his hand out so his stick is already lined up to the far corner, then one step and a wham!
Phi-Lacrosse-ophy Podcast with Dom Starsia
I was really looking forward to this conversation and I'm excited to report it was great! You already know if you've ever listened to Dom speak how thoughtful, interesting and articulate he is. This conversation was no different. First, Dom gives us an update on what he's up to now. He works with Harlem Lacrosse, the IMLCA, MLL soon to be new league opportunities, and with all kinds of college and HS programs. We go on to chat about his Brown years and the great '91 team, UVA in the 1990's culminating with a championship that he attributes to the leadership of his captain Tucker Radabaugh, how Bill Tierney changed the complexion of coaching, that Syracuse's Roy Simmons Jr and John Desko don't get the credit they deserve for preparing teams to play and win championships, the 2006 super team and how the "trying to make it through the next day" mentality led the 2011 UVA team to play 60 minutes of zone defense as well as run the offense through 2 man games with Steele Stanwick. You can check it out here https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/phi-lacrosse-o...