Welcome back 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 interesting!
Big College Lacrosse Weekend!
Johns Hopkins/Penn State
This game has huge implications for the Big 10 Tourney. Right now, Michigan is clearly 6th place. Maryland and Hopkins are both 2-0 and in the drivers seat. PSU/OSU/RUT are all fighting for 2 spots. What a tough league! JHU is getting saves, winning face offs and Coach Benson has the offense playing their classic invert, spaghetti motions with some super slick players! PSU looked tough against MD last week! Should be a great tilt!
Need them Heels to get a dub! Of course I’m totally biased here, but it is do or die for UNC.They’ve been pretty banged up and with a “Next guy up” approach they have had some great performances out of nowhere, like Matt Gavin’s 3 goal performance last week.Syracuse is coming off a loss to Cornell mid week, but their offense is a model of consistency: every year they run the same 4 midfielder rotation / 2 attack rotation (as opposed to triangles) and it’s a thing of beauty.
Northwestern / Penn State
Kelly Amonte’s crew is on a 6 game winning streak.They have great depth and athleticism as well as a high powered offense! NW runs a box lacrosse style offense with a 2man side and a 3man side out top with plenty of picking, nations looks etc. Penn State is tough match up. The Big 10 still goes through College Park, but these two teams will be contenders.
I miss my friend Hunts. He and I would regularly have marathon phone conversations about lacrosse. I remember one of the first times we ever spoke, we chatted for 2 hours…. Mostly about Gary Gait and leaners!
One time I told Hunts an idea I had: what if we evaluated players… say all the best college players and pros in the MLL and NLL… and began to classify them as player like X attackmen: Rob Pannell, Kevin Rice, Pat Spencer. Then I said “It would be like genus and species?”Hunts loved this idea and immediately responded with, “Yeah, what if we classified them all as dogs… like German Shepherds- guard dogs - would be the defenders, Greyhounds would be your speed middies, Labs would be your over all great team players and ground ball guys… Dave went on rattling off dog breed/lacrosse player analogies for an hour! And he knew everything about dog breeds (somehow!). I miss my friend Hunts.
TD Ierlan and Trevor Baptiste statistically have taken the position to another level.But why? Are these two truly better than any FOGOS in history? Maybe! But there is a big difference in the way face offs are officiated in this modern era. Historically, the face-off battle was one of gamesmanship, inconsistent officiating, and good old fashion cheating. If you couldn’t beat a guy, you would push the limits of crowding the ball, leaning your stick, grabbing his stick or actually grabbing the ball! Now with the way the FOGOS line up first and the ball is placed second, it ensures a fairer face-off and therefore the quickest guys with the best technique win even more.
How to teach lacrosse skills
For those of you who are youth lacrosse coaches and are trying to teach skills to kids I have a suggestion.Try to figure out a way to teach without teaching.The idea of explaining how to hold a stick, or all the details of scooping… “back hand down, plant your foot next to the ball, scoop through,” etc. How about just tell the kids to go scoop 20 ground balls?And then 20 more! You see, no matter how well you explain it, they still have to go out there an scoop ground balls. And every minute they’re listening to you explain it is a minute they could be scooping ground balls.
How to teach lacrosse skills part 2
Figure out drills or rules that will do the teaching for you.When most coaches teach passing and catching they focus on the many details like “Give a target, give with it, catch it like and egg, follow through, catch it next to your ear, deliver a pass to the box area, etc. A great alternative is this one drill/rule that will cover all of the coaching points; Example: Quicksticks! Have players stand 5 yards apart and “quick stick” passes back and forth with touch…. Nice and easy…No cradle (slow quick sticks are fine).If they’re ready for it, have them shuffle across the field 5 yards apart and quick stick.This one drill actually teaches perfect efficiency and touch which words can only explain.
How to teach lacrosse skills part 3
Ever heard a coach say “The practice field is like my class room.” Or “I’m a teacher of the game” Sounds like the most boring practice ever.The game is the teacher.The drill is the teacher.
In preparation for a “How to get recruited” webinar I’m producing, I caught up with four top DI coaches this week and asked them a few questions.Conversations with Joe Breschi - UNC, Kevin Corrigan - ND, Lars Tiffany - - UVA, and Matt Madalon - Princeton. Here are a few of the highlights on various topics:
JB: looking for team guys, coachable…. Do players actually do what you talk to them about, wants great listeners, are players listening to their coaches and engaged in the huddle
KC: wants competitors, watches to see how players handle adversity, will have due diligence conversations and extrapolate what is said and what is not said about a prospect.
LT: wants commitment and dedication… taking training to another level like going to Canada for the summer, loves multi sport athletes because it’s harder than being a one sport athlete.
MM: wants “Lax Rats”… guys that are so into it they eat, sleep, breathe lacrosse.
JB: not all players are going to have it…. You can coach them, but will they get it?
LT: reminded me of a conversation we had 4 years ago.I asked, “What do you look for in a defenseman?”Lars replied, “Great feet.”My follow up question was, “Now, who actually plays for you?” Meaning, do the best athletes with the best feet or the smartest guys play for you?He said that conversation changed his approach to recruiting…. IQ is paramount.
KC: Talks about defender’s ability to “Process” quickly.I asked him how he tells the difference between a player who has been poorly coached versus a player with bad IQ: “A distinction with out a difference” was his answer.
MM: Similar to John Gruden’s QB Camp, Princeton will actually interview prospects and make them explain the X’s and O’s of their HS teams.“What type of defense do you play?”If prospects don’t know, “We can’t recruit them.” Matt states.
Funny Recruiting Story
One time I got a letter and dvd from a defender from Canada named Reid Acton who was interested the University of Denver.Reid actually went on to play at Loyola, won the 2012 Championship there, and has played professionally in both leagues.Reid also coaches at the Hill Academy with Brodie Merrill.
Anyway, Reid’s note to me read something like this, “Dear Coach Munro, I am a Canadian box lacrosse player and I’m very interested in the University of Denver. I don’t actually have any video of me playing lacrosse, but I do have have this video of me in a hockey fight.I hope you enjoy it!” Classic Canadian! This might have been the best recruiting video ever! We didn’t recruit Reid, but I sure wish we had!