D-Middies Made Cool
Something has happened this year that no upstanding offensive player of my time would ever admit: d-mid is now a cool position – this has been solidified by players like Hawkins (Loyola), Creighton (UNC) and Ianzito (Syracuse) with the introduction of the new rules, which encourages and rewards teams for pushing the ball in transition, if they can do it well, but the coolness was somewhat sparked by LaPierre (Virginia) who ended up sitting this year due to an injury, and he started to make it cool pre-speedup rules.
It’s not that players like Hawkins, Creighton and Ianzito were not encouraged to play faster, a bit, when the right situation arrived, but, this year, coaches are putting offensive-minded d-middies in those position specifically to create those kinds of scoring situations. This means dodging for slides in transition and being expected to move or shoot the ball with pressure, as an offensive midfielder would; coaches have realized that dodging hard on the opposing teams offensive players who have been left out on defense from their previous offensive possession are ripe for dodging on, especially with the hyper athletic d-middies in the current age of college lacrosse.
Being a d-middie doesn’t seem so terrible anymore: you get to use your athleticism and strength to help your team on d, throw checks, hit people, wing face-offs and you get to be a part of the most exciting aspect of offense, in transition? What’s not cool about that?
Late Tournament Shiners Help Princeton Lose
I am already hearing the grief from old school laxers and ghosts of coaches past, but hear me out. I’m guessing that the Ivy League Championship series, which was aired on ESPNU and ESPN3, had a specific amount of balls to use for the semis and finals, which was perhaps added to during the final, or not. Did anyone else notice when Orban went for a sideline ball at the top right corner of the screen (3rd or 4th quarter) and checked to see if it was slippery? That same play, a Princeton player threw the ball out of bounds over someones head (extra points go to whoever finds the timestamp.)
Princeton is known as a viciously accurate, pinpoint-shooting type of offense, but even their best shooters, like Orban and Froccaro, were missing curiously high and wide in situations we would otherwise expect superior accuracy. Is there a connection between late tournament play, slippery balls and miscued shooting? Let’s move on to the opponent in Yale and their style, who, by the way, played fantastic otherwise, too. Yale moves the ball very well on offense, but, arguably, does not rely as heavily on their 3-point difficulty level shooting, as Princeton does theirs. Even big time Yale shooters like Mangan and Oberbeck are not precision shooters; they shoot through goalies, if you catch my drift – with Mangan’s insane windup and release, and Oberbeck’s sneaky lefty jumper, these are shooters that rely more on deception of motion than pinpoint precision to sink shots.
Did a few slippery rocks favor Yale’s style of shooting over Princeton’s? I know how quickly lacrosse balls get slippery on turf coaching 8th graders, who are not shooting 90+ mph in warmups; I wonder what would happen to those balls after a few days of practices, warmups and games from Division 1 players in Yale and Princeton – turf shine, for sure. This is really where lacrosse meets science: can players change ingrained muscle memory to a specific grippiness of a certain in a specific situation? Seems to me that certain styles would be affected more than others.
Quick Note on Princeton’s Subbing on Ride
I thought I noticed that Princeton subbed the closest offensive player to the box (whether A or M), on the ride, which made it possible to ride more effectively, in theory, by getting their LSM on as quick as possible and allowing short sticks to stay in better riding positions on the far side of the field. If an attackman was the player who came off for the long stick, this would also allow a midfielder to stay on in a riding situation (midfielder = better at d = better at riding) and would only require a quick read on their part to keep from going offside.
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