"It's a lot easier being a drug dealer than an AAU coach" - this guy. Tell me something I don't know. I mean, don't think but have never tried either.
[Ed: Tim has also started a lax blog covering anything and everything in-state. Hit it up if you're part of the burgeoning lacrosse community.]
Giving the latest on the Michigan Men's Lacrosse Team.
The Wolverines have been pristine in their spring scrimmages over the past couple years, so to see a loss to Division-1 Bellarmine by a big score may be troubling, especially since the Wolverines bested the same squad last season. Howeva, Michigan was not at full strength and Bellarmine is probably a bit stronger than they were last year.
The Wolverines rebounded by knocking of D-3 Wittenberg by a 13-9 score. It may be a product of the competition, but they looked much stronger in this game despite still not being at full strength. I took some photos at the game, so enjoy a gallery:
The above-inked site is a little side project I just started working on, so I encourage you to check it out if you're interested in lacrosse.
In the final scrimmage, Michigan was as close to full strength as they have been all spring - the MCLA's best defensive player, Harrison Freid, had missed the previous two contests. The Wolverines raced out to a big 12-0 lead at halftime before emptying the bench and taking down Kenyon College 15-6. I only caught the second half thanks to the basketball team's win over Indiana, so no real thoughts on the performance.
As for the team on the whole, it's going to be what we expected. They'll struggle on faceoffs like they have at no point during the current run of MCLA dominance ("struggling" here meaning "not winning 60-70% of draws"), but the offense and defense are likely to be among the best we've seen in Ann Arbor. It's even possible that we'll see a more wide-open offense from the Wolverines this fall.
First Two Weeks: A Preview
In a departure from the standard schedule, Michigan opens up at home against Florida before embarking on their annual spring break road trip. The trip is usually their chance to play multiple top-level non-conference opponents over the course of a week, and boost the schedule difficulty.
Since the Gators are up first, I'll spend a little bit more time previewing the game against Florida. The game takes places this Saturday at 7PM in Oosterbaan Fieldhouse.
The Gators made the MCLA National Tournament last year as a 12 seed, bowing out to Minnesota-Duluth 12-6 in the opening round. This year, they've started strong by pasting fellow South East Lacrosse Conference opponents Miami (YTM) and South Florida by a combined 30-13 score. They also had a tuneup against MCLA D-2 squad Palm Beach Atlantic last weekend. This all means that the Gators will be much closer to mid-season form than will the Wolverines, but is that enough to get a road win where Michigan hasn't lost since 2007?
The Gators lost their four leading scorers from last year in Ryan Akin (2nd Team All-American), Alex Cervasio, Kyle Beckman (3rd Team All-American), and David Rule. That quartet combined to average 13.5 points per game in 2010, and the Gators need to replace that production. Junior attack William Buch, senior midfielder Ben Salo, and sophomore midfielder CJ Casselli have stepped up to fill that void, but they are untested against the top teams in the country.
The Gators have impressed on faceoffs early in the season, winning 27/36 (.750), and since that's an area of weakness for Michigan, we'll find out soon if Florida's success is based solely on level of competition. As noted above, Michigan's faceoffs have been inconsistent throughout the preseason.
Josh Hagerman from UMGoBlog previews the game, and talks to former Wolverine captain (now Florida assistant coach) Michael Bartomioli. The whole thing is worth reading, and Barto even gives a couple (homer) predictions:
14-13 Florida in OT or 13-10 Michigan… first one as a Florida coach, second one as a former U of M player.
Josh also talks to Florida's head coach, and makes a couple predictions of his own (including - I shit you not - evoking the "SEC SPEED" meme, which caused a unicorn to die, no doubt).
I would guess that Michigan gets a competitive game, but ultimately a comfortable win. SELC teams have yet to prove themselves on the biggest stage and aside from the MCLA Tournament playing on the road at Michigan is as big as it gets.
Once they hit the road, Michigan will face Oregon at a neutral site in Los Angeles. The two played a neutral-site thriller in Dallas last season as Michigan came away with a 5-4 win in overtime. They made the MCLA Tournament, falling 9-8 to Colorado in the first round. However, the Ducks may not be quite the team they were last year, as they've started their season 0-2, including a 10-2 pasting by Cal.
The Ducks only lost a couple members of their scoring arsenal from last year, so their inability to score goals early in the season is a surprise, especially with Honorable Mention All-American Kevin Clark still in the fold. It's possible they snap out of it once they get into the swing of the season, or they may just be in for a down year.
They have the same goaltending contingent as last year (including 3rd Team All-American Nick Johnston), and have plenty of returning players in their defensive unit (3rd Team All-American Steven Brizie among them), so they are probably going to try to hold it together on the defensive end while they figure out their problems scoring.
The Lions missed the MCLA Tournament last year despite a solid 13-5 record, as they lost to Chapman in their conference tournament. They were a strong defensive team last year with occasional bursts of offensive firepower. So far this season, they've knocked off San Diego State 9-3 and will play three more games before they face Michigan.
2nd-Team All-American Alec Paul was far and away the Lions' leading scorer in 2010, but he's graduated. That leaves the magnificently-named Magnus Karlsson to carry the scoring mantle, along with fellow midfielder Travis Abraham and attack Chase Parlett. Sophomore midfielder Nolan Smith and attack Max Zeff were the big scorers against San Diego State, so we'll see if that production holds up over the course of the season.
LMU is breaking in a pair of new goalies this season, so if a team can break down their defense (especially early in the year), they should be able to beat the netminder as well. That should be no easy task, of course, as the defensive unit is senior-laden, including 3rd Team All-American Marc Napp.
Even those who aren't familiar with lacrosse may have heard of Connor Martin a.k.a. ConBroChill, likely the biggest celebrity among MCLA players all-time. Argue all you want about the negative impact his videos may have on the lacrosse community, but there's no denying Martin was a great player, as only the second MCLA athlete to be drafted by Major League Lacrosse. With him out the door (along with midfielder Blake Whitcomb, a 3rd Team All-American), Chapman's offense takes a big hit.
Andrew Clayton (HM All-American) and William Morrison should be the team's new offensive leaders, but it's the defense that should carry this team. Andrew Salcido and Spencer Halvorsen were 2nd-Team All-Americans last year, and LSM Matt Walrath earned an Honorable Mention.
Thankfully, Chapman lost their faceoff specialist from last year, as Chris Small was a 2nd-Team All-American last year, and Michigan would prboably get destroyed by him if he was still around this year.
After their road trip, Michigan opens up conference play with a healthy drive down to Athens, Ohio to face Ohio University. Since they're a first-year MCLA program, it's hard to know a whole lot about the team at this point in the year. I'll preview that game (and review the spring break trip) when the time approaches.
A third senior leader has been added to Michigan's contingent of captains. LSM Matt Asperheim joins Attack Trevor Yealy and Harrison Freid, and though he doesn't have as many honors (Yealy and Freid are both multiple-year 1st-Team All-Americans), may be just as important to the team's success as a good defensive player who can go forward with the ball in his stick.
The Men's and Women's lacrosse teams joined forced to participate in Wednesday's Mock Rock event, performing a couple dances from Grease:
UMGOBLOG.com has put together a pretty interesting article about the growth of Michigan Lax. Most of the article is comments from Coach JP. Kind of surprised that much of the team operations is not through donations.
Michigan Men's Lacrosse has captured the last thee national titles in the MCLA, the highest level of club lacrosse in the country. They begin their quest to make it an unprecedented 4-peat tonight at 6:00PM in Oosterbaan Fieldhouse, with a pre-season scrimmage against Division 1 squad Bellarmine.
Let's look at the personnel.
Key Returners: Mark Stone (HM AA, 2nd Conf), Andrew Fowler
Losses: Conor McGee
Mark Stone and Andrew Folwer split time in net almost equally in 2009, and though Fowler missed some time with a leg injury, he got the start in the MCLA Championship game. Last year, however, Stone took over as the #1 keeper, playing almost twice as many minutes as Fowler, and posting a slightly better save percentage (.609 to .595) overall.
This season, look for Stone to be the starter again - and increased performance out of both main keepers in their senior years. Sophomore Cy Abdelnour is the third option, as Conor McGee has transferred to UVa.
Key Returners: Harry Freid (1st AA, 1st Conf), Austin Swaney (2nd Conf), Justin Burgin (3rd Conf).
Losses: Zach Mueller, Theo Lederfine Paskal, Bob Diehl.
Newcomers: Dakota Sherman, Pat Stansik, Jake Dockser.
Harry Freid enters his senior year after back-to-back First-Team All-American seasons, and he's been named to the MCLA's all-decade team. He's the key player in the Wolverines' defensive corps, and will probably spend next spring playing a year of Division-1 lacrosse.
Austin Swaney is the team's #2 defenseman. His athleticism and instincts are the keys to his success. The starting unit could be rounded out by either Pat Stansik or Justin Burgin, though Burgin is coming off an injury. Stansik is a big, intimidating defenseman, and Burgin excels going up the field in transition.
JD Johnson, Dakota Sherman, and Paul Hegeman should also get some good playing time in a very deep defensive unit.
Key Returners: Matt Asperheim (3rd AA, 1st Conf).
Losses: Anthony Hrusovsky (2nd AA, 1st Conf), Jordan Kirshner (3rd AA, 1st Conf), David Rogers (2nd Conf), Svet Tintchev (2nd Conf), Michael Bartomioli (HM Conf), Jamison Goldberg (HM Conf).
The midfield is the hardest-hit unit by graduation, with only senior Long-Stick Matt Asperheim returning among players who received All-American or All-Conference honors. Asperheim is an important part of the team's defensive play, but also has great stick skills, and can score.
The other starters of Michigan's defensive midfield have graduated, so Jordan Kirshner and Michael Bartomioli (now an assistant at Michigan's Feb. 19th opponent Florida) will need to be replaced. Sean Sutton should be one of the starters, but the other is still up in the air, with Rob Healy a strong contender.
Michigan also lost a lot from their offensive midfield units, with #5 scorer Svet Tintchev out the door, along with #7 Anthony Hrusovsky, #9 Jamison Goldberg, and #10 David Rogers. Young players such as Joey Hrusovsky will have to step up, and don't be surprised if the Wolverines have more 2-way midfielders this season.
Key Returners: Edward Ernst, Harrison Silver
Losses: David Reinhard (1st AA, 1st Conf)
David Reinhard was a huge part of Michigan's success over the past two years, as the diminutive faceoff specialist won nearly 70% of his draws, helping the Wolverines dominate possession against all competition. With Reinhard out the door, it's up to junior Edward Ernst to carry the torch at the faceoff X.
Ernst actually performed better overall (80.6 win percentage), though most of his attempts came late in games, and especially against lesser competition. He'll have to step up his game for Michigan to control possession like they have the past few years.
Key Returners: Trevor Yealy (1st AA, 1st Conf), Thomas Paras (2nd Conf)
Losses: Kevin Zorovich (2nd AA, 1st Conf), Josh Ein (HM Conf), Clark McIntyre (HM Conf)
Though Michigan's #3, 4, and 6 scorers from last year have graduated, the Michigan offense still has its most important piece in Trevor Yealy. The senior captain has been a deadly finisher on the crease the last three years, with a mind-numbing 77 goals last year alone - compared to a grand total of 2 assists. This year, he should play a more versatile role, including out on the wing. Even if his scoring production drops, it will be for the betterment of the team on the whole.
Michigan's #2 scorer from last year, Thomas Paras, should be improved in his second year in the program. Since the Wolverines lost two lefties (Zorovich and Ein), the addition of St. John's transfer Ryan-Dutton O'Hara (HT: UMGoBlog) is important. He's a big attackman with good finishing ability.
The Wolverines may have scoring spread more throughout the roster, so keep an eye on Chad Carroll, who's new to the team after not playing lacrosse the last couple years, and freshman jitterbug Jeff Chu.
Last year's home lineup consisted of a meager four games, but that's paid forward to 2011, with 8 home contests, including 2010 tournament teams Florida, BYU, Boston College, Colorado State, and Arizona State (last year's runner-up). I break it down into about 4 parts:
Jan. 29, 6:00PM
NCAA Division-1, 9-6 in 2010
Feb. 4, 7:30PM
NCAA Division-3, 10-5 in 2010
Feb 12, 7:00PM
NCAA Division-3, 6-8 in 2010
Early Season/Road Trip
Feb. 19, 7:00PM
SELC, 12-4 in 2010 (First Round MCLA Tournament)
Feb. 25, 6:00PM. Los Angeles, CA
PNCLL, 10-5 in 2010 (MCLA Tournament First Round)
@ Loyola Marymount
Mar. 2, 3:00 PM. Los Angeles, CA
SLC, 13-5 in 2010
Mar. 5, 1:00 PM. Orange, CA
SLC, 16-3 in 2010 (MCLA Final Four - Lost to Michigan)
Mar. 12, 2:00 PM. Athens, OH
CCLA East, 11-2 NCLL in 2010
The Home Stand
Mar. 18, 7:00 PM
RMLC, 12-6 in 2010 (MCLA Tournament Second Round - Lost to Michigan)
Mar. 19, 7:00 PM
CCLA East, 5-10 in 2010
Mar. 25, 7:00 PM
PCLL, 11-3 in 2010 (MCLA Tournament First Round)
Mar. 26, 7:00 PM
SLC, 10-6 in 2010
Apr. 1, 7:00 PM
RMLC, 17-2 in 2010 (MCLA Tournament Second Round)
Apr. 2, 7:00 PM
SLC, 16-4 in 2010 (MCLA Runners-up - Lost to Michigan)
Apr. 9, 7:00 PM
GRLC, 8-7 in 2010
The Home Stretch
Apr. 16, 7:00 PM. Birmingham Seaholm HS
CCLA, 10-6 in 2010 (MCLA Tournament First Round)
Apr. 23, 7:00 PM. Toledo, OH
CCLA East, 8-6 NCLL in 2010
May 5-7 Saline, MI
May 17-21 Denver, CO
Michigan's recipe for success over the past few years has been to dominate possession, owning the faceoff X and riding opponents into turnovers to hold on to the ball much more than the opposition.
Michigan's biggest question mark this year, then, will be on faceoffs. In the one-on-one battle at midfield, they need to have Edward Ernst step up to continue the formula that's brought them such success. Ernst has David Reinhard, last year's All-American specialist, teaching and competing with him in practice (just like Reinhard had with Brekan Kohlitz a couple years back), so he should be able to step up.
Other than faceoff, Michigan's top-end talent and depth are both exceptional. Plugging Division-1 transfers into holes created by graduation is not a luxury all club programs have, and the Wolverines have some of the best coaching in the MCLA as well.
It's likely, unless there are some early-season stumbles, that Michigan will be favored - and often heavily so - in every game this year. They've earned it by losing only one game in the past 3 years, and refusing to ever rebuild, but always reload. It doesn't hurt to have the runaway favorites for MCLA Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year on your squad, either.
If you're looking to make it out to just a couple games, I recommend tonight's scrimmage, as Bellarmine is a D-1 opponent, and the back-to-back home games against Colorado State and Arizona State.
Tim - any idea when the varsity announcement is coming now that Brandon has the football coach search out of the way?
dont know y u guys r gettn upset. u just avoided disastr. if i had gottn a chance 2 go up against ur defense, id have domin8 like none other. u dont even no.
im hangn out waitn for 1 of my ebay awkshuns to end if ne of u wanna chat about football... gonna get my desmond woodsn on gameday stile on this blog. feel free 2 ask a questn & ill drop sum knowledge
Dave Brandon interviewed this morning on adding men's and women's lacrosse: