What kind of assclown would down-vote this diary?
Great content, thanks for posting.
[Ed.: part of what promises to be a series orienting people unfamiliar with lacrosse to the sport.]
Courtesy of Insidelacrosse.com.
(We now have the best helmets in three sports. Also: Maize uniform rage spreads to two sports)
I’ve started this diary to help introduce Michigan fans to lacrosse and to explain what’s going on both on the field and off as best I can. Since there are no games to recap and I don’t have any video of this past season to break down, I figured it was best to begin with an investigation of Michigan’s roster and how much overhaul and time would be needed before the team became competitive.
There has been a lot of chatter in the message boards and perhaps some diary entries for the past year speculating how Michigan’s 3x MCLA National Champion lacrosse team would fair at the varsity level. Some have argued that Michigan will need a minimal level of roster overhaul or change in recruiting strategies in order to be competitive both within their conference and nationally, particularly in light of the fact that Brother Rice High School won the Inside Lacrosse High School National Championship in 2008, and that the general University student body is already heavily composed of kids from the East coast.
I’ve broken this introduction into four parts:
In terms of what coaches are looking for, it’s pretty straightforward. First, college coaches are looking for a player that has the proper size and speed. If you are a defensemen at a top level program, you are probably going to be around 6’2”-6’3” and roughly 220 lbs, a top level midfielder is 6’0”-6’1” and around 190 lbs, and attack can vary anywhere from 5’10” 190 lbs to 6’2” 215 lbs. In terms of speed, you are looking for players that run in the 4.5-4.6 range in the 40. Max Seibald, former Cornell midfielder and 2010 Tewaaraton Trophy winner (lacrosse’s version of the Heisman or Hobey Baker) recently clocked the same time in the 40 yard dash as Percy Harvin (sub 4.4), so lacrosse is increasingly bringing in top-level athletes (not just guys too slow or uncoordinated for football, etc).
The last element that factors into the scholarship equation is stick skills. Coaches vary widely in how interested they are in a players stick skills. Some coaches love to take athletic guys that were great at multiple sports and true athletes—particularly Dom Starsia at Virginia and John Desko at Syracuse—and trust their own ability to teach stick skills. Other coaches want “lacrosse players” that have the stick skills to immediately contribute the moment they set foot on campus. These players won’t be ranked in the Inside Lacrosse Young Guns list (Top 100 high school players in a graduating class, their version of Rivals 250, etc), but coaches hope they will turn into something special as upper classmen. Normally, only the most successful programs have the luxury of taking a risk on this type of player since they know they have 5-6 instant contributors already in their recruiting class.
Lacrosse recruiting is also in a state of flux right now—for years it operated under the radar due to minimal participation in the sport and neglect from television and print media. As the sport has grown in the past 15 years, and as ESPN and CBS have steadily increased the number of games on television, more people are starting to chart and follow high school players and their recruitment. Overall, lacrosse recruiting is a hybrid to what we are familiar with from football, basketball and hockey.
At its core, lacrosse recruiting is still most similar to football recruiting. To begin with, what matters most is your performance with your high school team. How you perform on tape or in person during your high school season is still the single most important element in getting recruited—college coaches want to see you how you play in settled offense, settled defense, transition, special teams, when a defense is focused on one player, etc. The only time you really see teams scheme is during the high school season, so it’s the most realistic chance for college coaches to see how players will translate to the college level.
It is also similar to football in the importance that the camps most major schools host during the summer play in recruiting. Colleges host team and individual camps, and like football, they provide the opportunity for coaches to get a player on campus and to see how they play in person. It’s a chance for the college to get an accurate height and weight, to see how fast the player is both with and without the ball, and to meet the player in order to get a feel for how they will fit into your locker room. As well, there is an Under Armor All America lacrosse game (one for juniors and one for seniors), and the team is selected through a series of combines like the UA or Army All America games in football.
Finally, lacrosse is similar to football in the sense that location matters a great deal. Just like Florida, Texas, California and Ohio/Pennsylvania are the four major hotbeds in terms of producing high-level football talent, the same is true for Baltimore/Washington DC, Long Island, and Upstate New York (you can also start making a very strong argument for including New Jersey and Philadelphia on the list). Like football, you can find talent in other places, but it is impossible to match the density of top quality athletes and high-level coaching of these areas. The players coming out of these 3-4 areas grew up with a stick in their hand, went to high schools where the most athletic kids in the school played lacrosse, and had coaches that treated them like low-level college players from the time they were 14 years old. If you want players who will contribute immediately and a team that will compete for national titles, conventional wisdom says you have to recruit heavily out of these areas (Part II will examine whether this is myth or reality). Players from outside the hotbed areas tend to be recruited as the proverbial “athletes” since they do not have the stick skills to immediately contribute or a natural position on the field.
Now that you feel like lacrosse recruiting is incredibly familiar and easy to grasp, let’s complicate it by adding elements of basketball. If you follow basketball recruiting, there are two similarities between lacrosse and basketball.
First, club teams and programs are a big deal in lacrosse recruiting. While this seems like a contradiction to primacy of high school tape in recruiting I wrote above, club teams are essential in getting your name on a coach’s watch list. Most college teams have little to no budget to travel during the season, let alone does a team that has 1 head coach, 2 assistants and 1-2 graduate assistants have the man power to travel during the season. Consequently, if a coach is going to see you live, it’s going to be in the summer or fall when you’re playing for a club team. If you want to be noticed by a coach, particularly if you are not from one of those lacrosse hotbed areas (or you are in a hotbed, but on a high school team so stacked that you won’t see the field until your senior year), your club team and the tournaments they qualify matter. Once they know your name after seeing you in a summer tournament, then they’ll start watching your high school tape Playing for major club programs like the Blue Crabs (out of Baltimore) or the Long Island Express is often the first step towards a D1 offer. Club teams are so important that Inside Lacrosse Magazine now ranks the top club programs in the nation at the end of every summer.
The second similarity to basketball is the recruiting timeline for a top player and the top programs. If you are a Top 100 Young Gun, you will probably start collecting scholarship offers during your sophomore year and will commit sometime before the start of your junior season. Johns Hopkins, one of the top programs historically, just received its third commitment for the Class of 2013. Obviously the majority of players still commit around their senior year and the majority of teams do not fill up their classes early, but if you want to land a Top 25 player odds are you will need to lock in a commit 2-3 years before he sets foot on campus. I hate this aspect of the game and think it has the potential to lead to very dirty tactics if the sports exposure and TV money continue to grow, but that’s where the game is right now.
Now time to really complicate the issue. Lacrosse is a suburban sport, so the top players tend to come from school districts and families that are more affluent on average than a typical BCS-level football or basketball recruit. It’s a sport that requires a lot of equipment and travel, so like hockey it tends to attract more affluent families. This means players in this sport have options that a lot of top level football and basketball recruits do not. On top of that, the sport is still small so that if you want to play on a top high school team, you only have a few options. This means that you could be a stud attackman at Garden City high school on Long Island and be talented enough to be ranked in the Top 100 nationally for your high school class, but you could never see the field until your junior or senior year because there are 3 other attackman in the Top 100 in the class above you on your team. Coaches won’t see you and recruitniks will forget about you.
So what’s a player to do—they are outstanding, but can’t get the playing time to warrant a scholarship offer from a D1 school. What many players will choose to do is to go to a boarding school for a year or two. Some players will do a post-graduate year after graduating from high school, some will repeat their junior year and stay at boarding school for two years, and some will repeat freshmen year and stay at the boarding school for four years. So, like ice hockey, you may gain a commitment from a kid that appears to be a year too old for their recruiting class. Sometimes a team will also ask a player to take a PG year, either to grow or because they will have more room in the following year’s recruiting class.
This route has proven to be a great way for kids to get more exposure and for school to find the “diamond in the rough” in their recruiting classes. Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts and Salisbury School in Connecticut are national powers at the high school level in large part because of the contributions of PG players, and 2011 Tewaaraton Finalist Rob Pannell and 2011 All-American Billy Bitter are both products of a PG year.
I hope this helps illuminate the process of lacrosse recruiting for everyone. I know this post does not have a lot to do with Michigan specifically, but I wanted to make sure we are all on the same page with how the recruiting process works with lacrosse. It’s obviously going to take Michigan some time to fill their roster with high level talent, considering they are already missing out on some key rising juniors who have committed already.
What kind of assclown would down-vote this diary?
Great content, thanks for posting.
you have to pronounce it "brah"!
Here is a nice visual for hotbeds across the USA.
Somebody from Manhasset. F**k Garden City!
(I kid. I didn't actually downvote it.)
Im very excited about the transition to D-1 and am looking to learn more about the sport. Thanks for sharing.
So many kids in my area are lacrosse dudes - this is a great start and good info! Thanks.
I'll be interested to see your part 2 about the recruiting bias, I'm from baltimore and still think it was a huge joke when Brother Rice was named the number one team. The top league around Baltimore MIAA A class and its not unusaul to see three teams from the league in the top five/ten. The year brother rice won a couple of the top teams beat each other and you wound up with the bullshit of a team that played nobody claiming the top spot based off of nothing performance wise.
So I clicked on the brother rice link and just to reinforce my point the MIAA championship game that year was between two teams that finished 2 and 6. The two teams that lost in the semifinals finished 11th and 25th. Saying brother rice that year was better because they went undefeated is a joke.
To be fair, that year Brother Rice absolutely pasted everybody except Upper Arlington (OH) and Western Reserve Academy (also OH). WRA beat a couple of Maryland teams themselves, and even per LaxPower's computer rankings, Brother Rice was higher nationally than any Michigan team had ever been (or will ever be).
Was the "national title" a gift from Inside Lacrosse? Maybe, but it's not like the honor means anything tangible, so why not give it to a midwestern team, and spur growth in a non-hotbed area? And why not give it to the only undefeated team in the top 30some of the rankings?
BR produces a lot of D1 talent (as you well know, Tim) and having a kid from that squad coming to Michigan this fall is good for getting into that program. It seems like that would be easy, but most of the BR kids want to go play on the east coast, even if it isn't for a major program. Bring able to grab the top kid on Rice every year would be big, and having Will Meter on the team will help that a lot, especially considering he's a very well liked kid (he's the cousin of my very good friend/guy I lived with before moving in with my fiancee).
People really like Meter, and I think having him in your good graces is worth a lot in the lacrosse world (at least as far as Michgian goes).
That said, I think the bigger deal is having an 'in' with Brother Rice (goalie Christian Eckert is going to Michigan, and though he's unsure about playing lacrosse, everything I've heard indicates that he plans to at least try out) is a bigger deal, as the Warriors (YTW) probably produce more D-1 talent than the rest of the state combined over time.
hate to bring up old topic, but Will is my cousin, too. Who is your friend?
Nick Meter. Him and I were roommates out here in LA when I lived in Hermosa and he's going to be in my wedding next month.
hahaha thats my brother, small world
That is a small world. We've actually met - a couple years ago I stayed at your house when Nick and I came back for a football game. We had a cook-out that weekend at your uncle's house in Walled Lake, I believe.
is establishing pipelines into 4 areas or hotbeds of lacrosse.
Upstate New York (Syracuse area)
Maryland/Virginia Prep schools
These areas send an astounding amount of talent to the D1 level
(i played in high school in Section III in NY ( Upstate New York) and there were 3 teams that went to the state finals. Of these teams (a combined starter number of 30) 22 starters went to D1 schools for scholarships.)
The long island team that played against mine in the finals sent 13 seniors to D1 colleges on full rides.. thats bench players going D1.
Section III, eh? I played in Section IV. Upstate! My former squad was nasty this year.
Section VI FTW!
Where did you go?! I played in section V for Canandaigua.
Section IV with a nasty squad this year, you wouldn't hapen to have gone to Ithaca High would you? I graduated from Ithaca in '07 and played lacrosse there.
I indeed went to IHS - Class of 200X. Played center middie. That's all I'm saying.
Go Little Red!
It's a shame the little red couldn't quite land that state title this year, hopefully Frank can get a title before he retires.
North Carolina? No way. Totally disagree; that's not a recruiting hotbed at all. All you need to know about that is that Duke has more California kids than NC kids on the team. UNC has five kids from NC and four of them are legacy kids, including one whose dad is the associate AD and former lax coach. NC is on the fringes at best. Michigan is better, Chicago, Ohio, California, the non-Connecticut New England states, Canada - all much better than North Carolina.
Agreed on the Carolinas not being a recruiting hotbed. From what I understand, its high school scene is far less developed than even Michigan's. Of course, with multiple D-1 teams in the state, it could develop quickly, but at this time I don't think it's considered a hotbed area.
MAD private schools lead the way. Boys Latin and St. Paul's have middies who aren't on the first line getting D1 scholarships. I believe that some competitive advantage is to be had by being able to be out on the field 3 weeks earlier than the Upstate NY folks every year. I know VA plays some fall ball, and they and all of the folks to the south that play in the fall surely reap the benefits of extra time on the fields that the NYers don't get.
I'm not a superguru or nothing but I'd rank the hotbeds this way:
Baltimore probably has a better concentration and top-player-per-capita ratio but Long Island has the volume. And I bump "upstate NY" below Philly because it's a huge region and not a single city/metro.
Philly? Really? They have two stacked teams. Hotbeds have more than 1 or 2 teams with talent.
Thats a joke. Baltimore is a toss up at best
But, that being said, Central wins Empires as often as LI, so... they in my mind are about =.
Also, about half the roster for the Syracuse program is from upstate or LI. Last I checked, they have one of the top 3 programs in the country.
Finally, accroding to http://www.laxpower.com/update11/binboy/natlccr.php 11 of the top 20 teams in the country are from NY... (5 from upstate area)
One, you're in no position to be condescending, Mr. North-Carolina-is-a-hotbed-of-recruiting. Two, of this year's UA all-Americans, 9 are from Philly (and no, not all from the same two schools) and 5 are from upstate NY.
Syracuse does well with recruits from upstate NY, yes. They're also almost the only program that gets any from there. Every halfway decent team in the country has multiple Long Island players. Nobody, but nobody, would ever put upstate NY on a par with Long Island for recruiting.
the difference between down south and whatnot is that we play Box lacrosse in the winter...
We literally play all year round. Plus, we play on the reservations.. where the teams over 16 years of age is open. You play against 25 year olds who are veterans of college lacrosse... and you learn the nuances of the game quickly.
Plus, there is fall ball. It doesnt snow unitl november..
Turkeyshoot tourny usually draws about 100 teams.
I think Canada is a big source of talent as well. Denver rode a number of Canadians all the way to the semifinals this year. With Hill Academy playing brother rice annually, and with Michigan reasonably close to Ontario/Toronto, Michigan should have a shot to pull a few Canadians each year.
BTW, fantastic diary. Excellent job!
I think I'm confused how New York athletics work because you said "there were 3 teams that went to the state finals"
How did three teams compete in a state finals?
Thus, I think I'm confused...
Brooks, Sports By?
I'm already looking forward to Part II!
Very cool series of diaries, I look forward to reading the rest of them.
Lucky for UM, we already have a pretty big draw from the major lax hotbed areas. You can't go to UM for four years and not have a handful of friends from Maryland/DC, Long Island and NJ. This will help when a kid is being recruited by UM and he has buddies a year or two older than him, or friends of his older brother/sister who are in Ann Arbor.
We have a lot of alumni in this area too, so it's likely that a handful of top lax recruits who grew up cheering for M because they have have parents or aunts/uncles who are M grads,
near Philadelphia and boys lacrosse was my beat this spring. It's absolutely disgusting how much talent there is around here. There are kids that I will name second-team all-area that are All-Americans. I got to cover the No. 1 team in the country this year, a team that currently has 18 Division I commits (though I'm sure others will commit in the future), and it's ridiculous how much skill they have. The Philly area is really blossoming as a hotbed and had the top two teams in the country this year.
Unfortunately, my player of the year is headed to Notre Dame. I almost decided against naming him the POY because of it! (Kidding.)
my alma mater is #3.. and also undefeated.. unlike your #2
actually don't cover Conestoga, but it's hard to hold a loss to the No. 1 team in the country against them.
Michigan should also try to establish good contacts with Canadian programs/coaches. A lot of Division 1 teams are getting high impact players from our northern neighbors
They could care less about lacrosse here in Alabama. I've been following lacrosse lately and really like it. Thank you for the information. I look forward to part II.
"They could care less about lacrosse here in Alabama. I've been following lacrosse lately and really like it. Thank you for the information. I look forward to part II."
Sorry, pet peeve.
Me, too. It's like, "Please, tell me how much less you could care. A little less? A lot less?"
I'm looking forward to the next three installments.
I'm not very knowledable about the sport but enjoy watching it when it hapens to be on. And of course now that Michigan is playing with the big boys, I'd like to keep up with it to support them as much as possible. Looking forward to the next installments.
I'll pretty much watch any Michigan sport that is on live. Baseball, softball, women's gymnastics, volleyball (which I actually quite enjoy), soccer. I expect to watch lax when it's on.
"How can the contagion be contained?"
and massively popular up here.
But it is nothing next to Gaelic Hurling.
as a marylander, that one of my home state's two official sports (the other is jousting) is blowing up so fast. when michigan lacrosse beats hopkins in 15 years, i will rejoice. don't tell my girlfriend i said that.
edit: all in for michigan jousting!
I'd add that a lot of recruits come from New England prep schools, who themselves recruit athletes for scholarships, and also pull in talented athletes with so-so academics for "one year senior" and "PG" mercenary years.
We (Rockford) lost to that Brother Rice team in the playoffs. We were the only team to have a lead on them going into the second quarter, I think. We were also the only team in MI that they didn't running-clock as far as I know. My memory is fuzzy, but I know we had some weird moral-victory-accomplishment that doesn't make losing to them feel GOOD per se, but the "national champion" thing makes it feel pretty good when your team actually scared them a bit by going into the 2nd quarter up by a few goals. Then, of course, they engaged the overdrive and tore us to shreds. It'd have been nice if they didn't realize the score until much later. Whatevs.