"He's a hard worker, and he watched me and Tim (Hardaway Jr.) and Nik (Stauksas) put work in to become (first-round picks), and I'm just happy he's getting better," Burke said. "It's great for the program, too. It shows what type of program the University of Michigan is and the direction it continues to go in."
It's been a couple months. Time for another off-season lacrosse update, right?
The Wolverines played in a pair of Fall Ball scrimmages this year, one against MCLA D2 squad Grand Valley State, and one against NCAA D3 Denison. The Wolverines beat GVSU 16-10 in the first scrimmage (pictured at right, with your humble blogger lurking in the background). They jumped out to a 5-0 lead before Grand Valley got on the board, and led by as many as seven goals in the contest. Coach Paul was not pleased:
“You go into a fall-ball scrimmage just wanting to get a clear sense of where you really stand on things and I think we got that tonight. We’re in a horrible place right now, but that’s a combination of a lot of things.
One of the bigger stories from the game was Grand Valley's Cam Holding, who scored 5 goals and assisted on 3 more. It's unclear whether he'll be eligible to play for the Lakers in the spring, but if so, MCLA's second division had better watch out.
In the second scrimmage, against varsity D3 squad Denison, the Wolverines fell by a 15-7 count in six informal quarters. Coach Paul's post-game comments seem to indicate that the Wolverines are lacking in chemistry with the departures from last year's squad:
“I think we’re behind where we’ve been in the past couple of years, but I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that we’re playing so many different guys this year, especially at midfield. We’ve switched coaching spots, and we’re having the guys do a lot of different stuff in terms of technique, so I think it’s just a matter of time. Right now, we just don’t have that sort of chemistry yet.
It's a much younger team than it has been the past couple years, but hopefully they'll be able to iron everything out by the time the regular season kicks off in February.
In the final action of the fall, the West squad prevailed over the East 11-10 as junior Austin Swaney tallied the winning goal with no time left on the clock. Alas, I was unable to attend the game, so I can't provide any analysis of the result.
The team will return to practice after New Year's, and kick off the season with a scrimmage against Bellarmine on January 29th.
The Varsity Push
Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon was recently interviewed in Crain's Detroit Business, talking about what he plans to do in his time as the leader of the AD. This snippet in particular doesn't sound very encouraging:
He has no plans to add sports or new facilities... but instead will look at things such as value-added ticketing and improved concessions.
No means no, right? Well something else happened to catch my eye:
Branding is just one aspect of Brandon's overhaul of the $105 million athletics program that has 749 student-athletes in 27 sports and about 250 employees.
I could have sworn that Michigan currently only offers 25 varsity sports... and a rudimentary check of MGoBlue.com seems to confirm that. So what does it mean? Well...
Director of Operations Joe Hennessey and Coach Paul have started podcasting, and the first two episodes are available on Lacrosse-Radio.com. Podcast 1 talks at length about the ongoing varsity push from the program. Relevant portion 1:
Our other goal this year is to put us in position to be the next varsity team at Michigan. And we're really excited that we think we have a pretty strong opportunity to make that happen, and this is kind of the pivotal year right now. Our Athletic Director has made clear that he's in support of that agenda and wants to see this team do certain things that he's asked them to do.
When Hennessey asks Coach Paul if going varsity has always been the goal for the program, the answer has another interesting snippet:
I think it's always been in the back of our minds, we just had to have the perfect storm of things come together. And you know knock wood, we think those things are coming together right now. We hope they are.
MgoReader seniorbearcat reports that Brandon said D-1 lacrosse is on the way for men and women, which seems to confirm all the circumstantial evidence. Inside Lacrosse even picked up the post, and Brandon gave a bunch of non-commital quotes, including that he's "very interested" in adding lacrosse. He also says the AD is in "investigation mode," but the numbers were crunched by the time a formal proposal was presented to him, so that sounds like a delay tactic.
Altogether, it sounds like varsity lacrosse is on the way. As far as timeline, I would guess a spring/summer announcement is most likely, with the squad first suiting up for the 2013 season in a couple years. I don't want to spend too much time on one section of the update, so I'll end here, but there's a lot more to talk about if true, so I'll devote a post to it in the near future. Feel free to discuss in the comments, of course.
MCLAMag.com released their All-Decade team, and one former Wolverine made the cut, along with a current member of the team. Brekan Kohlitz (pictured at right), Michigan's faceoff specialist from 2005-08 and the first-ever MCLA player to be drafted by Major League Lacrosse, was one of the honored players. He'll play for the National Lacrosse League's Washington Stealth this winter.
The other honoree hasn't even finished his career in maize-and-blue yet, as Harrison Freid's 3 All-American seasons were enough to land him on the All-Decade squad. The team captain will look to earn his third-straight First-Team All-American honor this spring, after being a third-teamer as a freshman.
Elsewhere in honors, All-MCLA preseason teams haven't come out yet (that I'm aware of), but expect them to be littered with Wolverines. Freid and attackman Trevor Yealy were first-team All-American postseason selections last year, with long-stick midfielder Matt Asperheim and goalie Mark Stone getting third-team and honorable mention distinction, respectively. Expect even more guys on the All-Conference teams, as the postseason list last year was even more heavily Michigan-focused.
The official site breaks down the 2011 schedule in slightly more depth than I have so far. A more comprehensive preview forthcoming in this space as the season approaches, of course.
Podcast 2 breaks down the current roster with Coach Paul, and is required listening for anyone who wants to be primed for what they should be watching for once the team hits the field again. The third edition features defensive coordinator Ken Broschart (formerly the offensive coordinator) discussing the personnel under his charge.
First-year Wolverine Pat Stansik (a transfer who played Division-1 lacrosse at Bucknell for a couple years) blogs for Inside Lacrosse, and also let me know he has been posting Michigan Lacrosse video blogs on his Youtube channel:
Lacrosse is huge down here in Atlanta, and my youngest son is an awesome midi. A little too early to predict what his scholarship options might be, but if he continues to play at a high level, would love for M to be an option for him.
I'm a former player and a big follower of the lacrosse program and wish them the best of luck in their quest for Division 1 status.
I'm going to watch the soccer game tonight and root like hell for Michigan. It's hard to believe that the soccer program is only ten years old. Their first year in Division 1 was when I was a freshman. By the time I was a senior they had made the NCAA tournament. Only ten years in and they're in the Final 4! What great progress! Let's hope Michigan lacrosse can replicate that same success! Go Blue!