Lax: Midweek Update And Weekend Preview

Submitted by Tim on April 8th, 2010 at 3:42 PM
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Before we get into discussion of the deeper issues facing Michigan lacrosse, Let's take a look at this weekend's opponents. Colorado has been struggling throughout this year, badly enough to change coaches mid-season. Colorado State, on the other hand, has been excellent. They are ranked #2 and are undefeated on the season in the competitive Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Conference.

Colorado

Friday, 7pm MDT, Franklin Field KITTREDGE FIELD, Boulder CO.
Record: 2-5 (0-2 RMLC)
Rankings: Prodigy #22, LaxPower #15, Computer #14
Common Opponents: W 17-7 Simon Fraser
Previous Meetings: 2009 Regular Season (video highlights), 2009 MCLA Playoffs (liveblog).

colorado_96.pngI've talked a few times about how Colorado is a team in disarray. They fired their first-year head coach just a couple games into the season and have limped to a 2-5 record against MCLA teams this year. Those two wins, however, came against respectable competition (Simon Fraser and Lindenwood), so it's not like the Buffaloes are incapable of beating top teams.

colorado_96.pngOffensively, junior attack James Blackburn, a 2009 Honorable Mention All-American, leads the team with 2.71 points per game, and freshman Doug Lilburne isn't far behind at 2.29. Those are the only two CU players over two points per game, however, and the offensive production has really struggled, with the Buffs only breaking into double digits in their two victories on the year. sophomore middies Nick Kupcewicz has impressed, but was suspended for last week's game against Colorado State.

colorado_96.pngOn defense, senior Mike Britt was named an MCLA 1st-Team All-American last year, and his classmate Mike Geocaris earned an Honorable Mention distinction. Sophomore defensive mid Ryan Emerson leads the team in ground balls, closely followed by freshman LSM Hap Knowles. In goal, 4th-year sophomore William Brown and freshman Bradley Macnee have gotten the most playing time. Brown has the higher save percentage, but facies more shots, giving up 8.6 goals per game.

colorado_96.pngMichigan should be able to emerge victorious in this contest. The Buffaloes are talented, but haven't been playing like it yet this year, and are just enter the second week in the system of new head coach Mike Ryder. The Wolverines' ride should be able to prevent an unsettled CU clear from reaching respectable numbers, and Michigan has proven to be able to turn defense into offense, as well as scoring on established possessions. [Ed: CSU and the possibility of a D-I move after the jump.]

Colorado State

Saturday, Noon MDT, Intramural Fields, Fort Collins CO.
Rankings: Prodigy #2, MCLA The Lax Mag #2, LaxPower #2, Computer #2
Common Opponents: W 12-6 Simon Fraser, W 14-10 Arizona State, W 13-8 Arizona
Previous Meetings: 2009 Regular Season.

colorado_state_96.pngWith Chapman falling to Oregon last week, Colorado State has moved up to a unanimous #2 in the MCLA rankings, making for an epic 1-v-2 showdown in Fort Collins. The Wolverines look to maintain their reputation as road warriors, while the Rams will likely be looking to end a 51-game win streak for the opposition.

colorado_state_96.pngCSU hasn't scored a ton of goals this season, with their high of 17 reached against Lindenwood and Utah State (games against non-MCLA Division 1 teams excluded). Offensively, junior attack Cooper Kehoe is the man who makes it all happen. He has 29 goals and 22 assists, both leading the team, and good for 4.63 points per game, 20th in the nation. Fellow front-liners junior Paul Larson and freshman Austin Fisher have 27 and 25 goals on the year, respectively, while Fisher has added 15 assists despite only starting half the team's games.

colorado_state_96.pngDefensively, the Rams are led by senior Andrew Stein, who was a 2nd-Team All American selection last year. In net, senior Alex Jaqcues is the #1 option. He has stopped nearly 60% of the shots he's seen this year, and opponents average 6.20 goals against him.

colorado_state_96.pngFaceoff specialist Scott Gelston has won an outstanding 72.1% of his draws this year, and collected 37 ground balls. Junior long-stick middie Mark Moskovics leads the team in ground balls, with 54.

colorado_state_96.pngThis game should be a serious test for the Wolverines, and there's a very real chance that the win streak is snapped in Fort Collins. Winning faceoffs will be a huge factor, as two of the best in the MCLA will be facing off at the "X." Michigan will have to play well in the transition game (where they've struggled at times against good competition this year), and cut down on the dumb penalties they've been making lately.

BONUS MATERIAL

Coach Paul recently gave an interview to 412 Lax (Part 1, Part 2), that provides some interesting insight into the program. Part 1 covers how the program became the monster it is today:

I remember having this conversation at the end of the summer with Bobby Morales, who was one of the captains on the 2008 team. We were talking about these drastic changes we were going to make and the character of the team. I was warning Bobby that what we were going to do was going to put the team in a bit of turmoil. I remember warning him that we may be a .500 team, something we’ve never been. I said, you as seniors have to be prepared to go through that and to understand that what we are doing is setting up the team for the future. That’s the way we looked at it. We didn’t look at it as an immediate fix.

Bobby looked at me and said, “If you do this, we’re going to win a national championship.”

MCLAChapPaul.jpeg

Obvs that national championship came to fruition and they lived happily ever after. Part 2 of the interview is much more interesting, especially from the perspective of recruiting and what might happen for the program down the road.

I absolutely don’t believe in negative recruiting and we don’t ever compare ourself in that way. What we compare is the university because most of those recruits are looking at small schools. We try to bring recruits in on a football weekend. How you are going to feel about the school for the rest of your life is a pretty big sales pitch. We compare our program to everyone else not competitively but organizationally.

About the potential new facility, Coach Paul is pretty blunt when asked about university support:

412: What does the new lacrosse building say about the school’s support for the program?

JP: Nothing. We are doing it 100% on our own and it was privately funded. It’s being built on private property right next to athletic department property so its in a perfect location.

There's a very important distinction in the funding. The Athletic Department and the Department of Rec Sports are not involved in the building of the facility. Donations from alumni and player parents are rumored to be the sources of the funding, but without any actual information, I don't want to speculate further.

Coach Paul does follow that response up with a sign that varsity lacrosse might be in the cards soon:

It’s safe to say the university is very aware and committed to supporting lacrosse in the future. But, right now, we’re doing the financial things.

412: Do you feel like there is added pressure to win to justify the support the school has given and to help the cause in the future?

JP: It’s fair to say our success has created a buzz on campus all the way up to the highest levels. At this time, which is critical for us with a new athletic director who started a month ago, we need to keep that buzz going. We’re not thinking we need to win this so we can be a Division 1 team or so we can get more support. But, it’s certainly there and it helps us.

412: Is the ultimate goal to be a Division 1 team?

JP: It is. I never would have said that a few years ago with my professional background. I knew the realities here. I knew our old AD was not interested in that. So, it wasn’t something worth pursuing for us.

He says that the next couple years are critical if the transition is going to happen. Michigan lacrosse has reached a point where there is little room for further growth at the MCLA level, and stagnation or regression is possible if they can't move on to the next level (partially because the program's budget at this time relies heavily on donors).

Coach Paul has met AD David Brandon with a preliminary proposal for the development of a varsity lacrosse program at Michigan, and considering the highly positive nature of his comments to 412 Lax ( especially in contrast with previous comments), that meeting must have gone very well. It doesn't mean anything is imminent, but definitely a step in the right direction.

I don't want to blockquote the entire interview, so make sure you check it out on 412 Lax.

Comments

Bronco648

April 8th, 2010 at 1:40 PM ^

If the team moves up to D1, is Coach Paul capable of coaching at that level (no insult intended to anyone, I was just curious about his ability/methods/recruiting/etc.)?

Thanks Tim

phjhu89

April 8th, 2010 at 6:00 PM ^

Tim - thanks for the constant updates, esp. on the front page. I would also say that the extensive, well-reasoned discussions on this topic are also a sign that there would be real fan support here.

MGoShoe

April 8th, 2010 at 7:03 PM ^

...in the Washington Post about the growth of lacrosse in Washington DC area high schools.

Loudoun County's youth league participation has about tripled in the past seven years, said Mark Loving, president of Western Loudoun Lacrosse, one of four youth lacrosse clubs in the county. The Charles County school system in Maryland added lacrosse last year. Montgomery County added junior varsity lacrosse in 2008. Wilson this spring became the first District public school to field a team. Virginia began crowning state boys' and girls' champions in 2006.

More high school teams are having to make cuts. Langley had 100 hopefuls try out and crammed 69 boys onto its varsity and junior varsity squads. The area is producing more top-tier college players, with Loudoun becoming more influential; two seniors there are bound for two-time defending NCAA champion Syracuse.

Cabell Maddux, founder and owner of MadLax, a youth lacrosse enterprise that runs camps and sells gear, said that in 1999, his organization fielded the only all-star travel boys' lacrosse team in the Washington area. Now he counts more than a dozen.

"The boom is on," said Langley Coach Earl Brewer, who helped found McLean Youth Lacrosse in 1982 and who has two young sons involved in lacrosse. "It's the sport kids want to play."

laxalum

April 8th, 2010 at 6:51 PM ^

JP could definitely coach at the D1 level. He should keep Ken Broschart on staff too. I'm sure there are things they would have to do differently (not as much 10-man ride?) and recruiting would be very different (going after sophomores and juniors from the hotbeds), but they have proven they can motivate a team, keep it motivated, make in-game adjustments (watch last year's championship game) and do all the little things that it takes to win. JP is obviously respected in the lacrosse world. It seems like he's pretty tight with a lot of D1 coaches already. He knows the university and the athletic department because of his professional background. He's a Michigan Man.

Hell, even if all that wasn't true, he should be hired just based on what he's done to build the program. I'm biased of course since I played at UM and know him, but I hope that if and when varsity happens they keep him there.

weasel3216

April 8th, 2010 at 7:02 PM ^

I really appreciate the updates and insight you bring to Michigan Lacrosse. It really shows that there is a lot of support out there for the team. Also thank you to all of those that comment on the team, it is great to see so much conversation about a club program.

Another, for anyone really, i have heard on here and have seen the Michigan merchandise link on their site. Does anyone know when Adidas is finishing the Michigan line and when it will be released to the public?

RockyMtnWolverine

April 9th, 2010 at 8:33 AM ^

Any MGoBloggers on the Front Range going to make it to the game in Boulder? Odds are i will be in Boulder that evening, hopefully there will be healthy contingency of M fans there. GO BLUE!

johngoblue

April 9th, 2010 at 10:32 AM ^

Hi Tim - I was planning on going to the M-CU Lax game tonight. You posted the game was at Franklin Field (next to Folsom Stadium) but the CU Lax website, http://culax.org/schedule.aspx, says the game is at Kittredge Field which is by the Coors Events Center. Can you verify which field is correct?

Thanks for the awesome updates!