Editor's note: Each week, 2005 Tewaaraton winner, four-time Major League Lacrosse all-star and current LXM pro player Kyle Harrison and former Virginia All-American, Major League Lacrosse All-Star and current LXM pro player Brett Hughes will use this space to debate college lacrosse's biggest storylines.
What team has made the biggest statement so far?
Hughes: I'd say Duke (1-2), but not in a good way. What the Blue Devils are going through isn't unheard of -- I went through a little bit of this my senior year at Virginia after we won the NCAA championship. We just went cold. We had plenty of talent and a trio of amazing coaches, but our team may have gotten a bit ahead of itself. Duke looks like a team that is shocked to find out that it is hard to play with a target on its chest. What's funny is that the Blue Devils' stats are not horrible. They're above 50 percent shooting, and overall they have more game balls than opponents and more goals. But if you look a bit closer, 20 of their 30 goals came in the season opener against Siena. Duke put up seven goals against Notre Dame (12-7 loss) in Jacksonville, Fla., and just three against Penn (7-3 loss) in Philadelphia. Zach Howell, who we all know is talented, has 10 goals and two assists -- and nobody else jumps off the page at all. As good as Howell is, if he has no help, Duke won't be a threat. That may seem harsh, but the Blue Devils are loaded with talent, so I think they just need a jolt of leadership to get back to playing the lacrosse that they have become known for.
Harrison: Ha, I'll go the other way with it. Duke is coached too well to keep going down this path, so look for the Blue Devils to bounce back in the next few weeks and get things going. Hofstra had a big win over Princeton, Notre Dame had a big win over Duke (as did Penn), Ohio State upset North Carolina, and Syracuse and Virginia haven't been beaten. I think Stony Brook made a statement last weekend, taking UVa (without Rhamel and Shamel Bratton, I know) into overtime. In my opinion, we haven't had any big statement games yet, but Virginia-Syracuse on Friday (ESPNU, 6 p.m. ET) will determine who is currently the best team in college lacrosse.
What's been the most surprising result?
Hughes: See my answer above -- just kidding. I would say the game that stuck out was Maryland's drubbing of Georgetown. It showed me that the Terps are legit, but at the same time, it seems Georgetown is falling off more and more each year. The Hoyas have talent coming in, but it seems to peak the first day on campus. I want to see some growth from the Hoyas over the season, or they may start to lose the recruiting battle. I think they can right the ship, and I'm pulling for them to make a statement.
Harrison: The most surprising result for me thus far was definitely Duke's loss to Penn. I know Penn has a great program and a handful of talented players, as the Quakers gave us all we could handle a few years in a row at Hopkins. But I definitely didn't see them knocking Duke off! I thought the Blue Devils would come out angry and ready to bounce back after the loss to Notre Dame, but that wasn't the case. I also agree, Hughey, about the Georgetown-Maryland game. I watched the entire thing and thought it was going to be a fairly close game, and then Grant Catalino started dropping G's. The Terps were playing make-it/take-it for a bit there as they were dominating faceoffs. I know it's early in the season, but Maryland looked sharp. When was the last time you saw a long pole let one go low-to-high from 15 yards out? Brian Farrell is absurd in transition.
How does an early loss affect a team's morale? What can teams do to bounce back?
Hughes: Early losses can be a blessing or doom. I know this from experience! If your team has great leadership and a cast of players willing to be led and get better, it can be a great motivation. A one game humbling can lead to a championship run. If, however, a team is a little softer and maybe not equipped to handle a couple of losses (or one big knockout), it can kill motivation for a couple of weeks. So as Kyle and I have seen time and time again, one loss isn't that bad; what causes problems is letting that one loss become a hangover that leads to more.
Harrison: Early losses are definitely tough on any team, without a doubt. For a veteran team, it's usually humbling and motivating and gets it going down the right path. For a young team full of freshman and sophomores who maybe haven't had to deal with an early loss, it can shake them and certainly can cause a hangover. With the parity in college lacrosse right now, every Saturday is a big game, so taking an early loss isn't the end of the world if you're able to rebound and beat a big team the following week.
Which players have exceeded expectations?
Hughes: Virginia's Steele Stanwick is my pick, because he's been a bit overshadowed by all of the hype around the Brattons and Adam Ghitelman. This young man has been great since he got to Charlottesville, but he just had his statement game in Saturday's overtime win over Stony Brook. His sudden-death goal kept the Cavs' perfect season alive and showed he is the quarterback and heart of that team. He may be turning into the next Ben Rubeor. I'd be foolish not to mention Maryland sophomore Curtis Holmes, who is fun to watch on offense and has gone 21-of-30 on the faceoff X. And Stony Brook senior Kevin Crowley, who even in a loss showed he might be the best player in the country.
Harrison: I honestly think it's still too early to judge who has exceeded expectations. That said, I agree about Stanwick 100 percent. He came into the season with a huge target on his back, and he's been able to continue to put up big numbers -- he leads the Cavs with 11 goals and 12 assists -- and make plays when teams plan to stop him. I think we'll be able to judge this a bit better in a few weeks after we're five or six games into the season. I'm interested to see how the young guys at Hopkins and Princeton are playing a few weeks down the road. If Maryland can continue winning draws cleanly and pushing transition after a save, I think we're going to continue to see Catalino have huge games. He's a guy who could certainly exceed all expectations if the Terps keep up this style of play.
Big weekend of lacrosse. Time to make some predictions.
Hughes: Harri, this is going to be an amazing weekend. Looks like we will need to catch a few of these games on the big screen in Las Vegas while hanging out for LXM Pro. I heard Maryland is rocking the yellow gear and Princeton is having a blackout for the game. That said, my favorite game every year is Virginia-Syracuse.
No. 2 Virginia at No. 1 Syracuse
Friday, 6 p.m. ET on ESPNU
Hughes: I got the Wahoos 16-14 in a tight game. Both of these teams will be tested. It's time for all these players to live up to the hype. I'll be interested to see who steps up. Someone always goes off in these games, and it's never anything but fun, fast lacrosse.
Harrison: If I go off instinct, I'd somehow like to see both lose, as I've still got a little fire toward both teams from my playing days at Hopkins. But as a lacrosse fan, this is certainly the game to watch thus far this season. No. 1 versus No. 2, and both teams have playmakers all over the field: Syracuse's Joel White, JoJo Marasco, Tim Desko, Jovan Miller and John Galloway; Virginia's Stanwick, the Brattons, Chris Bocklet and Chris LaPierre, to name a few. It's definitely going to be a shootout, and I'm going with UVa 17-16.
No. 10 Princeton at No. 8 Johns Hopkins
Saturday, 1 p.m. ET on ESPNU
Hughes: Let's go Hopkins. I think coach Dave Pietramala is ready to get back in the mix. The young middies are opening up; Chris Boland is taking over that roll that Michael Kimmel used to own, and the young, huge defense is starting to knock the blocks off its feet and move a bit. I do like Princeton, but I feel like this is a pride game for the Jays. As much as I hate giving you that love, Kyle, I'm pulling for the Hop.
Harrison: It's OK, I pretty much hate anything that's orange, so we'll call it even. Yes, I'm biased, but I'm going with my boys at Hop in this one. Boland, Zach Palmer and Kyle Wharton have been solid all season, and John Ranagan and John Greeley are starting to get comfortable creating opportunities up top. Pierce Bassett is playing very well in the goal, and Matt Dolente looked strong at the X last week.
No. 3 Maryland at No. 19 Duke
Saturday, 1 p.m. ET on ESPNU
Hughes: Maryland by seven. I love the Terps' talent at faceoff, and they are playing as fierce as I can remember. Maryland looks like a team that believes in itself and has the skills to back it up. Duke looks a bit shell-shocked and on its heels. If Maryland jumps out to an early lead as it's been trying to do with its relentless attack, it's going to be a short watch.
Harrison: By seven?! Come on, man! I mean, I know Duke has taken a few tough L's to start the season, but I see the Blue Devils coming out ready to scrap in this one. It's an ACC matchup, so I trust it will be a close game. But after watching Maryland play this past weekend, I've got to go with the Terps, as I think there's only one team in the country playing better than they are right now.