Welcome to the Inside Lacrosse/ESPN.com Final Four chat. We've got Ned Crotty of Duke coming up first, followed by Rob Pannell of Cornell and Syracuse's Matt Abbott.
Ned's running a bit late, so we'll get started as soon as he gets here. Keep those questions coming, though.
Ned, ive really noticed you break out as a premier feeder this year, much like danowski was the past two years. its almost like you guys are related or something! what do you think is the key to finding the open man?
Hey Mike, I think the biggest thing is to just always have your head up and be ready to feed at anytime. Another big part of being able to find the open man is knowing your own offense and also knowing the slide package that the defense is in. By knowing this stuff you can always have an idea of where people might be on the field.
Ned, you just announced you will be back for the 2010 season. Do you have any specific goals you want to accomplish?
No different than my goals have been in past years, and that is to win a National Championship.
Ned, I have heard you are one of the stricter capitains, how hard is it balancing your social, academic, and lacrosse life? Do you find yourself setting rules for the rest of the team or do they not need that?
Hey Jim, unfortunately I think you may have been given some bad information, I am definitely not a strict captain. Balancing your social, academic and lacrosse life can be difficult, but when you decide to play Division I lacrosse you know that you are going to have make sacrifices. Everyone on our team does a great job of balancing all of these things and the distractions, so luckily no rules really have to be made because our guys are responsible to make good decisions on their own.
Ned, Obviously you have played some outstanding defenders throughout your years at Duke but do any of them match up to your heated high school rivalry with Anthony "Rocco" Bucco? He had to have been the scariest defender in the last 50 years.
Hey Mike, man that is a tough one, I have faced some great defensemen but I do not know if any of them compare to Anthony the "Rocco" Bucco. He was definitely one of the bigger and more intimidating competitors I have faced in my time as a lacrosse player.
Ned, Was there any sense of relief that Hopkins, the team that ended Duke's runs on the last two Memorial Day Weekends, lost last weekend? Or are you disappointed that you won't get another shot at them? Best of luck to you and the team this weekend...
Hey Pete, No i would not say that there is any sense of relief that Hopkins did not make the tournament. This is Final Four weekend so the best four teams are left to fight it out for the National Championship. Hopkins is a great team but we can only be focused on the Orange right now and not worry about who made it and who didn't make it.
This question is for Ned. Have you had a chance to talk with Matt Danowski at all since you've moved to quarterback the team back at 'x' and if so did he give you any valuable advice? Great job this year by the way, I'll be in Boston again rooting for the Blue Devils! Grats to Pannell and Abbott as well!
Hey Jordan, Thanks for cheering us on. I have had a couple of oppurtunities to talk to dino after games and see what he thought or what he saw from his prospective. Anytime you can get advice from a player like him it really helps.
Ok, Cornell's Rob Pannell is here and about to answer questions - we'll go live with him in a minute after Ned is done.
this one's for ned. ned, can you talk a little bit about playing with zach howell on the attack? he seems to have really hit on all cylinders lately and i'm wondering if he talks at all about his lacrosse influences in the locker room, particularly, the great paul james cappelli...former notre dame and garden city high school standout
Playing with Zach has been great this year, I think Zach, max and myself have developed some great chemistry and really compliment each other well. With Zach playing the way he has it has really put more pressure one defenses and made our offense that much more difficult to cover. He has actually talked about this person quite a bit, saying that cappelli is the reason why he chose to play lacrosse and drove him to be the player he is. Although when he talked about him he said he was a Long Island standout, not just a Garden City standout, apparently this Capelli guy was really something.
Rob, What's it like as a freshman quarterbacking an offense that is midfield dominated? Your play reminds many of the late great Eamon Mac, did you ever see him play?
Unfortunately for me I have never seen Eamon play but have heard many great things about the player and teammate he was. That is quite the compliment. As for quarterbacking an offense with such a dominate midfield, it just makes my job that much easier. Max, Johnny, and Rocco are all great players who know the game very well and have helped in my transition to the college game. They are also great to have on the other side of your passes because they are all great scorers.
Cornell is a whole lot different from Quinnipiac where you were heavily recruited. What attracted you to each school, and were you recruited by any other Ivies??
What attracted me to Quinnipiac was that it was a beautiful campus and it was very close to home so that my parents could make the trip to all my games. Cornell however, is a longer trip. Cornells reputation as an ivy league school and the great education I would receive while here along with the tradition and success of the program is what attracted me. Coach Tambroni is also an incredible coach who I have had the opportunity to play for. I was also recruited by Brown and Harvard, but Cornell seemed like the right choice for me.
Rob, You played for Smithtown West and played in a number of rivalry games on Long Island against Smithtown East and others, did you gain experience from high school that helped you against a rival like Princeton?
Playing in those games aginst against rival opponents in high school such as West Islip, Ward Melville, Smithtown East and both Sachem schools along with others definitely helped in playing against a rival like Princeton. Being able to come out confident and compete in the big games at the high level necessary and this started in high school. Also losing some of those games in high school makes you want to win them that much more in the next opportunities you get which have come for me here at Cornell.
Rob, with the fresh young talent that the Ivy League has (with you leading the way), how excited are you that your League is on the way back up as one of elite conferences in the nation?
It's great knowing that you are able to compete against the best and having the Ivy League increasing in talent year after year just makes it that more fun to compete and prepare harder for each opponent. With players like Weidmaier and Fiorito on Princeton and other freshmen in the league the talent is increasing each year and continuing to be competitive which is great.
How's does it feel to be the Ivy League Rookie of the Year?
Its an incredible honor to be named Ivy League Rookie of the Year, knowing the people who have one it in the past such as Max Seibald. Knowing that I was awarded the honor over other freshmen such as Weidmaier and Fiorito on Princeton is quite the honor being that they both had unbelievable seasons as well.
Rob - How is your team planning on slowing down Virginia's transition game?
On offense we are hoping to control the ball and take best shot available as much as possible and at times we think we can run with them. They are a incredibly athletic team thought and is tough for any team to run and gun with them for 60 minutes.
Rob, Who would you say your biggest and craziest fan is?
I would have to say my biggest fan is my mom who is at every game and always there cheering me on, although my sister and uncle are probably going to be mad I didnt say them. Unfortunately I am not as lucky as Rocco Romero on Cornell to have a crazy fan in the pep band, so I would have to say my craziest fan is my sister who although doesnt make it to all my games, is always watching them on the computer and telling everyone she knows about me.
Rob, was lacrossse your favorite sport growing up? Did you play in your town or elite travel teams?
Growing up I was always a big baseball player and had never considered playing lacrosse till 5th grade which is old compared to the age kids start now. The decision to make the transition from baseball to lacrosse was definitely one of the best ones I have ever made though. When I was young I always played on my town teams and during high school I played on Team Long Island during the summer which was a blast.
Rob what has the coaching staff done recently to get the team prepared for success? You've been playing great team lacrosee recently.
Our coaching staff has just been stressing our senior leadership and allowing our seniors to lead the way for us with all the experience they have had in their 4 years here. Coach Tambroni is an incredible motivator and gets the best out of our team in practice everyday. Our preperation in practice has been the key to our success.
Hey Rob, can you talk a little about the leadership of this year's senior class, and what they've done to help prepare some of the underclassmen in getting ready for these huge games.
With the 4 years our seniors have experienced here at Cornell having won 4 Ivy League championships and having been to 1 final four already they know what it takes to compete at the highest level and win at that level as well. Our underclassmen look for them to lead our team and show us the way to victory and thus far they have done that.
Rob, I hope you are happy with your Cornell decision. How have you enjoyed campus life high above Cayugas waters? Good luck Saturday!
The campus has been great. Your always discovering something new to do. It has everything someone would need while away at college and the gorges are unique compared to other college campuses. Thank you for your support.
Who do you think the best defenseman in the NCAA is now?
The NCAA is full of great defensemen and I am going to be facing a few of them this Saturday. Chad Weidameir on Princeton is one of the better defensemen I have faced this year. Syracuse and Duke also have great players on defense who will be showcasing their talents this weekend. As for saying who is the best, I havent faced all of them, but there are a bunch of great defensemen who do particular things well that other do not. One of them happens to be on my team as well in Matt Moyer.
Ok, last segment today - Matt Abbott of Syracuse joins us now.
hey matt, first off what was it like winning the championship last year and how does it feel to be back in the final four to possibly win another one
Winning the championship last year was a dream come true. It's something that I always wanted to be a part of and something that I'll remember from the rest of my life. To be back in the final four and having a chance to win another one is great. I only hope that this year ends like the last one did.
Matt, Can you talk about how practice has been thus far this week? I know that having good practices leading up to the big weekend is crucial to your success there.
You play like you practice. Practice has been good overall so far this week. We've had a chance to see some film of Duke and learn their tendencies and what they do well. All the guys are excited and working hard to try and be as prepared as we can for Saturday.
Matt, how does it feel to be known as the "One Man Clear?" How do you make it look so easy?
Clearing the ball from end to end has been something that I've done since high school and that aspect has just carried over to the college game. Speed and having longer legs definitely helps when opposing players are chasing you down the field.
What is it like to play at Gillette Stadium? How does it compare to the Dome? Go 'Cuse!
Playing at Gillette Stadium is awesome especially with 50,000 fans watching. The atmosphere is definitely different that in the Dome but playing at home in the Dome is always a blast and something that I'll miss.
Matt, you signed my son's sweatshirt after the rutgers game at the dome....thanks. How's galloway feeling and how will you guys slow down duke's transition game.
Duke has a very talented team especially in transition and their style of play is very similar to ours. In order to stop or at least slow down their transition game we're going to need to limit our turnovers at the offensive end and ride them hard when they are clearing the ball. Most importantly we're going to have to hustle back into the defensive end to try and reduce their number of odd man breaks.
Quick question: what gets you going more, A sick feed from the outside then nailing it over goalie weakside shoulder? or Drilling a side arm shot "upper larry", which means left handed and top left corner...? your thoughts...
As long as the ball gets in the back of the net that's all that matters to me, despite how it got there.
Matt, Are you enrolling in the Master of Finance program at the Whitman School next year? If so, do you plan to somehow tie that into lacrosse, say working for a product manufacturer? Or will you try to coach some day and continue to play?
Yes I am enrolling in the Master of Finance program at the Whitman School next year. I would love to stay around the game whether that's coaching or working for product manufacturer or anything to stay involved in the game. Hopefully while at grad school next year i'll be able to help out with the team here at SU.
Ok, that concludes our chat for the day - thanks to Ned, Rob and Matt for stopping by. We'll do one more to wrap up the season after this week, so check back for more.
Also, don't forget to head to InsideLacrosse.com this weekend for all the news, info and live coverage of NCAA Championship Weekend from Foxboro.