Incredible 2011 lacrosse season is on its way. We have great games across the ESPN networks including this weekend when Siena visits John Hopkins and Georgetown visits Marlyand tomorrow on ESPNU starting at 1 p.m. ET. A much anticipated matchup between No. 2 Virginia at No. 1 Syracuse next Friday at 6 p.m ET on ESPNU.
What is your favorite Major League Lacrosse team even though you cover College Lacrose?
I'd have to say the Long Island Lizards. I've followed them for many years from when my brother Brian was their starting goalie in 2002-03. And one of my closest friends John Gagliardi was an All-Star for most of the past decade. Currently Lizards goaltenders Drew Adams is one of my favorite players to watch right now. Being from the Tri-State area, I've been fortunate to watch the Lizards since the league's inception is 2001.
If you had a crystal ball on your desk which non-traditional or "newer"programs do you think in the next five years enter the top tier of Division 1 lacrosse?
Great question JerseyShoreLax. I wish I could keep it close to home and say Rutgers but that's not the case. I like Denver's ability to draw many of the top players in the west as well as nationally which will allow them to compete in Division I lacrosse. Coach Bill Tierney and his staff will be able to plant its flag in the west and keep a lot of top talent on that side of the country. I also like his nephew Seth Tierney and the job he's done a Hofstra. Hofstra has made it a priority to keep many of the top players in Long Island from going elsewhere. Traditionally Long Island is one of the top two academic powerhouses in lacrosse which will coincide with Hofstra's future success. Additionally Coach Jeff Tambroni at Penn State, with a nationally recognized athletic department, faculties and geographic location, will have Penn State in the Final Four within five years. His success at Cornell is only the beginning of his coaching dominance.
Who is the preseason favorite to win it all this year?
You have to look on paper and think Syracuse with seven returning senior All-Americans as being the team to beat. That group of seniors have won two national titles and after a disappointing 2010 should be hungrier than ever. UVA with its outstanding offense, ND with its defense and Maryland with its attack and defense are all teams that will challenge the Orange.
Paul, who are the favorites for the games this weekend?
I look at Hopkins as a very young and inexperienced team; however the skill set of their youngsters over the course of the last two games has proven that they will be a team that could cause fits for the nations top squads. I expect them to handle Siena at home and improve to 3-0. Although Georgetown looked good at times against Jacksonville last week, they have many questions in the middle of the field as well as settled defense to contain Maryland. I also expect Loyola to handle cross-town rival Townsend tomorrow on ESPN3. Syracuse looks to avenge last season's playoff loss at home against Army. The Black Knights did not perform well in their opener against UMass and they don't have the midfielder to run with the Orange up in the dome.
What are some tips I can teach my son about the game?
Scott, first and foremost watch as much lacrosse on TV as possible. Depending on your overall lacrosse experience you will be able to integrate pieces of other sports into the education process for lacrosse. The team defense from basketball, the hand-eye coordination from hockey, the physicality of football and the endurance of soccer are all prevalent in our sport. The single most effective training tip for your son is for him to play as much wall ball as possible. Consistently using both hands while throwing and catching against the wall will improve his stick skills dramatically.
What ECAC matchup are you looking forward to seeing?
I'm looking forward to seeing Denver travel to Loyola on March 16. Last year's contest propelled Denver to a NCAA playoff birth. Loyola entered the tournament as an at-large bid but controlling your own destiny and winning the head-to0head matchup will most likely give them the playoff sport that each team covets.
For all lacrosse fans week in and week out ESPN will be broadcasting the top matchups nationally. Follow each week as traditional powers get tested and new teams emerge and challenge for playoff spots in May.