Welcome to another Inside Lacrosse chat. This week, we have North Carolina senior defenseman Ryan Flanagan chatting with us.Flanagan and UNC take on Johns Hopkins this weekend in the Konica Minolta Big City Classic at New Meadowlands Stadium. UNC is coming off a big win at Maryland, and the Blue Jays are coming off a big win against Virginia.
Should be a fun weekend in New Jersey. Ask your questions for Flanny now.
What's the single most important attribute for a defensive lacrosse player (and why)?
In my opinion, I think the single most important attribute for a defensive lacrosse player is your footwork. If you can't stay in front of the person you are defending, it is going to be a long day. The second most important attribute would be your ability to communicate with your teammates on defense.
What are your predictions for the four semifinalists in this year's tournament at this point of the season?
It is a long season and there have been a ton of surprises already. I am not sure who will be in the final four but I am sure there will be some new faces.
Flanny, good luck against Hop this weekend. Who do you see matching up best with John Ranagan? He seems to be a similar type player to Catalino from MD.
I am not sure Catalino is a great comparison for John Ranagan. Grant is a right-handed attackman while John is a left handed midfielder. John is a great player that will draw the attention of our entire defense. We try not to look too much at individual match ups and focus more on working as a cohesive unit. Match ups change so much through out the course of a game that we ask each member of our defense to be prepared to match up with anyone on the opposing team.
Hey Ryan. I was wondering; What does it take to be a good athlete, but also a good defender? I am knew to d for my jv and I am battling for the final starting spot. Can you please help. Thanks
I would love to help! As I mentioned earlier, working on your speed with a speed ladder or jump rope will help you out. You should also focus on your strength, stick skills and your ability to communicate. If you play as hard as you can all the time, your coach will have no option but to find a place on the field for you.
Who on the NC squad has an influential role that we (as common fans) might not here a lot about?
Mike Burns, Chris Hunt, Ryan Creighton and Mark McNeil are HUGE parts of our team that you rarely hear about. They all play in the defensive midfield and are asked to know everything we do as a team, offensively and defensively. We need them to play well in order to be successful.
What's up Ryan, glad to have you chatting with us. I played with a guy named Brian Templeton (probably never heard of him) back in the late 60's and he always told me that if you're not trying to become the best, why play? You are absolutely one of the best in the game, and maybe an all-time great at Carolina. Is that something you've always set out for? Or is it just a product of hard work?
Wow! Thank you! I am going to have to respectfully disagree though. My father always taught me that success in team sports is measured on how you do as a team and how many championships you win. I still have a lot of work to do to be considered amongst the all-time greats at Carolina!
From a Defensive standpoint, I noticed you guys dropped into zone against Maryland last week. Having watched you for a few years now, I know you thrive against offensive players in the open field. How do you feel about that?
I love to win and don't care what defense we play as long as we are successful in it. We have been playing better defensively since our first game and have limited 6 of our last 7 opponents to single digits while using a variety of defenses.
Being a Long Island native, how big is it for the NYC area to have a big-time DI triple-leader at the Meadowlands on Sunday? It's really the closest major college lacrosse event to the Big Apple.
I think it is huge for lacrosse to be played at the Meadowlands so close to New York City. The game is growing at a very quick rate and this is evident by it now being played at such a prestigious venue.
Ryan, congrats on your big victory against Maryland last week, what's it going to take for you guys to win the always tough ACC?
To win in the ACC you need to be mentally and physically prepared for each game but you also need to play with a lot of heart and a little swagger. Each team in the ACC is loaded with unbelievable athletes and it is often the mental and emotional aspects that make a difference in games.
Hey Ryan,Given your recruiting process, does playing Hopkins have any extra meaning or importance?
I try to approach each game with the same attitude. I love to win and if you don't play as hard as you can every game it is going to be a long day.
Do you think stick technology has been a big part of lacrosse over the past 15 years? Or has it been some type of...say, non...technology that has changed the game?
I think it is a combination of both. I think stick technology plays a role in how the game has evolved. There is no arguing that the stick work has taken a hit with players using very deep mesh pockets but I think the evolution of athletes has also played a role.
Athletes are now bigger, stronger and faster than before and the game has had to adapt because of it. The way the game is coached has also evolved because of the different athletes and stick technology.
UNC is coming off their biggest win of the year, beating Maryland at Byrd stadium for the first time in a while. Hopkins is coming off their biggest win of the year, beating Virginia at home for the first time in a while. Do you think both teams will be riding a lot of confidence going into this game, and how will that affect the contest?
I think both teams are just looking for their 2011 season identity. Both have excellent coaching staffs that recognize that a win last week is great but the next game is always your biggest game. Both teams recognize that the game is being played in the beginning of April and championships are won in May. I think you can expect both teams to compete as hard as they can for a 60 minutes of lacrosse.
Ryan's gotta run, but the Inside Lacrosse staff will stick around for a few questions.
Thanks to Ryan, and catch him and North Carolina against Johns Hopkins in the Big City Classic. Also playing are Rutgers-St. John's, and Duke-Syracuse.
Who do you think will be the VCU of May's NCAA Division I Men's Lacrosse Championship?
VCU in what way? The low-seeded team that makes it far? The bubble team that sneaks in and performs well? Or the unknown team that turns people's head? Obviously comparisons are tough, and there's a lot of speculation in this answer without knowing the AQs or who'll end up on the bubble. That said, how about Hartford? Peter Lawrence has his team 7-3, they have close losses to good teams in UMass and Bucknell and if they can somehow take the AE AQ, they've got the type of personnel that can make for a tough first-round matchup.
Which conferences would you consider to be the top three conferences in the country?
Top three in what sense, have the best teams in terms of national rankings and competition, or the most compelling and competitive within just that conference
Because if we are talking the best three conferences in terms of how good those teams are individually, the ACC is a powerhouse like always, with probably all four teams making the tournament. The Big East has great teams like Syracuse and Notre Dame, a surprising Villanova squad this year, and a Georgetown team that can't seem to win but sure gives everyone a tough run, and the third conference might be the ECAC or Patriot League.
But if we are talking about best conference in terms of intrasquad competition and how will win the AQ, then there are a few. The Colonial is going to be anyone's guess right now with not only who will win but what four teams will even make the conference tournament. The Patriot League looks like Army's to lose, but with how well Bucknell, Colgate and Lehigh have played at points this year, and how tough Army v Navy always is, there could easily be some upsets on the path to their AQ. And though Cornell looks like the class of the Ivy League, Dartmouth has been enjoying playing the spoiler, Yale looks good, Brown is tough, Harvard can score with anyone, and I just can't imagine Princeton fading out of this season this quietly; they'll beat someone big before May.
Sorry ACC, you're barely a conference with only four teams, and with no AQ, I don't find that conference to be an interesting story line, we all know it too well. They trade a bunch of wins, they play the ACC tournament to beef up SOS, and then all four make the tourney.
Who are the frontrunners for this year's Tewaaraton Trophy?
Everyone coach, player, former player and educated fan I've talked to this season that's seen Cornell attackman Rob Pannell play has raved about his performance. Obviously Villanova longstick Brian Karalunas has received a ton of attention as the Wildcats have had a good start, and the subsequent positive wave of public sentiment seems strong enough to keep him solidly in the mix the rest of the way.
Steele Stanwick and Shamel Bratton at Virginia have done their part to keep in the mix, and while Kevin Crowley seems to be playing at the level he did last year, Stony Brook's struggle to win some games will hurt him. Outside of those five, Maryland and Syracuse haven't had the type of season in which one guy has emerged, and Carolina and Duke are relying on young guys that Tewaaraton voters aren't the familiar with and, as a result of not seeing them consistently perform, reluctant to give a nod to.
That's all folks. Thanks for joining us and thanks to Ryan Flanagan for chatting. Be sure to visit BigCityClassic.com for tickets this weekend, and InsideLacrosse.com for coverage.