Thursday, October 19

[MLL REPORT] TEAM USA: Roster Speculation

TEAM USA: Roster Speculation 
 
We saw an extended look at Team USA last weekend at the new US Lacrosse facility in Maryland. Their 47 man group was split into two teams, one playing Maryland the other playing Towson. Both squads came up on top. The Blue team defeated an impressive Maryland Terp team, 10-9 and the White team cruised by Towson, 22-2. After watching both games let's predict what the final 23 man roster will look like when Team USA heads to Israel this summer for the FIL World Championships.

IMO this roster is going to be constructed with defeating the reining World Champion Team Canada in mind. The Canadians were the only team that gave the US a meaningful game in 2014. In fact, Canada has won two of the last three World Games.

I certainly don't envy Coach John Danowski and his staff, as they have to cut this amazing array of talent to a final 23 man roster

Let's give it a shot ...  Here is my prediction of what the final roster will look like ...

Attack
Rob Pannell - Pretty much a lock. The best X attackman in the world. Was a member in 2014.
 
Marcus Holman - The energizer, great on the break, on the ride and in unsettled situations. To me is a complete player. Had a great season for the MLL Champion Ohio Machine. Was a member in 2014.
 
Will Manny - May be a surprise to some, but to me there isn't a better left handed attackman in the US at present time. He continues to improve. Massive fall scrimmage with seven goals vs Towson.
 
Matt Danowski - This pick shouldn't surprise anyone. After all, his dad is the coach. He has proven to be a top player over the years and will be a big contributor. Proverbial coach on the field. Me personally, I would choose Dylan Molloy. I wouldn't count on that though.

Jordan Wolf - like Pannell does his best work at X. He is the most electrifying attackman in the MLL. He is familiar with Coach Danowski from his Duke days. I would be shocked not to see him on the final roster.

Midfielders
Paul Rabil - MVP of the 2010 games, Rabil will be looking for revenge after the 2014 second place finish. I don't think he is the devastating downhill dodger he once was, but has really added to his total game, especially his passing. Was a member in 2014 & 2010.

Myles Jones - big, strong, physical, Jones will be a primary dodger for Team USA from the midfield. He will take a lot of pressure off Rabil and Schreiber.

Tom Schreiber - may be the top player in the world currently. Has had a massive 2017, earning the NLL ROY Award indoors. In the summer was MLL MVP for the Champion Ohio Machine.
 
Connor Buczek - I love the physical, competitive presence this Florida Launch midfielder brings. Can play both ends of the field, and has one of the harder shots in the MLL. Buczek also, has defensive experience from his experience playing for the Toronto Rock in the NLL.

Ned Crotty - This spot to me,  comes down to Crotty and Joe Walters. Both lefties would act as swingmen for Team USA. I think Crotty's Duke affiliation is the difference though. Can't go wrong with either guy, IMO. Crotty was a member in 2014.

SSDM
Matt Abbott - The Swiss Army Knife of the team. He is capable of playing in any situation for USA. Member in 2014.

Jake Bernhardt - Maybe a long shot, but like Abbott and Buczek I like his versatility. If Team USA wants to go more offensive, Drew Snider could be an option as well.

LSM
Joel White - To me, quite simply the best LSM in the game. Also, very much used to playing against Canadians in the NLL for the Champion Georgia Swarm. Could also play SSDM if needed.
 
CJ Costabile - This spot could very well go to Scott Ratliff. Costabile also has the ability to face off. If only one FOGO is selected, his chance of making the team increases. Another reason I think they will go with Costabile is the international game is a bit slower paced and Ratliff's transition abilities are minimized to some extent.

Defense
Tucker Durkin - Didn't play last weekend due to injury. But Durkin should be a lock with his size and strength around GLE. Also was MLL Denfensive Player of the Year in 2017. Was a member in 2014.

Liam Byrnes - The more I see Byrnes the more impressed I am. Can play close defense or LSM. Also has NLL experience with the Georgia Swarm.
 
BJ Grill - Like Byrnes is a Marquette alum. Defensive Coordinator Joe Amplo is the Marquette coach, so both will be familiar with the defensive schemes. I could see Grill matching up with Canada's Jeremy Noble in the tournament. He would be the only left handed defenseman on this roster.
 
Micheal Evans - Classic stay at home defenseman. He will have the strength to match up with the likes of Curtis Dickson, Kevin Crowley, etc. Was a member in 2014.
 
Jesse Bernhardt - Like Byrnes, can play up top or down low. Also could be a factor on the FO wings as well. Was a member in 2014.

FO
Trevor Baptiste - Looks to be the best of a strong group. He had some great battles with Canada's Jake Withers in NCAA play last year.
 
The Beast - I feel his spot could be in jeopardy if Danowski elects to take one FOGO. That said, I think he will take two, and if so, Guerenlian could also serve as a de facto coach for Baptiste as well. Was a member in 2014.

Goalie
John Galloway - Goalie may be the toughest position to pick. Galloway has the experience, the outlet pass game and is a great field general.
 
Drew Adams - I am a believer in the lefty / righty dynamic. So the lefty gets the nod over Jack Kelly. Was a member in 2014.

We may have to wait to springtime for the final roster to be announced. Until then let the debate begin! Where am I right? Where am I wrong? Thanks for the time.
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Friday, October 13

Lax Linkage

"Wall Ball progression to help dial in throwing technique. A large focal point within this progression has to do with kinematic sequencing, the order of operations. We are looking to get our hips to turn then our shoulders which brings ours hand and stick through lastly. When sped up to full speed, the root of this drill can help increase your shot power drastically." [youtube: Martin Bowes]
  • ARTICLE: "Interview // MYLES JONES & ADIDAS Are Changing The Style of Lacrosse" [nicekicks.com]
  • VIDEO: "DREW SNIDER buried the game winner to help the U.S. men’s national team beat MARYLAND, his alma mater, by a 10-9 score in the opening game of the Team USA Fall Classic." [youtube: US Lacrosse]
  • VIDEO: "Despite some rainy conditions, The YALE mens lacrosse team hosted a fall round robin scrimmage, hitting both PROVIDENCE College fairs and COLGATE University." [youtube: LaxDotComTV] 
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Thursday, October 5

[MLL REPORT] "Boston Cannons Barney: What went wrong?"

The Boston CANNONS and former GM Kevin Barney parted ways a couple of weeks ago.  From everything I have seen, Barney is a first class guy and it's always a drag when someone loses such a great gig in the lacrosse world.  That said, there were a series of events that led to his demise as the Cannons fell to the basement in the 2017 season.

MLL Semi Finals 2015:  This was the beginning of the end for Barney and his tenure. The date was August 1st and the Cannons were defeated by the NY LIZARDS in overtime, 16-15.  OBTW, the Lizards went on to win the MLL title.

In the overtime period goalie Adam Ghitelman ran the length of the field on a fast break, took a shot and was robbed by Drew Adams. Seconds later Paul Rabil fed Matt Gibson for the game winner. I firmly believe if the Cannons had won that game, they would have gone on to win the title.

I have watched the Cannons since the inception of MLL, to me this was their best team (even better than the one that won the title in 2011).  The roster composition and style of play were unique and successful.  The use of two way mids was something that was providing a winning formula.  That fateful game against the Lizards had offensive mids (Kevin Buchanan, Ryan Tucker & John Glesener) they had “flex mids (Max Seibald, Drew Adams, Josh Hawkins & Marty Bowes).  Lastly, they had what I call the most unique player in MLL…Scott Ratliff as their LSM.  His work on both ends of the field and on the FO wing brought the Cannons something nobody else had.  Shit, look at him with the Atlanta BLAZE this year….he sometimes runs most of the game at midfield with his longpole!  For good measure rookie Joe Nardella was the FO man that night.

After that loss things have gone sideways for the Cannons.

Losing Tucker and Expansion:

The Atlanta Blaze entered the MLL in 2016, and the Cannons HC was lured away to lead the new franchise down south.  I thought at the time this would be a huge blow, and it was!  Tucker was the architect of the team, his style of play was an exciting and a winning formula.  The Cannons have not made the post season since his departure as HC of the BC.  He did return this season as an assistant coach after he didn’t even make it through one season in the ATL.  That is a different story for a different post.

Something for Nothing:

Unfortunately for the Cannons Scott Ratliff is an Atlanta native.  The reality of the MLL is the Cannons were forced to deal him to the Blaze.  Brodie Merrill was obtained in a trade for Ratliff. Merrill is an all-time great, and it would seem that he would be a decent return for Ratliff.  Problem is Atlanta picked up Merrill from the Cannons in the expansion draft.  They lost Ratliff for NOTHING. A result of poor GMing.

Ryan Tucker had a fine rookie season in 2015, he was a top five pick from VIRGINIA and looks the part as an MLL offensive midfielder.  He is a big, strong, powerful dodger and shooter.  He's also the son of John Tucker.  For obvious reason he wanted to follow his dad and play in Atlanta.  Problem for me is, Tucker was picked in the expansion draft.  Why on earth would you leave a young midfielder unprotected?  So he can play for daddy?  C’mon man…SOMETHING FOR NOTHING.

Rookie John Glesener was a tour de force that fateful evening for the Cannons.  He carried the team on his back scoring their last couple of goals. His size and skill make him a prototype MLL midfielder.  There is one big issue though, he hasn’t played since in the MLL.  He played for West Point and his military commitments have prevented him from playing in 2016 & 2017.  Cannons lose a great player with no compensation.  Sound familiar?

Throw in the loss of the athletic Brent Adams in free agency to Denver OUTLAWS. Adams resides in Denver so again I can’t hammer Barney too much, but once again…SOMETHING FOR NOTHING.

The other midfielder who played that fateful evening was Marty Bowes.  This, I will hammer Barney for.  Bowes is the type of player every MLL team needs, a competent local player.  No one will argue he was the best player that evening, however he is someone that can play both ends of the field and is a professional in every way.  He was pretty much thrown in the trash by the Cannons  last year.  He went on to play for the Florida LAUNCH this season.  Anyone who has come into contact with him is not surprised he played a part in the Launch making the playoffs. A local guy, active in the local lax scene, no travel to worry about, and a competent player. To discard card Bowes was a moronic move.  Once again…SOMETHING FOR NOTHING.

Now Josh Hawkins has left via free agency this week to the Denver OUTLAWS, one more time, SOMETHING FOR NOTHING.

The Cannons are one of a few teams to have a legit fan base.  A home playoff game in late August might draw a crowd in excess of 10k. The league needs the Cannons to thrive in order to help the soft attendance numbers.

The draft has been a disaster the last couple of years as well.  In the 2016, they drafted only defenseman Branden Mullins, and he has made an impact. The jury is very much out on Barney’s 2017 class. Sergio Perkovic was picked 2nd, but played very little due to a wrist injury suffered at NOTRE DAME during the spring.

The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was the infamous Will Manny trade this year.  Manny was arguably the team’s best and most popular player and a member of Team USA. He was traded mid season along with Joe Locasio for Dave Lawson and Chris LaPierre.  There was one big problem though. Both Lawson and LaPierre refused to report to Boston.  The Cannons lost every game post Manny trade. Manny was given to the Lizards with no compensation. 

So today we sit here and the Cannons do not have one player on the Team USA roster.  FO man Joe Nardella who tore an ACL in the last game of 2017 would have been on the list if not injured. How can the Cannons not have one of the top 46 players in the USA? Finger should clearly be pointed at Barney and his roster composition post John Tucker. 

It must be noted that the team does a great job with charities and are very visible in the Boston sports community.  But that isn’t what this is about.  As we stand today the Cannons finished in last place and have the league’s worst roster. The new GM has a lot of work to do. The one silver lining is they will pick first in the upcoming MLL draft.  More on that in next post.  Good luck. Thanks for the time.

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Monday, September 25

MONDAY Lax Linkage, For The Lacrosse Lover In You ...

Time Warp Tour || Beach Dogs Lacrosse Camp: [youtube: Owen Moy] 
  • VIDEO: "FOA BEAST Lab - Drills To Avoid" [youtube]
  • VIDEO: "Should you use a Wide or Narrow Lacrosse Head for Attack?" [youtube: Mako Sports] 
  • VIDEO: "2017 WESTERN NEW ENGLAND UNIVERSITY Hall of Fame Introduction - 2007 Men's Lacrosse Team " [youtube: WNE Athletics]
  • VIDEO: "HERITAGE CUP PROMO - The 2017 Heritage Cup, an international box lacrosse game between Canada and the U.S., will be played at the First Ontario Centre in Hamilton, Ontario on October 21. [youtube: Canadian Lacrosse Association]
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Thursday, September 21

[BOXLA] Inside The Boards:

 This week on Inside the Boards we will recap the Mann Cup, share some initial thoughts on the NLL Draft and touch on the latest expansion news. Lastly, in case you didn’t notice the Presidents Cup had some serious talent this season. 
  
The summer box season came to a close this week with the Peterborough Lakers coming away with a 4-2 series win over New Westminster Salmonbellies to capture the 2017 Mann Cup.  Not to brag or anything, but if you read the last Inside the Boards that was the predicted result.  I must admit things were not looking good after New West took a 2-0 series lead.  Many said it would take the champs a few days to get acclimated to the surroundings in British Columbia.  That turned out to be the case.

A couple of take always from the action, although I did dose off in the later stages of most of the games!  First of all the Lakers utilized a two goalie system with Evan Kirk and Matt Vinc sharing the cage.  It must be nice to have two world class goalies fresh for each game played.  Alex Buque was valiant for New West, one has to think playing six games in eight days in cage was too tall an order.

I was really impressed with the left side for New West, especially Mitch Jones, he was a beast in the series coming off a breakout season with the Buffalo Bandits in 2017.  But in the end the Lakers had too much depth for the Bellies to overcome.  The usual suspects of Shawn Evans, Curtis Dickson and Adam Jones were formidable (although Mitch Jones, Logan Schuss and Kevin Crowley finished 1,2,3 in scoring for the series).  Guys like Turner Evans, Holden Cattoni and Kyle Buchanan gave the Lakers the little extra needed to take the cup.
Shawn Evans won the Mike Kelly award as the series MVP for the second time going for 11g & 19a for the series.   In the deciding game he came out of the gates quickly putting in 3 goals in period one.  IMHO Evans may be the most underrated players in the world.  He may not be familiar to the casual lacrosse fan in the USA, but he has won everything there is to win in the box game.  It was his 5th Mann Cup win!

One final note, the turquoise hardwood floor is amazing in New West!

NLL Draft

The NLL draft took place on Monday, September 18th.  Pretty much all of the mock drafts had Josh Byrne and Zach Currier going 1 and 2 to Buffalo and Rochester respectively.  Some were speculating that Currier coming off his Mann Cup performance may overtake Byrne for the top spot.  Currier was a beast in transition for the Lakers chipping in with 4g & 5a in the series.  In addition he had an outstanding summer in MLL with the Denver Outlaws.  But the reigning MLL Rookie of the Year, Byrne was the Bandit selection.  He figures to step in on the Bandit left side.  You really couldn’t go wrong with either player.

When I heard the second selection I nearly fell out of my chair as Rochester selected Currier’s Peterborough teammate Jake Withers with the second selection.  I will go on record and say the KHawks will regret this decision.  In my eyes Currier is the more versatile of the two and will have a much bigger impact.  Withers is a top FO man, but doesn’t possess the all-around game.

The Bandits made another huge move picking up Jordan Durston from Vancouver in exchange for Anthony Malcolm and the #12 pick.  Buffalo came into the draft light on lefty forwards…problem solved with Durston and Josh Byrne.
Other than that I would say very few of the players taken will have a big impact this season.  The talent pool is so deep just making active rosters will be a major accomplishment.  The two teams coming in next year is going to open up spots and provide opportunity.  Speaking of expansion …..
Philly is Back!
In another of the worst kept secrets the city of Philadelphia will be back in business, although the Wings name was not officially announced.  I would be shocked if it was not the Philly Wings.  Welcome back to one of the most iconic NLL teams.  Once again Commish Nick Sakiewicz deserves a massive amount of credit.  He brings in another deep pocketed ownership group in COMCAST and the $5 Million expansion fee.  To me there is enough talent to easily stock these new rosters in Philly and San Diego.

Presidents Cup
The Mann Cup is the top prize in Canadian lacrosse, the “B” division Presidents Cup had some great talent in the 2017 edition.  The Alberta entrant St Alberts Miners came away with the finals win over the Six Nations Rivermen.  That was their second consecutive win.  The final nine team tourney was held in Six Nations.
 
Stay tuned for more box coverage Inside the Boards in the coming weeks.  Thanks for the time.



 
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Monday, September 11

MINTO CUP 2017 Champs video and more ...

"SIX NATIONS ARROWS "TOGETHER" // Ep.3 - The Six Nations Arrows culminate their season with one of the most difficult lacrosse championships to win: The Minto Cup." [VisionWearLacrosseCo]
  • VIDEO: "The Rules Of Lacrosse - 2018 Sizzle Reel" [vimeo: Honest Engine Films]
  • ARTICLE2017-2018 National Lacrosse League Schedule Announced [nll.com] 
  • VIDEO: 2017 Heritage Cup - DHANE SMITH Q & A.  [youtube: Canadian Lacrosse Association]
  • ARTICLE: "Lacrosse League Expands to San Diego With Alibaba Billionaire" [bloomberg.com]
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