As Saturday was unfolding, I got the following tweet from SB Nation's Marquette site, Anonymous Eagle:
@anonymouseagleIt's encouraging (especially against HPU), but ... it's still the fall. Different teams approach the games differently.— College Crosse (@SexyTimeLax) October 6, 2012
I thought it was a fair response. Seeing how first-year programs have performed in the past, having an understanding of how a lot of these schools were going to approach the fall, and having a general idea of what Marquette would look to do this past weekend (along with what Marquette was working with in terms of talent), taking a measured approach to the Golden Eagles' double-barreled victory seemed reasonable under the circumstances. Spring lacrosse, of course, is much different than fall lacrosse.
And then the returns started rolling in from the various precincts. First there was Inside Lacrosse's Matt Kinnear (who was on-site in Folsom):
Marquette beats High Point, 13-7 at Colleluori. Very good showing— Matt Kinnear (@mattkinnear) October 6, 2012
Interesting (and very fair). Inside Lacrosse's recap from the weekend was measured as well, but gives an idea of where Joe Amplo has this team, how he approached the weekend's games, and where the Eagles need to go:
“The fall has worked well for us,” Amplo said. “We finally have a full team to practice with. The kids are working their tails off; it’s been a good go. We had 28 kids last year who practiced like crazy and worked hard. We hit two walls, mid-October last year and sometime last March. We pressed the fast forward button to this year. Those kids set a great foundation for us. We built standards and I think have built things the right way.”
Lacrosse Magazine didn't back off of the measured excitement for Marquette following the weekend, providing a sub-headline of "Mark It Down, Golden Eagles Are For Real" and amplifying Amplo's statements (even though the piece doesn't go into why Marquette is "real" or what that exactly means):
Coach Joe Amplo's first recruiting class includes 14 players from his home island. How did he sell them on a small Jesuit school in Milwaukee?
"It's got the same caliber of work ethic and standards that Long Island stands for," Amplo said. "It's a hardworking community that's going to be a challenging environment that holds them accountable. It's similar to the way kids are raised on Long Island."
So here's where we are: Marquette won a couple of fall scrimmages and looked fairly good doing so; a publication has labeled the Golden Eagles as "for real." Let's assume, for the sake of this piece, that the Golden Eagles enter the spring in a decent position, somewhere around the 50th mark overall in terms of adjusted efficiency margin. First of all, that'd be ahead of where Michigan was in 2012, which . . . I'm not sure I'm buying that yet based on two fall scrimmages. But let's say that's true. That means that Marquette will enter 2013 with performance expectations similar to Vermont, Canisius, and Sacred Heart. That'd be an impressive debut for the Golden Eagles, but there is just one problem: I'm not sure the schedule is conducive to show Marquette -- if it is truly "for real" -- as being "for real" for the segment of the lacrosse population that only looks at wins and losses to gauge ability.
The Golden Eagles are playing 13 games in 2013, only two at home in Milwaukee. Unless Marquette poisons some Gatorade jugs or something similarly ridiculous and/or criminal happens, it's highly unlikely that the Golden Eagles are going to drop Duke, Denver, Notre Dame, Ohio State, St. John's, and (probably) Georgetown. The only true beauties for Marquette are still Mercer and High Point. With a host of mid-tier teams -- Air Force, Jacksonville, St. Joseph's, Detroit, and Bellarmine -- that will ultimately define just how "real" the Eagles are for most of the universe.
I still think that the ceiling for Marquette is three wins and anything less than one at this point will likely be a disappointment. First-year programs just haven't exploded on the scene, and I'm still skeptical about the Golden Eagles when the games will matter. Amplo obviously has the program headed in the right direction, and I trust his vision and approach for this program. It's just . . . let's pump the brakes a little bit on what Marquette is and what they'll be staring at in the spring. Expectations are fine, let's just let the Golden Eagles get down the road a little bit.