Jim O'Connor-US PRESSWIRE
The first team has inclusions from 12 schools, which is super fantastic.
I get worked up about a lot of things: how the History Channel airs a series called "The Men Who Built America," highlighting major figures in the American experience, and instead of interviewing historians instead interview guys like Mark Cuban to talk about Cornelius Vanderbilt; my dislike of mayonnaise and why people -- despite the fact that it tastes like fermented dog poop -- still shove that crap into their throats; the lack of hoverboards in 2012; etc. These are important things to get vocal about. Preseason All-America lists aren't one of those things.
Now, preseason All-America lists aren't necessarily on my things-to-explode-over list not because I don't think they're important or fun (they are, and highlighting these guys helps bring into focus some cats that may not otherwise get recognition before the season starts), it's just that worrying about whether a guy is first team or honorable mention or whatever (or even left off a list) is just December chatter. I'm generally cool with Face-Off Yearbook's run, even if it lists 92 gentlemen of lacrosse scholarship in some odd places.
Rather than pick apart the entire list, I'll put together what I think would be my first-team list with some short explanations and reasoning. We can then have a complaining party together if you want.
Line: Rob Pannell (Cornell); Peter Baum (Colgate); Marcus Holman (North Carolina)
Others Seriously Considered: Mike Sawyer (Loyola); Will Manny (Massachusetts)
Pannell and Baum are no-brainers, and if those two guys ever played on the same team together the Mayan prophecy would be fulfilled. I like Holman a little more than Manny and Sawyer on a prospective basis in 2013 given: (1) Holman's heroic output in 2012 (only seven guys had a better adjusted individual efficiency based on points generated than Holman last season); (2) Manny will be entering a world without the weapons he had last season and his total value for 2013 is a little questionable; and (3) I prefer Holman's versatility over Sawyer's (which is, admittedly, a preference item that has little to do with picking All-Americans).
Line: Tom Schreiber (Princeton); Adrian Sorichetti (Hofstra); Jeremy Noble (Denver)
Others Seriously Considered: Rob Emery (Virginia); John Ranagan (Johns Hopkins); John Glesener (Army)
Outside of Schreiber -- who should have his own category -- and Sorichetti -- who I'm probably higher on than anybody on the planet not named Seth Tierney -- the midfield selections are totally wide open. Ranagan had an uneven campaign last season, and his second team All-America selection was somewhat specious. It's unclear what Emery has in store now that Steele Stanwick, Colin Briggs, and Chris Bocklet are gone. I like Glesener's potential, but he is young. I could have just listed "Denver's midfield" and been done with this all, but I'm a glutton for punishment. This is likely to be the category that changes the most from December to May.
Face-off: Chase Carraro (Denver)
Others Seriously Considered: RG Keenan (North Carolina); Mike Poppleton (Johns Hopkins); Dylan Levings (Yale)
Again, this is likely a personal preference pick going with Carraro over Keenan in that I think Carraro's overall value in his ability to go to goal off the draw makes him dangerous enough that he needs to be gameplanned against (and still manages to succeed). All four of these guys are super valuable -- Keenan in that he really drives the Heels' possession margin; Poppleton in that he helps a Hopkins offense that often needs volume to score and can insulate a really good defense from over-exposure; Levings in that he's a freaking animal -- but it's Carraro's versatility that gets him the nod.
Short-Stick Defensive Midfield: Josh Hawkins (Loyola)
Others Seriously Considered: Chris LaPierre (Virginia)
I don't think there's a better leader in the country than LaPierre, but if we're talking about short-stick defensive ability, Hawkins has to be the guy. LaPierre, arguably, gives you better two-way midfield play (which is important), but Hawkins -- in my eyes -- is the better on-ball defender and can really make things happen with his speed and strength in that Loyola defensive menetality. Hawkins is a horse and with Ratliff creates all kinds of issues in the defensive midfield. This one is close, but the Greyhound probably needs to get the nod.
Long-Stick Defensive Midfield: Scott Ratliff (Loyola)
Others Seriously Considered: Jessee Bernhardt (Maryland)
There are all kinds of great long-stick midfielders around the country thanks, in part, to Brodie Merrill revolutionizing the position at Georgetown, but Ratliff and Bernhardt stand above the rest fairly noticeably. Bernhardt is a horse and in a lot of ways provides similar value as Ratliff, but Ratliff is the complete overall package: a hound on ground balls, a caused turnover machine, and more than willing to join an offensive rush and bury the ball. I'm more than willing to hear arguments that Bernthardt is a little stronger defender on and off the ball, but Ratliff isn't far behind and his ability to contribute in so many ways makes him the top choice.
Line: Tucker Durkin (Johns Hopkins); Brian Megill (Syracuse); Jason Noble (Cornell)
Others Seriously Considered: Too many, but -- Ty Souders (Lehigh); Goran Murray (Maryland); Joe Fletcher (Loyola)
Durkin -- the reigning Schmeissser Award winner -- is a complete "no doink" pick and Megill, a brutish defender with takeaway skills and a nose for groundballs, isn't far behind. It's that third spot that I went back and forth on. Noble is positively dangerous with a pole in his hands, but Souders anchors a tight Lehigh defense and Goran Murray is as good a sophomore defender as anyone in the country with his athleticism and skill. I'd probably slot Fletcher behind Noble, Souders, and Murray not because Fletcher can't play, but because -- in my eyes -- he's a little behind those three if I were choosing up sides. This comes behind the offensive midfield bunch as the most difficult grouping to pick, but a Durkin-Megill-Noble first team is probably as true as I can get to reality looking at prior returns and future potential dividends.
Line: John Kemp (Notre Dame)
Others Seriously Considered: Austin Kaut (Penn State); Matt Poillon (Lehigh)
I wrote it before about Kemp and I'll write it again -- he's the most valuable piece to the Irish's web of defensive puzzle:
John Kemp may be the most important player that Notre Dame has and I feel as confident in that fact as I do that I will be in an underwear emergency at least four times a month. Gerry Byrne is one of the best defensive coordinators in the country (if not the best) and Kemp had the luxury of playing with one of the nation's best defensive units -- especially behind Kevin Randall, Stephen O'Hara and Matt Miller in close -- but it's Kemp that served as the rock to Notre Dame's statistically-best defense in 2012 (the team's adjusted defensive efficiency value was an insane 21.01). Kemp's top-ranked save percentage (63.7) helped anchor a defense that led the nation in raw defensive shooting rate at 20.04 percent; his steady play between the pipes was at a level that saw the Irish end over 37 percent of their defensive possessions with a save (a mark exceeded by only eight teams). There are lots of pieces to the Irish's defensive puzzle, but Kemp -- straightforward and consistent -- was a (the?) driving force in Notre Dame's defensive performance.
What do you knuckleheads think?