Preseason practice is in full swing for the majority of Division I schools -- there are some notable hold outs, but whatever -- but the season is a lot closer than you think: This weekend -- only the third in January and just two weeks from the 2013 season opener on February 2nd between High Point and Delaware (what?!) -- marks the first of the year that will feature intercollegiate men's lacrosse action. I know, right?! This, of course, comes on the heels of what happened last night in the Southeast:
Snowy night in Durham! twitter.com/John_Danowski/…— John Danowski (@John_Danowski) January 18, 2013
SPRING SPORT! (Also, it's important to note that Danowski stood with the Cameron Crazies last night. He remains the best.)Anyway, this is all really happening in a really real way. The schedule for this weekend:
|January 19th||12:00 P.M.||Delaware||Mercyhurst||Newark, DE|
|January 20th||1:00 P.M.||Ohio State||Team Canada (!)||Columbus, OH|
Spring scrimmages are a little more valuable in gauging what teams actually have in store for the upcoming as opposed to fall scrimmages (if teams even play intersquad fall games), but making strong assumptions based on preseason scrimmages is still a somewhat dangerous pursuit (but not as dangerous as punching a kangaroo in a boxing match and not expecting to have your face smashed in by an animal that doesn't know what the hell is going on). Accordingly, the value in spring scrimmaging -- from the perspective of fans -- is to see where things stand for a particular program and identify what to look out for as the season looms on the horizon.
Team Canada at Ohio State
- Greg Dutton is the defensive known in net, but how is that Buckeyes defense going to deal with a Team Canada squad -- featuring players fighting for roster positions for the 2014 FIL World Championships in Denver -- that will test a unit that is entering 2013 without Keenan Ochwat, Joe Bonanni, and Matt Kawamoto? Ohio State has relied heavily on its defense in the past to win games, and Saturday will help define just what kind of unit Nick Myers has going into a season in which the Buckeyes will face dangerous ECAC offenses in Denver and Loyola (and to a lesser extent, Fairfield).
- Logan Schuss and Dominique Alexander look to be the focal points for the Buckeyes' offense in 2013, but where do guys like Turner Evans and Jesse King fit into the puzzle and how have they developed? While Schuss -- The Silver Gleaming Death Machine -- is as good an offensive weapon as any in the country, the more Ohio State can leverage to other options and get production out of those options, the better the Buckeyes offense will operate in totem (duh). This has been an issue with Ohio State in the recent past, and will ultimately help determine the program's ceiling in 2013.
Mercyhurst at Delaware
- Mercyhurst, while a Division II school, should provide a good test for a Delaware program that fell apart -- for a myriad of reasons -- in 2012. The Lakers were ranked first in the Inside Lacrosse Face-Off Yearbook for Division II and feature what many consider the strongest player in the cohort in senior attack Brian Scheetz and a very strong defender in junior Andrew Wagner. The big thing for Delaware this weekend is coming out and competing, testing its roster (which was relatively young last year) against an opponent that has the ability to raise some hell. Special focus should be given to Delaware's midfield and how they operate while replacing major contributors from 2012.
- The return of Eric Smith is quietly gaining steam as a THUNDERDOME! story that a lot of people may be missing. The attack returns to the Blue Hens after sitting out all of last season with an injury. The senior put up 45 points in 2011 alongside the now-departed Grant Kaleikau and may serve as the team's offensive barometer for much of 2013. The Blue Hens could see most of its offense coming out of its attack this coming season -- it looks to have more reliability (right now) relative to the midfield, and as a focal point Delaware could do worse -- and Smith's efforts (his comfort, his ability/rust, his role) is ultimately going to drive production.