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2011 NCAA Tournament Breakdown: A Former Player's Perspective

What goes into the mindset of a player during tournament week?
What goes into the mindset of a player during tournament week?

College Crosse is glad to have former Syracuse midfielder and 2008 National Champion John Carrozza back on the site.  Carrozza gives his thoughts on the 2011 NCAA Tournament and gives us an in-depth look at what it's like to be a player in the week leading up to the first round.

The time of year has come where we separate the men from the boys.  Selection Sunday has yet again made many jubilant and left others heartbroken and confused.  With all of the anticipation leading up to the playoffs, teams will need to keep a couple of things in mind while preparing to make a title run.

1) Focus on fundamentals – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen players fall victim to unforced turnovers in big games based on a lack of focus and attention to detail.  Fundamentals are the foundation of lacrosse, without fundamentals, your house/team will crumble.  

2) Just another game -- Use the week of preparation as you normally would.  Indeed the playoffs are win or go home, but changing a routine that got you there is counterproductive.  Adding pressure to the magnitude of the game is not healthy and will usually set a team up for failure.  Be great at what you do and the rest will take care of itself.

3) Accountability -- Every player has to be accountable for his play.  Know what you’re capable of and don’t try to play outside of yourself.  Big plays separate winning from losing, but let those plays develop; don’t force the issue. 

4) Enjoy the ride -- Have fun! The playoff experience is exciting, so take it all in and leave it all on the field.

Moving forward, I felt that the selection process for this year was spot on.  Your regular season resume is basically your interview for the playoffs.  Naturally, if there are blemishes on your resume, your appeal to be granted a bid to the playoffs is not guaranteed. 

Based on the RPI system, a team’s strength of schedule weighs greatly on the voters selection process for the playoffs.  Which brings me to my next point.

Stony Brook, Stony Brook, Stony Brook. Talented, yes. Playoff caliber team, yes. Cupcake schedule, absolutely.  The Seawolves had every chance to write their ticket into the tourney and didn’t follow through on their team expectations.  Although The Brook only lost four games this year, they didn’t have enough quality wins for voters to give them the nod. 

I look forward to watching a couple of matchups in the first round.  The UMD/UNC game is basically the same as a semifinal game in terms of talent and each teams disdain for one another.  Seems like the Tarheels are clicking which means it could be a long day for the Terps when they head down to Chapel Hill. 

Charlottesville, Virginia has had many ups and downs this season for a number of reasons.  That aside, the Cavaliers are going to have their hands full when they take on the Bisons on Sunday afternoon.  Bucknell’s 10-3 thrashing of Colgate in the Patriot League Finals was very impressive and shows that their team is talented and determined to turn some heads in the 2011 playoffs