Each week, College Crosse’s Joe Keegan will try to cover the whole field of D1 lacrosse in ten topics. It’s the 10-man ride!
1. Princeton’s man-down defense shut down Hopkins’ extra-man offense by shutting off Shack Stanwick.
Entering Friday, Hopkins’ EMO had converted 8-of-12 opportunities. Quint said it time and time again on broadcasts: Anytime Hopkins is fouled, you can cue the band. Princeton’s defense quieted the band for 60 minutes, but its dominance when man-down was most impressive. The Jays went 0-for-4 as Princeton opted to shut off their quarterback, Shack Stanwick.
Without Stanwick involved, the ball generally stayed above goal-line extended. Only top-down feeds were available, which is a tougher shot than it may seem for a crease player. Catching, turning and shooting before getting popped is near impossible at this level. The best look Hopkins got was off a wall-pass -- but Princeton’s man-down maniacs jumped in front of Pat Fraser’s cannon and ate shot after shot.
We’re getting to that point in the season where teams have enough film on every unit that they face. Midweek games are starting to slow down, and with seven days to prepare, defenses are going to throw wrinkles at opponents. Virginia saw some zone against Penn; Hopkins saw Shack being shut off against Princeton. It’s not time to write off Hopkins’ extra-man. It’s time to grab your popcorn and see what offensive coordinator Bobby Benson draws up if Towson elects to shut Shack off next weekend.
2. Rutgers refused to let Tewaaraton winner Dylan Molloy beat them.
The Scarlet Knights slid quickly to Molloy’s bull dodges. They frustrated him early and often, forcing him into a 3-for-10 shooting afternoon and an ugly ratio of one assist and seven turnovers.
Most of Molloy’s dodges began higher than usual. Rather than driving from X and seeing the play unfold, Molloy was putting his head down from the wing and even dodging down the alley. Rutgers was able to hide their slides well, constantly attacking his blindside -- and sometimes, attacking both his blindside and his frontside.
3. Brown struggled to keep up with #RTempo.
(Relatively) shutting down Dylan Molloy was impressive. Even more impressive? Rutgers out-Browned Brown. The Scarlet Knights threw a ridiculous 32 shots-on-goal. They scored six fast break goals (in the first 30 seconds of a possession); Brown only scored three fast break goals. It was increasingly noticeable over the course of the game that Rutgers’ collective first step in transition was faster than Brown’s. They tweeted it a few times: This is #RTempo. If they keep running like this, then a BTN Plus subscription is a no-brainer purchase. In-conference B1G games are gonna be a whole lot of fun.
4. Two or three times per game, Greyson Torain pulls some absurd move that forces you to hit the rewind button.
Without Casey Rees or Jack Ray, Torain has been Navy’s go-to dodger. He’s not an elite passer (two assists in five games), so he’s seeing extra early double teams. One way to make teams think twice before doubling is to hit the open man. Torain takes the alternate route, and quickly redodges the second defender.
Some of the most athletic players manage to beat defenders with such ease that they never develop complementary moves. That subtle bounce sets up Torain to extend the dodge. Without it, he’d have no angle by the time he beats the slide. By bouncing wide, he pulls that sliding defender outside of his comfort zone and he has room to run by him and bury the shot. Sweet stuff from one of the country’s most exciting players.
5. If Matt Lane keeps passing like this, then the scoreboard at the Carrier Dome might break.
The 6-foot-6 Lane has always been able to get his hands free against short-sticks. Running alongside Sergio Salcido and Nick Mariano, it’s understandable that Lane hasn’t drawn the pole. But after Sunday afternoon’s breakout game (3G, 2A) against Virginia, it might be time to re-think that.
By the time May rolls around, the best offenses have found secondary and tertiary scoring options that make the “Who do you pole?” question impossible for defensive coordinators. There are a ton of answers to that question, and it’s usually the team who picks the least wrong answer who wins. Much of the decision surrounding who matches up with Lane may revolve around the height of the defender rather than the length of the stick. Short-stick or LSM, you can’t put a sub-6-footer on Lane and expect him to hold his own.
6. Virginia’s zone offense is improving, but their best looks still came against man-to-man or on breaks before the zone was established.
The ‘Hoos zone offense was better against High Point than it was against Penn, which is to say it existed against High Point. Some of it was what we typically see against man-to-man defenses (high wing picks with or for Zed Williams), and then some of the looks were new. There were dual quarterback sets with both Ryan Lukacovic and Michael Kraus at X.
In theory the pieces are all there for Virginia to play solid zone offense. Lukacovic and Kraus are smart feeders. Joe French and Mike D’Amario are right-handed and left-handed finishers, respectively. D’Amario and freshman midfielder Dox Aitken can stretch a zone. Zed Williams can play just about any role for the ‘Hoos and find a way to impact the game.
The pieces to the puzzle fit for this to be a great zone offense. What a zone does is it slows down head coach Lars Tiffany’s uptempo team. It minimizes the creativity of Zed Williams as a playmaker, and closes the gap in athleticism any defense faces. Virginia will see more of it, and like Hopkins’ extra-man when Shack is shut off, they’ll have wrinkles ready.
7. High Point goalie Tim Troutner Jr. made several plays as a seventh defender in the Panthers’ zone defense.
All the NFL coaches and general managers in Indianapolis this weekend are missing out on Troutner Jr., who posted the fastest (unofficial) cone drill time right here. Goalies sometimes try to bait shooters with a step or two, but this looks different. Troutner Jr. is making an honest attempt to deny the pass through X. When D’Amario pump fakes, Troutner Jr. books it back to the crease and makes the save on the run.
8. Here’s an unpopular opinion about Saturday’s Maryland-Notre Dame game...
It wasn’t that boring. I feel obligated to write about a matchup between two top-five teams, but everyone seems tired of talking about this. I’ll keep it brief: Sergio Perkovic took eight shots which means eight times I was moved to the edge of my couch fearing for Maryland goalie Dan Morris. When the Motor City Hitman unleashes a shot, it’s exciting. Every time. Notre Dame’s defense -- which is never boring -- held an attack unit which was playing so well that it prompted ESPNU to take the time to photoshop a Run-DMC graphic to two goals, two assists and 12 turnovers. It might not have felt fast, but a lot happened between the whistles.
9. The Pioneers’ pick-and-roll rules were inconsistent, and the Tar Heels capitalized on it.
It didn’t matter who was running the pick-and-roll for the Tar Heels -- the Denver defense was not ready for it. First, Andy Matthews and Luke Goldstock beat a switching defense by slipping the pick. Then a Timmy Kelly-Andy Matthews action in which Kelly didn’t even use the pick drew a double team. Kelly swung it to Matthews, who drew a third defender and patiently waited for Goldstock to come free on the doorstep.
There’s a difference between a well-defended pick-and-roll that produces a goal and this. This was uncharacteristically sloppy for Denver, and I doubt we’ll see this type of miscommunication next week.
10. Tre Leclaire is the most exciting player on an undefeated B1G team that nobody is talking about.
The 6-0 Ohio State Buckeyes have played five games indoors. Every single one has been streamed, but the camera angles have been either too low or too high. Diehard lacrosse fans have watched, but most of the country probably hasn’t seen this year’s edition of the Buckeyes. Well, you’re in for a treat the first time you see freshman Tre Leclaire play. The Canadian product had five goals and two assists in two games this weekend -- none as exciting as this dodge where he initiated contact and split his defender’s stick cleanly in half.
Massholes of the Week: Boston University (Boston, Mass.)
I couldn’t pick one Masshole of the Week. Had to give it to the whole team. The Terriers went 2-0 this week (6-0 on the season), and have piled up some solid transitive property wins. They beat Air Force who beat Duke; they beat Bryant who beat Yale. Their wins over Providence and Navy might look great in May. The Bay State’s fourth-year program should be big climbers in the poll.