Ben Reeves, Attack, Yale - The Bulldogs upset (yes, upset) the Albany Great Danes on Saturday. The victory was for a number of reasons, primarily the success at the faceoff X and their hyper aggressive ride. Setting the tone of that ride was Reeves. I know, you didn’t think you’d get me praising the ride, of all skills, in Ben Reeves game. But really, it’s his physicality that allows him to be so impactful. Ben Reeves is like the guy who was Happy Gilmore’s construction supervisor, except instead of having a nail in his head, he has a degree in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, an IQ of 300, and off the charts athleticism. So just the size in common I guess. Ryan Flanagan, who was on broadcast for the game, knows what’s up:
Ben Reeves is bluffing on his height being 6’2”. He’s got to be 6’4”— Ryan Flanagan (@RyanFlanagan24) April 22, 2018
Flanagan is around 6’4, and he was eye to eye with Reeves on the field. I mean just look at this monster:
There’s Reeves working hard on the ride, picking up a ground ball in a crowd, and eating the checks of just about every Albany defender on the field while drawing two fouls. Oh, he had three goals and an assist by the way. Reeves is probably just a little too low on most Tewaaraton lists out there. He’s somehow under the rader.
Alex Woodall, FOGO, Towson - It’s a been a great year for FOGOs. Everyone expected Baptiste to be out of this world coming into the season, and he really hasn’t disappointed. But the rest of the FOGO world is playing like it’s tired of hearing all the Baptiste hype. TD Ierlan, despite a bad day against Yale, is likely setting a record for single season faceoff win percentage. Conor Mackie has been at the center of a number of Yale wins. And this week, Alex Woodall made sure no one forgot about him. The Towson FOGO went 22 of 24 against Delaware over the weekend, a career best. He won the game’s first ten draws, and had a perfect first and fourth quarters. He had 13 ground balls as part of his effort on the day, leading Towson to a 13-7 win over Delaware in a game that Towson desperately needed to win. Woodall has dealt with injuries throughout his career, and this year is playing a team that graduated a ton of firepower and then saw leaders on both ends suspended, but he continues to be a major factor every week.
Conference Tournaments - Let’s do that postseason. Conference tournaments are all but set. The ACC is locked in. The Patriot League is set. Everyone is ready to roll for some May Madness. We will inevitably get the situation where a favorite loses and takes away an at large, like if Loyola loses in the Patriot League, potentially turning it into a three bid league. And that makes things fun. Bracketology, debating about whether or not the RPI sucks, and complaining about seeding are time honored postseason traditions in all sports. Spoiler alert guys: someone is going to get snubbed and everyone will hoot and holler. It happens every year. But truth be told, the fact that so many teams will have legitimate cases for an NCAA tournament birth is a good thing. It’s a sign of a way better game than a game where the same 16 teams make it every year, and just the players change. The bigger the field, the bigger the argument, the happier I get.
UMass - UMass won their eighth straight game over the weekend with an 11-4 beatdown of Fairfield and improved to 9-4. They started 1-4, but their losses are Army, Harvard, a close one with Yale, and Albany. Not exactly softies. They really don’t have a signature win on the year, as their best victory is probably Brown, or Hofstra if they can win this weekend. But eight in a row is eight in a row. UMass has a young squad, as three of the top four scorers are sophomores or younger, and leading scorer senior Buddy Carr has 49 points. The Minutemen are undefeated in CAA play, and have locked up the best record in the conference in the regular season.
Chris Fake, Defense, Yale - Everyone, including yours truly, has had Notre Dame’s Arden Cohen as the best freshman defender in college lacrosse. That was probably until this weekend. Yale’s Chris Fake drew the assignment of guarding Connor Fields in the Albany game, He was probably winning that matchup when Fields went down with a knee injury that would sideline him for the rest of the afternoon. Fake’s life didn’t get any easier, he was bumped over to freshman phenom Tehoka Nanticoke. Nanticoke actually INVITES contact when he dodges. He does more than just lean into you, he checks you. From there, he’s a whirling dervish of stick fakes, rolls, and more physical play. Fake looked like he was having fun with it. His footwork is just about as good as it gets, and while he doesn’t throw a lot of checks, his stick is always on the opponents gloves or in the correct position. Fake has guarded the two Albany standouts, Michael Sowers, Jeff Teat, Morgan Cheek, and others this season, and is taking massive strides every week out.
Albany - I don’t want to give you the idea that Albany is in serious trouble after the Yale loss. They aren’t. It’s still likely they wind up with the top overall seed in the NCAA tournament, and that they are playing Memorial Day weekend. But we saw some problems against Yale. When Fields went out, the offense lost some juice. McClancy did nearly nothing all day, and didn’t even really handle that ball all that much. Tehoka got blanked, no points at all, by Chris Fake. Sean Eccles had a few nice shots, but it was really just cranks from man up and not a lot going his way in the 6v6. The defense looked weak. They were trying to double hard on picks in an effort to be aggressive and cause turnovers. This had some success, but there were also miscommunications that led to easy goals, like so:
But then the expectation of a double caused a miscommunication here. Think Dluhy #37 expected Sims #25 to come double Reeves and the result was Reeves split them to score. pic.twitter.com/ElVeEiCs0q— Lacrosse Film Room (@LaxFilmRoom) April 22, 2018
If your plan is the squeeze Reeves off of picks, and the help defender is late, you get punished. Hard. Reeves just runs through the space the on ball defender is expecting the doubler to be, and it’s an easy goal. These sorts of miscommunications should be few and far between by this point in the season. Albany was exposed because they played a ton of defense, as TD Ierlan only went 8-21 on draws. Yale gave you the blue print to beat Albany. Win possessions, ride hard and aggressive, and get strong on ball defense. I’m not sure just how many teams have the personnel to do what Yale did, but it made Albany look like anything but a top three team.
Tiebreak scenarios - Alright, let’s get this in here
There is, not just me, but pretty much everyone who was trying to explain the tiebreak scenarios this weekend. Teams across the country needed help from other teams, who needed help from other teams. The Patriot League came into the weekend with 16 difference scenarios possible for the postseason tournament. UNC needed to handily beat Notre Dame while also holding Notre Dame to less than 6 goals, or else UVA would make the tournament (I’m not even 100% sure I have that right). That awful tiebreaker parameter led to some of the most boring and uneventful lacrosse all year, as UNC ate clock like crazy trying to limit the Notre Dame scoring chances, and the Notre Dame offense is just plain bad anyway. Thank goodness we are done with the weird and wacky tiebreakers, I would love it if we came up with better criteria but that’s above my pay grade.
Army - Army spent some time in the top 10 this year. A season many expected to end with an NCAA tournament bid ended, instead with elimination from the Patriot League tournament with a game remaining in the regular season. Army’s last win came on March 17 against Holy Cross. Army’s last win against an actual good team came on February 17 against Rutgers. Since the Rutgers win, Army has gone 2-7, and lost five straight. The offense hasn’t scored double digits since they played Lafayette in early March. David Symmes, considered to be an elite shooter coming off a great season a year ago, is 390th in the nation in shooting efficiency. His SVOP is -2.35, meaning he is well below replacement level shooting. Someone he is still First Team All Patriot League. Ted Glesener, another big shooter, has been even worse. Army still sends out a very capable defense every week anchored by All American Johnny Surdick, but the offense is one of the worst shooting offenses in the nation, and not many expected it to be that bad.
Carolina - The Tar Heels season mercifully came to an end on Saturday. We already covered the silly tiebreak scenarios. But UNC really had a rough season. They managed to win against Notre Dame, who hasn’t been great either, in the last week of the season, but lost seven straight before that. They started the season 6-0, but those wins included a one goal win against Furman that needed two goals late, an OT win over Lehigh, and a buzzer beater to win against St. John’s. This team was a few minutes away from going 4-10 this year. The defense is in serious need of reinforcements, as they wound up playing a ton of zone in an effort to keep things close since they routinely got smoked when in man to man. The good news is this team is still young. They graduate Cloutier and bring back just about everyone else, and have multiple freshman who played minor roles this year but looked ready to step up soon. The bad news is that all those freshman are on the offensive end. There will likely be some freshman starting on defense for Carolina next year in the form of Evan Egan, though.
The 100 point wall - It’s that time of the year, we can look at those point totals and see who’s got a shot at the c-note. Currently Jeff Teat is at 87 points with a regular season game against Princeton, and presumably a few more games in Ivy and NCAA tournament play, so it seems fairly certain he passes the 100 point barrier. Justin Guterding is up to 85 points and has games left against Notre Dame and BU, so it’s feasible that he gets past 100 in the regular season alone. Michael Sowers is at 79 with a game left and then the Ivy League tournament, but that’ll likely be it as Princeton won’t make the NCAA tournament, but it’s possible. Pat Spencer is at 76 with his regular season complete, so it’s just the Patriot League and NCAA tournaments left for 24 points, which is more than likely. The interesting remaining guy who definitely has a chance is Bucknell’s Will Sands. Sands is up to 73 points and has a game left against BU, who has surrendered some big point totals this year. From there it’ll be the Patriot League tournament, and MAYBE an at large bid if they don’t win the tournament but manage to win a couple games. Regardless, we have multiple guys who look ready to push past 100 points this year.