The Rivalry - Let’s get this out of the way at the start, this was NOT necessarily a classic game. Just because a game goes to triple OT doesn’t mean it’s a classic. It helps make a classic game a classic, but it doesn’t do it on it’s own. It takes big time star power doing big time things to make a game a classic, and we didn’t really get there. Connor Kelly and Jared Bernhardt shot 0-24 combined, and Alex Concannon led the Jays with two goals. But just about everything else was in place for a classic. The crowd was over 10,000 strong, it was the final home game for the Hopkins seniors, it was close throughout, Shack Stanwick sprinted out to warm ups after missing time with an injury, and that makes for a ton of fun. I thought Hopkins was going to pull this game out, and was honestly a little bummed they didn’t. But this game, again, reminded everyone why it’s the best rivalry in college lacrosse. The masses come out from miles around to watch it, regardless of records, and grab those bragging rights. Thanks for a great (great, not classic) chapter in this one.
Notre Dame offense - I had the good fortune to join College Crosse editor and accomplished Yale-hater Safe Fekadu on his podcast this week. It was a blast, and if your interesting in learning things about me that you can use as ammunition to dislike me, give it a listen. On this podcast, I call the Notre Dame offense “putrid” and come right up to the line of calling for Kevin Corrigan’s job since he can’t score goals and still tries to win all his games 6-5. Notre Dame proceeded to spend the weekend making me eat my words. Notre Dame hung 14 on Duke and 17 on Virginia en route to winning the ACC tournament. They did it in transition, in 6v6, even their god awful man up got it’s act together (excuse the backhanded compliment). The Irish look, after an absolutely awful April, like a team ready to make a run. Their defense has been rock solid all year, and only getting better as the freshman like Arden Cohen improve, and now the offense seems to have found the ability to actually draw slides and be creative. Notre Dame is a dangerous squad right now.
Pat Spencer, Attack, Loyola - Spencer doesn’t get enough love. I told Safe this week that this Loyola team, as a whole, probably doesn’t get the press it should. The Greyhounds have just been plugging along, week after week, racking up wins. They have a loss to Bucknell by a goal, a loss to UVA by a goal (both very winnable games), and a close one with Duke on the downside. They currently are riding a seven game win streak, and Spencer is why. Period. He absolutely drives everything they do, and he does it by being as unselfish as just about anyone in lacrosse. Spencer had 5 points in both the Patriot League semi-finals and finals. He is joined by two freshmen, Aidan Olmstead and Kevin Lindley, at attack, both of whom are at 37 points on the year, tied for third on the team. Lindley has four assists this year, try and guess why. Spencer could easily be the guy who did it all himself, racking up goals and calling his own number on dodges. I’ve linked it before, but just look at this:
Good Lawd Pat Spencer sent this dude goin the other way pic.twitter.com/Y8ZmqW0KfW— Dan Aburn (@Dan_Aburn) April 20, 2018
That’s Pat Spencer sending All American Johnny Surdick the wrong way around the net and creating his own shot. He can do this when he wants. Frankly, he does, as he’s third in the nation in unassisted goals. But, he’s up to 55 assists on the year, and leads the country in even strength assists. He’s at 86 points, one off the leaders Guterding and Teat, and it looks like he’ll eclipse the 100 point barrier this season.
Ohio State - Too little too late for the Buckeyes? Probably. At 8-6 it’s tough to see a path for them to get in outside of winning the Big 10. But the roll their on is certainly worth of mention. The Buckeyes had lost five straight, and had just narrowly beaten Detroit Mercy. They were looking for a creator on offense and just more consistently strong play on both ends. Over the last three games, they found it. They took down their rival, Michigan, and then rolled off upsets of top ranked Maryland and top ten ranked Rutgers just five days apart. Jack Jasinski tallied 7 points against Maryland, including five assists, and looked every bit the dodging terror and slide-drawer that we expected he might be this season. Tre LeClaire only had two goals total in those two upsets, and it’s probably safe to say he hit something of a sophomore wall this season. Regardless, the Buckeyes are in a nice groove right now, and catch a Hopkins team coming off a brutal triple OT loss to Maryland.
UVA in the 6v6 - A Lars Tiffany teams is trying to play fast. This is not news. Sometimes a team playing to try and create scramble situations can struggle when those situations don’t happen organically. There aren’t a whole lot of ways to create the style and pace UVA wants to play. A faceoff, a ground ball, and pushing a save/turnover the other way in transition is just about the entirety of the list. So if you aren’t crushing faceoffs, winning groundballs, or causing turnovers, you’ll need some 6v6 success. Again, this isn’t exactly advanced analysis. But UVA had a REALLY hard time against Notre Dame getting things going. Let’s do what we do best and sum it up in a gif:
That’s Tewaaraton finalist Michael Kraus getting desticked and his body language really says it all. At that point, you could just about stick a fork in UVA in that game. Notre Dame is, in many ways, a great foil to UVA, as they do their absolute damnedest to eliminate unsettled spots, play 6v6 defense, and usually be successful. It’s their offense that hasn’t held up, but we covered that. UVA should make the field for the NCAA tournament, but we’ve seen a really good look at how to stifle them. Kraus is an outstanding talent, but he’s not a beat-you-on-my-own level attackman yet. There are other nice players on the UVA offense, but it really isn’t so deep and talented that they can win games without playing scramble lacrosse.
Rutgers - Rutgers looks to be in a situation similar where they were last year. Touting a resume that is likely good enough to get them into the tournament, but maybe not good enough for a selection committee that is anything but reasonable in recent years. Their RPI is 13 (dumb stat but the reality is people use it). They’re 2-3 in the month of April with wins over Michigan and Penn State and losses to Hopkins, Maryland, and Ohio State. If they’re 3-2 with any of those losses turning into wins, you have to think their ticket is punched. As it is, you’re kidding yourself if you think 7-6 Syracuse isn’t getting in ahead of 9-5 Rutgers. Rutgers best win right now is, ironically, probably Syracuse or Penn State, and they have losses to Army and Princeton. That’s ok if you’re school rhymes with Lons Dopkins, but otherwise, you might be getting left out.
Harvard - I got to see Harvard in person for the first time this year last weekend, and admit I was looking forward to it. I picked them +6 over Yale, as they played one goal games each of the last four years. Morgan Cheek has been quietly racking up points for the Crimson, and they came in with wins teams like UMass and BU; not world beaters, but solid wins. Man, I wish I hadn’t convinced myself this team was decent. Harvard had eight shots at hafltime. EIGHT. They finished the day with 21 shots, which becomes even more sad when you add that they had 22 turnovers. More turnovers than shots is, as a member of the Yale staff said to me after the game, a tough day at the office. Harvard has lost five straight against a brutal stretch (Albany/Cornell/Penn/Princeton/Yale), and after the Yale game they looked like they were ready for the season to end. They went straight from the handshake like to the bus and I really can’t blame them. Bright spot was Morgan Cheek though, who recorded his 200th career point, and is only the second player every at Harvard to reach 200 points.
The Patriot League - Coming into the conference tournament, it wasn’t out of the question to see the Patriot League as an up to three bid league. A scenario where Bucknell and Loyola get knocked out late and a bid stealer like Lehigh or Navy wins the tournament. Those dreams are extremely dead. Bucknell lost in the first round to BU, which more than likely eliminates them from the NCAA tournament. Loyola roll their way to the tournament title. Navy lost to Lehigh, and neither of those teams really has the resume to make the tournament. So for all the regular season insanity and in conference cannibalism we got from the Patriot League, with surprises galore and standout players and teams getting bigtime wins, the league still more than likely only sends Loyola to the tournament. It’s been quite the journey, Patriot League. Don’t ever change.
Conference Tournament Teams - First of all, All-Tournament teams are stupid in every sport. It’s possible to talk about/report on to guys who played well without some arbitrary roster that usually is just a list of dudes who made a couple plays in the course of two games. On top of that, just look at this:
It’s a five team league that doesn’t even get an AQ because the NCAA won’t enforce the rules, and they just posted the All-Tournament team with a screenshot from the notes app. This is a joke. Also, they forgot Justin Guterding again. In the same vein as this, the Big 10 All-Conference team is a an even bigger joke. They just put 10 players on the first team, regardless of position. It’s like having an all conference basketball team that’s just five point guards. Hey, conferences: