I’ve just been sitting on this as an idea. There’s totally no reason in particular why I decided to write this now, and no recent news is influencing my decision whatsoever.
OK so that’s not ENTIRELY true....
By now the entire lacrosse-loving world has heard the news. Albany’s stud FOGO, TD Ierlan, was granted his release and is transferring to Yale. Ierlan confirmed the news to Ty Xanders in a text message. And it is now the text that launched a thousand memes. Even we are getting into the action.
TD to Yale confirmed. Lacrosse's version of Kevin Durant, although more likable, has happened. pic.twitter.com/bwlprUAqB6— Chris Jastrzembski (@CFJastrzembski) June 21, 2018
Ierlan’s face on Kevin Durant is running amok, and there have been plenty of reactions on social media (by far my favorite).
But let’s just pump the breaks on the trading of the K in KD for a T. By all accounts leading up to this, the following were what Ierlan was looking for in a new home:
1.) Much more rigorous academic environment
2.) More structured program.
Yale obviously satisfies both, but at no point did anyone, anywhere, ever report that Ierlan wants to transfer because he wants a ring. That was never part of the equation. It would be nice, but it is not required. We had reported here, and a number of others as well, that Cornell was the likely landing place. I personally had heard Harvard was a contender when the rumors first started back in April that Ierlan was looking to transfer. I got news for you: if you want a ring in the next two years, Harvard ain’t the spot to go.
But let’s say TD was just looking to get a ring and say screw it to everything else. Would he still go to Yale?
COMMENCE HOT TAKES
Absolutely not. If all you’re after is a ring in the next two years, there are better places to go do that than Yale right now. Yale just graduated what might be it’s best senior class ever. Tewaaraton winner Ben Reeves. A top SSDM in the country in Tyler Warner, and his linemate and fellow freak athlete Jason Alessi. Two thirds of the close defense graduates in Chris Keating and Jerry O’Connor, which is tough to replace even with stud Chris Fake coming back. This team just sent SIX players to the MLL. Yes there is talent left there and the incoming class is strong (including an UA All American FOGO no less). Ierlan probably makes just about anyone a contender, but Yale has more than most to replace.
Here are, in my opinion, five schools (and then a few) that would be better to ring chase at that Yale:
1.) UVA - The youth movement in Virginia isn’t sneaking up on anyone. This was a young team this year that is definitely looking to break through, and returns stars all over the field. Michael Kraus will be on a shortlist for Tewaaraton finalist at the start of next year. They get Ryan Conrad back from injury, who they needed multiple players to replace this past year. They still have Laviano, Aitken, Moore, and a host of other young players. Alex Rode is a year better. They lose Hooper on defense and bring back just about everyone else. A Lars Tiffany coached team, looking to play scramble lacrosse and create havoc off ground balls, with Ierlan taking draws to dictate pace, is a team I’m putting in the title game for sure at least once in the next two years.
2.) Loyola - Coming into the tournament this past season, it was almost consensus that if Loyola could just win 50+% of their draws they can beat anyone. Well wouldn’t Ierlan just go ahead and solve that problem? The entire attack, including Pat Spencer and his 94 points, are back next year. That group combined for 113 goals this year. All American defenseman Foster Huggins is back, as is goalie Jacob Stover, as are every middie that contributed in a major way offensively except Drapeau. The Hounds were easily a FOGO away from Championship Weekend this year, and they bring back most of that squad. Loyola is almost as complete a team next year as Yale was this past year. The Hounds are definitely a stronger ring chasing option than Yale.
3.) Duke - Yes they lose the career goals scored record holder in Justin Guterding, and top line midfielder Peter Conley, but they bring back everyone else. An offense that was starting to look mighty deep and versatile as Montgomery emerged in the tournament returns 242 points worth of scoring. Smith, Walsh, and Lowrie can all play attack or midfield. Quigley is back, Manown is back, Robertson is back. They also return Cade Van Raaphorst and JT Giles-Harris on close defense. And oh yeah, DUKE WAS IN THE TITLE GAME. Faceoffs went 50-50 in that game by the way. Ierlan generating a ton of extra possessions would no doubt cushion the blow of losing Guterding and his 113(!!!!) points.
4.) Denver - This is partially just for the Shakespearean fun of it all, but hear me out. Denver was a team that was in the postseason, and picked by many to be in the final four. All of this was almost entirely on the strength of their FOGO. Yes, Baptiste was the best to ever do it in college. And last SEASON, Ierlan was better (just by percentage, let’s save the quality opponent talk for another day). Ierlan can replace Baptiste on that team and put them right back where they were. They bring back their top three scorers and two thirds of what turned out to be a strong close defense. Denver gets to take a team that everyone thought was Final Four good as is, and send it back out there again.
5.) Syracuse - This was the first place everyone in the twittersphere thought (hoped, depending on your address), might land. Close to home, well structured, all that jazz. And he would make them a contender. Ierlan announced his presence with authority this past season in an opening game mollywhopping of Syracuse. The entire next week everyone wanted to know who TD Ierlan was and how he came out of nowhere to win 16 of 21 draws and be a key part of Syracuse only managing 3 goals. Cuse suddenly having a dominant FOGO will take the pressure off of what will be a first year starter in goal as they replace Dom Madonna. They also bring back Nick Mellen on that end, who looked sensational by year’s end. On offense Cuse brings back just about everyone. Brendan Bomberry and his 37 points graduate, the next highest scoring senior is Matt Lane with 9 points. By years end, this team was initiating offense with Tucker Dordevic and Brendan Curry, both freshmen. Cuse had issues being consistent last year, as one week they were beating Duke and another week they needed OT to get past Army. An excellent FOGO does a lot to help with that.
Just kidding, #FireDesko
Honorable Mention: UNC - Yes, I spent the entire last season, even when they were 6-0, driving the “Carolina is actually bad” train. Don’t regret a minute, because they were actually bad. But let’s remember WHY they were bad. They had an AWFUL defense. Early in the year LaxFilmRoom wrote a great piece that demonstrated how their defense was making basic, not even college level mistakes. Poor communication and basic conceptual breakdowns damned this team. On the offensive end, they had a top 6 that was legitimately as talented as anyone in the nation. And they’re all back. In fact, UNC’s top SEVEN scorers are back next year. If Ierlan joins UNC, he does a whole lot of what he did for Albany: win a ton of extra possessions, hide an average at best defense, allow your team to win games 20-15 if need be.
So yeah, there’s three ACC schools on this list. And yeah, there’s no Big Ten schools on this list. Maryland, despite keeping two 50 point scorers in Bernhardt and Wisnauskas, along with freshman phenom Bubba Fairman, just loses so many seniors. Kelly, Rotanz, Young, Neufeldt, Morris, it’s a lot to replace, and I’m not sure Ierlan can make up for all that. The Terps are still probably the next best school on this list, and maybe even still a better place to go for a ring than Yale, simply because they’re the Terps and they play in the final four every year.
Point is, give Ierlan a break on the KD memes. I’ll bet the rent right now that Yale isn’t repeating, even with him. The kid is going and getting a degree from one of the strongest universities in America, that’s a lifelong decision, not a next two years decision.