Blogs and Commentary

posted 02.05.2013 at 2.02 p.m. by Jac Coyne

MCLA Division I Notebook

Does a 2-0 weekend really provide us much data? Especially when it comes in January and against some relatively weak competition? In the grand scheme of things, no, but it could point to a positive trend for Louisiana State University.

Nick Joslyn, LSU's head coach who is currently getting his Master's in analytics at the Baton Rouge institution, likes the feedback he's getting.

"As coaches, we're never satisfied, but I thought we played well this weekend," Joslyn said after the Tigers swept Rice and St. Edward's to start the season. "We have some things to work on, but we're excited about the possibilities of what we can do. We feel like we can make the LSA playoffs and compete for the top of the LSA. That is our season goal, and if all goes to plan, nothing should derail that."

That shouldn't be a problem. LSU made the six-team LSA tournament last year, and the Tigers have a deeper and more experienced squad returning in '13. They still have to figure out how to defeat the top teams in the league — most notably Texas and Texas State — but last year gave a glimpse of the possibilities. LSU lost to Texas State by a goal in the LSA semifinals, only to see the Bobcats lose by two to Texas for the auto-bid to Greenville.

Even with upward arc of the program, the Bayou Bengals were tabbed seventh out of 13 teams in the conference's preseason coaches poll — a fact that Joslyn thinks can work in LSU's favor.

"People don't respect us. I think we are better than some teams above us," he said. "I don't really mind flying under the radar and teams underestimating us because of the talent we have this year. The schemes that we're going to run are going to cause teams some trouble."

Junior Mike Goodrich leads a talented, if unheralded bunch. A do-it-all middie who also takes faceoffs, Goodrich already has four goals on the season. The attack has been bolstered by the arrival of Tom Brown, a Georgetown Prep product who has given the Tigers a true quarterback (4g, 6a in two games) for the first time in years. Sophomore attackman Saban Sellers returns as the team's leading scorer after notching 24 markers in '12.

LSU will find out exactly where they stand in two weeks when they participate in the All-State Sugar Bowl Lacrosse Classic. The Tigers will play three games in three days, including a pair of opponents who beat them last spring — Texas and Mississippi.

Are the LSU players up for the challenge?

"We'll see," said Joslyn. "We'll talk to them at practice and see where they are. We want to get them confident enough, but not get their heads too big. We're excited. We have a lot of guys from New Orleans so we should have a good crowd. We are feeling confident going into the Texas game, but we have to be even-keeled and ready to play."

It will be only after that weekend that we'll truly be able to project expectations for LSU.

- Stanford's upset of UC Santa Barbara has undoubtedly caused some nervous glances around Duluth, Minn. Without an AQ this spring, Minnesota-Duluth is in the unenviable position of being an at-large or bust team, so every upset means there's one more squad to hurdle for one of the seven open slots. When the team comes from a power conference like the WCLL, the angst is multiplied. The Dawgs need to split on the weekend of Feb. 23 when Cal Poly and Arizona State come to town in order to keep pace or they could be in trouble.

- It lacked the magnitude of the Stanford upset, but Boston College's 2-0 weekend in Miami was still noteworthy. For the second straight year, the Eagles traveled to Florida and beat a ranked Florida State team in overtime, this time 14-13, before dismissing Miami, 21-3, on Sunday.

The result was surprising for both teams. BC's ability to transition to a new coach without the luxury of a lot of field time is a testament to both the players and new coach Kevin Orcutt. The Eagles now get to work out the kinks left from this first trip for three weeks before their swing through Texas. Florida State's inability to defeat a solid team in its home state means that the Seminoles are an AQ-or-bust program (compounded by a weak schedule). It does simplify things, however, as the 'Noles have three months to figure out how to beat Virginia Tech.

- Oregon head coach Phil Keebler said the Cameron Cole, the former standout for Cal State Fullerton last spring, has enrolled at Lane Community College in Eugene, Ore., and has been practicing with the Ducks this spring. He is expected to enroll and play for Oregon in 2014...the Mike Brand era is starting well at Texas State. The Bobcats are 2-0 and avenged last year's loss to Baylor with a 15-3 thumping in the opener. TxState should be 4-0 heading into its contest with SMU on Feb. 23...ugly times in College Station. Texas A&M lost to North Texas — a program that went 1-11 last year — in the season opener and then followed that up with a loss to Division II Sam Houston State the next day.

- Congrats to Andy Garrigan. The new Texas head coach guided the Long Horns to a 23-5 win over La.-Lafayette in his first game on the sideline. That's the most goals for UT since 2011...congrats to new San Diego State head man Charlie Jackson, as well. Jackson helped the Aztecs roll past Fullerton, 14-2. It may not seem like a big deal beating a D-II squad, but this contest was a one-goal affair in '12.