Blogs and Commentary

posted 05.01.2012 at 10.49 a.m. by Matt Forman

Men's Tewaaraton Tracker: It's Getting Interesting

The final 25 Tewaaraton Award nominees were announced last week, and the regular season slate of games has largely come to a close. What does it mean? Time for another Tewaaraton Tracker. (Here are links to the first three updates: 1, 2, 3)

Remember: At this time last year, it was Rob Pannell's trophy to lose and Steele Stanwick was dealing with nagging injuries. A lot can change in May. The Tewaaraton Committee has traditionally valued postseason performance over anything else. So this is when it really gets interesting.

Here's how we handicap the race...

1. Steele Stanwick, Virginia
Duke coach John Danowski paid Stanwick the highest compliment he could, when Lacrosse Magazine had an all-access pass to the Blue Devils' preparation for Virginia: "Steele Stanwick is just a great lacrosse player," Danowski said. "And his greatest gift is that he makes everyone around him better." No doubt. With seven points (six goals, one assist) Friday against Penn, Stanwick moved up to No. 22 all-time in NCAA Division I career points with 260. He ranks third nationally with 5.07 points per game.

2. John Kemp, Notre Dame
Notre Dame coach Kevin Corrigan put the nation on notice Saturday, after Notre Dame topped Syracuse: "John's terrific. He's the best goalie in the country. He may be the best player in the country," Corrigan said. "I keep hearing all these people talk about all these offensive guys for the Tewaaraton and I'm wondering why John's not part of that conversation. If you watch him every day, you sure think he's terrific." We listened, coach. Kemp leads the country in goals against average (5.70) and save percentage (.655), even though he has seen more shots than several other top men's Division I goalies.

3. Peter Baum, Colgate
It's Peter Baum's world, we're all just living in it. Baum leads the nation in both goals and points, and frankly, neither "race" is even close. He has tickled the twine 59 times — 11 more than the next closest player, Harvard's Jeff Cohen — and totaled 86 points, which is 12 more than Siena's Bryan Neufeld. The only missing element of Baum's Tewaaraton candidacy? National exposure. And that should no longer be the case, assuming the Raiders make the NCAA Tournament as expected. Whichever national seed draws Colgate in the first round will be on red alert because of Baum.

4. CJ Costabile, Duke
On a team with so many great individual players — Costabile, Mike Manley, Rob Rotanz and Justin Turri were top-10 selections in the 2012 MLL Draft, while Jordan Wolf is considered among the nation's top dodging attackmen — Duke's most valuable weapon is Costabile. He takes and wins nearly 53 percent of faceoffs. When he doesn't win them, he hounds the ball between the stripes. He's a ground ball goblin, picking up 113 — fourth nationally. He covers the opponents' top midfield scorer. He sparks transition. He scores goals. What doesn't Costabile do, and do well?

5. Will Manny, UMass
Has anyone mentioned that UMass is the only remaining unbeaten? That fact seemed to be lost in the shuffle of a crazy weekend. The Minutemen took sole possession of the No. 1 ranking with a 17-6 shellacking of Delaware, in which Manny scored six goals and added two assists. He ranks fourth nationally with 5.0 points per game. Much like Baum, Manny will benefit from the national spotlight come tournament time.

6. Mike Sawyer, Loyola
Somehow Sawyer didn't win the ECAC's Offensive Player of the Year award — it went to Ohio State's Logan Schuss (who was deserving) — despite scoring 41 goals, third most in the country. But Sawyer still ranks among the top Tewaaraton contenders, as he's Loyola's leading scorer, leading on one of the nation's most consistent, prolific and feared offenses. He has a lethal time-and-room step-down shot that he can score on from seemingly anywhere.

7. Tucker Durkin, Johns Hopkins
Only the 6,000 fans at Ridley Athletic Complex for Johns Hopkins 10-9 overtime defeat of Loyola witnessed Durkin's performance against Sawyer, who scored one goal on six shots. Those in attendance came away impressed, as did Sawyer: "He's definitely a good defenseman. He played me pretty tight," Sawyer said of Durkin. "I feel like I got a few opportunities in the game. Just couldn't capitalize on them. But he's definitely a good player." Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala's comments might have been more telling. "I talk to Bill Dwan, and we talk at 10, 11, 12 p.m., or 1 o'clock in the morning all the time," Pietramala said. "I talked to him [Friday] night and said, 'I don't feel like we've put in much of a game plan. I don't feel like we're doing anything dynamic, and we've got to be really careful with Sawyer and Lusby.' What we did, I thought, was prepare really well. When you've got a guy like [Tucker Durkin], who I feel is pretty special, you've got a fighting chance. And I'm not afraid to stand up and say that. We knew how to get custody of Sawyer." With Durkin, arguably the nation's top cover defenseman.

8. Marcus Holman, North Carolina
Of all the Tewaaraton frontrunners, Holman has probably received the least hype. Let's put it simply: He should be given more attention. Holman, a junior, is the straw that stirs the drink for the Tar Heels' young offensive unit that features three freshman and two sophomore starters. As coach Joe Breschi said after North Carolina's ACC Tournament semifinal victory over Virginia: "Marcus Holman really runs the show down there [on offense], and he does a terrific job of organizing those young bucks." Holman has totaled 56 points (27 goals, 29 assists) through 15 games thus far.

9. Mark Matthews, Denver
Did you see Matthews' outrageous toe-drag and finish against Duke on Friday night? Or how about the fake-low, shoot high leaner? Just unfair. Matthews showed off two of his trademark moves in the Mile High Classic, adding another pair of plays to his highlight-filled season. When the creative Canadian does things like that, there's no stopping him. He averages 4.08 points per game — 10th nationally — with 37 goals and 16 assists in 13 games.

10. Tom Schreiber, Princeton
At a time when double-digit goals or assists is considered hearty scoring production for a midfielder, Schreiber ranks 10th nationally with 4.03 points per game (29 goals, 24 assists) — second among midfielders behind only Robert Morris' Kiel Matisz. Schreiber hasn't been held off the box score in any game this year, and he's willing and able to beat teams multiple ways. Schreiber scored four goals against Harvard last weekend, then handed out three helpers against Cornell on Saturday. The Tigers have won eight of their last nine games, and Schreiber has things clicking on the offensive end.

Just Missed: Jesse Bernhardt, Maryland; Sam Bradman, Salisbury; and Logan Schuss, Ohio State.