June 17, 2013

Summer Reading: Princeton Reflects and Regroups

by Corey McLaughlin | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter | McLaughlin Archive

Princeton midfielder Tom Schreiber is coming off a Tewaaraton Award finalist campaign, but the Tigers' season ended without an NCAA tournament berth. "We'll be back stronger next year," he said.
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

What could we have done better?

That was the question from Princeton coach Chris Bates to midfielder Tom Schreiber after the Tigers' season ended much earlier than they had hoped.

"It wasn't something he wanted me to answer right away," Schreiber said at the Tewaaraton Award ceremony in late May in Washington, D.C. "It's something he wanted me to answer Sept. 1. That's still in the works now and we'll figure it out over the summer and come back strong."

The devil will be in those details, but the overall tone for Princeton's summer and fall is set: Come back stronger.

The Tigers lost to Yale in the Ivy League final for the second straight season, but this year, unlike in 2012, the loss cost Princeton an NCAA tournament berth. Two years ago, the Tigers still made the big dance as an at-large after winning the Ivy regular-season title. This time their bubble was burst.

"It ended in a disappointing way," Schreiber said of the season. "I don't mean to be too negative. We'll be back stronger next year. Our guys will be very motivated to come back and have a better year and play Princeton Lacrosse the way it should be played.

"I think we had some bright spots. Our offense did a really nice job, and some young guys really stepped up and we battled through some injuries. Overall, it was a pretty good year, but next year we'll be back even stronger."

The effort will start with Schreiber, who this spring as a junior was a Tewaaraton Award finalist and with one season left is already the most productive midfielder in Princeton program history with 169 career points. He was the first Princeton player with at least 30 assists in a season since Ryan Boyle in 2004.

Much like the run, pitch or pass decisions he had to make as an option quarterback at St. Anthony's (N.Y.) High on Long Island, Schreiber makes similar plays out of the midfield at Princeton, where he's counted on to distribute and pull the strings on the Tigers' offense.

"I'm pretty good at drawing slides and getting the ball out quickly, or making a decision to shoot it," he said. "That's something my dad has always kind of instilled in me. I learned it from basketball or in football, where I was an option quarterback, so I was making a lot of decisions with the ball all the time. That's my strongest point in my game. But I'm always looking to improve."

Schreiber is spending this summer in Baltimore, where he's interning with a financial firm and working out with former high school teammate Derek Muzio, who is entering his senior season with Division II Dowling.

Expectations will be relatively high for Princeton entering the spring 2014 season, with a 13-member senior class and experienced juniors and sophomores. If what was a new and young defense last year can catch up to the level of its offense, the Tigers will be the Ivy favorite. They must settle on a goaltender. Last year freshman Matt O'Connor showed promise as the starter early but was relieved by sophomore California product Matt Sanschagrin, who started the final four games of the season after Princeton was stunned in an upset at Dartmouth on April 13. That loss contributed to the Tigers' 3-3 Ivy League record and set them back when the NCAA tournament selection committee in Indianapolis compared resumes.

Which brings the conversation back to that question posed by coach Bates? There were, of course, already discussions about how to answer the query in the weeks after the season ended.

"We tried to delay that a little bit, but it's tough," Schreiber said. "We've talked a lot about it."

Coaching Carousel?

Are athletic directors too busy contemplating future conference alignments to reflect on the status of their head coaches? After the past few offseasons of numerous coaching shakeups at the Division I men's level, there hasn't been one change so far this summer. At this point last year, three of last year's five decisions on head coaches had been made and there was already one new hire.

Danowski Extended, and Back on Twitter

One coach who won't be on the carousel anytime soon is Duke's John Danowski, who has signed a contract extension to coach the Blue Devils through the 2018 season. The school announced the contract Friday for the leader of the reigning national champs.

Danowski is the second coach of a 2013 final four team to sign a contract extension this summer. Denver's Bill Tierney earlier signed a deal through the 2017 season.

In related news, Danowski has broken the Twitter silence that he was under during the spring season. He seemingly retired from the social media tool in February during the Blue Devils' preseason (Enjoyed my 18 months on Twitter! Thanks for following! I am out! Peace!" he said then.) But Danowski returned May 30, three days after he guided Duke to its second national championship in four years.

"The 2013 Season is over (sadly). I am returning to the Twitter sphere! Went cold turkey, did not look at any tweets for five months!" Danowski tweeted.

He's since kept followers updated on trips to his native Long Island, summer reading, watching Hofstra lacrosse alum Peter Dante in "Big Daddy," and his successful NCAA recruiting exam.

Kelly's Trick of the Trade

I stopped by the Denver Outlaws' practice on Friday night at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium ahead of its big Major League Lacrosse tilt with the Chesapeake Bayhawks on Saturday night. The Outlaws won that game, 13-9, to remain a perfect 7-0 on the season.

On Friday, while gathering observations for a future magazine story, it was impossible not to notice the A-Train, Denver faceoff man Anthony Kelly, warming up and using a homemade contraption to do so. He attached a bungee cord to a bench using a carabiner, walked out a few feet to a stripe on the sideline and started going through his faceoff motion using an 8-pound weighted shaft. Think of it as using a heavy rubber doughnut on a baseball bat to warm up. Once it's taken off, your speed increases because of the decreased resistance.

Kelly developed the drill himself and has started sharing it. After going through several reps, soon rookie Ryan Snyder, out of Lehigh, came over to work with Kelly and asked him about the newfound trick of the trade. Snyder was added to the squad last week, but didn't dress Saturday night. He was eager to pick up tips from Kelly, and the MLL veteran was accommodating.

Shootout for Soldiers

In case you missed it on Friday, the second annual Shootout for Soldiers raised $126,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project. The 24-hour charity lacrosse game was played at McDonogh (Md.) School in its entirety despite thuderstrorms that altered some event planning.

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