March 18, 2014

Tuesdays with Corey: Off-Field Training, Diet Key for Miles Thompson

by Corey McLaughlin | | Twitter | McLaughlin Archive

Miles Thompson lost 40 pounds heading into his junior season, then added muscle this offseason and is currently carrying a 200-pound playing weight. (Greg Wall)

Don't get too high with the highs or too low with the lows. That's what Miles Thompson said he's been trying to keep in mind this season.

"There's been a lot of publicity right now," the Albany attackman said of the spotlight on his brother Lyle, cousin Ty and him this year.

Attention within the lacrosse world is one thing, and that's certainly been there, but a front-page article about their story in The New York Times last week is another. "That was pretty cool," Miles Thompson said.

The newsprint in The Old Grey Lady came five days before Albany was handed its third loss of the season, by a 12-11 score on Saturday from visiting Bryant, which dominated faceoffs, got solid goaltending, threw a zone look at the Danes and kept the ball away from the Thompsons just enough to win. Yet the star trio still combined for seven goals and eight assists.

Ty Thompson scored to pull Albany within one with less than a minute left, but Kevin Massa won his 22nd faceoff and Bryant ran out the clock. Reigning Tewaaraton Award finalist Lyle Thompson had seven points, five of them assists.

It was another high, another low. Albany is now 2-3 and ranked 19th by Lacrosse Magazine. The Great Danes' three losses have all come by one goal, and they've scored 25 and 14 in the two wins against UMass and Harvard.

Albany leads the nation with 15.8 goals per game. Miles is tops with 4.4 scores per outing, while Lyle and Miles rank first and second nationally in points per game; Lyle with 12 goals and 24 assists (7.2 points per game) and Miles with 22 goals and nine assists (6.2).

But the Great Danes' defense ranks 57th in goals allowed (12.20) out of 67 NCAA Division I men's lacrosse teams.

Albany remains the presumptive America East favorite, and conference play hasn't started yet. A game at Penn State, another up-and-down team carrying NCAA tournament ambitions, awaits Saturday. The league opener is March 29 against Vermont.

So all in all, it's probably wise of Miles to heed the advice of older brother Jerome Thompson, who played at Syracuse and is feeling pretty good himself with the National Lacrosse League's Edmonton Rush, off to an all-time league-best 10-0 start. The reminders to stay even-keeled come frequently via text messages.

Inside Miles' Transformation

One of the more underreported aspects of the Thompson trio, and Miles in particular, is the work he put in off the field heading into the 2013 season and again heading into 2014. Through a no-carb, no-sugar diet and exercise, he dropped 41 pounds during the winter of 2013, going from 226 pounds down to 185 at the start of last spring. This winter he focused on adding muscle and is playing at 200 pounds. "To do that is a real discipline," Albany coach Scott Marr said.

"It definitely made me lighter on my feet," Miles Thompson said. "I'm moving way better on the field. I've got more confidence dodging. The way I see it helping me is I can see the double [team] and get away from the double a lot easier, because I can move a lot better."

Statistically, thorough five games this season, Miles Thompson's goal-to-assist ratio favors more goal scoring compared to a season ago, while Lyle's breakdown is exactly 50-50 (see chart at right).

"That's one thing that Lyle told me, too," Miles Thompson said. "He's like, 'Bro, I feel like I'm more confident in you carrying the ball.' When I used to dodge, the double would come and they'd get me because I was a lot slower. Now I'm lighter on my feet, I can get away from that."

Which Thompson Is Scoring?

  2013       2014    
G or A/PTS %   Games G or A/PTS %
Lyle Thompson
17 G - 50/113 44.2   5 G - 12/24 50.0
    A - 63/113 55.8     A - 12/24 50.0
Miles Thompson        
12 G - 43/73
58.9   5
G - 22/31
    A - 30/73 41.1     A - 9/31 29.0
Ty Thompson 18 G - 54/68
79.4   5 G - 14/14
    A - 14/68 20.1     A - 0/0 0.0

Miles Thompson worked with his cousin, Bill O'Brien, who doubled as his trainer, at home on the Onondaga (N.Y.) reservation two winters ago. One of the first things they did was change up his diet. He made it point to switch from eating typical college meal plan favorites like pizza and burgers and focused on healthier options, more vegetables and foods, that according to O'Brien, Native Americans traditionally respond better to. Thompson stopped drinking soda and still drinks only water.

"The basic diet prescription is, if it can run, swim or fly, eat it," O'Brien said. "If it comes from the earth, it must be alive and grow to be consumed, such as vegetables, sweet and white potatoes. Have protein, a.k.a something with eyes, at every meal with vegetables. After workouts, and right before, consume energy foods like sweet potatoes and rice. These allow the body to properly nourish and grow."

When Miles Thompson first started the diet, older brother Jerome was on it, too, and they held each other accountable. Miles currently lives at Albany with Ty, Lyle, his girlfriend and their two kids, and she also eats healthy. They cook a lot at home.

Diet was one thing, but there was also serious weight and body training. At home, most recently over winter break, Miles Thompson trained with O'Brien five to six days a week. In the morning, there was weight training. At night, conditioning, sometimes in the form of lacrosse. Lyle and Jerome Thompson joined at times.

The regimen, according to O'Brien:

Monday (Dynamic effort lower): Mid-high rep explosive lower body work (jumping, squatting, lunges, car pushes).

Tuesday (Maximum effort upper): Move as much weight as possible to increase strength (bench, push press, pullups).

Wednesday: Speed work and conditioning, all running-based.

Thursday (Dynamic effort upper): Mid-high rep ranges, increasing muscular endurance.

Friday (Max effort lower): Explosive strength exercises for the lower body, trying to move as much weight as possible.

Saturday (Armageddon): Weighted pullups and dips, getting after some serious arm work, with core work as well.

Sunday: Rest and recovery.

"I've worked with several athletes in the past," O'Brien said. "What separates Miles' results from the rest of the pack is his innate ability to push through the pain, the point of exhaustion and continue to work. His dedication and work ethic is second to none."

Miles Thompson said keeping up with the off-field diet has been key, too.

"You could do all the work, but diet is key," he said. "You have to put good stuff in your body."

According to him, that includes venison, which packed the freezer at the Thompsons' off-campus house as Miles spoke by phone about the transformation. He hunted deer at home on the reservation during the last break and brought the spoils to Albany.

Three Stars

Top performances from the week that was:

Zach Miller, Denver, Fr. A
The freshman scored a career-high five goals in Denver's 9-5 win over Ohio State, and executed a hidden-ball trick with Pioneers midfielder Jeremy Noble. Miller downplayed his individual performance afterward, which is nice.

Mike Tagliaferri, North Carolina, R-Fr. M
The California native is one of the best athletes in college lacrosse. He was a two-sport, four-year athlete at San Ramon Valley (Calif.) High in lacrosse and football, a two-time California lacrosse player of the year in 2011 and 2012, and was a member of the U.S. under-19 men's national team that won gold in Finland in 2012. But Tagliaferri injured his shoulder during his freshman fall of 2012 in Chapel Hill, had surgery that October and redshirted last spring. He's been on the outside of the Tar Heels' starting lineup, but came up big with three goals on Saturday to help North Carolina force overtime against Duke. The hat trick tied with Jimmy Bitter for the team high.

Erik Smith, Air Force, Sr. M
The first-ever Major League Lacrosse draft pick from Air Force (fifth round, 37th overall to the Boston Cannons) showed his versatility in a 15-12 win over Jacksonville on Saturday. The senior captain scored three goals, won nine of 13 faceoffs and had a team-high six ground balls. "Erik Smith had a great game," Air Force coach Eric Seremet said. "Today he proved why he is a true leader and will be a great value to the Air Force. He is tough as nails."

Last week's stars: Joe Fletcher, Loyola, Sr. D; Christian Knight, Cornell, Fr. G; Gunnar Waldt, Bryant, So. G

Looking Ahead

The top games this week (all times Eastern):

1. No. 9 Syracuse (4-2) at No. 4 Duke (6-2), 12:30 p.m. Sunday
The national title game rematch now comes in ACC play. Syracuse must do better on faceoffs against Brendan Fowler and company.

2. No. 1 Maryland (6-0) at No. 7 North Carolina (5-2), 2 p.m. Sunday
The Terps will look to go 3-0 in ACC play, facing their toughest opponent since March 1 against Duke, a 10-6 win after which Maryland took over the nation's top ranking.

3. No. 10 Johns Hopkins (5-1) at No. 8 Virginia (6-2), 4:30 p.m. Saturday
Two teams coming off a loss will be hungry for a win in this rivalry bout.

4. No. 19 Albany (2-3) at No. 14 Penn State (3-3), 1 p.m. Saturday
After losing to UMass on Saturday, the Nittany Lions are not in good position for an NCAA at-large berth, which is their only route to the big dance.

5. No. 3 Cornell (6-0) at No. 12 Penn (3-2), 1 p.m. Saturday
The Ivy League battles continue. The top four in the conference remain ranked in the LM Top 20. Cornell's No. 3 ranking will be tested.

Honorable mention: UMass at Fairfield, 3 p.m. Tuesday; Princeton at Villanova, 7 p.m. Tuesday; Hofstra at St. John's, 3 p.m. Tuesday; Cornell at Colgate, 4 p.m. Tuesday; Loyola at Georgetown, Wednesday; Princeton at Yale, Noon Saturday; Lehigh at Army, Noon Saturday; Harvard at North Carolina, 7 p.m. Tuesday; Boston University at Bucknell, 1 p.m. Saturday; Hofstra at Drexel, 4 p.m. Saturday

End Lines

The young bucks — the eight Division I men's programs to start within the last four seasons — are doing quite well. Second-year program High Point has won six games in a row, most recently beating UMBC 17-15 on Saturday. First-year program Boston University won its first game in varsity program history on Saturday, downing homestanding Lafayette 12-7. That came a week after Richmond did the same by beating Vermont. Richie Meade's Furman team sits at 0-7, but aside from a blowout loss to North Carolina in game two, it has not lost by more than 10 goals and lost to Michigan 11-9 two weeks ago. Meanwhile, the Wolverines picked up their first conference win by beating Bellarmine on Saturday in a game touched on by ESPN announcer and contributor Eamon McAnaney here. Mercer picked up its third win of the year, albeit 8-3 against a VMI team that was ravaged by food poisoning ahead of the game. Marquette, with a 15-10 win over Detroit, had what coach Joe Amplo said was "the biggest win of the year for us." Monmouth is still looking for its first-ever win, but lost to Bryant by a respectable 12-7 score last time out.

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