April 24, 2014

Tewaaraton Watch: Thompsons, Wolf Lead the Race

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

Albany's Lyle Thompson is on pace to break the NCAA Division I single-season scoring mark, assuming the Great Danes win the America East postseason tournament. (Rich Barnes)

The Tewaaraton Award selection committee will narrow the men's and women's fields for college lacrosse's highest individual honor Friday night, with announcements coming during the ACC men's tournament on ESPNU.

Who's in the lead? Who's in contention? We handicap the race.

Tewaaraton Watch is aided this round by two former winners of the award, Rob Pannell (2013) and Steele Stanwick (2011), who happened to be on hand at US Lacrosse headquarters Thursday morning. Who better to ask?

Both said it's difficult to evaluate this year's field, but Pannell mentioned, "Can you put Miles in, too?" referring to Miles Thompson, the brother of preseason favorite Lyle Thompson. Pannell is not the only one asking that question. Stanwick mentioned Duke attackman Jordan Wolf, but also said that the emergence of the Blue Devils' midfield as of late may hurt his case. All wise points.

Leaders in the Clubhouse

1. Lyle Thompson, Albany, Jr. A
Lacrosse Magazine's Preseason Player of the Year has done nothing to hurt his stock. Thompson is averaging 6.77 points per game, tops in the nation. Assuming Albany plays at least four more games — which would mean reaching and winning the America East final to ensure at least one NCAA tournament game — Thompson is on pace to have at least 115 points, which would set a new NCAA Division I single-season record. The current mark is 113, set by UMBC's Steve Marohl in 1992, when he averaged 7.6 points per game in 15 games. Can't be said enough: If Lyle Thompson or his brother Miles Thompson wins, either would be the first Native American winner of the Native American-inspired award.

2. Jordan Wolf, Duke, Sr. A
Wolf ranks fifth nationally in points per game (4.79) with 46 goals and 21 assists for the nation's hottest team heading into conference tournament season. Sure, Duke's sophomore midfielders Deemer Class and Myles Jones have emerged, but opportunities for them were initially opened up by the Blue Devils' attack, of which Wolf is the centerpiece. Duke looks like a team that will make it to Memorial Day weekend for the eighth straight year. If so, Wolf will be right at the top of the Tewaaraton list.

3. Miles Thompson, Albany, Sr. A
Lyle Thompson's brother is averaging 6.42 points per game, second in the nation, on 51 goals and 26 assists. That may surprise some, but he can do a little bit of everything (including create plenty of highlight-reel content), just like his brother and cousin, Ty Thompson. Miles Thompson is on pace for 111 points, assuming four more games, which would put him one shy of Marohl's record and give Albany a pair of 100-point producers. Wow. It's rare for one school to be represented twice in the Tewaaraton final five finalists, but if there's any year for it, it's this one.

4. Tom Schreiber, Princeton, Sr. M
Considered the top midfielder in the nation, Schreiber's four-year career at Princeton likely will end Saturday against Cornell at the Battle of Bethpage on Long Island. The Tigers were eliminated from Ivy League tournament contention with a loss last week and are on the outside looking in as a bubble team for the big dance. Only two teams — Army in 2004 and Hofstra in 2010 — have made the NCAA tournament without qualifying for their conference tournament. Schreiber's Tewaaraton case will be hurt without the Tigers in the tournament, similar to last year, when he was one of five finalists but didn't win the hardware. The MLL No. 1 overall draft pick of the Ohio Machine is one point shy of 200 for his career.

5. Kieran McArdle, St. John's Sr. A
McArdle continues to put up monster numbers, and well-balanced ones. He's got 35 goals and 39 assists for 74 points for St. John's. His 5.69 points-per-game average ranks third, behind only the Thompson brothers. St. John's has been in and out and around the top 20 all year. If they can make a run in the Big East tournament, McArdle's Tewaaraton stock would rise.

Easily Within Striking Distance

6. Justin Ward, Loyola, Sr. A
He's the offensive maestro for the top-ranked team in the country. Ward ranks 10th nationally in points per game, and he sets the able, with 42 assists paired with 13 goals.

7. Mike Chanenchuk, Maryland, Sr. M
Maryland's offense wouldn't mind if every play ended with a Chanenchuk open look, so he could can it or dish to the Terps' other talent. With 28 goals and 16 assists this season, he's the closest competition for Schreiber as top midfielder in the country. Chanenchuk leads the Terps in scoring by more than 15 points over freshman Matt Rambo.

8. Joey Sankey, North Carolina, Jr. A
Sankey is the engine of North Carolina's offense, setting up plays and picks behind the cage and on the wing. He's averaging four points per game on 30 goals and 22 assists.

9. Matt Kavanagh, Notre Dame, So. A
Kavanagh has been limited in entire games at times, but is capable of carrying the Irish offense in big moments. He has 23 goals and 23 assists this year.

10. Randy Staats, Syracuse, Jr. A
Staats' inclusion in the top 10, especially over Syracuse's leading scorer Kevin Rice, might surprise some. But Staats isn't that far behind Rice with two fewer games played due to injury. Staats is 11th nationally with 4.2 points per game; Rice sixth at 5.40. Staats, the two-time NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year and first-team All-American, has been a preeminent player for any school or team on which he's played, and it wouldn't be a surprise if he emerges on the national stage come ACC and NCAA tournament time. The Six Nations product would also be the first Native American winner of the Tewaaraton.

Also Watch

(Alphabetical order): Niko Amato, Maryland, Sr. G; Wesley Berg, Denver, Jr. A; Connor Buczek, Cornell, Jr. M; Deemer Class, Duke, So. M; Mark Cockerton, Virginia, Sr. A; Mike Ehrhardt, Maryland, Sr. D; Matt Donovan, Cornell, M; Joe Fletcher, Loyola, Sr. D; John Glesener, Army, Jr. A; Jesse King, Ohio State, Jr. A; John LoCascio, Villanova, Sr. LSM; Kevin Massa, Bryant, Jr. FO; Ben McIntosh, Drexel, Sr. M; Scott McWilliams, Virginia, Sr. D; Nikko Pontrello, Loyola, Jr. A; Kevin Rice, Syracuse A; Wells Stanwick, Johns Hopkins, Jr. A; Gunnar Waldt, Bryant, So. G.

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