December 24, 2012

Lacrosse Magazine’s Holiday Gift Giving List

by Lacrosse Magazine staff | | Twitter

Despite finishing the 2012 regular season ranked No. 1 in the country, UMass is once again flying under the radar. 
© Kevin P. Tucker 
It’s better to give than receive. In the spirit of the holiday season, Lacrosse Magazine writers were asked to give as many as three fictional presents to someone or something in the lacrosse world. Here’s what they came up with:

Matt Forman

To: All collegiate lacrosse players
Gift: A Charley Toomey speech

I want all collegiate players to hear an impassioned speech from Loyola coach Charley Toomey on the importance of staying focused this “offseason.” Winter workouts can spawn spring success — like the Greyhounds’ national title in 2012. Fall ball has finished. Exams have ended. No practices, no scrimmages, no schoolwork. It would be easy to relax. But three months of training mean nothing after three weeks of easing up. “We went through year-end meetings, and we educated [the guys]: The ball is in your court. What you do on your own, now, sets the tone for the season,” Toomey said. “That’s the conversation we’re having right now. It’s in your court. The season is in front of you. We’re chasing something. You guys have to have the drive and the desire to continue pushing yourself.” After hearing that, I’d be ready to run through a brick wall this Winter Break.

To: Rob Pannell, Peter Baum

Gift:  A pair of supersized blinders

To steal a line from Jay-Z’s Empire State of Mind, “Lights is blinding, [Pannell/Baum] need blinders.” The lacrosse media world will focus its attention not on the “concrete jungle where dreams are made of” but on upstate New York, where Tewaaraton Award favorites roam. Ithaca and Hamilton, N.Y., often reside outside the ESPNU hoopla umbrella, but they won’t in 2013, when the Pannell vs. Stanwick debates of yesteryear will become the Pannell vs. Baum battles of the present. It’ll be a fun race for us to follow and hype, while Pannell and Baum have their eyes trained forward.

To: Greg Cannella, UMass

Gift: Some preseason love

The Lacrosse Magazine staff hamster wheel continues to spin, as we’re working to finalize our preseason rankings. Without giving too much away, let’s say I was surprised the Minutemen, who finished last regular season as the nation’s No. 1 team, received only two top-10 votes from coaches participating in the polling process. Somehow, Greg Cannella’s crew is again flying under the radar. In some 2012 alternate reality — probably the one where the ESPN broadcast of the NCAA first-round game between UMass and Colgate doesn’t disappear in the third quarter because of technical difficulties — the Minutemen top Colgate, then upend Duke in the quarterfinals. Sure, UMass loses Art Kell and Anthony Biscardi at attack. But 2013 should bring more Will Manny, and more Jake Smith. Don’t sleep on that duo.

Corey McLaughlin

The Syracuse women will kick off the college season with a Jan. 13 game at Jacksonville. 
© Lee Weissman
To: Everyone
Gift: Calendar reminder

The 2013 lacrosse season will start earlier than ever this year. On January 13, the Syracuse women will play at Jacksonville on a Sunday night in Florida. On February 2, the Delaware men play first-year program High Point at Vert Stadium in North Carolina. Both Division I season-openers are in warm weather locales, a sign of the game's growth and also a sign of an expanding regular-season calendar. 

To: Lacrosse fans
Gift: The international lacrosse experience

One of the great joys of my past year was spending two weeks in a town called Turku, Finland, with the U.S. under-19 men’s national team players and staff. The story that unfolded over there during the Federation of International Lacrosse U19 World Championships was as compelling as you could have drawn up beforehand. The U.S. lost twice in the preliminary round, before storming back and avenging both losses against the Iroquois and Canada to win its seventh gold medal.

The U.S.-Iroquois semifinal and U.S.-Canada championship game buzzed with as much electricity as I’ve found at any lacrosse game I’ve ever covered. And the international spirit — from the passionate homestanding Finns, to something as simple as walking past a group of Scots with lacrosse sticks on a Turku street — was something I hadn’t experienced before. I wish everyone could. When it was all over, I found myself enjoying a beverage and a chat just outside the stadium with the event’s play-by-play announcer, who was from the U.K., and the group of Finnish lacrosse enthusiasts who couldn’t have been happier with the event they organized, drawing standing room only crowds for the tournament's biggest games. How’s that for expanding your horizons?

This year on the international lacrosse docket? The Women's World Cup is July 10-20 in Oshawa, Ontario. In 2014? The men's games come to Denver.

Mark Macyk

To: Division II women’s coaches
Gift: Garmin nüvi 50LM 5-Inch Portable GPS Navigator with Lifetime Maps

In past seasons, Division II coaches wouldn’t need to look much further south than Limestone or further west than the Ohio River to see a true contender. Rollins changed that by reaching the NCAA tournament in 2012 and more teams will soon follow. While it might be easy to locate an up-and-comer like Florida Southern, because of it’s directional name, the GPS will help the uninitiated brush up on harder-to-locate locations like Lindenwood, Regis, and St. Leo. The lifetime map updates are an added bonus, because there’s a good chance in a few years we’ll be talking about a team that doesn’t currently exist. 

To: Long Island lacrosse fans
Gift: LIU-Post sweatshirt

The defending NCAA Division II women’s champions will look a little different this year, as the team formerly known as C.W. Post has gone through a wise bit of rebranding. As much as everyone loves Cocoa Pebbles, highlighting the school’s Long Island connection is sure to draw more lacrosse recruits than its connection the 19th century cereal magnate. LIU can now position itself as the local destination on lacrosse-mad Long Island and continue to compete in a suddenly very crowded local scene, which has archrival Adelphi, and burgeoning Division I power Stony Brook and Hofstra, all battling for recruits. 

To: Everyone
Gift: Madden Lax ‘13 for PS3, XBox and Wii 

If this game is in your stocking on Christmas morning, Santa Claus has infinitely more power than we understand, because it’s not real. But if it were, it would be the must-have item on every laxer’s list. The name Madden is just for initial branding purposes; we can later give it a better lacrosse name (Suggestion: Con Bro Chill Lax 2K14). This version will allow players to select from NCAA, MLL, NLL, international and women’s teams, that way fans at home can play a 100-game series between the Iroquois Nation and the Philadelphia Wings. Also, continuous lax mini games on your Wii will make you the life of every New Year’s party.

Matt DaSilva

To: Some Division I coaches
Gift: A lowlight reel

Re-gifting this from Bill Tanton, our esteemed Lacrosse Magazine columnist: I want to give certain Division I coaches — we all know who they are — a highlight reel of them swearing on TV, foaming at the mouth as they drop F-bombs on officials and sometimes their own players. Maybe then they will appreciate just how visible they are and how poorly they reflect on our sport.

To: Early Recruits
Gift: Magic 8 ball

I want to give a Magic 8 Ball to every rising sophomore who commits to a college for lacrosse. Because at that phase of your high school career, you have no clue what you want in a college experience. This might help you make an informed decision. Will my college coach still be there when I'm a senior? "Don't count on it." (A 23-percent chance, per recent turnover among Division I men's coaches.) What's the dorm life like?"Ask again later." (Like, when you're able to make at least an unofficial visit to campus as a junior.) Am I rushing into this because I have been misled to believe there's legitimate scholarship money in the offing and because I see my friends getting ranked on recruiting lists and making verbal commitments? "Signs point to yes."

Television commentators and production teams will need find a way to explain the nuances of NCAA men's lacrosse's new 30-second shot clock countdown after a stall warning, since a physical shot clock will not be visible on the field. 
© John Strohsacker/

Joel Censer

To: Johns Hopkins coaching staff
Gift: Three-day all-expense paid trip to watch Grinnell play basketball

To those who don’t know, Grinnell is a small liberal arts college in Iowa which gets featured in The New York Times every other year because its unconventional, iconoclastic basketball team uses five-man units for just a minute or so at time, they full-court press all game and try to shoot as many 3-pointers as possible.

Whether it’s more a gimmick or a strategy, I do think if Johns Hopkins spent less time treating every possession like it was their last, it would help them come May (though I imagine the new rules already have forced their hand).

It’d also help the greater lacrosse community too. I doubt I’m the only one dreading ESPNU’s annual Hopkins-Siena February slugfest.

To: All men’s college lacrosse coaches
Gift: A bunch of stat nerds ready to work

As I was conducting interviews for Lacrosse Magazine’s preseason content, multiple Division I skippers brought up a LaxPower study on analytics in lacrosse which argued faceoffs don’t matter all that much. I found this interesting on multiple levels, mostly that the coaches seem genuinely interested in what the numbers say. With the development of Krossover, I’m sure every staff would love to have Nate Silver breaking down film and dismissing faceoff specialists.

Quick tangent: As convincing as the study was, I still find it pretty hard to believe winning possession of the ball doesn’t have much of an effect on winning games. Moreover, I wonder if the fact that the best faceoff guys often play at mid-majors (Hartford, Stony Brook, Quinnipiac, etc.), helps explain the phenomenon. Of course, I could be entirely wrong. I just wish a John Hollinger prototype with a computer program and some basic lacrosse knowledge could explain why.

To: Quint Kessenich and Co.
Gift: Easy TV-friendly tool for crews to explain new 30-second shot clock countdown

Quint Kessenich does a great job. Sure, the semi-self-righteous commentary can sometimes be grating. Yes, there are those (pink) ties that blind. But describing lacrosse to larger audiences while appeasing the Charles Street Chorus/snarky Internet commentators is no easy task. Generally, Quint walks that tightrope pretty darn well.

Still this February, he’ll have one of his biggest booth challenges yet: He’ll have to figure out how to call the new shot clock. I’d imagine an easy-to-decipher TV shot clock would help the cause. 

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