May 13, 2011

Injuries Plague Denver Draft Class

by Corey McLaughlin |

Denver loaded up in the draft, including No. 3 overall pick Billy Bitter, but injuries to Steve Serling and Jack McBride during the college season has knocked the Outlaws' class down a peg.

© Gray Quetti

Major League Lacrosse turned the rookie draft on its head this year, holding it not only for the first time before the start of the MLL season, but also before the start of the spring college season.

In January, MLL's six teams drafted college seniors whose eligibility would run out at end of this college season. Those players still had a year to play, so general managers and coaches hoped players stayed healthy and watched this spring with intrigue. With the MLL season beginning Saturday for all six teams, draftees will soon join the pro league if their college seasons are already over, or will get set to join teams once they end.

Here's a look at the Denver Outlaws for the 2011 MLL season — with a rookie emphasis.

Denver Outlaws

Head coach:
Tom Slate
Top pick
: A Billy Bitter, North Carolina, No. 3 overall

The impact: "Billy is a dynamic, explosive player who can get to the net and score," Outlaws general manager Brian Reese said. "He can be a very good attackman but could also run at midfield and be a really tough matchup. I think, if healthy, he can be a real playmaker."

He joins: A Brendan Mundorf, M Max Seibald, M Peet Poillon, A Drew Westervelt, D Lee Zink

Other draft picks: M Steve Serling, Hofstra*; D Brett Schmidt, Maryland; A Grant Catalino, Maryland; A Jack McBride, Princeton*; LSM Andrew Irving, Notre Dame; M Andrew Lay, Denver; G Adam Ghitelman, Virginia.

Key storyline

Denver's had enough regular season success and is the league's top-drawing franchise, but it hasn't been able to break through in the playoffs. The Outlaws failed to win a championship last August in their fifth straight postseason since joining MLL in 2006.

"We are going to do whatever it takes to win," said Reese, who shook things up by stepping down as coach to focus on being GM. "From the front office to the players, we are committed to winning a championship and will do whatever it takes to get that done."

Former assistant Tom Slate is the new head coach.

* Of any of the league's six teams, Denver was affected most negatively by drafting before the season. Steve Serling, a fifth-year senior at Hofstra, playing career remains in doubt with a spleen injury and Jack McBride missed most of the season at Princeton with a groin injury and will use a fifth-year of college eligibility at a school to be determined. He for sure won't be with the Outlaws this year.

Last year: 8-5, lost in semifinals

2011 Schedule (Game times local to Denver)

Home games at Invesco Field at Mile High, Denver, Colo.

May 14 vs. Hamilton Nationals, 7 p.m.
May 21 at Boston Cannons, 5 p.m.
June 3 at Long Island Lizards, 5 p.m.
June 11 vs. Chesapeake Bayhawks, 7 p.m.
June 18 at Hamilton Nationals, 5 p.m.
June 25 vs. Long Island Lizards, 7 p.m.
July 3 vs. Boston Cannons, 7 p.m.
July 16 vs. Rochester Rattlers, 7 p.m.
July 23 at Rochester Rattlers, 5 p.m.
July 30 vs. Boston Cannons, 7 p.m.
Aug. 6 at Long Island Lizards, 5 p.m.
Aug. 13 at Chesapeake Bayhawks, 5 p.m.

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