February 12, 2009

Can Gait Be in Two Places at Once?

by Theresa Smith | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

Gary Gait's busy life intensifies beginning Sunday, when the Syracuse women's lacrosse team begins its game schedule. Gait, the head coach at Syracuse, is juggling those duties with his forward position with the National Lacrosse League's Rochester Knighthawks.

On Sunday, Syracuse plays at noon at home and Rochester takes on New York at 8 p.m. at Madison Square Garden.

Conflicts abound later with Syracuse playing at Stanford on Feb. 20 and California on Feb. 22 and Rochester playing at home on Feb.21.

"We're actually going to spend about three hours this afternoon working on that with Gary,'' said Rochester coach Paul Gait on Wednesday. "Basically, it's all about personnel.  If Gary doesn't make a game, who do we put in? And how do we get that person acclimated into the lineup in advance of the game? That's something we're working on today.''

Gait's jammed schedule continues on March 14 when Syracuse plays at UConn at 1 p.m. and Rochester plays at home at 7:35 p.m. On March 21, Rochester plays at Toronto and Syracuse plays at Northwestern the next afternoon.

On April 3, Rochester plays at Colorado - where Gait played and coached, leading the Mammoth to the 2006 NLL title - and Syracuse plays at Georgetown. The following day, April 4, Rochester plays at Calgary, and on April 5 Syracuse plays at Loyola in Baltimore.

On April 11, Syracuse plays at home at 1 p.m. and Rochester plays in Boston at 7:30 p.m. On April 18, Syracuse plays at Rutgers in New Jersey at 1 p.m. and Rochester plays at home at 7:35 p.m.

The NLL playoffs could also pose conflicts with the Big East and NCAA tournaments , although the 1-4 Knighthawks are a long shot for the NLL playoffs at this point.

Blazers' Bining Rewarded for Breakout Performance

Gary Bining was the first-round pick, 13th overall, of the Colorado Mammoth in 2006. The All-American from Ohio State could not crack a talented roster that wound up winning the NLL Champion's Cup.

Three years later, the 5-foot-8, 155-pounder is part of a rookie core with the expansion Boston Blazers, not only starting but flourishing. Bining's persistence paid off in spades on Saturday when he scored the game-tying goal with 9.5 seconds left against New York. Teammate Kyle Ross took a carom off the board for the game-winner with less than a second remaining in an exciting 9-8 victory.

Bining scored three of his four goals in the final quarter and contributed an assist and seven loose balls to earn NLL Overall Player of the Week and Rookie of the Week Awards.

In six games, Bining has 11 goals and eight assists with a .275 shooting percentage. Teammates Dan Dawson and rookie Daryl Veltman also have scored 11 goals.

The other players rewarded by the NLL:

Offensive Player of the Week - Calgary captain Tracey Kelusky with four goals and five assists in a win over Minnesota.
Defensive Player of the Week - Roughnecks goaltender Pat Campbell with 38 saves against the Swarm.

Transition Player of the Week - Toronto's Chris Driscoll with two goals, one assist and 11 loose balls in a 16-9 win over Edmonton.

"Over Chris' career, that's what he's done, put the ball in the net,'' said Toronto coach Jamie Batley. "We need him to be a threat because he's got a great shot and he can run fast. We've asked him to be part of our transition and he leads that charge with a couple goals.''

Titans Share the Wealth

New York leads the NLL in assists with 22.3 per game, followed by San Jose's 21.3 and Calgary's 20.0. The Titans have the benefit of the well-rounded Casey Powell, who can score and set up teammates at an equal rate - he has a league-leading 48 points on 24 goals and 24 assists. Pat Maddalena is also a select feeder with 21 assists for New York.

Colin Doyle, the second-leading assist man in NLL history, leads the Stealth with 26 assists, and undefeated Calgary has a lefty and a righty setting up goals. Left-hander Josh Sanderson has 21 assists and right-hander Tracey Kelusky has 20 assists.

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