When the Detroit Turbos finished in the cellar in the Major Indoor Lacrosse League last season, they never dreamed they would return to health so quickly.
The league, in its wisdom, gave the Turbos not one No. 1 draft choice, but two. OK, Detroit, now that you've chosen Gary Gait, you can have his twin brother Paul, too. With the same pick; two for the price of one.
Predictably, the Gaits are doing for the Turbos what they did for Syracuse. The Orangemen captured three straight NCAA championships under their leadership, and now the Turbos have gone from last to first. Detroit has the best record in the league, 5-1, and Paul and Gary rank 1-2 in the goals race with 30 and 19, respectively. Paul already has set a MILL single-season goals record with his 30, with four games remaining.
As the Turbos prepare to entertain the Baltimore Thunder tomorrow, a question is raised anew: Why did Detroit get two players with one draft choice when the other teams got the customary one?
"The general managers agreed the Gaits would come as a tandem, primarily as a marketing tool for the league," said MILL president Chris Fritz. "To split them up would have broken up the attraction. The Turbos deserved the Gaits because they had the first draft choice. To the GMs' credit, they felt it would help indoor lacrosse."
Thunder coach John Stewart, not one to miss an opportunity for a pun, put it this way: "They're a Gait attraction. They're stimulating interest."
There was another factor in the MILL's decision. Three teams -- New York, New England and Pittsburgh -- are sponsored by Brine Inc., a lacrosse equipment manufacturer. The other three -- Baltimore, Philadelphia and Detroit -- are sponsored by a Brine competitor, STX Inc.
Oh, yes, and the Gait twins work for STX. Given that, they would have to play for one of the three STX teams. Approval was needed, then, from Baltimore general manager Darrell Russell and Philadelphia GM Mike French to allow both Gaits to go to Detroit.
"Mike and I felt there was no sense in making a farce of it and that we should agree," Russell said. "I mean, this isn't the NBA or the NFL. We're trying to make the league work."