For the first time in college lacrosse history, Baltimore schools rank 1-2 in the nation.
In yesterday's U.S. Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll, unbeaten Johns Hopkins, picked No. 5 in the preseason, earned the No. 1 ranking. The Blue Jays knocked off last week's top-ranked team, Syracuse, 15-14, in a crowd pleaser at Homewood Saturday.
No. 2 Loyola College is 4-0 after its 17-10 win Saturday over Massachusetts. Loyola's big achievement this season was its win nine days ago over North Carolina, then No. 2.
It's nothing new for Hopkins to be No. 1. The Blue Jays have won or shared the national championship 42 times. But until recently no other Baltimore school was a factor in Division I.
Coach Dave Cottle came to Loyola in 1983 and built that program. His Greyhounds finished in the No. 2 spot in 1989.
At Towson State, Carl Runk, the coach for 25 years, has made his Tigers into a playoff team. Towson finished No. 2 to Carolina last year.
Towson is also 3-0 with wins over Delaware, Maryland and Villanova and was ranked fifth in the USILA poll. Adding to the excellence of the Baltimore area teams is 13th-ranked UMBC, which is 5-0. It's possible for six teams from the state to be in the top 10 in the near future. No. 8 Maryland and No. 12 Navy, both with winning records, had good wins Saturday over C.W. Post and Duke, respectively.
The emergence of Hopkins and Loyola as the No. 1 and 2 teams marks a resurgence of this area as the lacrosse hub. Central New York has had a pretty good claim to that in recent years with Syracuse winning Division I titles, Hobart winning Division III and Herkimer winning junior college championships.
Tony Seaman, in his second year as Hopkins' coach, professes to have little interest in polls at this stage of the season.
"I want to be No. 1 on May 26," Seaman said Saturday. The NCAA championship game will be played May 25 at Penn.
* In basketball, Towson State, champion of the East Coast Conference, is one of only four Division I teams in the country that have won their conference titles the past three seasons. The others are East Tennessee State (Southern Conference), Murray State (Ohio Valley) and Princeton (Ivy League).
No wonder Towson coach Terry Truax leaves the ECC after 10 years with mixed feelings. Says Truax: "We're not going to have an easy time winning in the Big South. They have some good teams. Campbell is far from being the only one. Getting Devin Boyd back next year will make it a little easier."
* North Carolina's Dean Smith, for whom Truax once coached, has his Tar Heels in the NCAA's Sweet 16 for the 12th straight year after their 64-55 win over Alabama in the East Regionals Saturday.
Smith, who has coached Carolina for 30 years, has a philosophy I'd want my son's coach to have. Says Dean: "If you make every game a life-and-death situation, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot."
Like another coaching giant, football's Joe Paterno, Smith wants his players to have "other things they're interested in during their college experience." Some 96 percent of Smith's players have graduated.
* Highlight of this week's NCAA basketball tournament play to me is Thursday's Duke-Seton Hall game in Philadelphia. Duke's Bobby Hurley will be playing against his brother, Danny, in that one. Their father, Bob Sr., made a hit when he brought his St. Anthony's (N.J.) High team here in December to play Dunbar and Southern.
* A basketball coach with a big name, Valvano, first name Bob (he's a brother of Jim) has received a lot of support from the Washington media upon his firing as coach at Division III Catholic U. I can understand that. The Valvanos are media darlings.
Valvano's firing is a strange one. He won 21 games this year. Coaches who win 21 games just don't get fired. But the administration at C.U. knows Bob Valvano and objects to his vulgarities and profanities. It seems to me the university has done a courageous and commendable thing.
* The Orioles' Luis Mercedes can run like the wind and he can hit but, watching him last year, I was shocked at his poor baseball instincts. He misplayed another ball in the outfield yesterday in the 5-0 loss to Texas. Mercedes in the outfield scares me.