Loyola's Jamie Hanford is the best dual weapon in lacrosse, but don't attempt to explain that to him.
Name another team who asks a player to take on the physically grinding task of faceoffs and then match up against the opposition's top attackman. Yet Hanford excels at both and single-handedly changes the facets of games, giving the Greyhounds numerous scoring opportunities by dominating the draws while silencing the other team's attack.
Although Hanford won't admit it, many perceive him as one of the top workhorses in college lacrosse history.
"He's done more for this team and this program than any player we've ever had," said 16th-year Loyola coach Dave Cottle. "As a coach, when you have something special, you ask more out of him. You hold him to a higher standard than you hold the rest of our players. But he's willing to bear that responsibility."
When No. 7 Loyola plays at No. 2 Syracuse tomorrow, Hanford will again become the focal point.
The Greyhounds want to keep the ball out of the Orangemen's sticks, and Hanford can accomplish that by controlling faceoffs. Loyola also has to find a way to contain Syracuse's Casey Powell, and will call on Hanford to defend him.
"He does more for us than anyone else on the team," said Greyhounds goalkeeper Jim Brown, who also rooms with Hanford. "He realizes that because he has to do so much that he has to put all the extra time in. I can't say I would want to do it, but he loves to do it."
Hanford watches more game film than any of the other Greyhounds, dissecting the opposition's faceoff moves and looking for any tendencies of his defensive assignment. He pounds on his teammates for hours in practice but still makes time to work on improving his quickness on draws.
"I don't really look at it as playing two positions," said Hanford, who has been Loyola's primary faceoff specialist and a starting defenseman for all four years. "I've been facing off and playing defense since I was a senior in high school. I don't know how to play any other way."
That's the same way he feels about his unique style of facing off. While most players take draws using short sticks, Hanford utilizes his defenseman's long pole.
In those mad scrambles on faceoffs, it's regarded that players can control ground balls better with short sticks and strip those using long poles.
But don't tell Hanford that the other players have any advantage. He has only won 77 percent (71 of 92) of his faceoffs during a five-game winning streak and leads the Greyhounds with 34 ground balls.
"If anything, I have an advantage," said Hanford, who will take his 1,000th faceoff later this season. "If I lose the faceoff, I have the long pole and I can play defense right there."
It's a complete turnaround in Hanford's mentality as a freshman. That's when Hanford always felt he was at a disadvantage, pressing to make a flashy play on the defensive end.
He'd throw every check imaginable, giving attackmen the chance to dodge past him. Now Hanford thrives on keeping his man in front of him with positioning, communicating with his defense and taking the ball away occasionally.
At 6 feet 2, 215 pounds, Hanford also has the strength to hold attackmen at bay and presents an intimidating picture with straggly hair and menacing goatee.
"If I was an attackman, I think I'd be a little scared of him," Brown said. "It would be like a big grizzlie bear coming at me."
It's an image that opponents can see all over the field.
Try to solely nullify his presence on faceoffs and he'll still batter your top attackman. Concentrate only on breaking him down on the defensive end and he'll play keep-away with your attack, winning draw after draw.
"If you're playing us, you should start with: What are we going to PTC do with Hanford?" Cottle said. "I don't think anyone who plays us doesn't consider how Jamie Hanford's impact on the game will be."
Making a difference
Loyola defenseman Jamie Hanford has been the major key in the Greyhounds' five-game winning streak, dominating possession by winning faceoffs and grabbing ground balls.
Opponent...... FO W-L .. Pct. .. GB
N otre Dame .. 15-4 .. .789 ..... 9
Fairfield .... 10-4 .. .714 ..... 4
Brown ........ 14-8 .. .636 ..... 4
Ohio State ... 18-1 .. .947 ..... 5
Towson ....... 14-4 .. .778 .... 10
Totals ...... 71-21 .. .771 .... 32
Pub Date: 4/03/98