Fall rises in importance as Hopkins, Towson plan Tourneys offer gauges for teams' new coaches

October 09, 1998|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Sure, results in the fall tournaments never count toward the regular season. And the NCAA has never crowned a lacrosse national champion with autumn's leaves still draping the playing fields.

Still, this two-month preseason -- "fall ball" -- could prove pivotal this year for Johns Hopkins and Towson. For the first time in 15 years, two area Division I schools have new coaches, placing more importance on their team's performances in the fall ritual.

After a month of practice, Division I teams begin play tomorrow with two tournaments in the area, including Lacrosse for Leukemia at St. Paul's, which will mark the first coaching appearances of Hopkins' John Haus and Towson's Tony Seaman for their new schools.

"This fall is critical," said Haus, who was named the Blue Jays' coach after leading Division III Washington College to its first national title. "I have to evaluate all of my players and also the personalities of all my players. That's a big part of the fall season."

Lacrosse for Leukemia, called the Greyhound tournament the previous three years, will also include Loyola, Cornell, Duke, Syracuse and Virginia. All proceeds will benefit the Leukemia Society of America.

The schools, which have combined for 20 Final Four appearances in the '90s, will each be playing in honor of a child who suffers from the disease. The event is expected to raise nearly $50,000 for patient services, education and research.

"For me, the fall is very important this year," said Seaman, who was forced out at Hopkins on June 22 and accepted the Towson job a week later. "For the first time, I'll see them in pressure situations, and that's really important."

But Seaman won't see how the Tigers react against his former team tomorrow. The tentative round-robin schedule doesn't include a showdown between Towson and Hopkins, who meet in the regular season on May 1.

Unlike during his years at Hopkins, Seaman has scheduled two fall tournaments for Towson, in order to better scout his players. Haus, however, has opted for just the one tournament for the Blue Jays, who have three returning first-team All-Americans and are considered by some to be the preseason No. 1 team.

"We're not concerned with winning and losing right now," Haus said. "We've made some adjustments in our offensive and defensive plans. So we're trying to work those things out right now."

In addition to Hopkins, the other five area Division I schools will play in the 17-team Princeton tournament on Oct. 18.

"I know that some coaches put more emphasis on the fall because they feel like they're jockeying for position as far as the preseason rankings are concerned," UMBC coach Don Zimmerman said. "That may be true. But bottom line, when spring rolls around, you got to win to get to the tournament."

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Fall tournaments

Tomorrow

Lacrosse for Leukemia

At St. Paul's School, 10 a.m.

Cornell, Duke, Johns Hopkins, Loyola, Syracuse, Towson, Virginia.

Navy tournament

At Naval Academy, 11 a.m.

Air Force, Navy, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Stony Brook, Washington College.

Sunday

Penn State tournament

At University Park, Pa., noon

Bucknell, Ithaca, Mercyhurst, Penn State, Radford, Villanova.

Rutgers Fall Classic

At New Brunswick, N.J., noon

Drexel, Georgetown, Maryland, Rutgers.

Hobart Fall Shootout

At Geneva, N.Y., 11 a.m.

Colgate, Herkimer JC, Hobart, Lehigh, Ohio Wesleyan.

Oct. 18

Princeton Invitational

At Princeton, N.J., 10 a.m.

Army, Brown, Butler, Delaware, Drexel, Georgetown, Hobart, Lafayette, Loyola, Maryland, Massachusetts, Navy, Pennsylvania, Penn State, Princeton, Towson, UMBC.

Oct. 24

Syracuse Pumpkin Stickout

At Syracuse, N.Y.

Syracuse, Nazareth, Colgate, Herkimer JC, Syracuse Alumni All-Stars.

Pub Date: 10/09/98

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