Sum more than parts

Lacrosse: Tucker Radebaugh may not be a natural, but he has been pure gold for Virginia.

April 23, 1999|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

Nobody praises Virginia attackman Tucker Radebaugh for his speed or quickness. Yet he zips through a 2.1-mile course in 10 minutes, 15 seconds -- nearly two minutes faster than most of the Cavaliers.

And few think of Radebaugh as one of Virginia's premier shooters. But he has racked up 90 career goals and could finish among the school's top five all-time scorers.

So why is Radebaugh, a player without a true position and armed with average natural talent, among the best attackmen in the nation this season?

"He's an unusual young man," Virginia coach Dom Starsia said. "He's the hardest-working player I've ever been around. He doesn't have the superior playing tools, but has the work ethic and determination like no one else."

Chalk it up to the pressure of carrying on the family tradition.

His one brother, Dan, carved his name into the game with his roughhouse play at Maryland, being named the Defenseman of the Year in 1995. That same year, his other brother, Sean, showcased his slick passing skills and blistering shot at Salisbury State, where he received Division III first-team All-America honors.

But somehow the lacrosse genes got watered down when it came to Tucker.

"The game came a lot easier to Sean and Dan," said their father, Steve. "Tucker has had to work a lot harder than either of them. And they'll be the first to admit it."

Unlike his brothers, Radebaugh didn't graduate from Loyola High School or choose to start his college career at Maryland.

Instead, Radebaugh transferred from Loyola to St. Paul's as a high school sophomore and then selected Virginia over College Park.

Those decisions led many fans and players to label him "traitor" throughout most of his playing career. But he doesn't expect to hear such sentiments when the Cavaliers play the Terrapins tonight in a first-round Atlantic Coast Conference tournament game.

"I think most of that has blown over now," Radebaugh said. "But just the Maryland-Virginia rivalry gets you pumped up. They think we're a bunch of lawyers and doctors, and they're the rough, physical guys. It's kind of white collar versus blue collar."

Radebaugh, however, doesn't fit under a specific label.

He helped out on faceoffs his freshman year and labored through the NCAA tournament with a broken foot. The next year, he more than filled a void in the first midfield, earning honorable-mention All-America honors.

As a junior, Radebaugh shifted to attack, where he handled a majority of the ball-carrying duties and quietly led the Cavaliers with 26 assists and 56 total points.

That production made the opposition take notice this season, assigning their best defensemen to Radebaugh.

A heavier responsibility and bigger challenge? That's a comfort zone for this workhorse.

He has scored a career-best five goals twice this season and has registered at least three goals in his last six games. More importantly, he has made them count, notching three game-winners.

"Even I sometimes overlook his talents," Starsia said. "I always say Jay Jalbert is our most dangerous guy. Drew McKnight is our most complete guy. And Tucker is out most fierce guy. But there's no doubt that we take our cue from Tucker Radebaugh."

Several players still remember Radebaugh leading the team huddles as a sophomore. And they've learned from observing his work regimen as he became the first Cavalier in nearly three decades to win the team leadership award twice.

While other players practice behind-the-back passes, Radebaugh lifts weights and runs year-round. When others envision athletic dodges around the crease, he works tirelessly on his shot.

It's all about returning to the NCAA championship game, a place Radebaugh hasn't visited since the Cavaliers lost to Princeton by a goal when he was a freshman.

"After my freshman year, I noticed that I didn't have the athletic ability of a Michael Watson or a Casey Powell," Radebaugh said.

"I realized I have to work twice as hard to produce like they did. I just put that in my head."

ACC lacrosse tournament

At Chapel Hill, N.C.

Today's semifinals (Seedings in parentheses) (2) Virginia vs. (3) Maryland, 6 p.m. (1) Duke vs. (4) N. Carolina, 8: 30 p.m.

Sunday's championship

Friday winners, 3: 30 p.m.

Radebaugh's stats

A look at Tucker Radebaugh's four-year statistics, including games played, goals, shots, assists, total points and ground balls:

Yr GP G Sh A Pts GB

'96 16 10 44 7 17 30

'97 14 24 57 11 35 29

'98 13 30 80 26 56 50

'99 9 26 73 12 38 26

Tot 52 90 254 56 146 135

Pub Date: 4/23/99

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