UM team of unity in 1st lacrosse workout

Rancor over Cottle seems thing of past


October 02, 2001|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - Fifth-year senior attackman Mike Morsell eagerly took the practice field with the rest of the Maryland men's lacrosse team last night. Senior defenseman Andy Burman did the same, and talked about winning a national championship for his new coach.

What a difference a week has made for newly installed coach Dave Cottle, whose hiring last Wednesday was met with a protest by players, who objected to the school administration's decision and threatened not to play for Cottle.

All 45 players reported on time for a scheduled fall workout last night. So much for the revolt.

"Today was the first time in a week that my phone didn't ring every 55 seconds all day," Cottle said. "It's a beautiful night for a practice. We're ready to go to work."

So was Morsell.

"We're just bringing it all together as a team. Every person is on the same page right now," said Morsell. "I think the athletic department put us and [Cottle] in a bad situation. But we support him very much. Now we know him a lot better. He's our leader."

After the players voiced their position as participants in the school's search for recently retired Dick Edell's replacement - they wanted either Gary Gait or current Maryland assistant Dave Slafkosky to take over and specifically not Cottle - a number of team members said they would refuse to play for the man who signed a four-year contract last week.

Cottle initially wavered in his decision to take the job Wednesday after running into heated opposition. But Cottle, who came to Maryland after 19 seasons at Loyola, spent the next few days meeting with players one-on-one and fielding countless calls of support from Maryland administrators and alumni, fellow coaches and former Loyola and Maryland players.

"In the last four years, I've spent so much time avoiding the lacrosse office. In the last few days, I've spent more time in there than my four years combined," said Burman.

Burman said he knows of no one on the team who plans to transfer.

"We still want to play lacrosse. That's the bottom line. In the end, we decided what's best for the team is to keep it together," Burman said.

Cottle is working with Slafkosky and Jon Stainbrook, who ran the offense and defense under Edell.

NOTE: Gait, the top assistant under Terps women's lacrosse coach Cindy Timchal who has helped Maryland win seven consecutive national titles, said in a statement that he never expected to have the men's job "handed to me." Gait widely was seen as the front-runner for the position.

"I had hoped that I would be in the right place in my career and in my life to be competitive with others who were considered for the position," he said.

"The University of Maryland is a great place to be and I will miss the opportunity to work with the men's team. With all sincerity, I wish Coach Cottle the very best."

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