Q&A with The Sun's Jeff Zrebiec

Reporter answers readers' questions about college lacrosse

May 07, 2004|By Baltimoresun.com Staff

Jeff Zrebiec has been covering college lacrosse at The Sun for the past three years.

Michael K., Easton: Is Salisbury as good as they seem on paper? Is the Division III Tournament even going to be close? Or is the tourney Salisbury's to lose?

Jeff Zrebiec:I'd say yes is the answer to all of the above. I've actually never seen the Sea Gulls in person this year, but in talking to other coaches, including several of Division I teams, they've raved about Salisbury. It's even been said that Salisbury could probably beat a handful of ranked Division I teams, but since I haven't seen them yet, I couldn't make that call. But just the fact that they have outscored their opposition 310-93 says enough for me. The Gulls would certainly have to be considered a heavy favorite to repeat as national champs, though I'd expect that some team, possibly even Washington College, will be able to learn from the regular season loss and at least push Salisbury in the tournament.

Stephen, Baltimore: I enjoy good lacrosse when the defense steps up and shuts down a good team. Which defensive units do you see stepping up in the postseason?

Jeff Zrebiec:I think the answer depends on what goalie gets hot in the tournament. After watching what Tillman Johnson did for Virginia last year, you cannot underestimate what a hot goalie means to a team. As for just pure defensive units, Maryland, of course, comes to mind with the individual talent they have in Chris Passavia, Lee Zink and David Wagner. I've always been impressed with Johns Hopkins' defense with Tom Garvey, Matt Pinto and Chris Watson. The Blue Jays aren't flashy and get overshadowed a little bit by all the offensive talent at Hopkins, but few units are as technically sound and consistents as Hopkins' is. Navy will also be tough, but to get away from Maryland a little bit, I think Ohio State and Rutgers both have the defense/goalie combination necessary for success in the postseason.

Bibby, Parkville: When will UMBC return to their glory days? Is Zimmerman still the man there or do they need a new coach?

Jeff Zrebiec:I think UMBC and Coach Zimmerman will be just fine. I think people might have made the mistake of just expecting the Retrievers to coast this year because their new conference - the America East - isn't as difficult as the ECAC. They still are young in some spots and the injury of attackman Andy Gallagher hurt them a little this year, but if he's healthy next year - along with Drew Westervelt and Brendan Mundorf on attack - the Retrievers will be in good shape.

Chip, Gaffney, S.C.: What are your thoughts on Division II lacrosse? Limestone is having another great season. Do you think the Saints will come marching back to Baltimore on Memorial Day Weekend?

Jeff Zrebiec:I think the Division II tournament has the potential to be as interesting as anything that will go on lacrosse-wise this month. I think the four teams people were talking about in the preseason (Limestone, Mercyhurst, NYIT and LeMoyne) are the same teams people are talking about now. I know with the amount of Maryland talent on the Limestone roster, there probably are a lot of people around here who are rooting for your guys, Chip. And with the Saints championship pedigree, I think you'd have to consider them to have a good a chance as anybody.

Christopher, Towson: Who are the most overrated and underrated players in Division I lacrosse?

Jeff Zrebiec:Christopher, I'll answer half your question but take the high road on the overrated part. I will say this though. I have occasionally heard some suggestion that Princeton's Ryan Boyle might get a little too much credit. I couldn't disagree more. The numbers Boyle puts up, especially this year with the youth that surrounds him, are impressive and he warrants any praise he gets. I think a lot of the guys I consider underrated play some of the unheralded positions. At Johns Hopkins, defensive midfielders Corey Harned and Benson Erwin are way underrated. Maryland shortstick Paul Gillette may be the poster boy for being underrated. And sorry for fixating on the local guys, but Towson midfielder Casey Cittadino is someone who is not talked about enough. In other higher profile positions, Ohio State goalie Tony Russo and defender Greg Bice, Rutgers attackman Delby Powless; Notre Dame attackman Patrick Walsh; Bucknell attackman Chris Cara and Virginia attackman Matt Ward all get All-American mention, but around here in Baltimore, you don't hear as much about these players as you probably should.

Donny, New York: Before the season began you projected Johns Hopkins and Syracuse to make it to the Final Four. I agree on those two teams but what were you thinking when you picked Virginia and UMass?

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