Despite no Powell, draft class fills gaps

Rookies Levin, Zink give Bayhawks a boost

Pro Lacrosse

July 10, 2004|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

With Michael Powell forgoing the professional ranks in favor of a getaway summer, the natural inclination is to assume the Bayhawks suffered greatly in last month's Major Lacrosse League draft.

Quite the contrary.

The loss of the No. 1 overall choice and the most creative collegiate offensive force in the game damaged their draft, but the Bayhawks are not exactly weeping about accepting the leftovers.

If anything, playing without Powell was far preferable to the other option - playing without either Mike Levin or Lee Zink.

The Bayhawks' next two picks immediately stepped into the lineup to address the team's biggest early-season problems - goaltending and defense. After three games, they are solidly implanted.

"Our draft went exactly as we'd hoped," said player-coach Gary Gait. "They [Levin and Zink] are top picks, and we expected a lot out of them. They have given us what we were looking for."

"We weren't sure either one was going to be there when we chose," said general manager Jay Pivec. "It was very much a surprise that Levin was available at No. 10 because other teams had some goal situations that needed to be remedied."

Considered to be the second-best available goaltender to Virginia's Tillman Johnson, Levin was well aware that the Bayhawks were looking to fortify their presence in the net.

"I understood that they were definitely looking for a goalie, so I was hoping to go to Baltimore," said Levin, who played at Brown in the footsteps of Bayhawks three-year All-Star Greg Cattrano.

Johnson was taken earlier by Rochester, Levin's hometown team, and they met quickly after the draft, Johnson making 22 saves and Levin 20 in Rochester's 14-12 victory. The rematch is tonight at Johnny Unitas Stadium.

The frenetic pace in the pros has been the biggest adjustment for Levin, a three-time all-Ivy League selection.

"This game moves so much quicker and the goalies see a lot more action, a shot every minute or so," he said. "In college, one or two guys can hurt you offensively, but here every single player can hurt you offensively. It's helpful that you can give up 19 goals and still win."

That's what happened in his debut, a 22-19 victory over the New Jersey Pride.

Levin's cause has been helped by the presence of Zink, a first-team All-American from Maryland and the fifth player taken in the draft. The big defenseman has moved in alongside fellow former Terrapin Brian Reese to bolster the defense.

"With the shot clock, the game is much faster and it's also unpredictable," said Zink. "You don't really know what these guys are going to do with the ball. But fortunately, you're allowed to do a lot more [to defend] than it college. The refs are a lot more lenient."

Another adjustment for Zink has been fitting into the fabric of the team, which is loaded with All-Stars.

"In college, you're a little bit of a big deal. In the pros, you're like a small person, not so sure of yourself," he said. "I was pretty surprised to get this big opportunity so soon."

Zink said he will remain in Maryland to complete his degree and serves as a graduate assistant to coach Dave Cottle.

"I like the chance to play with Brian Reese. Being with the past Maryland guys is the best part, the guys you kind of looked up to in high school," he said.

Levin, who said his play has been "a little inconsistent," relishes the chance to compete for a championship.

"This is a perfect situation for me. At Brown, we never made it to the NCAA tournament," he said. "It's the thing that's missing from my lacrosse career. This is a great opportunity to test my ability at the highest level."

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