Questions & Answers

Men's Lacrosse Preview

February 25, 2005|By GARY LAMBRECHT | GARY LAMBRECHT,SUN STAFF

1. Is there life after Mike Powell?

That's the question surrounding defending national champion Syracuse, which, for the first time since 1994, will not have a superstar named Powell on its roster. Mike Powell, a four-time first-team All-America attackman who led Syracuse to its third NCAA crown in five seasons last year, is negotiating a deal with the Bayhawks. The Orange has made an amazing 22 straight appearances in the NCAA tournament's final four. According to the law of averages, Syracuse's time is up. But don't bet on it. The Orange, led by senior goalie Jay Pfeifer (Gilman) and an excellent defense, should find a way to play on another Memorial Day weekend.

2. Will Virginia restore order?

After edging Johns Hopkins for the 2003 national title, the Cavaliers had a stunning collapse last spring, tumbling to a 5-8 finish that marked the first losing season in the coaching career of Dom Starsia. For the first time in more than 30 years, a defending national champion failed to make the NCAA tournament the following year. Virginia most likely will have to rebound without star senior attackman Joe Yevoli, who is expected to take a redshirt year with a back injury.

FOR THE RECORD - An item in the men's lacrosse preview package in yesterday's editions of The Sun stated that coach Jack Emmer's Army teams had never made it past the NCAA tournament quarterfinals. The 1984 Army team beat Penn in the quarterfinals, 8-7, and lost to Syracuse in the semifinals, 11-9.
The Sun regrets the error.

3. Will Johns Hopkins finally break the dreaded streak?

The Blue Jays have reached three NCAA tournament final fours and one title game under fifth-year coach Dave Pietramala, but they have been looking for the ultimate prize since 1987, when Pietramala was a star sophomore defenseman for the Blue Jays. With a tremendous senior class led by attackmen Kyle Barrie and Peter LeSueur, midfielders Kyle Harrison, Matt Rewkowski and Benson Erwin, and defensemen Chris Watson and Tom Garvey, Hopkins is poised for another crack at it.

4. How will Philadelphia stack up to Baltimore as a host?

The NCAA tournament moves its final four stage to Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia for the next two years, after a memorable two-year run at the home of the Ravens. Nearly 91,000 fans over two days - easily an NCAA record - came to M&T Bank Stadium for the Division I semifinals and the championship game last Memorial Day weekend.

5. Will the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament draw well in Baltimore?

The conference tournament (April 29-May 1) will be played at M&T Bank Stadium, which features capacity seating of 69,084. Only four schools have lacrosse programs - Maryland, Virginia, Duke and North Carolina. The tournament is not typically a hot-ticket item, and if bad weather hits the area, the venue could sit nearly empty.

6. Is Loyola ready to win again?

The Greyhounds went to the Division I tournament for 12 consecutive seasons under Dave Cottle, but they have yet to get back under fourth-year coach Bill Dirrigl. After throwing mostly freshmen on the field in 2004 and suffering through Loyola's first losing season since 1983, Dirrigl said he thinks this talented group led by sophomores Greg Leonard, Andrew Spack and Matt Cassalia and senior Matt Monfett is ready to play in the postseason again.

7. Will the NCAA introduce a shot clock?

The thought of adding a 60-second shot clock to spark more offense and less stalling has been kicked around since the 1990s, and a shot clock probably will be used at the annual North-South game in June. "It's going to get a lot of discussion," said North Carolina senior associate athletic director Willie Scroggs, the chairman of the NCAA men's lacrosse rules committee. "There are some people who are really in support of it, but I don't see it right now in the college game."

8. Who will crash the bluebloods' party?

Tired of the Syracuse-Princeton-Hopkins stranglehold on the final four? Georgetown finally made it to the tournament semifinals in 1999, but it has not been back since. Notre Dame and Towson got there in 2001 and are trying to return. Loyola has not been to the final four since 1998. Duke has been trying to get back since 1997. Navy, which played for its first national title since 1975 last May and knocked off Princeton to get there, thinks it can be there again. Among other hopefuls, we nominate Georgetown, North Carolina - which made its first tournament appearance last year since 1998 - or Cornell's Big Red.

9. Will Joe Walters put another dent in Maryland's scoring records?

The Terrapins' junior attackman is a gifted lefty who is making an early run at the marks. Bob Boniello (1977-80) holds the overall scoring record with 219 points, while 149 by Matt Hahn (1995-98) top the all-time scoring list. Through two seasons, Walters has amassed 114 points, including 79 goals, which is the most by any second-year player in Maryland history. And the best perhaps is yet to come.

10. Will Army make a postseason move like its academy rival?

Jack Emmer has won more games (315) than any other active coach in the game, and he begins his 22nd season at West Point. Emmer has guided Army to seven NCAA tournaments, never past the quarterfinals. But Army, which has been to two straight tournaments, has 27 upperclassmen on its roster and two outstanding attackmen in senior Jim Wagner (46 goals, 18 assists) and junior John Walker (37, 20).

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