Deane's drive propels UMass

School's 1st final four appearance fueled by faceoff specialist

Lacrosse Final Four

May 24, 2006|By GARY LAMBRECHT | GARY LAMBRECHT,SUN REPORTER

University of Massachusetts senior midfielder Jamie Yaman knows well enough to steer clear of teammate and roommate Jake Deane as game time approaches.

Deane, a long-stick midfielder, a senior co-captain and one of the game's most successful faceoff specialists, insists on being alone for at least two pre-game hours. During that time, he prepares by donning a pair of headphones and listening, over and over, to the song, "'Till I Collapse," by Eminem.

And that pretty much sums up the way Deane, an Annapolis native who came to UMass by way of Suffield (Conn.) Academy, goes about his business - on defense, occasionally on offense, and especially in the faceoff game.

Deane, the Minutemen's only player from Maryland, faces off with a long stick, and does not possess picturesque technique. He typically doesn't snatch the ball away from his opponent cleanly. But the long-armed, long-legged Deane, 6 feet 2, 180 pounds, makes up for it with his stick-checking ability and his dogged pursuit of ground balls. That largely explains how he is ranked third in the country with a 63.6 percent success rate.

"[Deane] is the most tenacious player I've ever been with on the field. He's probably my best friend, and he's been the ace up our team's sleeve this whole year," said Yaman, who noted part of Deane's preparation method. "He locks himself in his room in the morning before a game, listening to that same song, and keeps it up from the time we arrive at the stadium [for as long as possible].

"One time, I heard him yelling [apparent lyrics] on the other side of the wall, and I went into the room to see if he was all right. He screamed at me and told me to get out, he wanted to be alone. I don't enter the room anymore. I don't want to use `head case,' but that's the best term I can come up with [to describe Deane]."

The unseeded Minutemen (12-4) probably are not in their first NCAA tournament final four without Deane.

In two come-from-behind tournament victories over sixth-seeded Cornell and third-seeded Hofstra, Deane has won a combined 37 of 48 faceoffs, or 77.1 percent. In Saturday's stunning 11-10 overtime win over Hofstra, in which UMass trailed 10-5 with under 10 minutes left in regulation, then scored the game's last six goals, Deane went 20-for-25. He was a combined 8-for-8 in the fourth quarter and the extra period.

"I consider myself a long-stick middie. Facing off is just something I love to do," Deane said. "It looks dirty and nasty, but that's fun for me. I love to mix it up and scrap it up.

"Some [faceoff] guys might wonder, `Why is a pole out here?' They might think they can fast-break me. There are a lot of guys better at me at the initial faceoff. You might be quicker than me, but I'm going to chase after you, and if I get the ball on the ground, I like my chances."

UMass coach Greg Cannella, whose team faces second-seeded Maryland in Saturday's national semifinals at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, said one key to Deane's success this season has been the avoidance of nagging injuries that curtailed him in the previous two years. Cannella added it has been challenging to keep his faceoff star healthy, given Deane's full-speed approach throughout the week.

"Most of the time in practice, we've got to hold Jake back. Every ground ball is like his last ground ball. He's relentless," Cannella said. "It's like he wants to show everybody, `I'm going to do this the hard way and the right way.'"

Deane has plenty of experience in that area. After attending Severn School during his middle-school years, he said he wasn't measuring up academically, and looking back, it had more to do with attitude than aptitude. His parents - Jeffrey is a stockbroker, Laura is an artist - decided to send him to Suffield Academy at age 14.

There, Deane got his grades in order, embraced needed structure in his life, and excelled on the playing field. He led his school to the 2002 New England Division II secondary school lacrosse championship, made the All-Western New England team three times and was named All-Western New England Defensive Player of the Year twice.

"I had to wake myself in the morning, do my own laundry. I didn't have someone telling me to get to class. I had school on Saturdays," Deane said. "It changed me as a person. I definitely wouldn't be here with UMass at the final four if my parents hadn't made that decision."

Maryland coach Dave Cottle has been watching the product of Deane's work on videotape this week. Neutralizing Deane's faceoff success is a huge concern to him.

"Good technique, good athletic ability, great motor," Cottle said. "You can see [Deane] is an inspiration to the guys playing around him. If you have a son who wants to play lacrosse, you say watch this and play as hard as he does."

gary.lambrecht@baltsun.com

Men's final four

At Philadelphia

Saturday's semifinals

Virginia (15-0) vs. Syracuse (10-4), 11:30 a.m., ESPN2

Maryland (12-4) vs. Massachusetts (12-4), 2 p.m., ESPN2 Monday's championship

Semifinal winners, 1 p.m., ESPN

At a glance

College -- Massachusetts

Founded -- 1867

Location -- Amherst, Mass.

Enrollment -- 19,394 undergraduates

Tuition and fees -- $18,397

Famous alumni --Comedian Bill Cosby; former NBA player Julius Erving; NBA player Marcus Camby; actors Richard Gere and Bill Pullman; singer Natalie Cole; basketball coach Rick Pitino; Animal Planet's Jeff Corwin; Nobel prize winner Russell Hulse; musician Taj Mahal; Olympic gold medalists Briana Scurry (soccer) and Danielle Henderson (softball).

Academic ranking --No. 104 among national universities, according to U.S. News & World Report

School colors -- Maroon and white

Nickname -- Minutemen; the name reflects the Commonwealth's historic role in the American Revolution when colonial militia (armed citizens) turned out to fight the British at a minute's notice.

Last trip to final four -- None

NCAA lacrosse titles --None

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