Hopkins' Durkin cautious about early success

Loyola's MacDonnell questionable for classic

March 05, 2010|By Edward Lee | edward.lee@baltsun.com

Since he joined the Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse team in the fall, freshman Tucker Durkin has been treated to several dinners by fellow defenseman Matt Drenan, a senior.

"Sometimes he'll take the bill, and sometimes we'll split it. I never have to pay for the whole thing," Durkin said with a laugh. "That's why I keep going."

Durkin can repay the favor with his continued play as a starter for the No. 5 Blue Jays (3-0), who meet No. 8 Princeton at the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday.

Only the third freshman to start on defense under coach Dave Pietramala since Chris Watson in 2002 and Drenan in 2006, the Under Armour All-American leads the team in caused turnovers with five and is tied for second in ground balls with seven.

But Durkin isn't ready to declare his rookie campaign a success just yet.

"It's definitely a transition," he said. "Everyone seems to be faster and stronger, but playing against our guys in practice definitely helps. So in games, it's not too bad. It was really tough when I first came in the fall, but I'm becoming more comfortable as the season progresses."

Pietramala called Durkin a "workmanlike" defender who has worked to succeed first-team All-American Michael Evans.

"I think Tucker has a level of maturity and a level of poise for a young guy that has really allowed him to do what he needs to do," Pietramala said. "I don't think Tuck tries to do more than is necessary right now. He's a meat-and-potatoes guy, a no-frills, low-maintenance guy. He comes prepared, he's excited to play, and I don't think he takes his opportunity for granted."

Under Pietramala, Johns Hopkins has developed a reputation for suffocating defense. Durkin understands that he is being asked to uphold that tradition.

"There's definitely some pressure, but playing with Matt Drenan and [senior] Sam DeVore, they've helped me to stay relaxed in pressure situations," Durkin said. "Even in practice, when it gets really tough, they're very helpful in kind of keeping me relaxed and helping me focus."

MacDonnell questionable
No. 10 Loyola's bid to knock off No. 4 Notre Dame in the finale of the Face-Off Classic - an event of which The Baltimore Sun is a sponsor - could hinge on the availability of Cooper MacDonnell.

The senior attackman is nursing a sore right shoulder that he injured in the Greyhounds' 11-5 victory over Quinnipiac on Saturday. MacDonnell did not travel with the team, which beat Bellarmine, 14-8, on Wednesday, and he is considered questionable for Saturday.

"We were hopeful that he might be able to take the field against Bellarmine, but he was unable to do that," coach Charley Toomey said. "He is absolutely day-to-day. We'll see."

Toomey said he is not concerned that MacDonnell's injury could end his season, saying that the "worst-case scenario" is that MacDonnell - who is tied with senior attackman Collin Finnerty for the team lead in points with nine - could miss the next two weeks.

If MacDonnell cannot play, freshman Patrick Fanshaw will likely start in his place. Fanshaw, a Glyndon native and Calvert Hall graduate, scored three goals in his first career start on Wednesday.

Five Loyola freshmen miss game
Five Loyola freshmen did not play in Wednesday's game against Bellarmine as the school looks into possible violations.

Toomey confirmed the players' absences but declined to identify them or explain the decision.

"We did not travel with five young men, five freshmen, and that's it," he said. "It's in the school's hands right now, and we're just going to try to get back to lacrosse. We're on spring break right now, so there's really been nothing done from the Loyola side."

Toomey said he was unaware of a timetable regarding a decision on the players' status for the rest of the season or their return because the school is on hiatus.

"Nothing will be formally handled until starting next week," Toomey said, adding that any possible discipline won't disrupt the team. "It affects the team in that they're teammates, but we're ready to play. So we're going to be fine in that sense."

Crotty not focusing on Tewaaraton
Before the preseason began, Duke senior attackman Ned Crotty was tabbed as the favorite to win the Tewaaraton Trophy, given to the sport's best college player.

Crotty, who led Division I in points (78) and assists (55) last spring, said he has mixed feelings about being associated with the Tewaaraton.

"The Tewaaraton goes to the best overall player in the country, and anytime people predict that's where you will end up, it's a great honor," he said. "But at the same time, my biggest concern is what happens with Duke. It's very complimentary that people think of me that way as I've worked very hard on my game, as everybody else on our team has. So to be thought of in that way is definitely nice, but the main concern is that Duke is winning and the team is doing well and that we're playing on the level that we know we should be."

ESPN analyst Quint Kessenich said Crotty's candidacy suffered after the Blue Devils' 11-7 loss to No. 4 Notre Dame dropped them from No. 1 to No. 6. Crotty said losing out on the Tewaaraton wouldn't be bad if it meant collecting another end-of-season trophy.

"If we end up winning the national championship and someone else wins the Tewaaraton Trophy, I have no problem with that," he said. "At the end of the day, it's a personal award, and myself and everyone else on this team wants a national championship."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.