Preston: Huguely trial should wake up everyone

February 25, 2012|Mike Preston

As the verdict on George Huguely V was being announced Wednesday night, some of the national television experts were treating it as if it were a game.

Everyone wants to be first in breaking the news, but then we started getting into which side won and which side lost.

There were no winners in the dual tragedy involving University of Virginia lacrosse players Yeardley Love and Huguely. Love lost her life. Huguely could face 26 years in prison after he was found guilty of second-degree murder in the alcohol-fueled beating death of Love.

Everybody lost and if we're not careful, we'll all lose again.

Whenever something of this magnitude happens in lacrosse, there are always fingers pointed at the sport as if it only happens in lacrosse.

The sport is an easy target because it is dominated by an affluent culture . Lacrosse has its issues, but if you think excessive drinking is just a lacrosse problem, then you're wrong. If you think excessive drug use just happens in lacrosse or at private schools, then think again.

These issues are everywhere and in just about every high school in America. The same problems are prevalent in college football, basketball and regular student life on campus.

And if you want to see rampant alcohol abuse, go to any NFL parking lot several hours before a game on Sunday.

"First of all, it's sad, a tragedy," Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said. "This is much deeper than a lacrosse problem, and we've got to use this as a teaching moment. We've talked to our players about alcohol and their relationships with women. We want our players, our kids, to have a good time in college, but we also want them to be responsible and realize that they might be in a position where they can hurt themselves, family, teammates and friends. We have warned them to be careful."

"Just last week in the locker room, I was telling our players that they have to be responsible off the field, and they have to take care of each other," Loyola coach Charley Toomey said. "Sometimes you have to walk away or walk to counseling. Everybody has to keep their radar up _ teachers, parents, coaches, players_ to recognize any problems."

UNC controls faceoffs

If No. 4 North Carolina (3-0) has a weakness, it is on defense but few teams will ever get a chance to expose the Tar Heels because they have R.G. Keenan.

Keenan, a sophomore, has won 48 of 61 face-offs this season with a winning percentage of .787. Attackmen Davey Emala (7 goals, 3 assists), Jimmy Bitter (7, 2), Joey Sankey (5, 4) and Marcus Holman (5, 3) lead North Carolina in scoring, and the Tar Heels have outshot the opposition, 144-89.

Keenan is the main reason Navy (1-1) virtually has no chance of upsetting North Carolina on Saturday .

Nadelen to get taste of rivalry

Towson (1-1) and No. 17 Loyola (1-0) have played 53 times, but the Greyhounds, who trail by one game in the series, will have to make some adjustments because Towson has a first year coach in Shawn Nadelen, who replaced Tony Seaman.

Toomey, though, won't be totally unfamiliar with Towson because the Tigers offensive coordinator Anthony Gilardi spent three previous seasons in the same position at Navy.

"We spent some time looking at some old Navy film, and they are doing some of the same stuff like the inside ally dodges and jamming the ball inside," said Toomey. "The concern is that they ran a lot of different stuff against Jacksonville than they did against Hopkins, so it looks like they have installed a lot. On defense, they are very disciplined."

Denver coach takes new stand

I love it that Denver coach Bill Tierney is supporting a shot-clock in an effort to speed up the game and increase the tempo, transition and scoring opportunities.

It was Tierney who championed the slow-down game when he was at Princeton in the 1990's. The Tigers weren't athletic enough to run with the great teams, and Princeton liked to play zone which resulted in most of their games being low scoring.

But now that he is in Denver and getting a lot of Canadian players and scoring goals in bunches, Tierney wants a shot clock and a faster game.

Go figure.

Division I players keep getting bigger

There will never be true parity in Division I lacrosse. More and more teams are playing, but those traditional powers such as Hopkins, Virginia and Syracuse have too much depth and size.

Two of the Blue Jays top midfielders are John Ranagan (6-3, 210 ) and John Greeley (6-3, 215). When Towson played Hopkins in the opener, the Tigers' starting midfielders came up to Greeley's and Ranagan's armpits.

When UMBC played Maryland last season, the Terps were so much bigger that they laughed about seeing high school teams bigger than the Retrievers.

They not only have more skillbut more meat.

Villanova could shock this season

Keep an eye on Villanova this season. The Wildcats offense has a lot of motion and movement, and they cut like good, high efficient basketball teams. Tierney's sleeper team is Loyola.

On the flip side, why isn't Georgetown a consistent power? Also, Hofstra might have a down year as well.

Slow start doesn't stop Duke

It really was no big deal when Notre Dame upset top-ranked Duke, 7-3, last week. Blue Devils head coach John Danowski, starting his sixth year at Duke, has an 81-20 overall record at the school, and six of those losses have come in February.

But in April and May, he's been a terror.

mike.preston@baltsun.com

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