In his regular Saturday column, lacrosse analyst Dan Fleuette discusses and comments on the latest news from the world of lacrosse. Be sure to check this space every Saturday at Breitbart Sports for incisive analysis and news of all things lacrosse.
Belichick Sets Eyes on Lacrosse Glory
Amanda Belichick that is. And yes, she is the daughter of one of the best coaches to ever grace an NFL sideline, New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick. Amanda was named the interim Head Coach of Wesleyan University’s lacrosse program last summer, and will make her head coaching debut for the squad on March 1.
Her famous dad, Bill Belichick has a long history as a player and fan of the game. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 1975, where he was team captain, and even attends NCAA lacrosse games during the NFL off season.
Amanda Belichick will try to bring her father’s winning ways to Wesleyan where she played as a student from 2004-07. She’ll have her work cut out for her. The program has not seen a winning season for six years and has 13 freshmen on the squad after three of their top players graduated last season.
Belichick began coaching in 2007 as a high school coach, before moving up to the college ranks in 2010.
It will be fun to see if the coaching magic runs in the family.
2014 Tewaaraton Watch List
The Tewaaraton Award is a yearly award given to the top male and female lacrosse players in the country, as determined by “coaches from all three NCAA divisions during the collegiate season.”
The first round of players to watch was released on Thursday. Throughout the season, other players have an opportunity to earn a place on the list. On March 20 and April 10 the Tewaaraton Foundation will name additional players to the list.
On April 24, the list will be narrowed down to the top 25 players in both the men’s and women’s programs, with the list narrowed down again to five each on May 8. May 29 the winners will be announced at the Tewaaraton Awards ceremony in Washington, DC.
Surprising nobody, US Lacrosse reports that “ACL injuries are the leading cause of game and practice missed time by lacrosse athletes.” What is different these days is how athletes are rehabbing.
“Through the early 1980s, just one-third of people that suffered ACL tears opted for surgery. Most simply modified their activities and focused on rehab. Conversely, nearly 100 percent of today’s ACL tears result in surgery, a statistic driven by athletes who want to return to competition.”
When I played lacrosse in high school, I would joke that I could always spot other lacrosse players by who was wearing a knee brace. That I was able to play my entire lacrosse career and not blow out my ACL was something of a miracle I thought. Or maybe I just wasn’t trying hard enough.
Either way, knee injuries are still common in both men’s and women’s lacrosse, but the treatment has changed considerably since the 80s.
ACL tears used to be a sure ticket to the bench and likely out of sports altogether. But as elite athletes such as the Minnesota Viking’s Adrian Peterson and New England Patriot’s Tom Brady have proven, it is still possible to play at a high level following a major knee injury.
US Lacrosse notes that “research indicates less than 70 percent of athletes who sustain an ACL injury return to the same level of play.”
The American Journal of Sports Medicine, in a study from 2010, suggests that number may, at least for lacrosse players, be considerably lower, “Sixty-seven percent of patients attempted some form of sports activity by 12 months postoperatively; 33% attempted competitive sport.”
They do note however that “Patients who played sports with a seasonal competition, versus a year-round competition, were significantly more likely to return by 12 months.”
The best way to ensure your knee performs as needed is not to injure it in the first place. To help facilitate fewer injuries US Lacrosse is studying the prevalence of ACL related injuries in lacrosse.
“A current pilot study funded by US Lacrosse will identify the most effective exercises to reduce ACL injuries among high school players. It incorporates a 20-minute warm-up of dynamic exercises. While still in the preliminary stages, the data collected could help players, coaches and athletic trainers implement a warm-up routine that more effectively reduces injury risk.”
Terps Swipe ‘Cuse Spot
The Maryland Terps ran away in what amounted to a statement game against #2 ranked Syracuse in their first (and last) ACC matchup. The Terps moved up on the Warrior Media Poll from 5 to replace Syracuse at #2, setting up this weekend’s matchup with #1 Duke at Maryland’s Byrd Stadium.
In the game, Maryland fell behind 4-2 early before promptly going on a 10-0 scoring blitz in the second quarter, and cruising to a 16-8 victory. They dominated Syracuse across the board and Syracuse never really made it interesting after that scoring barrage.
Syracuse problems began at faceoff where they were thoroughly outplayed, with Maryland winning 19 of 27. Syracuse has been able to overcome woes at the X in the past, but if the rest of the team doesn’t step up, 2014 could be a long season. Not that I’m counting them out. They usually find a way to persevere.
Nike/US Lacrosse Reveal High School Top 25 Preseason Rankings
Maryland teams hold two of the top five spots (Boys’ Latin #1 and Georgetown Prep #5) in the Nike/US Lacrosse top 25. There’s lots of East Coast representation, but its nice to see a California team holding down the anchor.
Meanwhile, the Under Armour/ Inside Lacrosse rankings still has two MD teams in the top five, just not the same two – as St. Paul’s takes Georgetown Prep’s spot at #5)
Army Black Knights announced this week the addition of women’s lacrosse, upgrading the current club to a full fledged program, starting 2015. In all, over sixty six new programs have been added to the college ranks since 2012, which is a blistering pace.
Beginning in 2015-16, women’s lacrosse will become the 10th member of the Patriot League, which currently supports American, Boston University, Bucknell, Colgate, Holy Cross, Lafayette, Lehigh, Loyola and Navy’s women’s lacrosse programs. This announcement will elevate West Point from the competitive club level, from which it has competed since 1979, to varsity status.
Director of Athletics Boo Corrigan said, “We believe the sport speaks directly to the warrior ethos that is one of the bedrocks upon which West Point is built.”
“This addition makes sense for us,” Corrigan added. “The academy has supported women’s lacrosse at the club level for many years and has had great success…We look to be successful on the lacrosse field and in the development of women officers in the U.S. Army.”
Another convert to the game of lacrosse? Toronto-based blogger Daniel J Rouse at MyTelegraph writes a funny post about his first experience at a Major League Lacrosse game, where he saw the home team Toronto Rock in action against the Minnesota Swarm. He seemed genuinely shocked to discover that it wasn’t at all like the Harry Potter game of Quidditch, writing “I was always under the impression that it looked like quidditch, but with butterfly nets instead of magic.”
(Personally, I’m genuinely shocked to find that that a fantasy game from a wizard movie has an entire wikipedia page devoted to the rules of the game.)
Rouse notes, after his astonishment wears off, that “it was evident that it is a tough sport. When in possession, they carry around their lacrosse sticks low and threateningly as if in pursuit of a victim. When they promptly pass the ball to a teammate they slash it down, making it appear more like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre than a pleasant jog after butterflies – and this was without an opposition.”
Along the way Rouse finds a few benevolent Sherpas to acclimate him to the game, give him some background on some of the finer points, and finally remove his preconceptions, and see the game for what it is.
He wraps up with this observation, “Somehow, the sport prevailed. Its relentless pace and non-stop attacking made it a gripping game to watch…For me, if you’re going to watch live sport in Toronto there are two clear winners: baseball and lacrosse.”
Game of the Week
Duke -vs- Maryland
After Maryland’s blowout win over then #2 Syracuse last weekend, #1 Duke strolls in to College Park eager to prove they’re still the team to beat. The defending national champs are undefeated to start the year, which is a big accomplishment for a team that has a reputation for shooting themselves in the foot early in the year. It will be interesting to see if Maryland is up to the task of unseating a top ranked opponent two weeks in a row.
With Duke averaging 13.3 goals/game to Maryland’s 15.3, this game could well be a shootout.
Games on Tap
Complete list of this weekend’s schedule at Inside Lacrosse.
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