Editor’s Note: Connor Wilson has been breaking down all the NCAA D1 teams one by one. Welcome to the Alphabetical 2013 NCAA D1 Previews! We are now at teams starting with the letter ‘D’, and Joe Eck has taken the reins with Denver, going above and beyond with his preview. Joe is picking Denver to win it all, and for that reason, he’s dropping 1,000 words on the Pioneers!
I know it may be a little bold to be making big predictions this early in the year, but I had an epiphany the other day, and well… Denver is winning the 2013 National Championship. The Pioneers went 9-7 last year, but four of their losses were in OT. Two of their other losses came by one goal (OSU early, and Loyola late), and their toughest loss was by three goals to Loyola in the regular season. Denver was right there, and in 2013, they’re going to take it to the next level.
I am a big fan of the things that Denver is doing with their program and much of this can be attributed to one man. They are running a style of lacrosse that is pretty singular to their team and talent, and Coach Tierney is doing a great job utilizing the players he has within this system. I guess what I am trying to say is… even though they are coached by an American, this team embodies excellent Canadian lacrosse, and I love it.
Even though the majority of the players aren’t even from up North, the style of the play of this team can best be summarized in three keys: the guys are shifty, the team displays great shot placement, and these guys have handles for days. Enough background and compliments though. Here are the facts:
I’m starting with this position because I feel this is where there is the biggest question, and that hole may be back. Denver hasn’t had the best run with goalies in the past. Jamie Faus was an animal in the cage before the season injuring knee injury against Notre Dame (overtime thriller) and I think that Denver would have made that much more of an impressive run this past year had he been at the helm.
That being said, if he is really back, it means he is ready to leave his mark on college lacrosse. Oh and I failed to mention it, Faus is only a Junior so you will get to see him for a few years now. Not only that, but Robert LaPlante is a more then capable goalie as he proved time and time again when broken plays and poor recovery defense left guys wide open on the doorstep (we will get to that later), so the back up option is also attractive.
Don’t believe that Faus is an animal. Check the :30 second mark, good luck scoring.
Faus didn’t start the preseason game against Maryland but they may just be resting up that ACL. If he’s back and in prime form? It only makes my case stronger.
Health has been an issue for the Pioneers defense. The defensive unit has constantly been changing due to the devastating impact that injuries have taken on this team and more specifically this defense. Consequently, the flow that most senior defenses have might take some time to show.
I believe that, knock on wood, and barring any injuries, this will be one of the most cohesive defenses in DI lax. Again, we will have to see though. Of all the guys out there, I really like Carson Cannon. This 6’4″ Sophomore has been one of the largest form of consistency for the Pioneers starting all 16 games but with him being so young, he did have some ankle breaking mistakes. He is a big body though and being so young and getting the exposure he has seen in the big games…. well, remember the name because he still has a few years to hone his skills and only seems to get better.
Not a whole lot of film on Cannon since he is so young. Found a good clip of him getting jacked up in the Ohio State game though (3:20) and him jacking up a kid (4:20):
Drew Babb is also a player to watch, and I think others could emerge as the year goes on, as top notch players.
Wes Berg and Cam Flint should really tear it up this year. I also like Tyler Simmons, another Senior, but from California, and Gordie Koerber to produce big time points.
Alright, now for the flash. The dangles, the insane catches, and just the all out Canadian stick skill madness. When people think of denver they think of flash, they think of unconventional attacking style and they think of offense. And no one knows this FLASH better then the man that has learned from the best – Attackman: Eric Law (#11).
Being named a captain, he will have to step into a role of an initiator in this offense and unlike years past, he will draw opponents’ top poles (Matthews and Demopolous usually took care of those). Add in guys like Chase Carraro and Jeremy Noble and you have talent, depth and more depth. Denver will be fun to watch no matter what!
Closing notes about Denver:
The loss of Matthews and the other 2012 offensive powerhouse players is not as big of a loss as everyone is making it out to be. Don’t get me wrong, he is an amazing handler and when asked to he can step up and deliver but he was not, as said above, the initiator, but a finisher (one of the best in the game) and without his supporting cast he wouldn’t have been nearly as good. Flint, Law, Babb, and their dodges, caused that off balanced defender that Matthews slides through. This isn’t a knock on Matthews, just a compliment paid towards the rest of the Denver crew.
Tierney has done a great job at recruiting talent and putting that talent in a position to learn from other talent. Matthews learned from guys like Cory Schaeffler and Cliff Smith, and Koerber learned from Matthews. Law is a more versatile version of Demopolus, Babb is getting groomed by Flint… it just goes on and on. Unlike the likes of Hopkins, Virginia, and the other powerhouses that have stacked senior classes every other year, Denver has powerhouse athletes of all ages to ensure that they have a lasting and sustainable talent pool. It’s a slightly different approach, but it preps them well for late runs every year.
For me, 2013 is the year they make the run that counts, and I believe they have the talent in place to do just that.
Click HERE to see Alphabetical 2013 NCAA D1 Preview posts for Air Force, Albany, Army, Bellarmine, Binghamton, Brown, Bryant, Bucknell, Canisius, Colgate, Cornell, Dartmouth, and Delaware!
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