Hi, it’s Kyle. I just wanted to preface this…whatever it’s going to be with a few random bits of introductory knowledge. I had all these crazy analogies and video clips prepared to start this column. You know, stuff from the Heath Ledger oeuvre, some Grandma’s boy clips. Pictures of the Red Lantern Corps with a giant red guy saying, “There is much anger in your heart”. You know, the usual Kyle Devitte column. In case you haven’t read my work before I’ve been told that it’s anywhere between “Bill O’Reilly and Jim Rome” in it’s ability to anger people. Damn, I was going for Bill Simmons.
I digress. Here’s a more traditional open. I’m not a huge fan of the slow burn, but it was needed here. Just work through the boredom, the bombs drop a few paragraphs down.
What was life like before the Internet? Like, what did people actually do with their time? How did people work? Did they use phones? Did the phones have cords? I don’t know, man I just don’t know.
I find myself asking similar questions about my DVR. How did people watch TV without a digital recording device? Or even see programs they may have missed? VCR’s existed, yes, but who actually used them?
Things are different now. We can control what we watch and when we watch it. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. For example, I’m sure you know that ESPNU and CSTV are televising more lacrosse games in 2010 than ever before. If you don’t have ESPNU you’re probably super pissed. Sorry. Get a dish, it’s cheaper than living in regret your whole life.
Speaking of regret, I’m pretty sure this next paragraph is going to anger a lot of people. It’s cool, that’s just what I do. Usually I’m joking, but this time I actually mean it so take that into consideration.
The lacrosse media is preoccupied with names. Names of players. Names of schools. Names of sponsors. They love lax. Not lacrosse. They love bros. Not brotherhood. They love hair that flows. Not games that flow. I know this because I am one of them. I got caught up in it. I thought it was cool. I thought it might ingratiate our great sport into the zeitgeist of our culture. I was wrong. It made us look stupid. It made me look stupid. I am sorry.
So in an effort to atone for my sins and the sins of my brothers, I bring you this column. Every week I am going to break down a game that you can DVR. And by break down I mean actually examine the game. Not the players. In fact, there will be no mention of players. Players are numbers. You want a column from me about players you can wait until the summer when I provide the only honest and brutal editorial commentary about the MLL. The MLL is all about players.
There will be no players in this column. Players will be referred to by their jersey number only. This column isn’t about sensationalism. It’s about teaching the game. I’m not going to tell you why you like college lacrosse better – I’m going to show you. The biggest difference between the league with the best players in the world (MLL/NLL) and the league that produces the best players in the world (NCAA) is coaching.
There’s a reason that Cornell went to the finals last year. There’s also a reason that they lost. If you saw the game, and hopefully if you’re a lacrosse fan at all you did, you know that the game-tying goal was scored as a result of a botched clear. Games are won and lost like this every week in NCAA lacrosse.
That botched clear got maybe 20 seconds of explanation on air and afterwards. Why? Well, to start no one likes vilifying the players because they’re college kids. It’s fine to build them up, but unlike EVERY OTHER SPORT IN THE WORLD the lacrosse media never criticizes, players OR coaches. Again, this column won’t be about tearing players down. That would be easy; I could do that all day. Seriously, read one of my MLL columns; they’re a like a firing range run by the ghost of Ray Charles. No one is spared.
But here – here is not the place for stray bullets. This is a place of healing. A place to teach. You see, I’m not just a pissed off writer. I’m a [pissed off] lacrosse coach. Truth be told, I’ve been a lacrosse coach a lot longer than I have been a lacrosse writer. I am entering my seventh year as a collegiate coach and my second year as a division three head coach. If you don’t believe me you can google it. I’d tell you what school I work at but I’m pretty sure I’m not allowed to, and the only connection between my writing and my coaching is this column. I’m going to break down offenses, defenses, substitution patterns, face-offs, set plays, dead ball situations, clears, man up offense, man down defense, coaching philosophies – all of it.
Each week I’m going to pick a game on the ESPN family of networks and analyze it. I mean really pick it apart. Do you know what offense Hopkins runs? Do you know UVA’s man up? Better yet do you know how either one of those works? Those are the questions that I’m going to answer.
The idea behind the column was born out of another sleepless night of me trying to find a way to merge my two careers for more than financial gain. Ahahaha, I’m sorry I can’t even keep a straight face when I type that. No one EVER pays you on time for writing about lacrosse and it’s never as much as they say it will be. Oh, man, hold on I need to wipe the tears out of my eyes…there. This column is my [selfish?] attempt to merge my talents, yes. However, I will also endeavour to answer the existential question that plagues our sport:
How would you describe lacrosse to someone that has never seen it before?
Now how would you do that if the person had never seen any other sport?
Do you think that you could do that?
Well…tough binkies I thought of it first.
Here is the schedule of games that I have selected to break down, in order:
Sat, Feb 27 12:00 p.m. Hofstra at Princeton ESPNU
Sat, Mar 6 11:00 a.m. Face-Off Classic: Duke at Maryland ESPNU
Sat, Mar 13 2:00 p.m. Georgetown at Syracuse ESPNU
Sat, Mar 27 12:00 p.m. Johns Hopkins at Virginia ESPN2
Sat, Apr 3 12:00 p.m. North Carolina at Johns Hopkins ESPNU
Sat, Apr 10 6:30 p.m. Big City Classic: Princeton at Syracuse ESPNU
Sat, Apr 17 4:00 p.m. Smartlink Day of Rivals: Navy vs. Army ESPNU
Sat, Apr 24 11:00 a.m. Warrior Invitational: Denver vs. Fairfield ESPNU
Sat, May 1 5:00 p.m. Cornell at Princeton ESPNU
Sat, May 8 12:00 p.m. Johns Hopkins at Loyola (Md.) ESPNU
If you don’t like the game selections I’m sorry I’m not sorry.
About the author: Kyle Devitte has written for The Boston Cannons, LaxUnited, The MLL, Inside Lacrosse, LaxNation and the New England Lacrosse Journal. He is currently head coach of the Daniel Webster College men’s lacrosse team.
Want to contribute to Lax All Stars? Drop us a line at [email protected].