In order to preview this weekend’s Duel in Denver field lacrosse game, featuring Team USA vs. Canada, LAS will be there as part of the Grow The Game Tour, and we got the chance to check in with some of the biggest stars and leaders from Team USA. First we spoke with Jesse Schwartzman, and now we kick back with Matt Danowski!
How does it feel to be selected to represent the USA at the Duel in Denver?
Matt Danowski: It’s an honor to be selected to represent the USA at the Duel in Denver, and it’s always exciting to put on the red, white and blue.
How would you describe the US Team that is playing in Denver? What are the strengths of this squad?
Matt Danowski: Obviously there are the 10 returning players from the last USA team, so that should lead to some instant leadership and chemistry. The other spots are filled with guys who have shown that they can play at the highest level but didn’t make the team last time around, so they should be willing to do what it takes for the team to play well. I think the strength of this team is in the goal, as Drew and Jesse are the top two goalies in the world.
Now that the Canadian roster has been released, how do you feel the US Team stacks up?
Matt Danowski: The Canadian roster is loaded with talent at every position. I think we match up well, with a mix of guys who have played indoor and understand their game, and two way middies who can push it in transition and keep some of their offensive guys on the field.
How can this game help prepare the US for the 2014 World Games? And how can this game help get the lacrosse world pumped up for the big event in two years?
Matt Danowski: Well I’m not sure how well it can prepare Team USA in that the team hasn’t been picked yet. This game is a jumping off point to try outs and an opportunity for guys to showcase the fact that they are willing to do whatever it takes to be on the team. It is a great event for the city of Denver, being that they are such a powerhouse lacrosse city already. The Outlaws and Mammoth draw very well so I expect a good turn out and a good dry run for the games in two years.
How hard is it to make the US Team? Describe the depth of the talent pool in the US right now?
Matt Danowski: The USA team is obviously the pinnacle of lacrosse and it is extremely difficult to make. There are a lot of factors that go in to making the team but at the end of the day you only worry about what you can control, and that’s your effort and your play. The depth of talent is staggering and that’s the way it should be. It should be a very difficult decision for the coaches because there are so many more guys playing lacrosse now all year round that they are on the top of their game.
Having played college lacrosse, in the MLL, and International Lacrosse, do you have a favorite set of rules? Is there one version of the game you like more than the other two?
Matt Danowski: I’m a big fan of both the international and MLL rules. I love the shot clock and the 2 point arc. The one international rule that gets me is that the defense has all the time they want to clear the ball, other than that I enjoy international lacrosse a lot… But at the end of the day I would have to go with MLL rules.
Should the rules be simplified into one existing code? Or does the diversity of rule sets help Grow The Game?
I believe it should be simplified into one set of rules to help grow the game. That doesn’t mean you have to have a 2 point arc in college but by keeping most rules consistent it would be easy for people to pick up the game.
What area of the US most impressed you with its recent growth? What area of rest of the the world impresses you the most?
Matt Danowski: States like Texas and California are producing some really great lacrosse players, and many of the athletes that come out of those states seem to be freakish for their age group. As far as internationally, the Canadian kids are just getting better, their skills were always there but now they are better athletes with better grades.
What does Lacrosse need to get to the “next level” in the general sporting consciousness? What are you doing to Grow The Game?
Matt Danowski: At the end of the day, lacrosse needs better coaching at the youth level so the athletes are better prepared at the collegiate level. So much of lacrosse now is just roll the ball out and play, and in turn, the fundamentals are lost, which is what your game should be based on. Fundamentals and more TV exposure, besides ESPN, will help take our game to the next level.
On a personal level I’m trying to Grow the Game by preaching those fundamentals, the importance of academics and playing other sports, and trying to represent the sport as best I can.
Any predictions for the Duel in Denver?
Matt Danowski: I predict a high intensity, well-played game, with the USA coming out on top.