Editor’s Note: Mike Synek is back with a look at the North American Lacrosse League draft results, what they could mean for the league, and whether or not he thinks these guys will be able to make the adjustment to the indoor game. Mike also hits on Midwest Indoor Lacrosse Association expansion news! Exciting times for US box lacrosse.
With the North American Lacrosse League draft complete, it was very interesting seeing the selections for each team. Not quite sure the reasoning behind many of the picks as it seems many of the players chosen in the draft are not indoor players, and may have only a small amount of experience playing box lacrosse.
Here is the complete list of draft selections for the NALL:
David Earl, a solid midfielder out of Notre Dame, who also came to light as a powerhouse in the MLL with the Hamilton Nationals, was selected #1 overall by the Wilkes-Barre Shamrocks. For a guy who played in an NCAA Division 1 National Championship and who also played on a Major League Lacrosse team with some top-notch talent, I will be interested to see if this is the next step he wanted to take to further his lacrosse career.
With such a well-rounded lacrosse background, does a player like this take a first round draft pick for the newly formed North American Lacrosse League as another notch on his belt? Or does he look at it like, “well, I guess I will play since I did not make an NLL team, might as well play!“? I think it all depends on the player and the level of commitment they have towards the sport. If it were me being drafted first in any sport at any level I would be head over heels for about 6 months before it wore off.
Now the other question is do these players have the option of opting out of the NALL and playing in the NLL, or even one step further can players play in both leagues? Most likely these players will not be able to play in both leagues given that each season begins in January! So the latter is a no. But can guys opt out of the NALL to play in the NLL? The answer to that is yes, and it makes all these picks that much more tricky.
Barney Ehrmann, the second overall pick by the Hersehy Haymakers (PA), is an all around shut down defender who played at Georgetown University and went on to play in the MLL with the Chesapeake Bayhawks. The Bayhawks looked to hoist a second MLL title this year but fell to Boston 13-14 in the semi-finals. He was also named the Rookie of the Week by the MLL. It will be interesting to see how his skills transfer over to the indoor game.
Brian Caufield, a midfielder out of the University of Albany, was selected third by the Kentucky Stickhorses. Caufield was on the Tewaaraton Trophy watch list his senior season at Albany and went on the play for the Rochester Rattlers. Caufield was also in the NLL entry draft but was not picked up by any teams. He seems like a great fit for the NALL and could have a bright box future.
Photo courtesy Lax.com
The more surprising aspect of this draft is when you get into the lower rounds there are some big names that were taken.
The likes of Travis Reed, Jovan Miller, John Galloway, Jeremy Boltus, and Billy Bitter along with Grant Catalino and Josh Amidon. One has to ponder whether these players are truly set on playing in this league, or if the teams just picked them up because they are big name players out of power house college programs. All of the selected draft choices have some sort of NCAA lacrosse experience with many having MLL status. Few have much box experience.
What does this mean for the NALL? Big name athletes from big name schools! But how do their games transfer over from field lacrosse? I would be curious to see the reasoning behind some of these draft choices. Someone like Jovan Miller, who has the ability to dodge past virtually anyone in the outdoor game, will not be able to do that in the indoor game, because it is a completely different game.
Or take someone like Grant Catalino (drafted in the 5th round by the Charlotte Copperheads) who is an absolute sniper on the field but has the tendency to miss the cage… a lot. In the indoor game if he is unleashing bombs on the 4×4 cage and only hitting the cage 5 times out of 10, those 5 times he misses will most likely result in a turnover or a fast break for the opposing team. Even though these are very good lacrosse players how quick will they be able to adapt to the indoor game?
Teams have combines going until late November and then the season begins in January. That gives each team less than two months to prepare, and that is definitely not enough time for players to really hone their box lacrosse skills. On top of that the league has made the rule that teams can only practice the day of games. It will be similar to the MLL and it will be interesting to see how the season plays out. Bringing in a handful of big name lacrosse players and throwing them into a completely new game might prove to be disastrous for the league, but I hope I am completely wrong.
This move and growth structure worked in the MLL because the game is the same as what all of these players had being playing for the past 4 years in college, and the vast majority of them at a very high level. But I would venture a guess and say far less than 50% of the draft choices in the NALL have more than 2 years experience playing any type of highly competitive box lacrosse. It will be exciting to see how each of these teams fill the rest of the rosters and the player pool that amounts from each combine and free agency.
The Midwest Indoor Lacrosse Association is also making some noise in the off-season. Five more teams have joined the league for expansion of the 2012 season!!!! Detroit, Cleveland, Southern Ohio, Pittsburgh and St. Louis have all joined the league. This is a great start to the off-season for this league.
With the expansion teams, the league is now up to nine clubs! More teams than the MLL, and the NALL. Great news all around for the lacrosse community with the explosion of these two United States box leagues, and it means next year will be full of great competitive lacrosse with the MLL, NALL and the MILA all playing. I for one, am very excited!