I was extremely curious to see if Rob Pannell could pick up in Major League Lacrosse right where he left off in the college game, and after his first trip out with the big boys, it looks like he will be able to do just that.
My main concern with every college player making their MLL debut is that they will not be prepared for the sheer physicality and overall speed that the league offers game in and game out. I know Pannell is a little hulk, sees the field like an eagle, and all that, but just facing the MLL type of play is different, and can be daunting, so I was curious to see how RP3 reacted.
As you can see in the clip above, he did just fine. Actually, he was better than fine. He was still Rob Pannell! I should have known better than to be concerned…
Basically, I thought that Pannell would be severely challenged by how physical MLL defenders play. It’s not that I didn’t think he could take a beating or adjust to the style, but the atmosphere is just so different from the college game, that I was sure it would take him at least a game or two to adjust. Man, I hate being wrong.
Pannell was able to deal with the physical play, and use it to his advantage, just like he did in college. He backed guys in, waited patiently for defenders to get over-aggressive, drew penalties, and charged hard to the cage when he got the chance, effectively keeping his man on his heels for much of the game. He also made Joe Cinosky look foolish once or twice, which is always impressive.
Pannell let the game come to him, and didn’t demand the ball as much as he did in college. His teammates giving him the ball so much (and Coach Spallina saying they would do so), probably helped his transition immensely, and RP3 looked like he had been a Lizard for longer than just a couple of days.
Pannell’s successful transition to Major League Lacrosse definitely speaks volumes about his ability as a player. He never looked out of place on the field, and at times, he almost looked dominant. Of course all of this also speaks volumes about how important New York believes him to be, because they put him, a rookie, in a key spot right away.
As the season wears on, we’ll see whether New York’s new look team can turn into a dominant force in the MLL. One thing we don’t have to wonder is if can Pannell hack it in the MLL… He’s already given us an emphatic “YES” on that one.