Thursday night I saw what the apocalypse would/will look like. Shortly after explaining to my team that my coaching strategy is based on the “Mighty Ducks” movies, the roof of our gym creaked and a panel peeled back a few inches followed by a large thud on the roof. The doors to the gym flew open and my goalie screamed, “Did you see that? Coach, it’s a ghost! Let’s get out of here!” just like Shaggy would have screamed to Scooby, if Shaggy had a thick South Boston accent and Scooby was a short angry lacrosse coach.
After safely evacuating my team, I looked out onto campus. Complete and total blackout. I drove home around 20mph, slaloming trees, branches and power lines. Every house blacked out. Every house had shadowy figures moving about. This was it. The zombies were here.
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Houseboat OR Bank vault. Why? You can wait it out on a houseboat because zombies can’t swim. You go to a bank vault because zombies don’t care about money and they’re the most secure places in the world. Think about it. Just remember to save one bullet for yourself.
(Editor’s note: Speaking of zombies, check out Crave’s zombie attack plan in last week’s edition of The Spoon Feed.)
Yeah, that was to distract you from the fact that this is not a DVR column so much as it’s a converted live commentary. The entire state went dark, man; I’m lucky I’m alive. YOU HAVEN’T BEEN TO THE SHIRE! YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE OUT HERE!
The best part about this column (aside from my frequent non-sequitur transitions) is that I get to watch every game on mute. Another weakness of lacrosse broadcasting is the lack of any personality besides Quint, and he’s not doing this game.
(Press play now if you’re following along – you don’t have to, but the column works better if you do.)
Princeton comes out in an aggressive 2-2-2 set. I like to say that the set breathes, meaning that it moves in and compresses into a tight 2-2-2 but also expands and creates almost an open wheel. Until the ball gets to the corners, where they run the mambo (pick on ball, roll off, maybe force a switch or get a better lane to goal).
The second Princeton goal is a pure overload sweep; Hofstra has yet to touch the ball due to Princeton’s aptitude at the face-off X. Look, I’m the first guy to say that FOGO’s are overrated fat guys who were too scared to play goalie, but this is the advantage of having a great unit that can win draws and keep the ball. 3-0 Tigers before I can finish typing about the first goal.
Watch the third goal again, the FO man pinch and pops the ball to himself and hits the point man. Now anyone that has played in a fast break drill knows that the first pass is usually the point man. What some coaches don’t teach is that the first look for that point man is the goal, not an automatic dump to the low attackman or even a cross pass to the low far side (which is en vogue as some new way of teaching a fast break, even though it’s usually a crappy pass and that attackman is flatfooted). The first look is to shoot for that point man and in this case, it lead to a key transition goal.
Hofstra finally wins a faceoff and goes right into Midfield sub mode by moving the ball behind cage. 1-4-1 set, immediate drive from the midfield line and an open shit to the weak side gets Hofstra a good shot, but an elbow save gives Princeton an easy clear…which they BONE by walking it up with a long pole. I thought I was watching D1 – is the club game from last night still on? A WALKING failed clear with no cutting midfielders? Really?
Princeton’s D is throwing a quick slide from the crease at the Pride, but the beat man isn’t going back into the middle or rotating on time. If Hofstra can get some better looks at goal this could be a closer game than it seems to be at the moment. Hofstra has horrible movement, a great longpole run begets another Princeton shot, but it’s stuffed and he gets drilled for his efforts. I love when poles run the ball down and then get popped. That’s how I got switched to attack. Memories.
Princeton calls a great time out, even though there are six minutes left in the quarter, it’s a fairly standard practice to call a timeout per period at any point where you need to get your bearings or reset your personnel for an important possession. I know a ton of coaches at the D2 and D3 level that save their timeouts and use them to bail their kids out of bad situations. That’s not what timeouts are for.
The refs aren’t calling moving picks on anyone. One thing I’ve noticed about picks and the game lately is that refs are enforcing the “you have to TRY to get around the pick” rule. It sucks that you can’t bash right through the guy anymore. And yes, you used to be able to smash the guy’s teeth into the back of his skull as long as it LOOKED like you didn’t see him. I liked it; it discouraged setting picks all over the field and on ball. I cannot stand this on-ball pick phase that the game is in right now. It’s HIGHLY overused, especially because it seems like every team runs the damn mambo form behind the cage with two guys picks and passing while everyone else up top fingers wedgies out of their shorts.
Hey look; someone forgot to tell New Balance that Chazz doesn’t even start for his MLL team. Nice commercial, I liked it better when Kyle Harrison made the same one last year.
Princeton is running a rotating 1-4-1 with the second crease man floating away from the right side of the rotation. Maryland usually runs this rotation with a more strict emphasis on the off ball rotation. Princeton is content to get its strong side moving and hit the rollback or dodge off the twisted feet of the defenseman. The tigers have taken a lot of shots from distance today out of this rotation, they were getting much better looks earlier in the game with their expanded 2-2-2.
Matt Striebel teaching us/you how to shoot in that little segment was great EXCEPT you can’t cross your feet behind you when you line up a shot because you will inevitably catch your toe on your heel and you’ll either fall or screw up your motion. Also, if you rewatch the instructional, you can see that Striebel ISN’T crossing his back foot behind his plant foot, he’s clicking it into his heel, which is the way you’re SUPPOSED to teach it. Come on, man, the kids are watching. Don’t teach swag technique. And lay off the conditioner.
Princeton has switched its offense again and is now dodging shorties and not relying on their rotation. I gotta say, this Bates guy isn’t afraid to adapt – more than I can say for someone else in this game…And may I say, I’m happy to see a dodge from the wing on the seventh Princeton goal. Why don’t more teams dodge from the wing? It’s always north south or south north with every damn coach in the nation. East/West does work when it is executed properly.
Wow, great sidearm shot with a pole. I wonder why you missed? That’s terrible. I’m not mentioning your name or number Mr. Hofstra defenseman, but I could and I should. Longpoles – it’s cool to handle the ball any way you want. Power cradle, sideways ladle, Doerr ankle – but seriously NEVER shoot the ball sidearm in a game. Ever.
It seems that in the middle of my rants, this has become a tie game. Another Dpole lesson on that game tying Pride goal – don’t pass back in a scrum unless you are absolutely certain that your goalie is the only guys back there and knows that you are doing it. Otherwise you look stupid on pseudo-national TV. Hahaha, ref yelling at players for droping F bombs. Hilarious. How about you throw a flag, zebra? I get one tossed on me every time I drop a flying duck and I’m a coach.
Finally, a stalling call on Princeton. Love the stall call; it NEVER gets called enough in D1. Honestly, it’s the only thing preventing the shot clock from coming back. Refs should have their own clock in their head. “Hey if these guys are just passing the ball around for more than a minute I’m going to call it” it’s that simple.
Princeton is in control heading into the half, timeouts in both coaches pockets. Hey, if you want to be a college coach, here’s a simple tip – use your goddamn timeouts. Seriously, even if there’s like 8 seconds left and there’s a dead ball at half field, use the timeout. Settle everyone down. Don’t get caught up in the tempo of the game – CHANGE the tempo of the game to favour your team.
AHHH! TALKING PIG CUTTING SHOES! WHAT IS HAPPENING? Oh. It’s another Warrior commercial that doesn’t make sense. Hey Warrior, free advertizing gimmick – have Geoff Snider crash a U-15 game and start crushing kids off of every face-off. Dress the burly Canadian in all black and have him just sniping kids with shots and body checks all over the place. Oh that’s NOT what you’re going for with your ads? Are you sure? The giant paper mache pig cutting up your training shoes is a BETTER idea? Right.
Another better idea that’s free from me- why aren’t we interviewing coaches at halftime? You did it in the Georgetown Maryland game, ESPNU. Instead we get talking heads with pastel ties? Are you kidding me? I mean, at least the highlight melts correspond to the commentary, but talk to the coaches. It just makes lacrosse look bush-league when we don’t address the coaches going into the second half. Am I right or am I insane?
Hofstra in their 3-2 man down D. Princeton 2-3-1, looking to shift that X-man for a sneak yet again. And they do. This time it’s a much more obvious rotation, and the man up is wasted by Princeton. Another moving pick. I mean seriously, refs either you call the moving pick or just let the D-man crush the picker. There isn’t a ref within 10 yards to even see if that’s a moving pick.
Hofstra doesn’t see that Princeton is playing their middies high side and giving the underneath AND they’re not moving when the ball is in the air -something that every defense needs to do in order to properly adjust. The Princeton D looks very tired in this second half. Walking into position, late slides. And surprise, surprise it’s a tie game again. I know only 4 minutes have elapsed, but call the timeout. You need this Faceoff. No timeout. Come on. Hoff iso-ing up top, hits a skip and when you hit that skip across the field the dump is ALWAYS there. Its 10-9 Hofstra has their first lead of the game.
Princeton’s 11th goal is a perfect example of poor sliding. The second slide was never ready and when it came it consisted of two homerun checks. You don’t go for checks when the opponent is two feet away form the crease, you clean him out. Take the penalty if you have to, but destroy that guy. There was enough time, trust me. If you can throw two checks you have enough tie to at least get a hold in if the angle is bad.
Great feed for Princeton’s 12th goal. The goalie can’t chase that pass unless he’s 100% certain he can get it. Great finish, but the goalie was woefully out of position. Probably because it’s a new goalie. Yikes. Pulling your starting keeper in the first game of the season?
(FYI: You’re 2,000 words deep, there’s no turning back now.)
One thing a stall count does for you as an offense – it loosens up the defense. Princeton scored in that moment of loosity – looseness – loosie? It was visible on the field that the Hofstra D relaxed as soon as the stall call was made. Crease man gets backdoored because he’s thinking about margheritas and lady parts and then you have a Princeton goal. 13-11 turns into 14-11 real quick off of an easy sweep. There’s really no defense for a great sweep. Sure you can slide adjacent early, but that will just open you up to a better shot inside unless you cheat on that second slide and leave the farthest man. Making a skip pass while you’re running full speed and negotiating a slide is nigh impossible. But hey, who slides adjacent these days?
Whoa! Face dodge! Face dodge! I love it. No slide = goal. Dodge from the wing anyone? Anyone? No slide from the crease? Both of these defenses look sporadic in their efforts today. I know it’s early in the season, but both sides have seriously fallen asleep at the wheel numerous times for easy goals.
Another wing dodge for Hofstra, another goal. At this point I’m just going to say that Princeton has no idea how to deal with a dodge from the wing. They’ve been burned every time a Hofstra player has decided to take it inside from anywhere but up top. Shortstick defense is nearly nonexistent for them, and the slides have been late since the second quarter. Conversely, the Hofstra defense has been victimized by great outlets and ill-advised movement up field by their longpoles. Princeton has been sweeping on nearly every possession and then hitting the back door cut on either a rollback or a backdoor cut.
Zzz…..Sorry I dozed off after Princeton was called for stalling. Again. Princeton Goal off of a backdoor cut. Didn’t see THAT one coming. Are we sure that Bill Tierney left or did he just switch bodies with this Bates guy? Tierney seems like the kind of guy that would pursue that technology. His obsession with making the game boring is legendary, as is his quest for eternal life. It only makes sense.
Why can’t you switch hands Hofstra player who never switches hands! Oh. You’re Canadian. Thanks Canada! Choke on your gold medals. Another miscue leads to a Princeton fast break goal. If you took all of Princeton’s fast break goals out of this game Hofstra might have won this contest. If they the Pride had players that could switch hands and a coach that used his timeouts they DEFINITELY would have won.
You can see it on Seth Tierney’s face in that one shot after the game is over. You know, the one where it looks like he’s going to throw up. Let it go, Seth. Just let it go.
There’s always next week. Well, for me anyway. Set the DVR, gents and lady, because if you thought this column was negative, you ain’t seen nothing until a UNC fan tears into a Duke/UMD game.
Editor’s note: All in-game photos courtesy of Lax.com
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.
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