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NCAA Scrimmages: Why College Teams Should Scrimmage Pro Teams

A few weeks ago, I was able to attend a preseason scrimmage between the Boston Cannons and the Harvard Men’s Lacrosse team. It seemed like it could be an interesting mix depending on the format and how they decided to run things. Once I arrived, I immediately fell in love with the setup and am convinced that more teams across the NCAA should have been trying to take advantage of this.

Harvard is going through a year where they aren’t in a position where they need to replace everything, but they don’t have Morgan Cheek and the Ivy League as a whole has stepped up their game big time. If they don’t make some real improvement, they’ll be perpetually left behind. With the new rules in the NCAA, scrimmaging MLL players is a brilliant move. They’re going against elite players who are used to playing fast.

For the Cannons, this was a chance to get on the field as a whole team, which is a rare opportunity at this point in the year. It was essentially an early training camp before they actually have a training camp. They didn’t have their NLL players, but nearly everyone else was present. And as will always be the case for the MLL right now, the PLL is looming in the background. Even though players have not all officially signed, every MLL team is in the midst of a major roster makeover. The Cannons are no different. They need more time to see players on the field together. But, the best part about this was the dynamic.

When two NCAA teams scrimmage, they’re still potential opponents. Unless it’s a situation where it’s a Division I against a Division II, Division III or Junior College, they have to keep some things a little close to the chest. By scrimmaging an MLL team, they can be much more collaborative. In this case, they started out by having a joint practice before the full scrimmage. Players were mixed up so Cannons defense would play the Harvard offense, the Cannons man-up would play the Harvard man-down etc. Really giving the Crimson every chance to see something new. A big part of this was also the Cannons could serve as a much better scout team than what Harvard could put together.

I would love to see every MLL team try to pull off this same sort of setup. Down the line, getting PLL teams doing the same would be great, but given their model of distributed players and no central base, that may be a logistical challenge.