The Tewaaraton Award was a hot topic of discussion in the college lacrosse world this year. The potential for disappointment is always present, but this was the first year I can remember where people seemed really concerned about how the award was decided, even if the ultimate winner, Peter Baum of Colgate, was more than deserving, which he was.
There is no doubt in mind that Baum deserves the honor. He took Colgate to new heights in D1 lacrosse, made the Raiders a very dangerous team, put up a ton of points in the process, and always drew the opposition’s attention. He played with a target on his back and was capable of taking over a game like few other players in recent memory. If Colgate had made it one or two rounds further in the NCAAs, even CJ Costabile’s biggest fans would be saying Baum deserved it 100%.
Usually, the Tewaaraton Committee seems to look for a player that elevates an elite team to even higher standards. With the exception of Doug Shanahan, the inaugural winner out of Hofstra, every winner’s team has made a deep run into the NCAA playoffs. Until now. But that just goes to show you how good Baum really is. Typically, the Tewaaraton places a premium on winning big games late in the year, and in order to buck that trend, you have to be truly outstanding, which Baum was.
All in all, it’s a great choice for the 2012 Tewaaraton Award, and we’re thrilled to see a kid from Oregon take home the honors. It means the game is growing, and that great players can truly come from anywhere, and do anything. By the Tewaaraton Committee selecting Baum, it shows they too are willing to think creatively and outside the hotbed box, and I absolutely love seeing that. It’s a great award, with a short but rich history, and I think it will continue to do great things for our game.
That being said, I do think the Tewaaraton could use some slight tweaking.
First off, eliminating all but 5 finalists before the playoffs is overkill. It simply culls the field too quickly, and leaves a number of deserving players out each year. I would propose that, at the very least, ten players are kept on the finalist list at the beginning of the playoffs, and that can then be culled two 5 before the Final Four. Not only does it keep the award more open to great players who thrive when it matters most, but it also gives the Tewaaraton Award a BIG press announcement the week before Memorial Day Weekend, which would only help the award moving forward.
My ideal proposal goes a bit further.
I’d love to see 20 players (with at least one from D3 or D2) on the list when the playoffs start. The list could be culled before the D1 Semifinals to ten players (with no divisional requirements), and then down to five after the D1 finals, but before the ceremony. It would create more work for the Award Committee obviously, but I think it could yield better options for years to come. If need be, the award ceremony could even be pushed back one week.
As Loyola proved, D1 lacrosse is filled with parity right now. Notre Dame, Colgate, Denver, Drexel and a bunch of other schools that have never won a championship could all come up and win one in the coming years. Players will emerge from surprise teams, and lead the way. The talent is only getting better, and more spread out.
By increasing the number of players named as finalists later in the year, the Tewaaraton Award can make sure it keeps up, and doesn’t paint itself into a corner. This year’s pick was great. Heck, I think MOST of the picks all-time are pretty great. I just want to make sure it stays that way.
For more on the Tewaaraton, check out Chris Rosenthall’s The Tewaaraton Award: Lacrosse’s Potential Problem and Connor’s post on why Sam Bradman should have been included as a finalist.