Today we’re talking about how to select the US Box Lacrosse Team for the 2015 World Indoor Lacrosse Championships (2015 WILC)! Some have speculated that the team is already decided, but with a year to go before the 2015 games, I find that contention more than a little doubtful. The time to select a team is quickly approaching, so what’s going to happen with the 2015 US Box Lacrosse team?
For most countries, the national governing body for lacrosse decides on the when, where, how, and who for their national box lacrosse team. It’s true for Canada, the Iroquois, the Czech Republic, Australia, and England. Some smaller countries will farm the task out to another group or an individual, and historically, US Lacrosse, and thereby US box lacrosse (which is not an organization at all), has actually done the exact same thing, which many have found to be a bizarre approach, including yours truly.
Past world indoor teams were put together by a smaller US-based box lacrosse group, or by an individual, and we almost had the same thing happen for 2015, as US Lacrosse put out a request for bids to run the team. However, US Lacrosse decided against any of the groups that applied and will be managing the team itself for the 2015 WILC, which will be held in and around Buffalo, NY, and is hosted by the Iroquois.
This is a big move for US Lacrosse, and it’s a big move for the world box lacrosse scene. But what will this team look like? Will it be all field players who have converted to box? Will we see the big names we are accustomed to in MLL lacrosse? Or will we see a real box lacrosse team put together for this event, with a roster full of players who say “Box FIRST”, and actually mean it? Which type of team will perform better? Who could coach either group? Will US Lacrosse even take the WILC seriously?
So many questions, and so little time to answer them. Let’s get right to it by answering that last question first. Yes, US Lacrosse will take this seriously. They didn’t like losing to Canada in the FIL field finals this past Summer, and they want to win. Always. In everything. Steven Stenersen is the President of US Lacrosse, and he played box lacrosse for Team USA back in the 1980s. There is also a new National Teams director at USL in Colleen Evans, and she is awesome. So I have high hopes!
For me, the biggest remaining question has to be, who is coaching the 2015 US Box Lacrosse Team? I’ll fill you in right now that it’s not me.
If it’s a guy like Randy Fraser, then you’re going to get a group of players that is heavy into box lacrosse for the roster. If they choose a guy like Tom Ryan, or Tony Resch, they might see similar results. All of these guys have years of NLL experience, and know the box game well. I might prefer one over the others, but the fact remains that this is a solid coach archetype for the 2015 WILC. They know how to select a team quickly, know box very well, and want to win.
Or maybe USL can go a little younger, and try to get a guy like Shaydon Santos to run the squad. He’s dedicated to the box game in a serious way and could provide an awesome spark to help a young team advance. USL could also go outside of the US, and ask a guy like Neal Powless to coach (he coached the Dutch field team in Denver) or find a willing Canadian to come help us out. Or they could ask a guy like Brian Langtry to try his hand at coaching box, as he has helped younger NLL players develop. There are many potential avenues.
Of course that might not happen. It’s possible that US Lacrosse will use a less experience box coach to run this team. Maybe they want a guy like Richie Meade again, who is all about structure and matching socks. Maybe they want a guy like Petro because of his fire and passion. Maybe they want a guy like Bill Tierney because he believes in the box game. It’s all possible. Now, while I like all of those guys as field coaches, I do have some doubts about them (or other like them) as box coaches. For me, an organizer is great, but only if they can organize to their strengths. A field coach organizing a box team gives me pause in this case, partly for what they know, but also because of which players they might select.
At the end of the day, I can only hope that US Lacrosse picks a tried and true box guy to lead this team for the 2015 WILC, similar to what they did for the 2013 Bowhunter Cup team.
If I had my way, we’d have one of the guys I mentioned above running this squad. It would be a box squad, and it would be made up of box players. I’d pick guys who have dedicated to box fully, and who didn’t take last NLL season off to prep for Team USA’s field team. Didn’t play NLL last year and played for Team USA? You’re OUT. No exceptions. It’s nothing personal against any of those guys, but if you’re not into box that much, maybe it’s time for someone else to get a shot. In my book, that’s only fair.
I’d also take a lesser-known player if they showed dedication to the game, and I’d take a guy like Joe Walters in a heartbeat simply because he has played summer ball in Canada, even during the MLL season. THAT is the dedication to box that I want.
So without further delay, here is my VERY rough outline of who I would pick for the 2015 US Box Lacrosse Team, or at least what my team would generally look like:
My 2015 US Box Lacrosse Team
Forwards – Ethan Farrell, Greg Rogowski, Ryan Hotaling, Marty Bowes, Kyle Smith, Matt Hickman, Andrew Wasik, Casey Powell, Bill McGlone, Garrett Thul, Joe Resetarits, Joe Walters, Eric Law
Transition – Adam Nauerth, Greg Downing, Chris Schiller, Brett Queener, Kyle Sweeney, Joel White
Defenders – Alex Marshall, Mike Nadler, Kyle Baker, John Orsen, John Ranagan, Mike Manley, CJ Costabile, Mael Walkowiak, Chris O-Dougherty (Brian Silcott tweeted this pick to me, and I couldn’t agree more. O’Dougherty is a stud. Oversight on my part!), Brett Manney
Goalies – Joe Evans, Ginny Capicchioni
Ok, I obviously can’t have 29 players on my roster, so some of these guys need to go, and from the looks of things I’d have to cut down my offensive players the most. With tryouts we could get that group down to 8 don’t you think?
Other players I’d like to see considered:
Eric Martin – Martin hasn’t been around the NLL the last 2 years much, but he’s only 32 or 33 now, and could provide excellent experience and toughness on defense.
Mitch Belisle, Kyle Hartzell, & Drew Westervelt – Sure he took the last NLL season off, so for my list he’s OUT, but I’m not making the official list! Thank goodness for that! Belisle is a beast, loves Team USA, and would provide a great spark of passion.
Max Seibald & Paul Rabil – See Westervelt and Belisle. Same deal, but I would want to see PR and MS playing transition, and I’d need them to be healthy! Same goes for a guy like Brendan Mundorf, although he could play offense.
A couple more players: Erik Holt, Brandon Dube, Julian Maliszewski, Will Manny, Brian Krol
Overall 2015 Outlook
My team would do Okay at the WILC in 2015. I don’t think we would beat Canada, and the Iroquois would be a challenge for us, but I think we could compete with both of those teams athletically and in toughness. If I could have this group together for long training camps, I also think we could score some goals, and keep plenty of shots out of our own nets.
I think we would beat a team like the Czech Republic (watch out for them in 2015 though!), Australia, or Israel, and wrap up third place for the USA with relative confidence. A second place finish would also be possible, although both the Iroquois and Canada should be extremely strong in 2015.
The US could finish anywhere from second to fifth or sixth realistically, and a lot will depend on who coaches the team, and how they select the team. Getting this group together to play a lot will also be very important. I’m excited to see US Lacrosse run the show, and once we know more, you’ll know more.
Until then, box lacrosse for the win.