Welcome back to the newest LAS feature for the NCAA Men’s Division I Lacrosse season, The Takeoff! This is the weekly spot for the LAS crew to look ahead at the games coming up this weekend and weigh in on trends, teams, players or whatever else they feel like. The only rule of The Takeoff is each person has to give something trending up, and something trending down. The group may change slightly week to week, but we think you’ll like to see what each person is excited for (or dreading) for this weekend’s games. This week: Ryan Conwell, Scott Ratliff and Ryder Cochrane.
Stocks Going Up
Scott: THE UTES! Find me a team in college lacrosse that plays harder, with more passion and more love for each other than the UTES. You can’t. The four-win Utes have Fairfield, UMASS, UVA, Mount St Marys, Hartford, Cleveland State, and Detroit Mercy left on the schedule. I like them to go 5-2 down the stretch giving them an incredible nine wins in their first season under Brian Holman.
Ryan: Nature. I’m a big nature fan. Really, I mean weather this spring. Outside of the mudpit in North Carolina and this weekend’s cancelled Denver-Ohio State game, the weather has been phenomenal this spring. No mass cancellations like we’ve seen before, no orange balls being brought our for snow and no shoveling lines several times in a quarter. Most of he game have just been focused on lacrosse, and that’s a great thing.
Ryder: A new Tewaaraton front-runner. Yo, Pat Spencer, imma let you finish, but Grant Ament is having one of the best starts to a season of all time. I get the Pat Spencer hype. He’s incredible. But look, he’s got 40 points. Ament has 46…assists. He’s currently pulling the uber-rare Gretzky, in which a player has more assists than any other player has total points. I mean, he broke the Penn State single-season record for assists in March. Has he benefitted from PSU running up the score early in the year? Yup. Does he benefit from throwing a ton of those assists to the nation’s leading scorer in Mac O’Keefe? You betcha. I don’t care. Ament has returned with a vengeance, his team is No. 1 in the nation, and he’s been a blast to watch. Also, if the Tewaaraton winner needs a ‘Heisman moment’, then let’s all go watch him shatter 1st Team All-America defenseman Chris Fake’s ankles on a loop. Ah, that’s the stuff.
Stocks Going Up
Scott: Non-traditional lacrosse hotbeds. This past weekend we saw big time programs travel to North Carolina and Atlanta to play games in warm weather in front of big excited crowds. It has been 70 and sunny all week in Atlanta and while high school players in Connecticut and Long Island are bundled up trying to get through practice. In Atlanta we are working on our off hands and our sun tans at the same time! I have a dream of a future in which Georgia Tech, Florida State and others rule the world of college lacrosse, recruiting from the non-traditional hotbeds like Atlanta, Orlando and Charlotte, North Carolina.
Ryan: Trying to score 6-on-6 late in the clock. I know the shot clock is new to everyone, but this should be ingrained in every Division I offense by now. When you have the ball on the end line and it’s not the end of the quarter, just roll the ball to the corner or provide a distraction for your team to sub off. Too many teams are still leaving five guys watching one teammate trying to run through everyone instead of getting a good ride and defense on the field. You can still try to score, but have two middies run off when the defense is turned and get the pole and a shorty out there.
Ryder: Recruiting rankings. Look, I get that people love to look at stars and rankings and see how good their team is going to be in the future, but can we stop acting like recruiting actually finds the best players? Pat Spencer and Drew Supinski (he already transferred) were back-to-back in the rankings. Not exactly the same career. Grant Ament? He was ranked 31st in his class. Even just talking about classes, it’s not like it makes a huge difference. Last year, UNC had the No. 2 class. They’re not a top 20 team right now. Heck, Hopkins has a top five class every single year, and they’ve been to Championship Weekend once in the last decade. Sure, a ton of top recruits do turn into star players, but let’s stop the charade that five-star guys always mean a five-star team. As the resident Under the Radar guy, let’s show some love to the guys who overcame that recruiting ranking to just be a really, really good lacrosse player.
Check back for next week’s version of ‘The Takeoff’!