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Seaman should know better

When a young coach in any sport lets his emotions get the best of him after a tough loss by questioning an official's judgment or by failing to extend customary respect to his opponent, I'm inclined to give the coach a pass. Chalk it up to youth, and the lack of savvy that sometimes grips a team leader caught up in the moments following a bad ending to a big game.

But Towson University men's lacrosse coach Tony Seaman should know better by now. Seaman has coached for 26 seasons, won 240 games, and led Penn, Johns Hopkins and Towson to a combined 18 NCAA tournaments. He is the only coach to take three Division I teams into the postseason. He is one of only two coaches to earn national coach of the year honors at two schools (Penn and Towson).

You'd never know it by the way Seaman unloaded after another loss to Hopkins -- the school that fired him after the 1998 season -- on Saturday at Johnny Unitas Stadium. While he was digesting a 9-7 defeat, which happened to be Towson's 12th straight against the Blue Jays, Seaman took the kinds of ill-advised shots his team often takes on the field.

First, he accused Hopkins junior midfielder and faceoff specialist Stephen Peyser of cheating, after Peyser had won 12 of 15 faceoffs over Towson senior Matt Eckerl to spark the Blue Jays. Seaman contended Peyser, who also scored two goals, got away repeatedly with jumping the whistle, thus gaining an unfair advantage.

Then, Seaman gave his next opponent a bulletin-board boost by calling the Hofstra Pride lucky to have beaten Towson at home recently. The Tigers are the top seed in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament, and probably need to win it to get into the NCAAs via automatic qualifier. They first need to beat visiting, fourth-seeded Hofstra in the CAA tournament semifinals on Wednesday. On April 14, the Pride erased a two-goal deficit in the final minute of regulation to force overtime, then upset the Tigers, 9-8.

Why do Hofstra any favors? Under first-year coach Seth Tierney, the Pride has lived and died by the one-goal game by playing enough good defense and controlling enough tempo to position itself in the fourth quarter. At Towson 16 days ago, Hofstra hung around for two hours, then pounced on a handful of Tigers mistakes to steal one.

The Tigers lost that game more than Hofstra won it. But that's not luck. That's a winning team showing more poise and resiliency than the loser, and seizing an opportunity to take a win the other guy couldn't secure.

As for the shot at Peyser, it was unfair and out of line. Maybe Seaman is planting a seed in the minds of the officials if he sees Hopkins again in the postseason, but he didn't need to go public with it. On Saturday, Seaman should have been looking into the mirror, as he recounted another defeat to the school that last lost to Towson when Seaman was running the Blue Jays in 1996.

How come Towson, after taking a 4-2 lead in the first quarter and a 5-4 lead at halftime, could not break struggling goalie Jesse Schwartzman early? How could the Tigers stumble so badly at both ends of the field in that pivotal third quarter, when the Blue Jays turned the momentum with a 4-0 run? Why did Towson manage only three scores in the final three quarters? Why blame it on Peyser and an official conspiracy?

Was he jumping the whistle? Not the point. All faceoff specialists worth their weight push the envelope on gamemanship. Maybe it's a shady move, such as grabbing an opponent's stick or directing the ball with a flip of the glove. Or anticipating the whistle by getting a split-second, head start. The best pass rushers in the NFL do it all the time.

At some point Saturday, it was time for Eckerl, also a fine specialist, to adjust to Peyser. It didn't happen.

And it's not as if Peyser has come out of nowhere. He won 67 percent of his draws as a sophomore, meaning he's got game in that area. He also has brought stability back to the faceoff for Hopkins, which had won only 47 percent of its attempts through its first eight games.

Seaman has too much work to do with his team to sink to such pettiness. On Saturday, he got beat by a more talented opponent that never buckled when things were going downhill early. The Blue Jays, no stranger to close games, gutted out another one and showed admirable discipline.

The Tigers failed the composure test on the field. And in the aftermath of a painful outcome, their coach followed suit by losing control.
Posted by Gary Lambrecht at 8:00 PM | | Comments (1)
        

Comments

Seaman knows lacrosse. Far better than most of the people that watch it, write about it, play it.

He's also got insight and courage to say what other's won't. Lacrosse is a small community, and most of these guys make the majority of their living off of camps and sponsorships - don't tick off the clique or you'll be an outsider.

Peyser doesn't go from a sub .500 performance for 80% of a season to two OUTSTANDING games against two premier faceoff men without help. If a .220 hitter suddenly bats .400 with power - people talk!

If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, swims like a duck - it's a duck.

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Faceoff is The Baltimore Sun's blog devoted to college and high school lacrosse. Faceoff contributors include Sun reporters Edward Lee, Mike Preston and Katherine Dunn.
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