May 24, 2011

Q&A with ESPN's Mark Dixon

ESPN analyst and former Johns Hopkins midfielder Mark Dixon prowled the sidelines of all four NCAA tournament quarterfinals this past weekend, observing and collecting notes on what he saw and heard. Dixon, who will provide radio commentary for the NCAA Network on Westwood One for the semifinals on Saturday and the final on Monday at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, offered his opinion on the results in the quarterfinals, the favorite to capture the national championship and the leading candidate to take the Tewaaaraton Award.

Although each quarterfinal game ended with the lower-seeded team defeating a higher-seeded opponent, many of these teams were evenly matched. So it’s not fair to say that the entire round was defined by upsets, is it?
I would agree with you. I think everybody’s favorite all year was Syracuse, but Syracuse played seven games where they won by two goals or less and then of course, they lost to Cornell. So while Syracuse was the No. 1 seed and probably the majority of people’s favorite [to win], they weren’t really dominant in most of the games this season. They really turned it on late, but it was against some not-as-stiff competition. If you look at a team like Virginia, the No. 7 seed, that was everybody’s pick to go to championship weekend. With the events that took place this season, they fell off a little bit and they lost some games and the defense wasn’t playing well. Now they’re in there, but this isn’t the Virginia team that people picked to make it to championship weekend. So I think when you look at the whole gamut of the season, no one team was that dominating squad. No one team got you to say, ‘Wow, I’m betting the house on this team to win the national title.’ It just never happened. So I think it speaks to the separation between the elite lacrosse teams in the country, which is very, very narrow.

Can we say that the four teams in the national semifinals – No. 5 seed Duke, No. 6 seed Denver, Virginia and unseeded Maryland – were at some point in the season contenders for the NCAA championship?
With the exception of Denver. I think everybody knew that Denver was going to be better. But if you would have told me back in February that Denver would be in the national semifinals, I don’t think I would have said Denver. And the same thing could be said of Duke. I thought Duke would make the tournament with maybe a first-round or quarterfinal loss, but all of the leadership they lost last year in addition to the productivity – I know everybody speaks about [Max] Quinzani and [Ned] Crotty on the attack, but they also lost Steve Schoeffel in the midfield and Parker McKee on the defensive end and then over the summer, they lost [defenseman] Mike Manley to a knee injury. So I think Duke and Denver are surprising. Maryland and Virginia are two teams that the majority of folks picked to get to championship weekend. But of course, Maryland was up and down in its play, and we already discussed Virginia. So I think Duke and Denver are surprising from the preseason standpoint. Now as the season wore on and we had the Duke-Notre Dame game yesterday, I think you could say, ‘Yeah, anybody could win that game.’ But the Hopkins-Denver game, you thought Hopkins was going to be able to control the faceoffs a little better and really test that Denver defense, and they never got that chance.

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Categories: Johns Hopkins, Maryland, Q&A

May 20, 2011

Q&A with CBS Sports Network's Steve Panarelli

CBS Sports Network analyst and former Syracuse All-American defenseman Steve Panarelli helped the Orange reach the Final Four in 2004 and 2006 with the team capturing the national championship in 2004. Panarelli discussed the most interesting game of the NCAA tournament quarterfinals this weekend and a key storyline for each contest.

What’s the most intriguing game of the weekend?
The Syracuse-Maryland game is the most intriguing, I think. Someone said to me, “How does Syracuse get the No. 1 seed and they’re rewarded in the wquarterfinals with Maryland?” If you’re a seeded team and the best team out there, that’s probably one team you wouldn’t want to play. I think it’s going to be a great game. I think they match up well with each other. I think it’ll be up and down, there should be a lot of goals and excitement. So it’ll be a great game to watch.

Can unseeded Maryland keep pace with Syracuse if the game becomes a track meet?
Like I said before, I think the game is going to be up and down, and I think there’s going to be a lot of goals. That’s just the way those two teams play. I think the big thing that will help Maryland is faceoffs. If they can control X, they control time of possession and transition. That will put them in a good position to win the game. I think being how it’s going to so fast-paced and up and down, I think the faceoffs will be huge, and I think in a game like that, especially with two teams creating a lot of shots offensively, the goalie play is going to be huge. So look for the faceoff guys and the goalies to play a huge part in that game.

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Categories: Johns Hopkins, Maryland, Q&A

May 18, 2011

Q&A with ESPN's Matt Ward

ESPN analyst and former Virginia All-American attackman Matt Ward provided analysis during No. 6 seed Denver’s 13-10 victory over Villanova in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Sunday. The 2006 Tewaaraton Award winner discussed why it’s still fair to talk about parity in college lacrosse, why he’s interested in the Notre Dame-Duke quarterfinal, and why top-seeded Syracuse should beware of a potential upset.

With seven of the top eight seeds winning this past weekend and unseeded Maryland beating No. 8 seed North Carolina, is it fair to say that talk of parity in college lacrosse should stop?
No. I think this year is as wide open as any. If you take a look at the games, Duke-Delaware was very close. UVA was lucky in terms of getting out of Charlottesville with a win. Someone asked me to fill out a bracket, and I couldn’t tell you what was going to happen or who was going to win. I think you’re really going to see the parity this week in terms of anyone being able to beat anybody. It used to be where you could say that four teams were the elite. This year, the top eight are as even as I can remember. Any team can beat anyone to make it to the Final Four. So it’s going to definitely be a fun, interesting weekend.

What team impressed you the most this past weekend?
I think it was Maryland. When Maryland lost to Colgate and ended up not getting seeded and had to play North Carolina in the first round, I looked at Maryland and said, ‘That’s a top three team.’ I’ve thought that all year. They didn’t necessarily play brilliant every single day, but when they do, they’re as good as anybody. In the NCAA tournament, they’re bringing a focus, their hustle, their energy and their best game. When I saw that they had Syracuse, the No. 1 seed, I said, ‘Man, that’s a tough break for the No. 1 seed, to have to play that team in the quarterfinals.’ Maryland dominated possession of the ball against a very good faceoff guy in [freshman] R.G. Keenan of North Carolina. [Sophomore] Curtis Holmes for them has been phenomenal, and when they can do that, their defense is sound enough that they’re going to put on a lot of pressure, and they’re going to be tough to beat. In my opinion, they were the most impressive team.

What team in the quarterfinals has the most question marks?
I think you kind of have to look at Virginia, which is basically playing a very, very young team. We don’t know what’s going to happen with [senior midfielder] Rhamel [Bratton], and they’ve really had to lean on [junior attackman] Steele Stanwick. My concern there is Steele’s been battling a foot injury all year. How is that going to be handled as the pressure is notched up a level? Can they get production from their midfield? They’re playing a Cornell team that is as hot as any team in the country right now. [Junior] Rob Pannell on the offensive end is as good an attackman as I’ve seen in the last 10 years. The kid is an absolute stud. He can do it all. He can dodge, he can pass, he gets his teammates involved. He just has the perfect mix of skills to really dominate the college lacrosse landscape.

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Categories: Johns Hopkins, Maryland, Q&A

May 16, 2011

Q&A with ESPN's Quint Kessenich

ESPN analyst and former Johns Hopkins All-American goalie Quint Kessenich spent the past weekend in the studio of ESPNU in Charlotte, N.C., watching every NCAA tournament first-round contest and participating in an online chat. On Monday afternoon, he will film a one-hour show wrapping up the first round and looking ahead to next weekend’s quarterfinals, each of which he will provide color commentary. Kessenich spoke Monday morning about the favorites’ ability to weather the storm, a team in the quarterfinals that is most troubled, and a snub for the Tewaaraton Award finalists.

Although seven of the eight seeded teams won their first-round games, some of them – No. 2 Cornell, No. 3 Johns Hopkins, No. 6 Denver and No. 7 Virginia – trailed either in the first quarter or at halftime. What did that suggest to you?
The theme was close games at halftime, and then adjustments and superior talent came through in the second half. Villanova led [Denver], 8-5, [in the third quarter] and Hartford led [Cornell], 3-1, [in the first quarter]. Bucknell led 4-1 early [against Virginia], and even Penn clawed back to keep the game within reach prior to halftime [against No. 4 seed Notre Dame] and Hofstra jumping out [against Johns Hopkins], 2-0. That was the theme, and the reason for that, to me, was that the teams between nine and 16 are very talented. They were excited and amped up to play, and they came out swinging. When the favored team dealt with that first flurry and settled down, they made their adjustments, found their strides, and then got rolling. In all those cases, you saw those teams in the second half play their best game, and the emotion was taken out of the equation. … To me, a bunch of those teams played really well for about a half or 45 minutes. I thought Maryland played the best 60-minute game, and now going forward into the quarterfinal round where all of these games look like one-goal games on paper, you’re going to have to play 60 minutes because if you do come out flat and the other team jumps on you, 4-0, you might not recover.

With seven of the eight seeded teams winning, what does that say about parity in college lacrosse?
When they talk about parity, to me, parity exists between teams 12 to 35 now. To me, the top teams are still the top teams. We could see upsets of the top teams, but 12 to 35 is absolute chaos. When a team like Siena can beat Rutgers or Robert Morris can beat Bucknell, there’s not much difference between teams 12 to 35. I still think this quarterfinal group has earned its separation from the pack, but beyond them, teams like Colgate and Harvard that didn’t get into the tournament are at equal quality with the teams that lost this weekend.

What team impressed you with its performance this past weekend?
I thought Delaware in its loss [to No. 5 seed Duke] was explosive offensively. I was impressed with what Bucknell brought to the table, and aside from not playing enough guys and getting tired, their offense is about as good as I’ve seen all year. From a winning standpoint, Hopkins continues to win using its formula of faceoff success, ground ball play and goaltending. Duke’s formula is pretty simple right now. They’re going to score in transition, and they’re going to score in the half-field set. I’ve got questions going forward because of their defense and their goaltending. And I like the way Notre Dame responded coming off of back-to-back losses to Syracuse and North Carolina. I thought they responded and jumped on Penn, 4-0, and that’s what you hope to see if you’re a Fighting Irish fan.

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Categories: Johns Hopkins, Maryland, Q&A

May 10, 2011

Q&A with ESPN's Paul Carcaterra

ESPN analyst and former Syracuse All-American midfielder Paul Carcaterra provided commentary for the network when the bracket was unveiled Sunday night. Carcaterra discussed Maryland going unseeded, the teams with the easiest and most difficult paths to the Final Four and the one team that poses the biggest threat to the seeded teams.

What’s your take on Maryland being unseeded and having to travel to meet North Carolina for the third time this season?
I think Maryland is in a situation with winning the ACC, which is lacrosse’s toughest conference, to go on the road for the first round, that’s definitely a difficult draw for them. And if they win, they could potentially play Syracuse, the No. 1 team. So you’re playing your arch rival in North Carolina, a conference opponent whom you’ve played twice already. So if you look at Maryland and their potential path at getting to the Final Four, it’s harder than anyone else’s. That Colgate loss certainly did them in, in terms of not getting seeded. But I still felt that Maryland had played their way into a top-8 seed. If you look at Denver, they didn’t lose to anyone as their only two losses were to Syracuse and Notre Dame. That Duke victory is huge for them, but outside of that, they didn’t have to go through the ACC or play the type of schedule that Maryland has. Denver’s schedule, I thought, was much softer than Maryland’s.

So was Denver worthy of getting a home game?
I think there are a lot of things in consideration. I think from the outside looking in, people don’t realize all of the intricacies of how the seeding is done. There’s travel, conference opponents. They don’t want to pit ACC teams against each other. It’s been many years since a first round with ACC teams has been done. So they’re conscious of that, and they take all of that into consideration. But I think Denver is going to be a travel team regardless, and let’s be honest. The sport is growing in leaps and bounds out West. It’s made great strides from a popularity standpoint. I think it’s good for a sport, to take a playoff team to Denver and to that facility. That city is becoming a big-time lacrosse city. So I think it’s an opportunity where you have a team like Denver which certainly had a good year. You can argue that they deserved a top-8 seed. So I don’t think anything was outlandish regarding that.

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Categories: Johns Hopkins, Maryland, Q&A

Q&A with Towson AD Mike Waddell

Whether you want to argue that Tony Seaman resigned or was forced out as the head coach at Towson, there’s no denying that the Tigers are looking for a new leader. The man behind that search is athletic director Mike Waddell, who spoke about the reasoning behind Seaman’s departure, the status of the program on the national level and the qualities he’s seeking in a successor.

What went into this decision at this time?
This was obviously not a strong season, but if I’m looking at it across the board in recent history, we’ve not been able to get over the top. That’s the best way to put it. There are a number of ways that we just haven’t won the big game. We’ve been in some big ones over the last few years, and it’s not been something to where we’ve won the championship or advanced onto the NCAA tournament. We haven’t won an NCAA tournament game here since the early 2000s. … I think it’s our results against our local teams that have really made me take a look. It wasn’t just the 2011 season. But I think there were some expectations coming off of last year about where we were going to be. For whatever reason, when I looked at it – not just over my time here, but also over the last four or five years – I saw a program that was … I don’t know if we were going up. I think we were more or less at a point to where we needed a little burst of momentum.

Would you say that a new, fresh approach from the top was needed?
Obviously, we’re making a change. We’re obviously very thankful to Tony. The guy’s a legend, and this is one that weighs on you. You want to make sure that you’re making the right call for the kids, and that’s what this is. I looked at it and evaluated it, and it was a decision we made to move in a different direction. It’s our hope that Tony and his family will remain a strong part of Towson athletics for many years to come. He and I are talking about ways to possibly get that done.

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Categories: Q&A, Towson

May 9, 2011

Q&A with ESPN's Mark Dixon

ESPN analyst and former Johns Hopkins midfielder Mark Dixon will assist coverage of this weekend’s slate of first-round games in the NCAA tournament. Until then, Dixon sounded off on Maryland going on the road, Denver getting a higher seed than he had anticipated and Penn limping its way to the tournament.

It would appear that the NCAA selection committee emphasized RPI more than strength of schedule and quality wins this season. Did you come to the same conclusion?
I think it was two years ago when it was more strength of schedule and RPI that got people in. Last year, it was quality wins. So it seems like the scales get tipped in a different direction every year because I think there’s eight or nine criteria altogether, but it’s not necessarily ranked in any order. So if you have a particular team with a lot of wins or an incredibly strong strength of schedule, you can see things go in different ways. But I definitely think that the numbers played a huge role – they usually do – and I think it was pretty cut and dry with the 16 teams that got in. the team that were left out, you could make arguments very positively for the teams that got in versus why teams didn’t get in. I think the biggest controversy – if you want to call it that – is Denver getting a home game at [the No.] 6 [seed]. When you look at their strength of schedule, I think it was 29 with an RPI of six. And then you’ve got a team like Maryland that has to travel, and they had a better of strength of schedule. Even though their RPI wasn’t as strong, you could argue that they had more quality wins. There’s always going to be those discussions, but I think for the most part, the committee did a good job using the numbers.

So it sounds like you didn’t quibble with the bubble teams that got in and the bubble teams that were left out.
Stony Brook, for selfish reasons, I would have loved to see them play again because I would have liked to have seen [senior midfielder] Kevin Crowley roll out his career. But we’ve been saying it all year that Stony Brook was going to have to win the America East to get the automatic qualifier because they lost to Virginia, they lost to Cornell, and they even lost to Towson. So that’s going to drag down your numbers. They did beat Delaware, but of course Delaware won the automatic qualifier for the CAA [Colonial Athletic Association], so that was a non-issue. But at the end of the day, when you lose your automatic qualifier and your strength of schedule was 30 and your RPI was 13, that’s not going to get the job done. So I have no argument there. Harvard and Colgate, you certainly could have made arguments for them, but then you have Hofstra, who beat them both head-to-head, and that’s where that head-to-head criteria comes in.

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Categories: Johns Hopkins, Maryland, Q&A

May 6, 2011

Leftovers from Q&A with Salisbury's Johnny Rodriguez

Friday’s editions included a Q&A with Salisbury senior goalie Johnny Rodriguez. Due to space constraints, here are some more answers that didn’t make the cut.

To compete for a national crown, you will likely meet Stevenson for the third time in a single season for the third year in a row. Do you ever get tired of seeing the Mustangs?
We’ve played each other eight times over the last three seasons, and there’s little scouting you can do. We know all of those guys. It’s the same matchups, the same shooting tendencies. It’s just a matter of coming to play mentally. But it’s always a blast. We see those guys every summer, and while we may hate each other on the field, we respect each other off the field.

Who is the toughest offensive player you’ve faced during your career at Salisbury?
I’d probably have to pick [Stevenson senior attackman] Jimmy Dailey. He probably has the most goals on me because we’ve played them so many times. He’s just a great attackman. He’s quick, and he’s a tough guy to guard and a tough guy to stop in terms of his shot, too.

Have you ever scored a goal as a goalkeeper?
I scored in my junior year against Marymount [on April 15, 2010]. I’ve had a few assists in my sophomore year, too. It’s definitely intense. You’re always joking around with the guys about going down there. It’s not every day that a goalie gets to score a goal. So it was definitely exciting. And I can attest that it’s not much fun when you’re on the other end. [Stevenson junior goalie] Ian Bolland took a shot against me that missed the net by about six inches. That would have been devastating.

Has an opposing goalie ever scored against you?
I can honestly say no.

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Categories: Q&A, Salisbury

May 2, 2011

Q&A with ESPN's Mark Dixon

ESPN analyst and former Johns Hopkins midfielder Mark Dixon will provide commentary for the next installment of the “War on the Shore” series between No. 1 Salisbury and Washington on Saturday at 1 p.m. Dixon discussed his candidate for the top seed in the NCAA tournament, Virginia’s performance on the heels of a major personnel shakeup, and Maryland’s bid for a top-eight seed and a home game.

With No. 1 Notre Dame falling to No. 3 Syracuse, 11-8, on Saturday, who is your candidate with the inside track for the top seed in the NCAA tournament?
I think the No. 1 seed right now is Syracuse. The reason is when you look at the three main criteria for the NCAA selection committee, it’s RPI, strength of schedule and quality wins, and I think Syracuse has all of those wrapped up. Their RPI was already No. 1 going into this weekend. The SOS hasn’t been put out yet, but I’d be shocked if they weren’t in the top three. And when you look at their quality wins, you’re talking about [No. 4] Johns Hopkins, Notre Dame, [No. 9] Virginia, [No. 7] Duke, [No. 5] Denver and [No. 13] Villanova. They just have all three of those wrapped up. They play St. John’s in their final and minus any catastrophe there, Syracuse will be the No. 1 seed.

What did you think of Virginia’s 11-2 win against No. 16 Penn in light of the program’s decision to dismiss senior midfielder Shamel Bratton and suspend indefinitely his twin brother Rhamel Bratton?
I wasn’t surprised, to be honest with you. [ESPN analyst] Quint Kessenich and I did a segment a couple weeks ago for Inside Lacrosse called “Quint vs. Dixon: Buy or sell Virginia?” and I said sell. The main reason was the team chemistry. You could just tell that things weren’t right with the team chemistry. So the players stepped up, voted to have Rhamel suspended and Shamel dismissed from the team, and that’s huge. When you’re looking around the locker room, those are the guys you go to battle with in terms of the lacrosse field every single day in practice and then on gameday against other schools, and they made the decision that they didn’t want them there. Virginia has problems in addition to the Brattons with the defense being very suspect. But they did a tremendous job [Saturday]. They made some adjustments. [Senior long-stick midfielder] Bray Malphrus played down at the close, and [redshirt junior defenseman] Chris Clements went up to long-stick midfield. I like [sophomore] Harry Prevas back there. [Senior] Adam Ghitelman is a good goalie who can make saves when given the opportunity. To beat Penn, 11-2, at home, I thought it was a statement win, and I liked the way this offense still has weapons. They still have [junior attackmen] Steele Stanwick and Chris Bocklet and [junior] Colin Briggs in the midfield. So this team still has an explosive offense. It’s just a question of whether or not this defense can pull it together. But I think for this team – in terms of the off-field distractions – the soap opera is done and the drama is finished. Shamel Bratton has been dismissed from the team. Sure, they’ll miss him on the field in terms of his ability and what he brought to the table as an electric offensive lacrosse player. But they don’t have to put up with all of the other stuff, and they can really just focus on winning games now and doing the best that they can without the whole sideshow.

What was the most surprising result of the weekend?
Two things stood out to me. One was the Syracuse offense and how they were able to pick apart the Notre Dame defense. I was really impressed with them being able to penetrate that Irish defense, and I think the big key to that from where I was sitting was [junior attackman] Tom Palasek. His ability to dodge off the corner, get about goal-line extended, create slides, create defensive rotations really opened up a lot of things for the Syracuse offense. And when you can get the ball into [senior attackman] Stephen Keogh, forget about it. That guy’s going to finish. He’s a tremendous goal scorer, and that’s what they were able to do. I was impressed with the play of the second midfield unit, [redshirt sophomore] Steve Ianzito in particular. I think the second biggest surprise wasn’t that [No. 12] Bucknell won the Patriot League championship, but how they did it in such dominating fashion. This is a team right now that is really gelling, and I think they’re peaking at the time that you want a team to peak. I just really love that trio that they have on the offensive end in [senior attackman Mike] Danylyshyn, [senior midfielder Ryan] Klipstein and [junior midfielder] Charlie Streep.

I’ve seen a few projected brackets that don’t have No. 6 Maryland getting a top-eight seed and a home game in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Agree or disagree?
I think Maryland is a top-eight seed and that they will get a home game. When you look at their body of work, their RPI is a little low right now at 11. Their strength of schedule is probably going to be anywhere between eight and 13, but if you look at their wins – the win over Duke in the ACC championship, the win over North Carolina in the ACC tournament – in my opinion, they’re going to get the home game. The RPI and the SOS are a little bit low, but when I look at my top eight, I’ve got Villanova, Bucknell and maybe Penn on the outside looking in. If I compare the resumes of those teams to Maryland’s, I guess Villanova would be the one that would be the most problematic with an RPI of four. But I think their strength of schedule is going to be much lower than Maryland’s. I see the Terps getting seeded anywhere between six and eight. And remember, they still have to play [No. 14] Colgate at home next weekend. That’s going to be a huge game for Colgate because if they can win, that would keep them alive. For Maryland, that’s a good win. Not an eye-popping win, but a good win.

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Categories: Johns Hopkins, Loyola, Maryland, Q&A

April 22, 2011

Leftovers from Q&A with Loyola's Chris Palmer

Friday’s editions included a Q&A with Loyola fifth-year senior attackman Chris Palmer. Due to space constraints, here are some more answers that didn’t make the cut.

When was the last time you played attack?
Senior year in high school. [The Lovett School in Atlanta, Ga.] I showed up at Bucknell in my freshman year and played for about two weeks as an attackman, and then they thought I was more of a middie than an attackman. But I guess over the last four years, I’ve somehow molded myself back into becoming an attackman.

Why do you think you’ve had more success this season at attack rather than midfield?
The first four games, I didn’t have any goals, and other than the Navy game which I played awful, I thought I was playing well, but I wasn’t scoring. I don’t know. I’m playing well. It’s my last year. So maybe I’m a little more excited than I have been in the past. I don’t know. I can’t really explain it.

Because of your ability to dodge, do you think you’re catching opposing defensemen off guard?
Most offenses these days want to initiate the offense through the midfielders where they can dodge the short sticks. Coach Chemotti has been preaching that we should be dodging the long poles. We’re not scared of dodging the long poles. That’s kind of the mindset that we have, and I do believe that catches some teams off guard, having three attackmen who can all dodge and get to the goal.

Do you think about your former team, No. 12 Bucknell, is playing for the Patriot League regular-season title this season?
I follow them all the time. I’m on the Bucknell website to see how they’re doing, talking to them, and wishing them the best. They’ve got a big game this weekend against [No. 14] Colgate [for the title and the top seed and home-field advantage in the Patriot League tournament]. So Bucknell’s still fresh in my mind. I wear my Bucknell tie sometimes to some of our catered events at Loyola, and the kids here give me a hard time. But I graduated from there. I’m an alumni. I have the right to wear this. It’s not like I’m a freshman or sophomore who just transferred in.

Who is Bucknell’s biggest rival in the Patriot League?
A Bucknell student would think Lehigh or Lafayette. But on the lacrosse field, it’s definitely Navy. Those games in the past have been the ones that drew the biggest fans.

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Categories: Loyola, Q&A

April 18, 2011

Q&A with CBS Sports Network's Steve Panarelli

CBS Sports Network analyst and former Syracuse All-American defenseman Steve Panarelli will provide commentary on Saturday’s Patriot League showdown between No. 12 Bucknell and No. 14 Colgate. On Sunday, he discussed his choice to replace Syracuse as the country’s No. 1 team, Johns Hopkins’ odds to win the national title and his favorite to win the Tewaaraton Award.

Were you surprised that top-ranked Syracuse was upset by No. 9 Cornell, 11-6, on Tuesday night?
A little bit surprised. I was fortunate to see Cornell play against Harvard that previous Saturday, and they looked good. Harvard did some stuff to lock up Pannell, and it kind of kept them in the game. But I knew Syracuse wouldn’t do. they weren’t going to lock up someone because they’ve got too much pride on defensive end to do that. And when [senior] John Lade went out of the game, that’s a match-up problem for anybody when you lose your best defenseman. And Syracuse has played in a lot of close games, but they haven’t really taken that next step, especially offensively, to where they put people away. So did it surprise me? No. I still thought they would’ve won at home, but Cornell’s definitely a good team, and Syracuse has been kind of up and down, wining some close games, but not being as oimpressive as they should have been by now.

If Lade, who did not play in Saturday's 13-3 win against Providence, is out for an extended period of time, how will his absence impact the Orange?
I think that would be huge for them because right now, they’re not dominating the faceoffs. So they’re playing a little more defense than usual, and they’re not putting up the goals that Syracuse is accustomed to. I think if they’re going to make a run and win it this year, they’re going to do it from the defensive end, which is kind of different for them in years past. They used to ride their offense and win close games, 16-15, or something like that. So if he’s out for an extended period, I think that’s going to have a huge impact, especially when they play these teams that have a dominant attackman. That’s when he needs to be playing.

So with Syracuse losing, who is the No. 1 team in the country in your opinion?
I think you have to go with Notre Dame. At the same time, I think it’s a tough call because right now, there are at least eight or nine teams that you could make an argument for that can make a run and win the whole thing. I don’t think there’s been a clear-cut No. 1 where one team is 100 times better than everybody. The parity this year has been unbelievable. I was talking about this with somebody recently, but I think the quarterfinals [of the NCAA tournament] are going to be the best we’ve ever seen because there are eight or nine teams that can legitimately win the whole thing. So when you get down to the quarterfinals, you’re looking at Final Four-type match-ups in that round, which is going to be interesting.

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Categories: Johns Hopkins, Maryland, Q&A

April 11, 2011

Q&A with ESPN's Paul Carcaterra

ESPN analyst and former Syracuse All-American midfielder Paul Carcaterra witnessed top-ranked Syracuse’s 7-5 decision against Princeton on Saturday. Carcaterra, who will help provide commentary when No. 4 Johns Hopkins visits No. 6 Maryland on Saturday night, offered his perspective on Syracuse’s Achilles heel, a league outside of the Atlantic Coast Conference that could send three teams to the NCAA tournament, and a surprising destination for a first-round game in the NCAA tournament.

Barring an upset, No. 1 Syracuse (9-0) and No. 2 Notre Dame (8-0) are on pace to meet on April 30 in a battle of the unbeatens. Which team will remain that way?
It’s tough to say because Syracuse defensively and in the goal has been so strong. Defensively, I think they’re so sound, and they can win multiple ways. They can win by putting up some big numbers, but they can also win a low-scoring game when you think about their wins over Hopkins and Villanova, scoring five goals, which is not typical Syracuse fashion. The one thing that I think is still a question mark for Syracuse is their offensive consistency. They haven’t put up big numbers on a consistent basis, and I think they’re really lacking an offensive identity in terms of who they are. You have tremendous crease attackman in [senior] Stephen Keogh, who has the potential to score 60 goals if the offense is clicking properly. But he’s not getting as many opportunities as you’d like to see if you’re a Syracuse fan because of the way they’re lacking a dodging presence. I think that hurts Keogh’s touches, and it hurts some of these outside shooters who really aren’t getting their shots. Look at a guy like [senior midfielder] Josh Amidon who is a great lefty outside shooter, and how many outside lefty shots has he taken? Not many because the defense isn’t breaking down and giving him those opportunities. So that’s the big question mark with Syracuse, and unless they start clicking offensively, Notre Dame can certainly go to the Dome and beat them. I look at Notre Dame as a team that you questioned in the beginning of the year because of their attack, but their attack is actually playing quite well. They have a freshman in Westy Hopkins who has been playing outstanding and has given them a dodging presence. They’re a stronger offensive group this year. They were a lockdown defensive group last year, and they still have that. And they’re so well-coached and trained that now you have to score goals to beat them. In the past, you didn’t have to score a ton of goals to beat Notre Dame, but you have to score 10 goals to beat them now.

Critics have questioned Syracuse’s performance in those 5-4 wins against Johns Hopkins and Villanova and in the 7-5 victory over Princeton on Saturday. Is that a case of the Orange playing down to the level of its opponents or having the will to persevere?
I think it’s a situation where they stay calm, relaxed and poised because of their senior leadership. They have seven senior, returning All Americans and they’re kids who have won two national titles and been in tight games., so they stay the course during these games, and I think they do persevere and are able to find seams and flaws late in the games and exploit them. With that said, I don’t think you can consistently play like this week in and week out without stubbing your toe. I think things have to change on the offensive end to continue to stay unbeaten and win a national title. And they certainly have the potential to do that. It’s just that you can’t win like that week after week after week. You can have a few of those games, but when you have five or six or eight of these games, someone’s going to catch you.

Do you buy into a theory that it’s better to lose in the regular season now rather than carry the burden of trying to complete a perfect season in the NCAA tournament?
No, not at all. I’m not one to ever say that a loss is a good thing. You play to win the game, so if you lose, that’s not a good thing. There have been many situations where teams have run the table and gone undefeated to win a national title. And there are teams that lose and grow from those losses and stay hungry, but I think with the Syracuse situation, the motivation to continue to win is certainly there. They have the leadership. This was a team that was upset in the playoffs last year, so that has stayed in their minds. So I don’t think losing a game ever benefits. You don’t become a better team by losing a game. You might get motivated or learn from them, but you can learn from wins as well.

Do you think the Big East will get three at-large bids?
I do. You look at Syracuse and Notre Dame and they’re pretty much locks to go into the tournament. And now you have an upstart Villanova team that can play with anybody in the country. And Georgetown is the best team with a bad record in the country. They really can play with anyone. If you look at some of their opponents, they played Syracuse, Duke and Notre Dame so tight. I don’t think their season is over yet. They’ve got a lot of lacrosse to play. But I definitely think that the Big East is going to get three.

What was the most surprising result of the weekend?
Denver-Duke. Duke looked great for about five weeks in March and early April. They really pulled things together. I thought they had so many holes when I watched them down in Florida in late February and from that point on, they clicked. After the Penn loss, they found themselves offensively. They have freshmen – guys like Jordan Wolf and Christian Walsh – playing like upperclassmen and just clicking on all cylinders and had a defense that was fast and great in transition. I wasn’t impressed with the way they played against Syracuse last week. I thought they were completely outplayed. The score didn’t really indicate the type of game it was. It was a six- or seven-goal difference late in the second half. So I was looking for them to rebound and get back to old form, but it looked like they struggled against Denver.

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Categories: Q&A

April 8, 2011

Leftovers from Q&A with Johns Hopkins' Kyle Wharton

Friday’s editions included a Q&A with Johns Hopkins’ senior attackman Kyle Wharton. Due to space constraints, here are some more answers that didn’t make the cut.

Question: After experiencing last year’s disappointing campaign, how gratifying is it for the team to be 7-2 at this point of the season?
Answer: It certainly is better to be winning games. I think that’s a tribute to the team and the coaching staff and really getting out there during practice. But we’re taking it one game at a time, and we definitely want to keep on rolling here.

Q: You and fifth-year senior attackman Chris Boland are the only seniors among the 10 starters. Do you feel like the wise veteran with the younger guys?
A: Well, Chris is like 10 years older than I am. Technically, I would say that there are three seniors because Matt [Dolente] takes most of the faceoffs. But it feels good to be out there and it’s remarkable to really see the younger guys grow up right in front of you. It’s amazing to see.

Q: What’s your go-to meal?
A: Anything involving breakfast. I love pancakes, some eggs, some homefries. Especially from Pete’s Grill down the street. I’ll usually go with a couple of my roommates on Friday mornings.

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Categories: Johns Hopkins, Q&A

March 28, 2011

Q&A with ESPN's Mark Dixon

ESPN analyst and former Johns Hopkins midfielder Mark Dixon will provide commentary on Saturday’s contest between Colonial Athletic Association rivals Towson and Hofstra at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson on Saturday. Prior to then, Dixon was kind enough to discuss why he thinks Notre Dame could be the last undefeated team left in Division I, whether 1-5 Princeton can still make the NCAA tournament, and how Duke has reeled off six consecutive wins since a 1-2 start.

Question: Of the two remaining undefeated teams in Division I, does top-ranked Syracuse (7-0) or No. 3 Notre Dame (6-0) have a better chance of staying that way before these two meet on April 30?
Answer: I think both of them have the best defenses in the country. I think Notre Dame probably plays – on paper – the “easier” schedule. They did beat Rutgers [Sunday], 8-3, and they continue to lean on that defense and cobble goals together. Syracuse is a team that has shown that it can play any style that’s necessary to win. They can run or they can play slow-down. They didn’t shoot particularly well [Saturday] night against Villanova. Notre Dame still has to play Villanova [on Saturday], which should be a great game. Probably in my heart of hearts, I’d say that Notre Dame may have a better chance of being undefeated, but if both of them are undefeated on April 30 when they play one another, I won’t be surprised at all.

Q: What was the most surprising result of the weekend?
A: Obviously, Hopkins beating Virginia was surprising. I thought the game would be close, but I didn’t necessarily think that Hopkins was going to beat Virginia just based on the offensive firepower that the Cavaliers possess. I guess the second surprise would be North Carolina beating Maryland. I thought Maryland would win that game maybe by three or four goals. And not only that Maryland lost, but the fact that it was freshmen from North Carolina that led the charge offensively. I think the freshmen combined for 14 points in that game – seven goals and seven assists. So that surprised me as well.

Q: What does the 12-11 win against No. 2 Virginia mean for No. 9 Johns Hopkins?
A: One, it gives them a marquee victory. It gives them a win that when you couple it with their strength of schedule – and last year, the argument was, who did Hopkins beat? – it’s a quality win. It also gives those kids a lot of excitement and a lot of personal satisfaction. I was at the game [Saturday], and I was sitting with my family at the scoreboard end [of Homewood Field in Baltimore], and when the game ended, these guys were running onto the field and jumping on one another. I was thinking to myself, “Wow, that’s kind of unusual for a Dave Pietramala team to be celebrating like that.” But when you consider what that senior class has been through, they haven’t beaten Syracuse, they haven’t beaten North Carolina, and they hadn’t beaten Virginia until [Saturday]. So to have that victory and to be able to savor that and enjoy it, I think it means a lot to them. It means a lot for their confidence, it means a marquee win that will go a long way on Selection Sunday should they be able to handle their business in relatively decent fashion from here on out. But I’m sure that Dave Pietramala is already hitting on this theme, that one win and one game does not make a season. They’ve got North Carolina up next, a team they haven’t beaten in three seasons. Then they’ve got a tough Albany squad, which has shown the ability to beat anybody when healthy and when they execute. And then of course, they’ve got Maryland. So it doesn’t get any easier, but I think this gives this group a lot to build on, a lot of confidence, and a lot to be proud of.

Q: On the flipside, what does the 11-6 loss to No. 7 North Carolina mean for No. 6 Maryland?
A: That’s such a senior-laden team, and to get beat at home after being up, 4-1, by essentially a bunch of freshmen, I think that’s got to be disheartening. Everyone has pointed to that [senior attackman] Ryan Young stick penalty as the turning point of the game, but if you remember, near the end of that first quarter when Maryland was up 4-1, they had a goal disallowed after a player was pushed into the crease prior to the shot being released, and once a player enters the crease in any way, shape or form, the play is blown dead immediately if the offense is still in possession of the ball. And on the next play, they hit a pipe. So instead of being up – potentially – 5-1 going into that second quarter, it’s only 4-1. So you had three things that didn’t go their way and kind of stole their momentum. If I’m Maryland, I’m looking at a couple of things. One, I’m looking at the team defense overall. I think teams are getting way too many inside looks against Maryland. [Goalkeeper] Niko Amato was great against Towson, he was terrific against UMBC, and he wasn’t that great [Saturday]. That’s going to happen. Everybody has on off day. And he’s a redshirt freshman who is fronted by all seniors – [defenseman] Ryder Bohlander, the Schmidts [Brett and Max], [long-stick midfielder Brian] Farrell, [short-stick defensive midfielder] Danny Burns. So I think Maryland’s defense has to do a better job of not giving up shots inside. And two, I think the offense has to do a better job of finishing. When you win 15-of-20 faceoffs and you win the ground balls, you’ve got to shoot the ball better. Right now, [senior attackman Grant] Catalino is the only outside threat. This team desperately misses [senior attackman] Travis Reed. He was having a nice 2011, and he’s got that heavy left-handed shot. You put Catalino on the right, Reed on the left, and that really opens a lot of things up. Now teams are keying on Catalino or playing zone and daring other players to beat them from the outside, and it’s just not happening for Maryland. But Maryland’s got Virginia, Navy, Johns Hopkins, so Maryland has a lot of opportunity in front of them.

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Categories: Johns Hopkins, Maryland, Q&A

March 25, 2011

Leftovers from Q&A with T.C. DiBartolo of Mount St. Mary's

Friday’s editions included a Q&A with Mount St. Mary’s senior goalie T.C. DiBartolo. Due to space constraints, here are some answers that didn’t make the cut.

Question: Why did you choose Mount St. Mary’s as your destination?
Answer: Well, actually, my mom really wanted me to go here. I wasn’t exactly a big fan of the school at first. But she asked me to try it out, and I thought, ‘Why not?’ And it grew on me a lot. It definitely helped that the coaches and players have been great here, and the people on campus have been great, too.

Q: Did you ask your mom why she was so insistent on you attending Mount St. Mary’s?
A: The recruiting process was really tough for me, and thing didn’t work out the way I wish they would’ve. My mom liked that it was close to home. And even though she doesn’t come to any of my games because she can’t stand to watch me play because it makes her too nervous, it allowed her to know that if there was any issue, she could come and be here quickly.

Q: Did you have a role model in sports when you were growing up?
A: As far as lacrosse, I guess it would be Mickey Jarboe, the goalie from Navy. I remember my dad taking me to watch him play, and he was the first real goalie that I saw. He is still, to this day, the best goalie I’ve ever seen. I try to base my stance [in the net] around him and my style of play. He was real athletic and just a great player.

Q: Who has the hardest shot you’ve ever had the pleasure of blocking?
A: The hardest shot I’ve ever faced is probably Andrew Brancaccio of Georgetown. He hit me in the hand last year, and the ball actually went into the goal, and it was the very first goal of the game. But I couldn’t feel my fingers until the second quarter. My fingers were numb. And it was a really hot day. It wasn’t because it was cold or anything. It just hurt. I’m glad he graduated last year.

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March 21, 2011

Q&A with ESPN's Matt Ward

A former All-American attackman who helped Virginia capture NCAA championships in 2003 and 2006 and won the Tewaaraton Trophy in 2006 as the sport’s top player, Matt Ward knows a thing or two about the rivalry between the Cavaliers and Johns Hopkins, which will be renewed again on Saturday. But first, Ward, an analyst for ESPN, offered his opinion on No. 1 Syracuse’s chances of going undefeated, the team that suffered the biggest hit with a loss on Saturday, and the team that may have elevated its hopes with a win on Saturday.

Question: Syracuse is 6-0, but has needed overtime in two of its last three games to remain unblemished. Do you think the Orange can be beaten?
Answer: I do. Syracuse is obviously a very skilled team, but I think this year – more than any other that I’ve seen – it’s wide open. Syracuse, in terms of skill set, has one of the best defensive ends in the country, but I don’t know if they have enough athletes to run the table and go undefeated. Certainly, they’re going to be a team that is in the hunt for a national championship, but they’re going to get tested all year. On the offensive end, the one question I have is outside of [sophomore attackman] JoJo Marasco, who’s going to run by someone and make a dodge to the goal? Most of their players are crafty, slick, off-ball players.

Q: What was the biggest surprise of the weekend?
A: To me, I thought it was Towson over [No. 4] Stony Brook. I was a believer – and still am a believer – in Stony Brook because of their faceoff guy [senior Adam Rand] and the talent they have on offense. But to me, that [9-8 score] was shocking. That was a great win by Towson. I think Towson’s a young team, and they’ve got some talented players who are starting to play a little bit better. But that’s a game that Stony Brook should win. I want to see Stony Brook bring it every single day if they want to become a national powerhouse, and I didn’t think Stony Brook brought their “A” game [Saturday]. And [No. 5] Hofstra going down [7-6] to Delaware as well. I wouldn’t have predicted that in a million years. I thought Hofstra was a team that had so many offensive weapons, while Delaware was a team that was struggling. But it was a great win for Delaware. Teams like Hofstra and Stony Brook, when you’re ranked No. 4 or 5 in the country, you need to win those games.

Q: In addition to Stony Brook and Hofstra losing, No. 11 Princeton and No. 15 Loyola were upset by No. 20 Penn and Air Force, respectively. Which of those four teams will be most haunted by Saturday’s setback?
A: I think it’s Princeton. Princeton is now 1-4, and they’re going into their Ivy League schedule. The Ivies are great this year. I don’t think there’s a bad team in the conference this year. So being 1-4, it’s going to be really hard for them to turn that around and make the NCAA tournament. It’s going to be a struggle. They have the players, but right now, it’s not looking good. Penn is an up-and-coming program. I love Coach [Mike] Murphy. He’s done a great job there. But that’s a game that Princeton needs to win. Losing to [No. 19] Villanova and UPenn in the same week can’t be a good feeling.

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Categories: Johns Hopkins, Loyola, Q&A, Towson

March 17, 2011

Q&A with ESPN's Mark Dixon

ESPN analyst and former Johns Hopkins midfielder Mark Dixon will provide analysis for Friday night’s game between UMBC and No. 8 Maryland. While offering his perspective on the state of UMBC’s program for an article slated to run in Friday’s edition of The Sun, Dixon also shared his thoughts on a a few national topics.

Question: Can anybody beat top-ranked and undefeated Syracuse?
Answer: I think so. They’re clearly the No. 1 team in the country right now. We always say their seven seniors, but I think [midfielder] Josh Amidon has really struggled in 2011. So it’s really been the six seniors getting the job done for them. And [sophomore attackman JoJo] Marasco’s played well, and you’ve got [sophomore defenseman Brian] Megill playing well. And [Tuesday] night, [junior attackman] Tom Palasek had a big one for Syracuse. I don’t think they’re unbeatable. I think they’re great early in games. They got up early on Denver, they got up early on Army, but Army battled back. I think Virginia met them punch-for-punch, but their defense was a little undisciplined and had a lot of fouls, and then you had an offense that decided to stand around and watch [senior midfielder] Shamel Bratton in the fourth quarter. Virginia, I think, could beat them. Maryland is a team where, if they can get it together on a consistent basis, they’ve got talent. So I don’t think Syracuse is unbeatable, but right now, they are the best team in the country, and they’ve played a pretty robust schedule up to this point. They’ve knocked off a decent Albany team, Army, Virginia, Denver. That’s a really nice schedule that they’ve played.

Q: How significant was No. 19 Villanova’s 10-9 win over No. 11 Princeton on Tuesday night?
A: They’re a good team, and it all starts in the defensive midfield with [senior] Brian Karalunas. He’s terrific. He’s a Major Lacrosse League pick by the Long Island Lizards. He’s already caused 33 turnovers in six games. That’s pretty good for a long-stick middie. He’s great on ground balls, good in traffic, a tremendous leader. But the two attackmen, [sophomore Jack] Rice and [junior Kevin] Cunningham, are really getting the job done. They really remind me of the team that went to the 2009 NCAA tournamernt. Karalunas is doing great things, and they’ve got a nice, strong attack. They’ve got good balance. That’s a huge win for them. They beat Penn, they beat Drexel. To beat Princeton, that’s a landmark win for that Villanova program, and they’re doing a great job. The sky’s the limit for them. Obviously, when you look in the Big East, Syracuse and Notre Dame are your top two teams, Georgetown has seemed to figure itself out on the defensive end for at least one week, and Villanova is a team that can definitely challenge for an AQ in the Big East. They don’t have the depth that some of the other teams have, but if you look around the country, what team really is all that deep? … Villanova is a dangerous team. I guess the bad news for them is the cat’s out of the bag. No one’s going to be taking them lightly, especially after knocking off Princeton.

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March 7, 2011

Q&A with ESPN's Quint Kessenich

ESPN analyst and former Johns Hopkins All-American goalie Quint Kessenich covered top-ranked Syracuse’s 12-10 win against No. 2 Virginia on Friday night, watched No. 8 Princeton’s 8-3 demolition of No. 9 Johns Hopkins in person on Saturday afternoon, and will be part of the sports network’s coverage of the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday. Kessenich offered his perspective on the gap between Syracuse and the rest of the Division I, Saturday’s upsets, and the most impressive individual performance.

Question: You watched Syracuse’s win against Virginia in person. Is it fair to say those two teams have separated themselves from the rest of the pack?
Answer: I think the gap is between everybody and Syracuse. With Maryland’s loss to Duke, I think it’s fair to say that Syracuse is a step ahead. Virginia would be No. 2 and then I’ve got Notre Dame and Hofstra at [Nos.] 3 and 4. So it is fair to say that visually, it looks like Syracuse is No. 1. Virginia’s got to clean up some defensive issues. I put Virginia in the pack. Virginia played to 9-9 against Drexel late in their game. Virginia played an overtime game at Stony Brook. They have not shown to be dominant.

Q: What impressed you about the Orange?
A: Overall balance of their roster. Great defense and goaltending. A really strong faceoff and ground ball play. And then senior leadership. Having spent about a day-and-half around that program, I really got the sense that these seniors are absolutely committed.

Q: There whispers about nepotism when Syracuse coach John Desko put his son Tim on the team. Now that Tim scored a game- and career-high five goals in the win against the Cavaliers and leads the offense with 10 goals in three games, do you think he has proven his father’s decision was the correct one?
A: He’s gotten so much better. Last year, he only had 12 goals. The other day, he had five. He’s really improved. I think the kids on the team really like him a lot. He’s a no-nonsense, hard worker, and he’s shown that he belongs. It’s pretty obvious that he’s well-respected there.

Q: What was the biggest surprise of the weekend?
A: Princeton’s domination of Hopkins surprised me. I watched the game in person, and then I think Army beating Cornell and Duke beating Maryland were the three things that surprised me most.

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Categories: Johns Hopkins, Maryland, Q&A

February 28, 2011

Q&A with ESPN's Paul Carcaterra

ESPN analyst and former All-American Syracuse midfielder Paul Carcaterra will have a front-row view of Friday night’s tilt between No. 1 Syracuse and No. 2 Virginia as he provides commentary for ESPN. Carcaterra discussed two surprises of the weekend, a team that may have done itself a huge favor, and the wish for a delete button on Loyola’s 3-2 win against Towson.

Question: What was the most surprising result of the weekend?
Answer: I think it would have to be two. Duke [ranked No. 10 by The Sun] only putting up three goals against Penn, that was shocking to me. Duke is a team right now searching for an offensive identity. They don’t have the dodgers and playmakers that can really create and give some of their shooters an opportunity. Guys like [senior attackman] Zach Howell, who’s a fabulous shooter, they don’t have those other pieces to the offense to get him the ball. Putting up three goals against Penn, a team that towards the bottom of the Ivy [League] last year, in a loss, that was pretty shocking to me – regardless of the deficiencies of Duke, they have a ton of talent still in Durham. It’s just that they’re very young and obviously, it’s going to take longer to develop that talent than expected. And then the other piece was [No. 14] Georgetown getting blown out by [No. 3] Maryland. Maryland was a team that I picked in the preseason to go to the Final Four. After watching Georgetown against Jacksonville last week, I thought, ‘This offense is for real. They’re crafty, they’ve got good dodgers and finishers.’ I thought it was an offense ready to take Georgetown over the hump that they’ve been traveling on the last few years, but apparently not. Maryland just lit them up. I expected Maryland to be a great team, but I didn’t expect Georgetown to be in a position where they wouldn’t be able to compete in that game. They didn’t, so maybe it’s the same old Georgetown.

Q: What team registered the most impressive performance of the weekend?
A: I’d have to go back and probably say Maryland. They dominated all facets of that game and just forced their will on Georgetown. They dictated the tempo of the game, they defeated Georgetown in every facet – ground balls, physical play. They really came out, ands they made a statement yesterday. They didn’t beat a team that doesn’t have talent. Georgetown’s a team that has talent year in and year out. They just completely blew them out. So that was, to me, the most impressive team performance of the weekend.

Q: Was there an individual who stood out with his showing over the weekend?
A: I would say that the most impressive player performance over the weekend was either [Maryland senior] Grant Catalino’s five goals in that game. He’s a fabulous player. He’s big, strong and has the skills of an elite attackman. He’s not a guy that uses his size and strength to create offense all the time, but he’s just skilled. He’s a great shooter and a fabulous offensive player. His performance [Saturday] was just great as well as [Virginia junior attackman] Steele Stanwick’s. Five goals and three assists in a tough game against Stony Brook minus the Brattons, he really put his team on his shoulders. Eight points in a one-goal, overtime game including the game-winner, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better performance than his.

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Categories: Johns Hopkins, Loyola, Maryland, Q&A, Towson

February 25, 2011

Leftovers from Q&A with UMBC's Dave Brown

Friday’s edition of The Sun included a Q&A with UMBC sophomore midfielder Dave Brown. Due to space limitations, some questions and answers were omitted. Here is the rest.

Question: How would you describe your chemistry with fellow sophomore midfielders Scott Hopmann and Scott Jones?
Answer: It’s pretty close-knit. We hang out a lot on the weekends, and we have a lot of classes together. The chemistry, you can tell, is going to be there for a while. We always know where the other one is going to be and each of us plays and what each person is going to do. It’s really good knowing when someone else is dodging and you know what they’re going to do even before they start their dodge. That way, you can move into a position to score a goal.

Q: What is your favorite movie and why?
A: I really like Shawshank Redemption. I recently just watched it, and it’s really inspirational and motivating. Just to see what the main character goes through makes you feel like you can go through a lot worse.

Q: What is your go-to meal and what is a food you can’t stomach?
A: I really like peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches. They’re really quick and easy to make, and they’re quite delicious. I’m not a big seafood guy. I don’t really like fish too much. So if someone puts fish in front of me, I’d rather not eat it.

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Categories: Q&A, UMBC

February 21, 2011

Q&A with ESPN's Mark Dixon

ESPN analyst and former Johns Hopkins midfielder Mark Dixon will provide commentary for WMAR and ESPN3 during Saturday’s game between No. 13 Loyola and No. 20 Towson. Dixon discussed No. 5 North Carolina’s 13-8 loss to Ohio State, the most impressive showing by a team and individual and the need to implement instant replay.

Question: What was the most surprising result of the weekend?
Answer: It’s a surprise and not a surprise in talking about North Carolina [ranked No. 5 by The Sun] getting run off the field by Ohio State. It’s not that they lost, but the fashion in which it happened. One point from the midfield? A lot of us had been pointing to the fact that North Carolina really didn’t have a whole lot of depth in the midfield. One goal came from the midfield and that was [junior] Jimmy Dunster early in the game.

Q: Could this be a precursor to what could be a rough season for the Tar Heels? Or is it merely an early-season hiccup?

A: I don’t know. I’m not really sure. Again, the depth at midfield is not really there for North Carolina. I’m looking at that attack, and they’re putting out four guys that can score, and I think there’s one who can really open things up for you in the midfield. That’s [freshman] Nicky Galasso. Whether [coach] Joe Breschi elects to move him to the midfield remains to be seen,  but I think [senior goalkeeper] Chris Madalon didn’t look sharp [Saturday], and the defense was giving up some shots that they were doing at the end of last season. Carolina beat Ohio State late in the season last year, 19-13, and that was almost the beginning of the end for North Carolina’s season in terms of that defense just collapsing. That was late in the season, and now, it’s early in the season. So do you hit the panic button? I don’t think so. Not in the third weekend of February. But I think there are some addressable situations that need to take place in Chapel Hill. And remember, this team was ranked as high as No. 3 in a lot of preseason polls, and that stock was losing a lot of value because of some injuries and some other players leaving the team or being dismissed from the team. But I think it’s too early to say, ‘OK, they’re going to have a horrible season.’ They still may make the NCAAs. Again, it’s very, very early, but people were expecting them to make it to Baltimore on Memorial Day weekend, which would be Carolina’s first visit to the national semifinals since 1993. Right now, it looks like that is not going to happen.

Q: Most impressive showing by a team or individual?

A: By an individual, Notre Dame’s Zach Brenneman [a senior midfielder]. Hands down. Three goals and two assists. To me, he’s the East Hampton express. He’s from East Hampton, New York, and he dodges like a freight train. When he gets a head of steam, no one can stop him. And then in the latter stages of the game, he’s the one who established the breathing room between Notre Dame and Duke. So individually, I was really, really impressed with Zach Brenneman. From a team perspective, probably [No. 1] Syracuse. They handled a pretty strong [No. 17] Denver team at home [the Carrier Dome in Syracuse]. They were up 4-0 early in the contest, and they played like a team that was ticked off and had lost on that very same field for only the second time in that program’s history in the NCAA tournament. They came out with a lot of fire in their belly and handled a pretty good Denver team.

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Categories: Johns Hopkins, Maryland, Q&A, Towson

February 11, 2011

Q&A with former Army coach Jack Emmer

When Jack Emmer retired as Army’s head coach after the 2005 season, he left as college lacrosse all-time winningest coach with 326 victories. That mark has since been surpassed by Salisbury’s Jim Berkman, but Emmer continues to monitor the game from the stands. Emmer, whose job status with ESPN is in the air, shared his perspective on the upcoming season.

Question: Many analysts have picked Syracuse as the favorite to win the NCAA championship. What team poses the biggest challenge for Syracuse?

Jack Emmer: “Well, you’ve got to come and play every game, and last year in the first round of the tournament when everything was at stake, Army beat them at home. So they certainly can be beaten. Will Army do that again? I don’t know. But Syracuse, they’re the best team in the country. But they’re a little unproven on their attack, I think. They’re going to rely on a guy who was hurt last year in [sophomore] JoJo Marasco and [senior] Stephen Keogh. They’re good, and Marasco has a lot of talent, but he doesn’t have a lot of experience. So they don’t have that great offensive player to go to, but they’re excellent at the defensive end, particularly with [senior goalkeeper John] Galloway. So they’re going to be real tough to beat. But UVA, they’ve got a lot of offensive talent. They’re a little shy on the defensive end, I think, so they’ve got to put together a defense. But they’re right there. I tell you, the most talented team in the country might be Maryland. Unfortunately, this is Dave Cottle’s team. This was supposed to be his best team. They’re a very veteran team, very solid. [Senior long-stick midfielder Brian] Farrell is a horse, and they’ve got a couple guys like that. I think Maryland, if they can get their act together, could be very, very good. So they look like the three best teams to me. And then there’s a whole bunch packed together after that.”

Q: Is there an underrated team that you think will be poised to make an impression in May?

JE: “I think there’s a big-time sleeper that nobody talks about, and it’s their first year of being eligible for the Division I tournament, and that’s Bryant University, coached by Mike Pressler. They’re not going to get much publicity in the Baltimore area, but I’ve seen them play quite a bit, and I’ve got great respect for Mike. He’s an outstanding coach, as he was at Duke, and they’ve got some outstanding players. They have a junior goalie named Jameson Love, and he’s as good as anybody I’ve seen. They have a face-off guy who transferred in as a fifth-year student from Notre Dame [Trever Sipperly] who was Notre Dame’s face-off guy last year. They have a defenseman named [sophomore] Mason Poli, and he is going to be as good as any close defenseman around. They’ve got a good attack. They’re very balanced. They just need to score enough goals, but they’re going to be very good. Last year, they beat Army, they beat Yale, lost to UNC by a goal, but they might be on the cusp of getting there. I think Lehigh has gotten a lot better. That’s another sleeper. UMass is going to be pretty good. They’re always on the cusp. Siena, who knows about them? They play Duke in the first game, and they’ll give them a good game."

Q: Which coaching move will have the biggest impact in the game?

JE: “I would say the most immediate impact is probably going to come down to Maryland because I think the talent is there and they might respond well to a new approach and then that talent might step up to a new level. I think John Tillman is stepping into a pretty good situation in his first year there. I think they’ll be very receptive to him, and I think he could have a very positive impact because they’re good. I think Harvard [with Chris Wojcik] is in the mix with teams like Yale and Brown. They’re going to be pretty good, too. I still think Cornell and Princeton are the class of the Ivy League. Ben DeLuca being the new guy there [at Cornell], he’s a real protégé of Jeff Tambroni. So he’s going to keep that program focused and going in the right direction. And they’ve got a great player in [junior attackman] Rob Pannell. He’s as good as anybody in the country.”

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Categories: Johns Hopkins, Maryland, Q&A

February 10, 2011

Q&A with ESPN's Paul Carcaterra

ESPN analyst and former All-American Syracuse midfielder Paul Carcaterra will provide color commentary when Duke and Notre Dame meet in Jacksonville on Feb. 20 in a re-match of last season’s national title game. Here are some of his thoughts on the upcoming campaign.

Question: Which team has separated itself from the pack as the front-runner for the NCAA championship this season?

Paul Carcaterra: “On paper, you look at Syracuse and Virginia in regards to what they have back. Syracuse has, I think, seven All Americans returning, maybe nine preseason All Americans, and they certainly have the goaltending and defense to carry that squad. I think the big question for Syracuse is maybe whether they can have two or three big dodgers emerge. And I think if that happens, their offense can click as well, too, because they certainly have the shooters and the inside players in guys like [senior attackman] Stephen Keogh and [senior midfielder} Josh Amidon. I just think that the thing that hurt them down the stretch last year was not having that player or two who could break a defense down in crunch time. I look at them, and then I look at Virginia with that offense. Virginia has the best offense in the country. They lost a lot on defense, so there are some question marks there. But if you look at Virginia’s offense with the Brattons and guys like [junior Chris] Bocklet and [junior Steele] Stanwick at attack, it’s going to be tough to contain them.”

Q: How much will the Syracuse players and coaches use last spring’s first-round exit from the NCAA Tournament as motivation?

PC: “It’s interesting because this senior class is one of the best that Syracuse has ever had with guys like [long-stick midfielder Joel] White, [goalkeeper John] Galloway, Keogh, Amidon, [midfielder Jeremy] Thompson, [midfielder] Jovan Miller and [defenseman] John Lade. Those guys won two national championships when they were freshmen and sophomores, so that’s all they knew. I think they were actually stunned that they weren’t back on the big stage last year. So I don’t think it’s even something that [coach John] Desko needs to really emphasize because I think all of the motivation can come from within that locker room.”

Q: Is there a team that people are paying enough attention to?

PC: “The talk in the lacrosse world is Stony Brook and Hofstra as teams that are fully capable of making a run. Both have great offenses. You look at a Stony Brook, and people realize how good they can be because of guys like [senior midfielder Kevin] Crowley, [senior attackman Jordan] McBride and [senior attackman Tom] Compitello. But they also have two other 20-goal scorers in [attackman] Kyle Belton who’s a junior and [midfielder] Robbie Campbell who’s a junior. So they’re not just a three-man show. That’s a very, very dangerous offense. So I think people know that. And I think people know Hofstra’s offense is dangerous with [senior attackmen Jay] Card and [Jamie] Lincoln. But one team that kind of intrigues me – if you go back to last year and that big upset – is Army. Army has a seasoned goalie and All American in [senior] Tommy Palesky, they have one of the best defensemen in the country in [senior] Bill Henderson. I think he doesn’t get the recognition that he deserves, but for the last three seasons, he’s just been dominant. He just shuts down the opposition’s top player. And then they have that 1-2 punch on attack with [senior Jeremy] Boltus and [sophomore] Garrett Thul. A good playmaker and feeder in Boltus and a great finisher and bull in Garrett Thul. The one question mark for Army is their midfield. I think if you really focus on that attack and make that midfield beat you, they don’t have those guys that can really stretch a defense or break a defense down. But they’re certainly a dangerous team. I like Army a whole lot.”

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Categories: Q&A

February 9, 2011

Q&A with ESPN's Mark Dixon

ESPN analyst and former Johns Hopkins midfielder Mark Dixon is prepping for the upcoming season, which begins on Feb. 19 when he covers Johns Hopkins’ visit to Towson. Here are some of his thoughts on the 2011 campaign.

Question: Is there a clear-cut favorite to capture the NCAA championship this season?

Mark Dixon: “I don’t know if you want to call them a clear-cut favorite, but my chips are with Syracuse. I just think that with the senior class that they have – they’ve got seven seniors who are legitimate All-American candidates and all seven were selected in the Major League Lacrosse draft and they were all gone, I think, by the fourth round of an eight-round draft – that just really speaks to the talent that Syracuse has. They’ve got two other things working for them. They’ve got a quarterback for the offense, and that’s JoJo Marasco – something they didn’t have last year. And they’ve got that stinging playoff loss back in their minds. And if you recall the last time Syracuse had such a disappointing playoff outcome, that was the year they didn’t make the playoffs in 2007, and they followed that up with national championships in 2008 and 2009. So Syracuse is my No. 1 right now. I think you’ve got Virginia, you’ve got Notre Dame, you’ve got Maryland. But my preseason favorite is Syracuse.”

Q: Is there a team that may be getting a ranking that you question?

MD: “I think Duke would have to be the team that I would point to simply because of everything that they lost. I vote for the Inside Lacrosse Face-Off Yearbook, which pretty much has become the standard for preseason rankings, and I believe Duke was ranked fifth in that. I just think with what they’ve lost in [Ned] Crotty, [Max] Quinzani, Parker McKee, their No. 1 face-off guy in Sam Payton, a bunch of middies, [defenseman Dan] Theodoridas, [midfielder Jonathan] Livadas, [midfielder] Will McKee, No. 5 at this point is a little high for Duke. Anecdotally, North Carolina at No. 3 is looking a little shaky. The reason being is that they’ve had a number of injuries down in Chapel Hill in the preseason, and you couple that with the fact that Steven Rastivo, one of their goalies, is right now ineligible. He’s not on their roster, and I think that was something that was going to be healthy for that team, to have a healthy goalie competition between him and Chris Madalon. And also, you have to take into account the defense. They collapsed last year, so can they turn that around? I think they can turn that collapse on defense around. I think Joe Breschi will be good there, but North Carolina at No. 3 right now is looking a little shaky. But that’s not a result of preseason voting. That’s a result of some of the preseason games and practices where they’ve had a number of injuries."

Q: On the flipside, is there a team that’s being underestimated?

MD: “I think if you talk to any coach, they’ll probably say their team is not getting enough love. Or maybe not. There are some coaches that like to fly under the radar. I think one team is Denver. That’s a team that’s very talented, they won the ECAC last year, Bill Tierney is their coach which is a huge boost for any program. He took over a Denver program that was really in shambles. I believe the year before, almost a quarter of that team was suspended or kicked off the team. It was just really a mess. So not only to bring those guys together, but to get to the NCAAs last year was a huge accomplishment for the Pioneers. They’ve got some really nice games. They play Syracuse, Notre Dame, Duke, a huge game against Loyola in Baltimore in mid-March. On paper, that will decide the No. 1 seed in the ECAC Tournament. But I do believe that the ECAC Tournament is held in Denver this year because they won the championship last year. Huge advantage for the Pioneers. They’ve got some real nice players coming back. [Junior attackman] Mark Matthews, [junior attackman] Alex Demopoulos, they’ve got a nice middie in [sophomore] Cameron Flint. They’ll have to replace Dillon Roy, who was their best player last year, but I think Denver’s one of those teams that’s flying under the radar right now.”

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Categories: Q&A

February 8, 2011

Q&A with ESPN's Quint Kessenich

ESPN analyst and former Johns Hopkins All-American goalkeeper Quint Kessenich is juggling his responsibilities covering both college basketball and lacrosse, but he was kind enough to share his thoughts on the upcoming lacrosse season.

Question: It seems that unlike previous years, there is no clear-cut favorite to capture the NCAA championship. Is that a fair assessment?

Quint Kessenich: “That’s a great point. In my eyes, this is a very strong year. There are almost about 10 really good teams. Teams that played on championship weekend, teams that made the quarterfinals last year who appear to be strong on paper this year. But of those top nine or 10 teams, there’s not a team that, from A to Z, has great balance. They all have their strengths and they all have a weakness. And so I think this year is going to be outstanding. I look at teams like Cornell, which returns its whole team; Notre Dame, which returns the majority of its team; Stony Brook, which returns tons of talent; Hofstra, which returns tons of talent; Maryland, which returns tons of talent. There are some team from last year that can take the next step this year, and there’s going to be some great lacrosse.”

Q: Which team got your No. 1 vote in preseason polls?

QK: “I have Syracuse up top. Even though they lost to Hofstra in a scrimmage the other day, I still think Syracuse, because of their defense and their experience, I give them a 1. I gave Virginia a 2, but I’ve got Maryland at 3, and Maryland’s right on the heels of Virginia. I think this Maryland team is a team that can give Virginia fits this year. And then at 4, I have Notre Dame, which is much higher than most, but I got to see them in person down in Florida and they return their whole team minus the goalie. And then I’ve got Stony Brook at 5.”

Q: Since you watched Notre Dame lose to the U.S. National team, 11-7, in Florida a couple weeks ago, what was your impression of last spring’s tournament finalist?

QK: “Exceptional defense. As they were last year, they continue to ramp that up. They’re going to play defense regardless of what happens. That’s a known quantity, and that’s the framework that Coach [Kevin] Corrigan is going to build on, and that’s going to keep them in every ballgame. Improved attack play. [Sophomore] Ryan Foley and [junior] Sean Rogers look like they’re a little better, and they really won last year without having an attack. And then you have the two midfielders in [seniors] Zach Brenneman and David Earl, who are elite. But the other guys – there are three sophomores – are really going to have to play well if Notre Dame is going to make some noise. Pat Cotter, Tyler Kimball and Steven Murphy, they’re good athletes. They’re just not goal scorers yet. So their question marks will be on offense again, but I really like them. I thought even losing to Team USA, they played good defense, they have a formula, and I think that’s a good team this year.”

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Categories: Maryland, Q&A

May 25, 2010

Q&A with ESPN's Quint Kessenich

ESPN analyst and former Johns Hopkins All-American goalkeeper Quint Kessenich will provide commentary for the NCAA Division I Tournament semifinals and final at M&T Bank Stadium this weekend. Kessenich offered his thoughts on Notre Dame’s first trip to the Final Four since 2001, the Virginia-Duke semifinal and the head coaching vacancy at Maryland.

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Categories: Maryland, Q&A

May 21, 2010

Q&A with ESPN's Paul Carcaterra

ESPN analyst and former Syracuse All-America midfielder Paul Carcaterra will be providing commentary for the Toronto Nationals home opener on Saturday against the Chesapeake Bayhawks in the Major Lacrosse League. But Carcaterra will certainly keep track of the NCAA tournament quarterfinal results this weekend. Carcaterra took a look at the impact of Syracuse’s absence in the tournament, Virginia’s first game outside of Charlottesville since the tragic death of women’s lacrosse player Yeardley Love, and the most intriguing game of the quarterfinals.

Question: What does the absence of Syracuse do to the rest of the NCAA tournament bracket?

Paul Carcaterra: "If you look at the bracket and you just look at the hype going into the tournament, it’s really heavy on one side. If you look at the Viriginia side of the bracket, you have Duke, Carolina and Stony Brook. If you look at the other side, you have a couple upsets with Army squeaking in there and Notre Dame. Just looking at it quickly, you’d think it’s all on one side of the bracket. I think Syracuse losing changes the complexity of a potential Virginia-Syracuse national championship matchup, whereas now I think the typical lacrosse fan thinks that Maryland is going to walk into the final. But I don’t see that being the case. Maryland’s a really good team, and I think they’re balanced on offense with very prolific attackmen and a midfield that’s almost a midfield by committee. But an Army team or a Cornell team will scrap, and those are the types of teams that even if they lose, they don’t get blown out – other than Army getting blown out earlier in the season by Hofstra [17-2 on March 30, which is the Black Knights’ last loss]. So I think people need to give a little more credit to those other teams on the other side of the bracket with Maryland, Notre Dame, Cornell and Army. Being an ex-Syracuse player, this might sound a little biased, but it’s always exciting when Syracuse goes deep into the playoffs just because their style of play is exciting to watch. I think they bring the best out in lacrosse, and I think they also bring the best out of their opponents."

Q: Coach Dave Pietramala has been catching some flak after Johns Hopkins bowed out of the first round against No. 5 seed Duke. Is coach John Desko getting similar treatment after Syracuse’s loss?

PC: "No. You have to look at what Coach Desko has done. In a 12-year span, he’s had the most successful coaching run in modern-day lacrosse. He’s won five national championships. He’s not the guy at the end of the game who is shooting low-to-low. He’s not the guy who’s leaving his defenseman on a premature slide. These guys were doing all these things right throughout the year, and they picked the wrong time to make some mental mistakes. But I don’t put one bit of that game on him. He’s done one of his best coaching job this year. Here’s a team that had lost five of its top six midfielders, lost its top attackman, lost its top defenseman, and he put them in a position to threepeat. They were 13-1 heading into the playoffs and a solid No. 2 seed."

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Categories: Johns Hopkins, Maryland, Q&A

May 20, 2010

Q&A with ESPN's Mark Dixon

ESPN analyst and former Johns Hopkins midfielder Mark Dixon will be monitoring the quarterfinals from the ESPNU studio in Charlotte, N.C., this weekend. Dixon assessed the impact of Syracuse’s upset loss on the sport, Maryland’s contest against Notre Dame and the one game with the most potential for another surprise.

Question: What’s the impact of Syracuse’s double-overtime loss to Army in the first round of the NCAA tournament, particularly as it pertains to the landscape of lacrosse?

Mark Dixon: "I think it shows the value of automatic qualifiers. A lot of people hem and haw about AQs, and the MAAC [Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference] and the Patriot League, in particular, are two conferences that get dumped on in terms of automatic qualifiers. People say that they’re not that strong and that if they didn’t have the automatic qualifiers, they wouldn’t make the tournament field. But I think that fuels recruiting and brings kids to the table that might sit on the bench for a Maryand or a Syracuse. Now they can play right away for some of these schools that have automatic qualifiers. Army, being a service academy, is a different animal and gets a different type of student-athlete. But still, I think it speaks to the value of automatic qualifiers. I think to the more immediate future, unfortunately, Syracuse being knocked out is going to hurt the attendance of the championships in Baltimore. Syracuse always brings down a large and unique fan base, and I think attendance will probably be hurt at M&T Bank Stadium. I could be wrong, but any records that we were hoping to be broken this Memorial Day weekend have probably gone out the window. You’re still going to get a very good crowd and great games and tremendous competition."

Q: So Syracuse’s absence has a negative impact on the sport?

MD: "I think it has a negative impact on attendance, but I think it’s better for the sport when you have some fresh blood in there. Now you’ve got Army and Cornell. You’ve got a service academy possibly getting into the national semifinals for the first time since Navy did it in 2004. Cornell’s a team looking to go back for the third time in four years. You look at Maryland and Notre Dame. Maryland’s a team looking for a little redemption perhaps after a disappointing ’09. Now they come in and they can make a run at the championship. Notre Dame is an underdog. A lot of people thought they didn’t belong in the tournament, but they pulled off the upset of Princeton. Duke-Carolina, what a great match-up there. Can North Carolina return to the national semifinals for the first time since 1993? If Duke gets there, is this the year they get over the hump and can they win the national championship? Stony Brook is an intriguing team. First quarterfinal appearance ever, and they would make history if the they could make the national semifinals. And of course, Virginia, the No. 1 seed, all the drama and focus surrounding that team because of the tragedy in Charlottesville. Can they weather the storm of not only being the No. 1 seed, but also all of the off-field incidents that have taken place? So there are still many, many storylines, many subplots. With Syracuse, the storyline there was: Can they win their third straight national championship? It’s a program rich in tradition. But without them there, I don’t think it hurts the landscape. I think it makes the tournament a little wide open right now."

Q: You wrote an insightful column for Inside Lacrosse about how Mount St. Mary’s qualifying for the NCAA Tournament actually helped Army. Could you elaborate on that?

MD: "The MAAC tournament can always be a wild card, and what I mean by that is the AQ from that conference typically gets placed based on geography. So you’ve got Siena in the north and Mount St. Mary’s in the south. Had Siena won that game against Mount St. Mary’s in the MAAC championship, they would have gone to Syracuse. I can’t speak with 110 percent, but if past history is any indication, they would have gone north to play Syracuse, and that would have created a little bit of a domino effect. Maybe Loyola would have gone to Virginia with Army going to Cornell. It would have completely changed the landscape of the tournament. Look, Army still had to go out on the field and beat Syracuse, but I think Mount St. Mary’s beating Siena, that gave Army the opportunity to do what they did on Sunday, and that was upset Syracuse."

Q: Will Army’s ride in the NCAA tournament continue?

MD: "I did a quick version of Quint [Kessenich]-vs.-Dixon thing for Inside Lacrosse, and we each picked our upset special, and mine is Army over Cornell. When you look at the two teams and their personalities, they’re very similar. The attack leads the way offensively, they like to play 6-on-6 offense, half-field. Decent goaltending, good, strong defenses, teams that don’t beat themselves often. But right now, the interesting thing is the way they’re getting it done on the field is going in different directions. Army has shown an ability to come back, and they exemplify all of the things you see in a service academy. Discipline, patience, perseverance. Cornell is a heck of a team. They’re extremely well-coached, and they’re a very disciplined bunch, too. But they have had problems putting teams away. Three games ago, they almost gave up a late lead to Princeton. In the Ivy League championship game of that tournament, they gave up the late lead and lost in overtime [to Princeton]. And after being up seven goals to Loyola on Saturday, they allowed the Greyhounds to come back. And that’s how Army got back into the Syracuse game. I think Army is playing great, and they’re going to have fan support. Not that anybody dislikes Cornell, but anytime you have a service academy making a run at the national semifinals, people get behind service academies. This is a team that hasn’t been to the quarterfinals since 1993. [Coach] Joe Alberici has done a tremendous job up there with a dangerous attack in [junior Jeremy] Boltus and [freshman Garrett] Thul, a good 1-2 punch. A good goaltender in [junior] Tom Palesky. The Henderson brothers [on defense] are tremendous. [Senior] Bill Henderson did a great job on [Syracuse senior attackman Chris] Daniello this past weekend. He’ll probably get the assignment against [Cornell sophomore attackman Rob] Pannell. And then [sophomore] Tim Henderson at the long-stick midfield position will probably match up with guys like [sophomore midfielder] Roy Lang. So it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Army could continue this run and pull the second upset."

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Categories: Maryland, Q&A

May 18, 2010

Q&A with ESPN's Quint Kessenich

ESPN analyst and former Johns Hopkins All-American goalkeeper Quint Kessenich will ditch the studio this weekend and provide commentary for all four quarterfinal contests at Princeton on Saturday and Stony Brook on Sunday. Kessenich revealed his thoughts on ranking Army's win against Syracuse, Maryland's chances against Notre Dame and the worst surprise of the quarterfinal round.

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Categories: Maryland, Q&A

May 13, 2010

Q&A with ESPN's Mark Dixon

ESPN analyst and former Johns Hopkins midfielder Mark Dixon is pulling double duty this weekend, providing commentary for No. 5 seed Duke’s first-round game against Johns Hopkins at Koskinen Stadium in Durham, N.C., this Saturday at 12 p.m. and for No. 4 seed North Carolina’s showdown with Delaware at Fetzer Field in Chapel Hill, N.C., this Sunday at 5 p.m Dixon addressed the possibility of shifting criteria, the disadvantages of conference tournaments and the one player missing from the list of five finalists for the Tewaaraton Award.

Question: Were there any glaring omissions in the make-up of the 16-team field?

Mark Dixon: "I think every Monday, there’s always great discussion. The bottom line is, there’s only 60 men’s lacrosse teams playing Division I ball, and you’re going to have some hurt feelings. As it is, with 16 teams, I think the ratio is already out of proportion with what the NCAA wants. I think for the most part, they got it right. It looked like the criteria was a little inconsistent. In other words, Hopkins with their strength of schedule and their RPI seemed to really benefit, whereas Georgetown didn’t get the same luxury. I think they applied some different criteria when they looked at Georgetown and – let’s say – Notre Dame. Georgetown had a better strength of schedule and a better RPI than Notre Dame, also a better win-loss record, and they beat them head-to-head. But the criteria applied looked more at significant wins – Notre Dame’s significant wins coming against Duke, Loyola and Denver, while Georgetown didn’t possess those same wins with oomph. They didn’t have a win over Duke. They had a win over Delaware, but they lost to Loyola. What’s frustrating for lacrosse fans is the criteria seemed to be on an as-needed basis. There is uniform criteria, but they’re not used in a particular order. It just seems like this year, the criteria was split, whereas in years past, the strict criteria was strength of schedule and RPI. This year, the strict criteria appeared to be quality wins. But it’s a monumental task, being on the NCAA selection committee. I feel for Georgetown. I think they should have gotten a bid into the NCAA Tournament, but at the end, if you look at the criteria and you look at the metrics that are used, Notre Dame is in."

Q: Did the loss to Delaware in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament hurt Drexel, while Hofstra failing to qualify for the CAA Tournament help the Pride get into the NCAA Tournament?

MD: "I actually wrote about this in a piece for Inside Lacrosse this week. I thought the conference tournament hurt both UMass and Drexel. It’s a double-edged sword. It can help you or it can hurt you. Had Drexel beaten Delaware and reached the CAA final, we could be talking about Drexel being in the tournament as opposed to Notre Dame because Drexel beat Notre Dame head-to-head. The conference tournament are built to give teams incentives because if you didn’t have a post-league tournament like they did in the Ivy League, teams like Harvard and Yale have been eliminated in mid-April. Hofstra perhaps did benefit from not making their tournament, but they also had some quality wins outside of the conference, and they were helped out in some other conference tournaments. For example, Army winning the Patriot League. Hofstra had a resounding win over the Black Knights. So that definitely hurt Drexel, but it would have gone in the other direction if Drexel had beaten Delaware and gotten to the CAA final."

Q: Any argument with the top eight seeds?

MD: "I have no beef with the top-8 seeds. I thought they got it right. You could have looked at Denver as maybe being a potential first-round site, but when you look at their numbers compared to Stony Brook, it’s virtually dead even. And even though Denver did beat Stony Brook head-to-head, Stony Brook, I believe, had a better strength of schedule. I think they got it right."

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Categories: Johns Hopkins, Loyola, Maryland, Mount St. Mary's, Q&A

May 12, 2010

Q&A with ESPN's Paul Carcaterra

ESPN analyst and former Syracuse All-American midfielder Paul Carcaterra will provide commentary for No. 1 seed Virginia’s first-round game at Klockner Stadium in Charlottesville, Va., against Mount St. Mary’s this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Carcaterra offered his opinion on the omission of Georgetown, the seed with the easiest road to the Final Four, and the local team with the best chance to reach the Final Four.

Question: How would you evaluate the selection committee’s decisions regarding the make-up of the 16-team field?

Paul Carcaterra: "One interesting team that popped out at me was Georgetown. It’s almost unfair to put them head-to-head with another team, but when you look at the Georgetown-Notre Dame situation, it doesn’t make complete sense unless you were in that committee. Georgetown had the better record, a better strength of schedule, a better RPI, and they beat Notre Dame head-to-head. So to me, there’s some kind of discrepancy there. Look, it’s not an easy job because this year – more than ever – so many teams beat each other. For example, Loyola beat Georgetown, Georgetown beat Notre Dame, and Notre Dame beat Loyola. That’s just one example of how it’s so cyclical with all of these teams beating each other. I think there was probably a lot of tension on who should be in and who should be out. If Georgetown got in and Loyola didn’t, then people would be barking that Loyola beat them head-to-head, and something similar could be said for a lot of these situations. It was not an easy situation to be in if you’re on the committee, but that was one team that possibly got a raw deal."

Q: So it sounds like you had Georgetown pegged for the tournament. If that’s the case, which team did you think was out?

PC: "I was kind of debating between four teams for the last two spots, and they were Hopkins, Loyola, Hofstra and Drexel. I thought Drexel had a pretty nice body of work. Drexel beat Notre Dame, beat Hofstra. The other situation that I thought was kind of interesting was that Drexel was almost penalized – in my mind – for going to the conference tournament. Hofstra doesn’t make the conference tournament, but gets in the NCAA Tournament, and Drexel stays home because they lost to Delaware again. When you think about it, Drexel hurt themselves by going to the conference tournament and losing again, whereas Hofstra stayed idle and got to the NCAA Tournament. So those were my four teams, and I felt like it came down to either Hofstra or Drexel and Hopkins or Loyola. I had Georgetown in and Notre Dame in, so it wasn’t necessarily about Georgetown getting in over Notre Dame. Hopkins beat Loyola last weekend, and even though they had a worse record, they also played a much tougher schedule than Loyola. So I thought that Hopkins and Drexel should have gotten in. I think Hofstra’s a better team – top to bottom – than Drexel, but they just didn’t take care of business when they should have. And not making your conference tournament – although that’s not a pre-requisite – to me, that just didn’t add up."

Q: What were your thoughts on Stony Brook getting the No. 8 seed and a home game in the first round?

PC: "I was surprised because when you think of Stony Brook and their body of work – although they have two of the most explosive offensive players in [junior midfielder] Kevin Crowley and [junior attackman] Jordan McBride – what’s their top win? I looked at their schedule, and they had no big wins on that entire schedule. They beat Towson, but Towson’s at home and they’re 7-8. Delaware’s their best win, but you don’t get a No. 8 seed when Delaware’s your best win. I would have given the No. 8 seed to – as crazy as it sounds – Georgetown. Georgetown beat Notre Dame, they played a very difficult schedule, and they didn’t have any bad losses. Georgetown had a top-10 RPI and their strength of schedule was ninth. That’s why when Georgetown didn’t get in, it was like, whoa. With that said, I think Stony Brook can beat Denver because Denver is traveling all the way to the East, and it’s at Stony Brook."

Q: Would you agree or disagree that Virginia has the easist path to the Final Four at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Memorial Day weekend?

PC: "Absolutely. Virginia’s path to the Final Four is drastically easier than the other top seeds. They’re playing a Mount St. Mary’s team that is actually pretty good this year. They’re not a poor team by any stretch, but for the No. 1 team in the country, they will be heavily favored and should win that game without too much trouble. And that quarterfinal game, when you think about it, is normally a bear of a game for every top seed. It’s usually a difficult game more times than not. But to face either Stony Brook or Denver as opposed to [No. 4 seed] North Carolina and [No. 5 seed] Duke potentially squaring off, [No. 2 seed] Syracuse possibly playing [No. 7 seed] Cornell, and [No. 6 seed] Princeton playing [No. 3 seed] Maryland, those are much tougher games than Virginia’s. Unless North Carolina gets healthy, I think Duke is a few goals better than North Carolina right now. Syracuse and Cornell, the last two times those teams have played, it’s come down to the last second, so you can’t tell me that’s an easy game."

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Categories: Johns Hopkins, Loyola, Maryland, Mount St. Mary's, Q&A

May 11, 2010

Q&A with ESPN's Quint Kessenich

ESPN analyst and former Johns Hopkins All-American goalkeeper Quint Kessenich will occupy a spot in ESPNU’s studio in Charlotte, N.C., offering commentary on all eight NCAA Tournament first-round games this weekend. Kessenich broke down his thoughts on the snub of Georgetown, the challenge for Virginia and seed with the toughest path to the Final Four.

Question: What is your assessment of the selection committee’s decisions regarding the make-up of the 16-team field?

Quint Kessenich: "I think in the end, the two teams that were left out were Georgetown and Drexel. I can make a case for both of those teams, and I can make a case for the teams that were selected. So for me, just getting clarity on the selection process – what the mindset was, what the reasoning was – and if the fans are OK with what they’re hearing from [committee chair] Tim Pavlechko and the committee, then I can’t really argue. I thought Georgetown was in. In my mock bracket which we did on Saturday in the studio, I had Georgetown not only in, but I thought they had just as strong a resume as Stony Brook, and I gave them the eighth seed and had them hosting a game. That’s how tight it was in terms of being in and out. There’s not much difference between teams 8 through 16 this year."

Q: So the exclusion of Georgetown was the biggest surprise of Sunday night?

QK: "Yes, that’s the team that has the most to complain about given what they accomplished. One thing that surprised me looking at it this morning is that Mount St. Mary’s moved to 16 in RPI. So Georgetown gets a lot more credit for that Mount St. Mary’s win than I anticipated. I thought their RPI and strength of schedule were tough. They played teams ranked Nos. 2, 3 and 5, so I was surprised when the brackets initially came out. And I thought the Big East was a better conference than the ECAC [Eastern College Athletic Conference]. I think Loyola’s in-conference wins are unimpressive, to say the least. I thought the Big East and the CAA [Colonial Athletic Association] had better years and are much stronger conferences than the ECAC."

Q: So in your mock bracket, which team was out?

QK: "I did not have Loyola in the tournament. Otherwise, the field was the same. The top seven seeds were the same. Most of my match-ups were on. But I had Georgetown in and Loyola not in."

Q: So you had Hofstra in?

QK: "I did. Hofstra and Notre Dame, I thought, were very solid. And if Johns Hopkins got in, I thought Georgetown would get in also."

Q: With Virginia getting the top seed, can returning to lacrosse be cathartic for the Cavaliers?

QK: "I think it is. When we spoke to [coach] Dom Starsia last night, he mentioned meeting with the captains and making sure that they were on board and really willing to do this. I think Dom sat them down and really went over what they’re going to encounter over the next 20 or so days. This is going to be quite a journey for them. The issue is not going to go away. So they’re going to be confronted with it on a daily basis, especially as they near games. Playing lacrosse will be great therapy and will return their lives to – at least for 2½ hours – a little bit of normalcy. When they’re out on the lacrosse field, that will be an oasis away from the off-the-field troubles. That will help get them back to normalcy. They will be surrounded by friends and their teammates in the locker room, traveling to games, through the practices and schedule of their week. I can’t argue with [athletic director] Craig Littlepage and Dom Starsia saying that lacrosse is a vital part of the healing process."

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Categories: Johns Hopkins, Loyola, Maryland, Q&A

May 10, 2010

Q&A with NCAA selection committee chair Tim Pavlechko

With the 2010 field for the NCAA Division I tournament in the books, Tim Pavlechko is nearing the end of his tenure as the chair of the selection committee. Pavlechko, the senior associate athletic director at Bucknell, spoke on Monday about the rationale behind including Johns Hopkins, excluding Georgetown, and having two games at the same time on Saturday.

Question: How difficult was determining the 16-team field this past weekend?

Tim Pavlechko: "I think in the at-large pool, you had a grouping of teams that differentiated themselves at the top. And then you had a second group of very quality teams that had great seasons for those last at-large spots. I think the challenge quite honestly – moreso than the past, but I don’t know to what degree – is that those teams were all very similar. Over the past two years, the committee has expanded the selection criteria to make sure that we had all of the tools necessary to try and differentiate those teams, and in the end, it really was a laborious process to finally select the teams that were going to be the at-larges."

Q: What went into the decision to invite bubble teams like Johns Hopkins, Loyola, Hofstra and Notre Dame?

TP: "If you look at it from a committee perspective, you had five committee members – and sometimes four [under committee rules, Loyola coach Charley Toomey was not allowed to be in the room when discussing the Greyhounds] – seeing all of those primary criteria that ended up being circular at some point. You had common opponents, but you could never make sense out of it, and even the head-to-heads didn’t show a clear, concise rationale for this is why this team is above others. As we continued to look through the criteria, the committee has remained consistent that results against [teams with a Rating Percentage Index of] 1-to-5, 6-to-10 and 11-to-15 and looking at the full scope of work, the entire season [were significant]. Looking at those games, the 1-to-5, 6-to-10 and 11-to-15, who had success there and who had results there, the players played those games and had results in those categories. That ultimately made for hard decisions that differentiated a team here and a team there."

Q: Did Johns Hopkins get in on the basis of top-10 ratings in both RPI (8) and strength of schedule (4) or two victories over Loyola and Towson, two teams ranked in the top 15 in RPI?

TP: "The simple answer is yes. They had wins in the 11-to-15 category, and the other schools didn’t. We had a situation where you take the names off the school and you’re really looking at results. Whether it was Hopkins or Bucknell, we had team sheets that showed us some key things. I think at the end of the day, I would come back to that subjectivity is not a part of this. It was based upon selection criteria and the way things worked out."

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Categories: Q&A

May 4, 2010

Q&A with ESPN analyst Mark Dixon

ESPN analyst and former Johns Hopkins midfielder Mark Dixon will be providing commentary on Saturday at noon when No. 20 Johns Hopkins (6-7) visits No. 12 Loyola (9-3) in what will be a pivotal game for both teams. Dixon talks about the Johns Hopkins-Loyola showdown, Towson’s berth in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament and UMBC’s hopes of capturing a third straight America East Tournament crown.

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Categories: Johns Hopkins, Loyola, Navy, Q&A, Towson, UMBC

April 29, 2010

Q&A with ESPN analyst Paul Carcaterra

ESPN analyst Paul Carcaterra is a former All-American midfielder at Syracuse who will be covering No. 1 Syracuse at No. 11 Notre Dame on Saturday night for ESPNU. In the second of a two-part question-and-answer session, Carcaterra discussed the crowded field for the Ivy League Tournament, a team flying under the radar for an at-large bid, and his thoughts on the leading candidates for the Tewaaraton Award.

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Categories: Q&A

April 21, 2010

Q&A with ESPN's Matt Ward

Matt Ward is a former All-American attackman who helped Virginia capture NCAA championships in 2003 and 2006 and won the Tewaaraton Trophy in 2006 as the sport’s top player. In the first of a two-part interview, Ward, an analyst for ESPN, discusses – among other topics – two top-10 teams dealing with personal hexes, a disappointing program that almost made waves in last year’s NCAA Tournament and his pick to win the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament this weekend.

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Categories: Q&A

April 10, 2010

Q&A with ESPN's Mark Dixon

ESPN analyst Mark Dixon, a former midfielder at Johns Hopkins, will provide commentary for Saturday’s game between No. 20 Navy and No. 5 Maryland and Sunday’s contest between No. 14 Notre Dame and No. 10 Georgetown. This is the last of a two-part interview with Dixon, who discussed whether Virginia or North Carolina will finish the regular season undefeated, which team has been the biggest surprise, and what player is his leading candidate to win the Tewaaraton Trophy.


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Categories: Q&A

April 9, 2010

Q&A with ESPN's Mark Dixon

ESPN analyst Mark Dixon, a former midfielder at Johns Hopkins, will provide commentary for Saturday's game between No. 20 Navy and No. 5 Maryland and Sunday's contest between No. 14 Notre Dame and No. 10 Georgetown. This is the first of a two-part interview with Dixon, who discussed Maryland's inconsistent midfield, Loyola’s big game against Eastern College Athletic Conference rival Fairfield, and Johns Hopkins’ and Navy’s NCAA Tournament chances.

Question: If you're Maryland coach Dave Cottle, what are you most pleased with about your No. 5 Terps at this point in the season?

Mark Dixon: If I'm Dave Cottle, the thing I'm most pleased with is their energy and level of intensity. I think Maryland is a team that really gets after it. They get up and down the field, they fight and contest every groundball, they fall behind 6-0 to Virginia, the No. 1 team in the country and they fight back.

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Categories: Johns Hopkins, Loyola, Maryland, Mount St. Mary's, Navy, Q&A

April 8, 2010

Q&A with CBS College Sports' Matt Danowski

Matt Danowski is a former four-time All-American attackman at Duke who won the 2007 Tewaaraton Trophy. The newest lacrosse analyst for CBS College Sports, Danowski shared his opinion on a variety of topics. Here is the last portion of a two-part interview.


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Categories: Q&A

April 1, 2010

Q&A with ESPN's Paul Carcaterra (Part 2)

Paul Carcaterra, a former All-American midfielder at Syracuse, is now an analyst for ESPN after working for CBS College Sports. This is the second of a two-part conversation in which Carcaterra shared his thoughts on the general lacrosse landscape as the 2010 campaign hits its midpoint.

Question: What’s been the most surprising development thus far?

Paul Carcaterra: "It was probably Duke’s lack of success. Early in the season, they came off beating Team USA in the preseason, they had virtually the whole team back in guys like [senior attackman Ned] Crotty and [senior midfielder Steve] Schoeffel and [senior midfielder Mike] Catalino and one of the nation’s best scorers in [senior attackman] Max Quinzani, a great defense in [senior defenseman Parker] McKee and [sophomore long-stick midfielder C.J.] Costabile and [junior defenseman Mike] Manley. Those guys are complete studs. The other part of that is that might actually help them down the road because over the last four or five years, it seemed like Duke was the team to beat and the pressure was on them. Now, they may be able to sneak up into the tournament. That’s not going to be a team that I would want to play because now they don’t have pressure."

Q: What player or team has exceeded your preseason expectations?

PC: "[Junior midfielder] Jeremy Thompson from Syracuse. He’s fantastic. The kid faces off, he’s an exceptional shooter, he can play defense, he feeds the ball well. With the box [lacrosse] background, a lot of people thinks he’s just one-handed, but he has a great left hand. Also, [sophomore attackman] Chris Bocklet down in Virginia and [attackman] Matt White, the freshman. Those two guys have really turned it on as of late. Bocklet filled in Garrett Billings’ right-hand spot, and he also gave them another dimension because he shoots the ball incredibly well from the outside. That’s exactly what that offense needs. Everyone focuses in on the Brattons [Shamel and Rhamel] and [senior midfielder Brian] Carroll, and he gets those opportunities – inside and out – on that right-hand side, and he’s leading the team in goals. White is very poised for a young kid on attack."

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Categories: Q&A

March 31, 2010

Q&A with ESPN's Paul Carcaterra

Paul Carcaterra, a former All-American midfielder at Syracuse, has made the move to ESPN after working for CBS College Sports. This is the first of a two-part conversation in which Carcaterra shared his thoughts on Johns Hopkins’ troubles, Maryland’s legitimacy and Loyola’s potential.

Question: What is wrong with Johns Hopkins, which has lost three straight and four of its last five?

Paul Carcaterra: "I don’t know if I would necessarily say that something is wrong with them, but last week, watching them play Virginia, they had seven freshmen on the field at one time. That’s a good sign for the future, but in Division I lacrosse, success coincides with seasoned veterans and a core group of leaders. I think they have some nice seniors in [midfielder] Michael Kimmel and [attackman] Steven Boyle, but there seems to be a big drop between that senior class and that freshmen group. There’s not a ton of huge contributors in the sophomore and junior classes, and they’re asking a lot of the freshmen. I think in a few years, you’re not going to want to play Johns Hopkins, but speaking specifically about 2010, it’s going to take some time for those young guys to really catch up to the speed of Division I lacrosse and feel comfortable with what they’re doing. You’re seeing some glimpses of that. I think they have two incredible defenders in [long-stick midfielder Chris] Lightner and [defenseman Tucker] Durkin. Those kids are going to be complete studs. I think they’re catching up to that level a little bit quicker than some of the offensive guys."

Q: So it sounds like you’re saying it’s a case of growing pains.

PC: "It’s growing pains, yes. And I think for this year, they don’t have a ton of speed in the midfield. That was one thing I saw. But they have a couple young freshmen that I was impressed with. I think [Lee] Coppersmith has great speed, and [John] Ranagan can get up and down the field."

Q: What should the Blue Jays do with their goalkeeper situation?

PC: "They’re 4-4, and they’ve been in situations like this. They have one of the best coaching staffs in the country, and they’re going to tap everything they can out of this team. They’re going to get what they can get out of this team. From a goaltending standpoint, I think they just have to go in one direction. You can’t continue to play [senior Michael] Gvozden and then pull him, play Gvozden and pull him. at this point, you might want to ride your future a little bit and go with one of these young guys. But Gvozden is not the reason for them being 4-4. I don’t necessarily think he’s won any games for them, but I don’t think he’s been the reason they’ve lost either. At some point, a spark might be needed and going with one of these young kids, I don’t think you would lose a ton and you could also get in position for some experience in the future."

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Categories: Johns Hopkins, Loyola, Maryland, Q&A

March 24, 2010

Q&A with ESPN's Matt Ward

ESPN analyst and 2006 Tewaaraton Trophy winner Matt Ward generously shared a few minutes to talk about Saturday's game between No. 8 Johns Hopkins and No. 1 Virginia. Ward, a former attackman for the Cavaliers, also took the time out to offer his thoughts on the first six weeks of the lacrosse season.

Question: What’s been the most surprising development thus far?

Matt Ward: "I think it’s Duke struggling. I believe that when I talked to you last time, I said my Final Four included three ACC teams, and I left Maryland out. Looks like at this point, I should’ve left Duke out. But I’m not down on them completely. They’re a team that gets better each week, and once they start playing with confidence, they have the players. I think the other surprise is Johns Hopkins. I think they came in expecting more out of their players, and right now, I think they’re on the outside looking in for the NCAA Tournament. They’re going to need to win one of these games against a top-four program – whether it’s Virginia or UNC or Maryland. They need one of these wins because a lot of the wins they have from earlier in the season that were initially strong wins have kind of fallen flat now. Delaware just lost to Villanova and UMBC is really struggling. They’re going to have to win one of these games to have one quality win in their season."

Q: Is there a player or team that has exceeded your preseason expectations?

MW: "I think it’s Syracuse. Coming in, they had a lot of questions. They lost an unbelievable amount of talent in their quarterback, but it just shows how Syracuse reloads, they don’t rebuild. They’ve had players stepping up, and it’s fun to watch them play. They don’t necessarily get a lot of goals from dodgers. They get their goals when they make a couple crisp passes, and they have shooters who can put the ball past any goalie from any part of the field. They’re really fun to watch. And then I really like what UNC has done. They’re a team that started to get it last year in terms of confidence. They’ve always had the athletes, but they really started to believe in the system last year. They won their first ACC game last year against Maryland in the ACC Tournament, and that seems to have carried over to this year. They have, in my opinion, the best player in college lacrosse in Billy Bitter, but the other players there have been playing with confidence. To see them take down Duke pretty easily and beat a tough Princeton team just speaks to the confidence level that they’re playing at right now."

Q: Which coach is on the hot seat right now?

MW: "If I had to pick one, I would think it has to be Glenn Thiel at Penn State. If I was an up-and-coming coach, that is a program I would want to coach. Philadelphia is a few hours away, and you’re in one of the biggest hotbeds in the game. So there’s no reason you should be losing a lot of those kids to other schools. Penn State is everything you look for in a school – a good academic institution, the social atmosphere is unbelievable. If you have a recruit that you want to go there, take him to a Penn State-Michigan football game at night or a Penn State-Ohio State game at night, and tell him that he couldn’t find another experience like that. I think that’s a program that is really a sleeping giant. Once they get a new coach, that’s a program that could get turned around really quickly."

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Categories: Q&A

March 16, 2010

Q&A with ESPN's Quint Kessenich

ESPN analyst Quint Kessenich, a former All-American goalkeeper at Johns Hopkins, offered his perspective for an article advancing Saturday night’s showdown between No. 2 Syracuse and No. 8 Johns Hopkins at Homewood Field. He also shared his thoughts on the season thus far.

Question: What player or team has exceeded your preseason expectations?

Quint Kessenich: "There’s three really surprising unbeatens right now. Robert Morris, which is an independent, was 9-7 last year, and they’ve gotten off to a great start. They’re scoring a lot of goals, averaging about 16 goals a game. I think Lafayette is a huge surprise with their coach Terry Mangan. All of a sudden, they’re a favorite in the Patriot League. I felt the Patriot League would be a little down this year, but I still thought Bucknell might be the team to beat there, but Lafayette beat Navy last weekend, and that’s a huge win for that Lafayette program. It’s the best start in program history. And Yale is off to a good start in the Ivy League. They’re undefeated also, which is a surprise on the positive side."

Q: What player or team has underwhelmed you?

QK: "Albany is off to a horrendous start. Towson’s schedule is just brutal. It goes from hard to impossible. But on any given Saturday, we’re seeing crazy results, and if you win your one-goal games, that’s a big deal."

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Categories: Q&A

March 9, 2010

Q&A with ESPN's Mark Dixon

ESPN analyst Mark Dixon has covered several games this season, including No. 7 Maryland’s 15-13 victory over No. 9 Georgetown and No. 3 North Carolina’s 12-7 win against No. 19 UMBC. On Monday, he shared his thoughts on the first month of the lacrosse season.

Question: Which team has exceeded your expectations?

Mark Dixon: "The one team that has really jumped out to me is Maryland. It’s not so much that they beat Georgetown and they beat Duke, but it’s the way they’re playing right now. They’re playing a lot of guys, and I’m particularly impressed with the midfield. You lose three seniors, and [sophomore] Jake Bernhardt and [senior] Adam Sear have played well and [freshman] John Haus has been terrific. They’ve got guys stepping into the midfield, but I think more importantly, there’s the level of excitement that they have. Maryland has always been intense, but the excitement and passion that they’re playing with, I haven’t seen that in recent years. Against Georgetown when they were making that comeback [from a four-goal deficit], the sideline was going absolutely nuts. They were animated, they were excited, and Coach [Dave] Cottle was right in the middle of it all. He’s high-fiving, chest-bumping, leading the cheers, pumping his fist. They’re just a really excited bunch right now, so Maryland is a team that has exceeded my expectations. I also think Princeton has exceeded my expectations. When you look at the new coach [Chris Bates] who came from a very defensive-minded program at Drexel, you think, ‘OK, I think Princeton’s going to have some trouble scoring goals or at least emulating the success that they had a year ago.’ But they put up 17 against a very good Hofstra team and 11 against Johns Hopkins. So I think Princeton offensively has surprised me. Defensively, they’re surprising me, too, with the amount of goals that they’re giving up, but when you lose a guy like [sophomore defenseman] Chad Wiedmaier [who is recovering from knee surgery], I think you can expect the defense to take a little bit of a step back. But I would say that Maryland and Princeton are the two teams that have surprised me thus far."

Q: Which team has fallen short of your expectations?

MD: "Well, it’s got to be Duke, which was my preseason No. 1. The loss to Notre Dame, I actually picked them to lose that game in the Inside Lacrosse Pick ‘Em. I just thought it was a dangerous game, and the way Duke was playing in an overtime win against Bucknell, that really told me that these guys were ripe for the picking. Notre Dame is a very, very good team with a lot of good defensive players. But what’s been disappointing about Duke is the midfield production. When you look at guys like [senior] Steve Schoeffel, [sophomore] Justin Turri, [sophomore] Rob Rotanz, [senior] Will McKee, I thought there would be more production out of the midfield, and there hasn’t been. Look at North Carolina and [junior attackman] Billy Bitter. He’s not doing it all by himself this year. He can’t because [opponents] are keying on him too much. The guys who are taking pressure off of Bitter are midfielders like [senior] Sean DeLaney, [senior] Cryder DiPietro and [sophomore] Jimmy Dunster. Those are dangerous dodgers who are scoring and producing. So Duke has two losses. They had two losses at this time last year. But it’s really the midfield that is not getting the job done for the Blue Devils."

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Categories: Q&A

March 2, 2010

Q&A with ESPN's Quint Kessenich

While helping me with a feature advancing Saturday's Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic, ESPN analyst Quint Kessenich, an All-American goalkeeper who helped Johns Hopkins capture the 1987 national championship, shared his thoughts on the first month of the 2010 campaign.

Question: Who are your favorites to win the Tewaaraton Trophy?

Quint Kessenich: "Ned Crotty of Duke, the preseason favorite, I would have to say that he is not rising because I’m not sure with all of the preseason hype how he could rise. Duke’s loss may have hurt him a little. Michael Kimmel’s gotten off to a great start for Hopkins. Cooper MacDonnell of Loyola is a senior who has exceeded expectations. But the Tewaaraton is really a team trophy. Shamel Bratton [of Virginia] is off to a slow start. He’s only shooting 2-of-14 right now. The season may be a month old, but for a lot of teams – Brown hasn’t played yet, Cornell only has one game – it’s still in the infancy stage."

Q: Which teams do you like to make the Final Four?

QK: "We’ll get to see all of these teams in Baltimore, and then on Sunday, I’m going down to Virginia and Syracuse. Next week, I get to see Carolina-Duke and then Georgetown-Syracuse. So by March 13, I will have seen basically the entire top 10 minus a Cornell and some of the fringe teams. I think I’ll be pretty comfortable then, but having not seen them, I hate to make a prediction. Having not seen Syracuse, I can’t tell you. I know what they are on paper, but I just don’t feel comfortable making a prediction."

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Categories: Q&A

February 25, 2010

Q&A with Matt Ward

Matt Ward, an ESPN analyst and the 2006 Tewaaraton Trophy winner who helped Virginia capture two national championships, was kind enough to contribute to a feature on Maryland junior attackman Grant Catalino that is scheduled to run Friday. Ward also shared his thoughts on the young lacrosse season.

Question: Which player has the inside track to win the Tewaaraton Trophy this year?

Matt Ward: "I would say [Duke senior attackman Ned] Crotty. Ultimately, I think it’s his. I think Duke probably has the most skilled team, and usually that award at the end of the year goes to a team that’s competing at the end, and Crotty is very, very skilled. Him and [North Carolina junior attackman Billy] Bitter, if you pick either one, you’re going to be happy with who you have. … I would say that Crotty would be the favorite at this point, but Bitter I would say is a close second."

Q: What has been the biggest surprise thus far?

MW: "The biggest surprise I would say is Duke’s struggles early on. They had a tough game against Bucknell. Some people were struck by that score, but I’ll tell you that Bucknell is a good team. And then you saw Duke get handled by Notre Dame. Notre Dame really appeared to take control of that game, control the tempo, and outshot Duke. I wouldn’t have predicted that. I think that Duke is struggling to find themselves, but once they get going and with the players and talent that they have, they’re going to get back on track."

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Categories: Q&A

February 10, 2010

Q&A with Mark Dixon

Mark Dixon, a former midfielder at Johns Hopkins and a current lacrosse anaylst with ESPN, candidly shared his thoughts on the upcoming lacrosse season. Here is a transcript of our conversation.

Question: Which team deserves the preseason No. 1 ranking?

Mark Dixon: "I personally voted for Duke, and the reason I voted for Duke is just because of what they return. First of all, they’ve got Ned Crotty, who I think is the frontrunner for Player of the Year right now. He’s a part of Team USA. I really like their defense with Parker McKee and Mike Manley and C.J. Costabile. I think the goal is a little bit of a question mark now with Sean Brady being ruled academically ineligible. Syracuse is the defending two-time champion, and they deserve consideration rightly so to be No. 1. However, they lose so much not only on offense, but in leadership in guys like Matt Abbott, Dan Hardy and Pat Perritt. But I think the biggest loss for them is on the attack end with Kenny Nims. He was the quarterback. He was the ball carrier. He was the one that got the ball to Stephen Keough. He was the one that would generate offense and get it to Cody Jamieson. Who’s going to be the quarterback of Syracuse’s offense? That’s a big question mark. And defensively, Sid Smith has been the linchpin the last couple years, and he’s graduated. Now they get [John] Lade back and they’ve got Matt Tierney and [John] Galloway’s in his third year, but the biggest reason Syracuse has won the last two national championships is because of that defense and when you’re missing your leader, things can get shaky. Just ask Johns Hopkins."

Q: Why isn't Duke a unanimous choice at No. 1?

MD: "If you look at their past experience, have they struggled on Final Four weekend the past couple of years? Yeah. That’s the monkey on the back of the Duke players. Can they perform and pull it through on the big stage? But if Syracuse were to play Duke right now, I think Duke would win."

Q: What do you make of Syracuse’s chances of a three-peat?

MD: "I’m a big believer in that you’re the champion until proven otherwise. But I think this year, with what Syracuse lost, it’s going to be a tough road to hoe. They’ve got some great juniors in Joel White, John Galloway, Jovan Miller, Josh Amidon, but I think when you look at the lay of the land … Virginia’s just loaded with midfielders. They’ve got defensive problems of their own, and they lose [Danny] Glading and [Garrett] Billings, but [Steele] Stanwick played a lot last year, and he can fill the role that Danny Glading had. You look at Carolina and think, ‘Are they for real?’ Billy Bitter is great, but they took a big loss with Sean Burke. Defensively, they’re going to be better because they’ve got a year under [head coach Joe] Breschi’s system and they’ve got some great athletes. Hopkins is going to be loaded offensively, but can they solve things defensively and in the goal? Then you’ve got teams like Maryland with a lot to prove. Georgetown has a lot to prove, and they’ve got some great kids coming back. So I really think this year is wide open when you consider the teams that were in last year's Final Four. The teams are getting closer and closer to one another. So I think Syracuse has a good chance. They’re the champions until proven otherwise. They’ve got a lot of holes to fill, but I think, if anything, John Desko has shown that he can adjust to any style that his team needs to play and he can coach his behind off and he’s going to have those guys ready, no matter what."

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Categories: Q&A

February 9, 2010

Q&A with Paul Carcaterra

Paul Carcaterra, who earned All-American honors as a midfielder at Syracuse and who covered lacrosse for CBS College Sports, generously offered his opinions on the upcoming lacrosse season. Here is a transcript of his responses.

Q: Which team should begin the season at No. 1?

Paul Carcaterra: "After watching Duke beat Team USA, which is supposed to be the best team in the world, it’s kind of hard not to like the talent at Duke. … Duke’s been a tremendous team in college lacrosse for the last five or six years. They’ve struggled to get over the hump and capture a national championship. With that said, I think they certainly have the talent to win a national championship. But I think the Syracuse team is interesting because although they lost five midfielders from a year ago, I think they’re replacing those guys with great talent, and I don’t look at the midfield as being as great of an X-factor going into 2010 as is finding a quarterback to replace Kenny Nims. If you look at their last two national championships, they had arguably two of the best quarterbacks in the country in Mike Leveille in 2008 and Kenny Nims in 2009. I think that’s the biggest question mark for Syracuse."

Q: Which team is a dark-horse candidate to make the Final Four?

PC: "Hofstra is a team that can really sneak up on you. I plan on seeing them upset some top teams. They’ve got some great goal scorers in Jay Card and Jamie Lincoln, two Canadian kids who can fill up the back of the net as good as any. And they’ve got athletic middies. I think Coach [Seth] Tierney is starting to keep some of the top talent on Long Island at home. The knock on Hofstra in the past was that they would never be able to keep the top kids on Long Island at home. But he’s starting to do that. It’s pretty remarkable. … They play a good brand of lacrosse from a spectator standpoint. They like to get up and down a little bit, and it’s exciting to watch, but they’re also well-coached. That's a team that can sneak up on people."

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Categories: Q&A

February 8, 2010

Q&A with Quint Kessenich

Quint Kessenich, a former All-American goalkeeper at Johns Hopkins and a current lacrosse analyst with ESPN, was kind enough to share a few minutes and a few thoughts on the upcoming lacrosse season. Here is a transcript of his responses.

Question: Which team got your No. 1 vote in the preseason poll?

Quint Kessenich: "I gave Duke my No. 1 vote based on the amount of talent they returned in comparison to the amount of points that Syracuse University lost. Syracuse lost three really good offensive players in Kenny Nims, Dan Hardy and Pat Perritt and one of their best defenders in Sid Smith. But I do think that Syracuse returns the best defense in the nation. And I’ve got them either second or third depending on how they fare on March 7 against Virginia. So they’re not that far off."

Q: What can be gained from Duke's 9-8 victory over Team USA in an exhibition on Jan. 31?

QK: "Very little. Duke was playing without four of their best players. Team USA had not practiced at all. Different rules. Duke had the advantage of practicing. What it showed me was the overall athleticism of a Division I player now. A good Division I player can compete with an elite professional player, and I’m not sure that existed 10 or 20 years ago. A kid one year out of Landon was running past a USA Team defender, which is kind of uplifting, I think, for all of college lacrosse and even for high school kids. A great high school player, he’s not that far off. Long-term, Duke’s biggest issue will be their goaltending situation. Sean Brady was their heir apparent and who I believe was very talented. He violated a team rule, and he got suspended. So they have some very inexperienced goalies. And Coach [John] Danowski’s biggest issue is peaking at the right time. They’ve always peaked in the ACC Tournament and they’ve never played their best game on Memorial Day weekend."

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Posted by Edward Lee at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)
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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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