There's a lot to get through this week, so we'll skip the witty (if they ever were witty) intro paragraph and get right to last week's ACC tournament, news and notes and this week's game vs. Fairfield.
The ACC Tournament:
• Taking the games in the order the Terps played them, the North Carolina game was a big, big win, especially when you look at how it will effect Maryland's seeding in the NCAA tournament next month. Here are somethings that stood out to me:
- First and foremost, the job Brett Schmidt did covering Carolina's Billy Bitter was extraordinary. There are not too many times in a game that fans will applaud for a guy who just stays with his man and doesn't let him get by him, but that's what the crowd did on Friday night.
But, let's not think this was a one-man job. Maryland's other close defenders, Ryder Bohlander and Max Schmidt, were also terrific. If they couldn't mark their men then it would have opened up passing lanes for Bitter. The same goes for the Terps' shorties and long poles. They were terrific in keeping the UNC middies in check without needing a lot of slides.
And the last, but certainly not least, part of any defensive effort is the play of the goalie and Brian Phipps made a statement on Friday night with 13 saves.
Overall it was just a fantastic team effort on the defensive side of the field. Oh and by the way, the defense also made contributions on offense with Brian Farrell chipping in with two goals and Dean Hart and Bryn Holmes each picking up an assist.
- Offensively, the stat sheet makes it look like a one-man plus two effort, but saying that wouldn't be accurate.
You have to start with Grant Catalino. He was easily the best offensive player on the field Friday with a career-best six goals. But it wasn't just the total that was impressive, it was the variety of ways he scored that was. Sure Catalino scored from his usual spots, but he also had dodging goal, cutting under the defender to reach goal line extended and he also finished on a curl to the right wing.
Next up would be the first career hat trick for John Haus. By now everyone probably knows his story, so we won't rehash it here, but suffice it to say that there probably wasn't a member of this program that wasn't smiling from ear to ear for him with what he did against the Tar Heels.
Ryan Young has as quiet a four-point game as you could have, but he's made a habit of quietly putting up good numbers in big games. Anybody remember the six points on five assists and a goal at Georgetown? He was overshadowed back then by Will Yeatman's second-half hat trick and the big comeback. On Friday it was Catalino, Brett Schmidt and Haus that took the spotlight. But that's ok for Young. All he's worried about is the win and the Terps got a big one vs. UNC. One more thing: Young also tied for the game-high with five groundballs.
- The other huge part of the Carolina game was Bryn Holmes' dominance at the face-off X. Coach Cottle called him "the toughest son of a bugger [he's] ever coached," and Holmes proved it again vs. the Tar Heels, winning 13 of 20 draws with five groundballs. If you go back to Maryland's last four games (UVa. & UNC in the ACC tournament, Hopkins and Navy), Holmes has won 48 of 77 face-offs for a .623 winning percentage.
• The Virginia game was notable for Terp fans for one big thing. Or should it be the lack of one big thing? Will Yeatman, who has totaled nine points on seven goals and two assists in two career games with the Wahoos was not on the field for the Terps, due to a mild concussion suffered in the North Carolina game. I'm not going to be so foolish to say that Virginia wouldn't have won if Yeatman had played (because they are a very good team), but I would have liked to see how it would have played out. Yeatman seems to be the one player that Virginia doesn't have an answer for. If things play out we might get our chance to see it in Baltimore at the end of May.
- You can't write or talk about this game without mentioning the play of Cavalier goalie Adam Ghitleman. He was the difference in the game on Sunday, celebrating his 21st birthday with 16 saves to take tournament MVP honors. Sometimes you just have to say a good player had a great game and beat you and that's what happened.
• It was nice to see that Catalino, Farrell, Haus and Brett Schmidt were all named to the all-tournament team. Far too often what happens on Friday night gets forgotten, but this time the voters got it right and rewarded these guys for what they did over the weekend and not just on Sunday.
News & Notes:
• The big thing in the news right now is the release of the first official RPI by the NCAA. The RPI is one of the favorite punching bags for media and fans to fire away at for a few weeks before the official tournament field is announced.
There is no argument about No. 1 with Virginia pretty much a lock for the No. 1 overall seed when the bracket comes out in two weeks. But there is a bit of a surprise with Nos. 2-4 with Carolina and Maryland, in that order, coming in in front of Syracuse. But it probably was strength of schedule that pushed the two ACC schools ahead of the Orange. Syracuse played Albany (#41), Hobart (#43) and Providence (#54) and that will make a difference. The official strength of schedule used in the RPI is based on a team's top 10 opponents, but the formula to generate the actual RPI takes into account all of a team's opponents. Take a look at the chart below to see how the opponents of these three teams stack up to each other (opponents through 4/25).
|Bellarmine (35)||Jacksonville (37)||Denver (13)|
|Georgetown (11)||Bryant (27)||Army (22)|
|Duke (5)||Lehigh (36)||Virginia (1)|
|Towson (10)||Navy (24)||Georgetown (11)|
|Penn (26)||UMBC (34)||Johns Hopkins (14)|
|UMBC (34)||Duke (5)||Hobart (43)|
|North Carolina (2)||Princeton (6)||Villanova (12)|
|Virginia (1)||Dartmouth (32)||Albany (41)|
|Navy (24)||Maryland (3)||Princeton (6)|
|Johns Hopkins (14)||Johns Hopkins (14)||Cornell (10)|
|North Carolina (2)||Virginia (1)||Rutgers (38)|
|Virginia (1)||Robert Morris (29)||Providence (53)|
|Avg: 13.8||Avg: 19.2||Avg: 22.0|
It gives you a look at one of the things the selection committee will see when they meet on May 8-9. Maryland will play Fairfield (17) and Colgate (53), while Carolina still has to play Ohio State (33) and Syracuse has Notre Dame (15) and St. Johns (44). If you put those into the equation now Maryland's opponents would average a 16.8, Carolina's would be 20.2 and Syracuse's would be 23.1.
Duke, Princeton, Loyola, Cornell, Stony Brook and Towson round out the top 10.
The elephant in the room that a lot of people are actually talking about is Johns Hopkins. The Blue Jays are No. 14 in the RPI, but are 5-7 on the season. We all know that a team must be at least .500 to make the tournament. Hopkins has Towson (10) and Loyola (7) left to play and it looks like if the Blue Jays win both of those then a 7-7 Blue Jay team will make the field. That will be an interesting first round opponent for a seeded team come May 15-16.
• The NCAA rankings are also out and for the second straight week the Terps are the nation's best man-up unit. Maryland is also ranked among the top five in caused turnovers (#2), groundballs (#3) and winning percentage (#5).
One interesting thing for Terp fans to take note of this week is that Fairfield's goalie, Joe Marra, leads the nation in save percentage (.606) and goals-against average (7.09).
• I would be remiss not to mention that four Terps were named to the All-ACC team last week: Grant Catalino, Brian Phipps, Brett Schmidt and Ryan Young. It has been argued that it's harder to make the All-ACC team than to make the All-America team, so this is a real accomplishment and well deserved for these four.
The Fairfield Game:
• Two things jump out at you when you look at this game. First and foremost, this is Senior Day for the Terps and second is the return to College Park of Andy Copelan.
- Prior to Saturday's game eight Terrapin student-athletes (Fran Gormley, Dan Halayko, Dean Hart, Bryn Holmes, Brian Phipps, Chris Ready, Adam Sear and Will Yeatman) will be honored for their contributions to the Maryland men's lacrosse program. Over the last four years this class has compiled an overall record of 39-22 (.639) and will make four appearances in the NCAA tournament.
I would like to thank all of these guys for everything they have helped me with over the past four years. I'm sure it's not fun for them to see me in the hallway in the Team House and hear me say, "I need you today," every week for four years (just about every week for fall four years for Phipps) but they were great every time and that made my job a heck of a lot easier.
But there are two other seniors who will be making their last regular season appearance at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium and they should not be overlooked.
Patrick Hutchinson came to College Park in 2007 and tried to make the team as a midfielder and face-off guy (not a FOGO!), but his playing career didn't work out and he stayed with the team as a manager and evolved into a student coach. Hutch now is in charge of the weekly scout team, as well as helping coach the team's goalies. Ask anyone who has been around the last four years and they will tell you that Hutch has been an integral part of this program.
Billy Langenstein has made occasional appearances in the blog (the first of which came in the March 5, 2008 entry about the road trip to Duke and his shooting ability during the team's shoot-around in Durham), but his real contribution has been as a student athletic trainer. Langenstein has been the one stable figure in the training room for the Terps over the past three years. He's had to put up with the crazy shenanigans of Shawn Hendi and the X-Games stories of Sean O'Keefe and he outlasted both of them. A crazy Philly sports fan, Langenstein is anxiously hoping for a Caps-Flyers match-up in the second round just so he can get some last jabs at Coach Cottle, who is a Caps fan (if the Capitals can get past the Canadians on Wednesday).
It's guys like Hutch and Billy that make being a part of this program so special. Thanks guys!
- Saturday will also mark the return of Andy Copelan to College Park. Most will remember that Copelan spent three seasons (2006-08) as an assistant coach (two of which as the team's offensive coordinator) with the Terps before becoming the Fairfield head coach. Copelan coached and helped recruit all of the juniors and seniors on this team and had a hand in recruiting the Terps' sophomore class. He most likely also helped in the early recruiting of this year's freshman class, as well. He knows Maryland's players and he is a very good coach and will have his team well prepared for Saturday's game. All that aside, it will be good to see Cope again and it's fitting that he will be here for this year's senior day.
- Saturday's game will also be the Terps' Power In Pink game to help Under Armour in the fight against breast cancer. The Terps will not be wearing pink uniforms, which is the norm for many of the women's teams, but will sporting pink shoelaces and wristbands to show their support for those fighting breast cancer. All proceeds from sales of Under Armour's Power in Pink items go to national breast cancer charities. So join Under Armour and the Terps and fight breast cancer by supporting POWER IN PINK. For details, visit powerinpink.UnderArmour.com. I'll have more on the Terps' connection with this special cause next week before the team heads up to Manhasset, N.Y., to play Colgate in the Indians Rock Manhasset Day of Champions.
That wraps things up for this week. Make sure you head over to the Maryland men's lacrosse You Tube page to check out the latest videos. Each week a video is prepared for the team and the ones for the Navy, Hopkins and ACC tournament are up now. Game notes will be posted on Thursday. It looks like its going to be a great day on Saturday, so come out and show your appreciation for this year's seniors. See you then.