Today all over the country calendars flipped to February, which can only mean one thing - actual lacrosse games will be played beginning this month. While real games are still a few weeks away, the change from January to February means the wait is almost over.
With the first scrimmage this weekend (weather permitting), that means it is time for the official 2011 preview. In the past this usually means an outlook written by the SID (meaning me), but those are really dry and the sooner they go away the better. In 2009 we produced a video outlook and that was very well received.
This year we've actually raised the bar again with a full 22 minute preview that features, highlight from last year, interviews seniors Dan Burns, Grant Catalino, Brian Farrell and Brett Schmidt and, of course, Coach Tillman, who breaks down each of the position groupings. You can check out the finished piece below.
Of course, the impending season also means that the first polls are being released (and in fact have already come out).
Before we get into the preseason polls, let's make one thing perfectly clear: The polls do not matter! The rankings are for fans and media to have something to look at and talk about throughout the season. The polls have no bearing on a team's tournament worthiness or potential seed. But, while that may be true, the polls and rankings are the way we judge teams in the regular season and it provides a fun debate. So where do the Terps stand in the 2011 preseason polls? Take a look:
|Ranking||IL Media||USILA Coaches|
|3||North Carolina||North Carolina|
|6||Notre Dame||Stony Brook|
|11||Johns Hopkins||Johns Hopkins|
Ok, that was fun. It still doesn't mean much, but it is interesting and here are some more interesting nuggets:
• The top five teams are the same in both polls: the four ACC teams and Syracuse. The only difference is that Virginia is the top pick of the coaches, while Syracuse gets a little more love from the media.
• Both polls share 19 of 20 teams. Villanova is included in the media poll at No. 20, while Delaware is No. 17 on the coaches' poll.
• The ACC, Big East and Ivy League each have four teams in the media poll. The average ranking of the four teams in each league: ACC (3.5), Big East (10.5), Ivy (13.3).
• In the coaches' poll the ACC, Ivy and CAA have four teams ranked. The average ranking for each league is: ACC (3.3), Ivy (14.3), CAA (15.0).
If you're wondering what the Terps have been ranked in past preseason polls you're in luck.
|Year||IL Media||USILA Coaches|
The thing that jumps out right away is last year's rankings. Maryland was eighth and seventh in the preseason, but finished with a 12-4 record and was the No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament. Of course you can also look at the 2009 team, which was third in both preseason polls, but finished with a 10-7 mark and was unseeded in the tournament. But, it's also worth noting that the 2009 Terps were the only unseeded team to win a first round tournament game, upsetting previously unbeaten Notre Dame in South Bend.
Maryland has traditionally had one of the toughest schedules in the country and that will be the case again this season. The Terps will play (we'll use the USILA Coaches' Poll here) five teams ranked in the top 15, including Nos. 1, 3 & 5 (the other ACC teams). Of course we also can't forget that the Terps will meet one (and possibly two) of those ACC teams again in the conference tournament.
But there are three traditional Maryland rivals that are noticeably absent from either preseason poll. Navy, Towson and UMBC are all unranked - for now. These three programs have good players and tremendous coaches, so it's not a stretch to believe they will crack the top 20 at some point during the season.
That wraps up this week's blog. As always, you can "like" Maryland Men's Lacrosse on Facebook, follow UMTerps on Twitter and subscribe to Maryland Athletics on YouTube to get the latest news and notes on the Terps' lacrosse team and other Maryland athletic programs.
Next week we're going to get a quick look at the first scrimmages (nothing too in-depth, since we try not to even acknowledge they even take place), breaking the team down by classes and what exactly is the Face-Off Club?