Welcome to the first edition of the 2012 Maryland men's lacrosse blog! This begins what promises to be an exciting and interesting season for the Terps.
For those new to this blog it is published every Tuesday during the Maryland men's lacrosse season and will cover anything and everything that has to do with the Terrapins, along with some news, insights and opinion concerning the overall landscape of college lacrosse.
Checking In At Practice
If you haven't seen them you should check out the video of the Terps' first practice and then from their second week. (Even if you have seen them you should watch them again - and again.)
I'll explain a bit more about what's going on below the videos.
Thank you to everyone who has watched the videos. As of this writing, nearly 10,000 views have been recorded for the two videos combined.
Ok, first and foremost - no one should read anything into any of the pairing they see on the field. The first video is just the very first day of practice.
The second video was taken over the span of the first three days of the second week. At that time (and even continuing to now) there are no set starters at any spot with the possible exception of goalie, which to no one's surprise is securely in the hands of Niko Amato.
So any speculation on any message boards (and I do take a peek at them from time to time) is purely that - speculation. As for why there are three reasons why.
First - The Terps lost so much to graduation last season that there are a lot of spots to fill and it will take a while before everything is figured out. It's easy for Terp fans and general lacrosse fans to slot players they know and those they think they know into spots, but it takes time on the field to get people in the right spots. Let's not forget that Jordan Wolf didn't crack Duke's starting line-up until the Blue Devils' played the Terps on March 5 - Duke's fourth game of the season. Sometimes these things simply take time.
Second - These videos are just a quick snapshot of some shooting and some drills when there is decent light (hard to shoot action video in poor lighting when the sun goes down). A lot of times during these drills the players substitute themselves in and out; so looking at who is on the field with whom during an odd-man break drill is a bit presumptive.
Third - Injuries and winter classes play a HUGE part on who is on the field together. Long time readers know that no specifics are given regarding injuries here in this blog, but for one reason or another no fewer than 15 players have missed at least one full day due to injuries.
Just to pull the curtain back just a little bit - at one practice at the end of winter term the Terps only had five attackmen available for practice. The practice plan called for some 6-on-6 work, so someone had to fill in at attack. That person ended up being Drew Snider. Does that mean that Snider will be part of the starting attack unit that takes the field on Feb. 18 vs. Hartford? No. Something tells me he will be on one of the Terps' midfield lines despite spending a part of one practice at attack.
So, if you see Billy Gribbin, Sean McGuire and Joe Cummings in a drill at attack that doesn't mean that's set in stone and Coach Tillman has his starting attack unit decided.
That brings up the subject of Cummings, who earned third team All-America honors last season as a midfielder. He has been seeing some time at attack this preseason, but, for all of the reasons already stated, nothing should be read into that either. What Cummings can do at midfield is already known, so given the players the Terps graduated at attack last spring it would be irresponsible not to see how he does in a few drills at his more natural position.
Who's Looking Good
Now that I've said there's nothing to read into who's on the field with who in the videos, here are a couple of players that have stood out at times on the field so far:
Not surprisingly, Jesse Bernhardt has been the unquestioned leader of the defense. No one goes harder in practice, day in day out than Jesse. His intensity sets the tone for everyone on that end of the field.
The midfield standouts also won't surprise anyone. Jake Bernhardt, Snider and John Haus have all been outstanding. The midfield is the most experienced group on the field, so this trio, along with fellow returnees Cummings and Kevin Cooper, will be expected to lead the offense.
Another in the "no surprise" file is the play of Niko Amato in cage. He has been nothing short of tremendous and has forced all of Maryland's offensive players to step up their games to score goals in practice.
Terps at the Champion Challenge
The annual Champion Challenge has become a terrific lacrosse event over the past couple of years and this year Team USA featured a pair of former Terps. Lee Zink, the 2004 national defender of the year, and Brian Farrell, a three-time All-American, donned the Red, White and Blue and helped Team USA to a 16-15 overtime victory over Denver.
The preseason polls are out and Maryland checks in at No. 7 in the USILA Coaches' Poll and No. 8 in the Inside Lacrosse Media Poll.
I'll be going into a little more about the polls and where Maryland's opponents are ranked and where the Terps have been slotted in previous polls next week, but I've said it before and I'll say it again: The polls do not matter! Not one bit. More on that next week too.
Also coming next week ...
Hopefully I'll have some details on a new addition to the Maryland Men's Lacrosse Blog for the 2012 season.
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Once again this season, videos for the Maryland men's lacrosse team will be posted to the official Maryland Athletics YouTube channel. We will be shooting the 2012 video preview next week, so make sure you keep an eye out for that the week of the Harford game.
That wraps up the first blog for 2012. Check back next week for an update on the first official scrimmage (this Saturday at Loyola) and all season long to keep up-to-date on the latest Maryland men's lacrosse news.