A day late, but not a dollar short, welcome to the 2012 Preview Edition of the Maryland Men's Lacrosse Blog.
In addition to debuting the 2012 video preview, there is also a written outlook of this year's Terrapin team. We'll also give fans a sneak peek at the new uniforms, as well as a quick review of the Syracuse scrimmage and a look ahead to a tough season opener.
After hearing what the head coach and three of the captains have to say about this season let's delve a little bit deeper.
Owen Blye is the lone returning starter at attack and he will be expected to be the anchor of that unit in the early part of the season. The other two spots are open and are being contested by Penn State transfer Billy Gribbin, sophomores Sean McGuire and Rustin Bryant and freshmen Jay Carlson, Kevin Forster and David Solomon. Each of these guys have had their moments during practice and bring something to the field when they get their chance. It's simply a matter of who steps up to grab those starting spots.
The midfield is where the experience and depth is the greatest for the Terps. All-Americans Joe Cummings and John Haus are back along with seniors Jake Bernhardt and Drew Snider and junior Kevin Cooper. These guys will be joined by Princeton transfer Mike Chanenchuk, who has fit nicely into the Maryland offense. Senior Michael Shakespeare played mostly defensive midfield last season, but could fill in on the offensive end if needed.
Midfield depth will come from sophomores Tyler Adelsberger and Quinn Haley, as well as freshmen Brian Cole, Joe LoCascio, Garrett Manno and Zach Wholley.
Everyone knows that the Terps have to replace three starting close guys and a long pole. What everyone may not realize is how the Terps are going to replace them.
The 2012 Maryland defense has a number of moveable parts. Having guys capable of playing down low or up top gives flexibility and can allow the Terps to match-up with opponent's offensive personnel better.
Any discussion about the defense starts with Jesse Bernhardt, who is as good a cover guy as there is in the country. He is also one of the smarter players on the field and makes the other guys better. We've talked about Bernhardt every week here and that probably won't change - for very good reasons.
Versatility is the key word this season and that's what poles Michael Ehrhardt, Brian Cooper, Emmett Cahill, Taylor Morgan and Goran Murray provide. The starting threesome at close defense is still to be determined, but any way it shakes out the Terps will have options on the defensive end of the field.
Freshmen poles Kellen Miller and Eric Parnon will provide depth.
Junior Landon Carr, who proved more than capable for the Terps down the stretch last season, will anchor the short-stick middies. Big, strong, quick and savvy, Carr knows the system and can help mentor some of the younger shorties.
David Miller and Shakespeare are solid vets, who could also play on the offensive end of the field. Sophomore Greg D'Arienzo and freshman Bobby Gribbin are athletic and could grow into capable defenders, which in turn could free up Shakespeare and/or Miller for bigger offensive roles.
Pat Morrison is a jack-of-all-trades defensively for defensive guru Kevin Warne, who will find some way to utilize the senior's experience and skill.
Niko Amato returns for his second season as the Terps' starting goalie. Enough said about that. Next ...
Curtis Holmes had the break-through season of break-through seasons last year and while it may not be realistic to expect a nearly 62-percent winning percentage it's not likely that his production will fall off too much. Holmes is still the main guy at the X for the Terps.
Sophomore Dan Noskin and freshman Bobby Gribbin will provide some depth at the X this season.
Coach Tillman often credits some of Holmes' 2011 success to Noskin pushing him in practice every day. Noskin has worked hard on his stick skills in the offseason and could be ready to take some of the workload off of Holmes this year.
Gribbin is another option at the X and his ability to play tough defensively should make him a viable alternative.
One of the most asked-about topics this season has had to do about the gear the Terps will be sporting this season. I'm the first to admit that I'm not a gear guy, so I don't really understand what all the interest is about.
But, I get it - people like gear and uniforms. So without further adieu here are some of the uniform combinations the Terps will be sporting this season.
The first thing people will probably notice is that the black uniforms are back for 2012. Since I'm not a uniform aficionado I'm not quite sure when the last time the Terps wore black unis was, but the last time I can remember off the top of my head was 2007 at home vs. Johns Hopkins (you know - the Paul Rabil OT game, which is also, although not as equally remember as the Chris Feif's hat trick game).
I've included close-ups of the numbers, which show the inclusion of the "Terraprint" inside the numbers. A nice touch that may not be that noticeable from the stands.
The last picture shows a small change to the Terps' white helmets, which is the M-Flag logo replacing the script Terps.
If anyone is wondering, there are no plans to announce what combination the Terps will be wearing ahead of time, so you'll have to come out to Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium on Saturday to see what combo the Terrapins will be wearing in the season opener.
The Syracuse Scrimmage
Scrimmages are just that - scrimmages. The outcome doesn't matter. Who cares what the final score is? It's how the team plays that really matters.
With that in mind the Terps' final scrimmage of 2012 went reasonably well. For the first three quarters Maryland looked solid against the Orange, who, like the Terps, will be a much better team in April and May than they are right now.
This may seem a bit repetitive, but there's no way around it -Bernhardt and Amato played very well. That's not to say that others didn't, but these guys continue to standout for the Terps.
One more bright spot was not only the play of face-off man Holmes, but also the Terps' play on the wings. Possession is everything in lacrosse and winning the ball at the X is paramount this season.
Before we wrap up this week's blog it would be negligent not to look at this week's opponent, especially since it is the 2012 opener.
The first thing people need to understand is that Hartford is in no way shape or form a "cake-walk" opener. This is a dangerous and talented opponent with something to prove.
The Hawks are the unanimous choice by the coaches to repeat as America East champs this season. Hartford finished 2011 with a program-best 11-7 record and earned its first-ever bid to the NCAA tournament, where they proved to be a tough opponent before falling in the first round at Cornell.
Hartford is led by senior attackman Carter Bender, who was taken by the Rochester Rattlers in this year's MLL collegiate draft. Last season Bender led the Hawks with 53 points and 35 goals, while finishing second on the team with 18 assists.
Seniors Ryan Compitello and Aidan Genik join Bender to give the Hawks a potent trio at attack. Compitello had 49 points on 22 goals and a team-best 27 assists last season, while Genik is a two-time All-AE selection, who had 33 points on 23 goals and 10 assists in 2011.
Martin Bowes is another MLL draft pick, who is expected to be the leader of the midfield. Bowes finished last season with 33 points on 20 goals and 13 assists.
Senior Scott Bement, a two-time all-league goalie, anchors the Hawks' defense after posting a 9.38 goals-against average and a .536 save percentage last season.
Hartford, which loves to run a lot of two-man games near the cage, will be a big test for a fairly inexperienced Terps squad in the 2012 opener.
That does it for the 2012 preview edition of the Maryland Men's Lacrosse Blog. I hope to see everyone at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium on Saturday for the opener.
Tickets are available right now either on-line or by calling the Terrapin Ticket Office at 1-800-462-TERP (8377). The weather is looking pretty good, but seating is only available on the Tyser Tower side of the field, which means the heated Mezzanine sections are a pretty good deal this time of year.
Remember to follow the Terps all season on Facebook and Twitter. You can find the main Maryland Athletics Facebook and Twitter sites by clicking the links, while you can find the Maryland Men's Lacrosse Facebook and Twitter sites by clicking on these links.
As always - "Be The Best!"