The basketball team has pretty much accomplished its mission for the year, or at least, one of them: It's February and I'm not sitting here moaning and wishing it were time for spring sports already. They're coming anyway though: in just about ten or eleven days it will be both baseball and lacrosse season. The first lax game is Saturday the 20th, which isn't that far off. How weird is that?
Anyway, I'll have something ready for baseball season too, but today it is lacrosse time, and we'll take a spin through the nonconference schedule to see what it holds. There's no point in an ACC preview, what with there only being three other teams and they're always just as good as we are. The OOC, as usual, is a mix of the other elite teams in the nation plus some stomping mats. College lacrosse being what it is (that is to say, competed in by a relatively small number of teams and dominated by an iron-grip oligarchy of about eight teams) the schedule doesn't change much from year to year, and there's only one team on this year's schedule that wasn't there last year. The opponents are....
As we've done every year since 2002, we open the season with the Drexel Dragons, who had the audacity to beat us the very first game after the national championship of 2006. Very rude of them. Drexel is not quite as doormatty as their name would suggest, but their conference (the CAA) tends to be owned by Towson and to a lesser extent Hofstra, and it occasionally receives two bids to the tournament but never three, so Drexel doesn't go - ever. They weren't good last year, but that was with a freshman goalie and a young attack. The flip side of that is that they had a fairly experienced defense, much of which has to be replaced this year - not good when facing an attack as strong as ours.
MOUNT ST. MARY'S
The Mount has appeared on the schedule every year since 2005, and we kill them. Combined score in the games since then: 80-19. They're historically lousy and they play in a lousy conference. These games typically aren't close and the stat sheet is always full of lopsided numbers, like us outshooting them 75-23 in 2007 en route to a 23-6 victory.
Another fairly doormatty team, Stony Brook has been on the schedule since 2006, and other than a scare in 2008, they haven't given us a lot of trouble. They could be tricky this year, though. The Seawolves return every starter but one (a defenseman), as well as the nation's top face-off man (Adam Rand) from last year's team that just missed earning their conference's autobid to the tournament. This is a team that probably has tournament on their minds this year.
National champs, yo. Cuse is one of those oligarchy members I mentioned, and for them, lacrosse is practically a revenue sport up there with football and basketball. Our game against them last year - at Syracuse, mind you, not a fancy neutral location where we often play them - drew over 16,500. More often than not, these games are decided by one goal. I could hit you up with all kinds of whatever about who graduated, who didn't, all that, but it doesn't matter: they're a powerhouse and UVA-Syracuse will attract a lot of attention, as it always does.
The only other school in the state of Virginia that plays men's lacrosse. Certain other schools in that region of the Commonwealth should take note and man up. VMI's been on the schedule consecutively since 2006 and the cumulative score since then is 84-12, including a rare shutout three years ago. Not a threat.
Revenge plz. Cornell is another fellow oligarchy member, and they did not, as you might recall, treat us kindly in our last meeting. I was in Foxboro for that debacle, sitting behind a loud and burly Cornell fan who apparently only ever learned four words of language ("YOU BET, BIG RED!!!") and used them after everything that happened. Cornell has the Ivy League by the balls and hasn't failed to make the tournament since 2003. They haven't won a national title since 1977, but damn if they didn't come close last year. In our game last year, they basically played the lacrosse equivalent of a pack-line defense, and turned the attack zone near the net into a black hole into which passes and shots disappeared only to reemerge on the stick of a Cornell player. Expect them to do that til we figure it out.
Not good, and not likely to ever be as Burlington is still snowy during half the season. This year could be especially rough on the Catamounts as they've managed to schedule themselves eleven road games against only four home games. Schedule filler here.
Owing to a favorable location (Baltimore) Towson is something of a mid-major power and a semi-regular participant in the NCAA tournament. They juuust missed the tournament last year after Villanova withstood their rally in the CAA championship (though, you might remember, 'Nova's reward for that was to get spanked pretty badly at Klockner.) With Villanova off to the Big East, Towson's chances at getting back to the tournament get a boost, but they have quite a few seniors to replace. Towson is a regular on our schedule, having appeared there since 2001, and we don't lose to them although typically we have to play a good game or else it's a little too close for comfort. Last year looked a lot better, though - we held them to two goals, and with a lot of their scorers graduated, we should be able to repeat that kind of good defensive effort.
Alright, look, you know about Johns Hopkins if you've ever followed lacrosse. Even if you haven't, you still know, because Johns Hopkins is famous for two things: lacrosse, and a killer med school. (Errrr, wait. That's probably not the best way to describe a med school. Let's just say it's elite.) We play 'em every year and will continue to do so until the earth falls into the sun; it's kind of a rivalry. In fact, I'm of the opinion - for real - that the ACC should be actively trying to convince Hopkins to join as a lacrosse-only member and then scrounge up another team from somewhere so as to have the six teams necessary for an autobid. This would have been way cooler if Syracuse had joined the ACC as planned, but still. Hell, Hopkins is always playing the whole ACC anyway....if they joined, the schedule wouldn't even change.
Anyway, it's a marquee game. Obviously. Must beat Hopkins.
This is the only team on the 2010 slate that wasn't an opponent last year. They're also in an interesting spot: in between the ACC tournament and the NCAAs. Nice little tune-up game that should keep the team sharp. This is another CAA team - there are three on the schedule - and they slot in below most of the teams in that conference, so they shouldn't pose too much of a threat.
The neat thing about checking out the opponents on this year's schedule is that most of them, especially the sort of doormatty ones, highlight the Virginia game as they release their own slate. I mean, you don't need me to tell you about our lacrosse success stories and how we're a member of that iron-fisted oligarchy over the lacrosse landscape, but still, it's really a lot of fun to hop from site to site investigating the season's opponents and finding that they've all circled the UVA date on their calendar.
Just a reminder for upcoming posts: I still owe you two more recruit capsules on Mike Rocco and Zach Swanson, plus the offensive side of the coaching staff, and I'm also working on a three-part preview of the ACC baseball season. Lot of good stuff to look forward to. The 2010 recruiting board is finalized - finally - and the 2011 board still needs a good scrub, it's been a while. Yesterday's statistics post got a nice little highlight from TheSabre, which I always appreciate, but which also means a lot of new people were poking around the place and clicking on the recruiting boards and now I know how my mom must have felt when a bunch of guests would come over and the party would move to a room she forgot to vacuum. So those needed an update, and the 2010 board is for all time complete and the 2011 board (probably) will get one sometime this week. Snow day tomorrow - might just be my big chance.