So one of those things that got in the way was obviously the lacrosse game, which I wasn't gonna miss for the world. I'd say it lived up to expectations. I don't care if the two teams combined for only 11 goals, it was one of the better games I've seen this year because both defenses were at the very tops of their games. Everyone loves watching offensive explosions, but a really good defensive battle is also to be appreciated, and that's what we saw.
First you have to tip your hat to Princeton's goalie, Tyler Fiorito, without whom the game wouldn't have been close. I wasn't disappointed in the offensive effort despite only producing six goals - Fiorito probably robbed us of three on his own. Also deserving a tip of the hat is their top defenseman Chad Wiedmaier, who basically shut down Steele Stanwick for large stretches of the game. And no, that wasn't Wiedmaier who leapt futilely into the air trying to stop Chris LaPierre's end-of-half pass to Stanwick for the miracle goal. I don't know who that was, but Wiedmaier was the guy conspicuously slamming his stick to the ground in anger. I like making the other team do that.
Speaking of LaPierre, is there any other choice for player of the game? Besides that unbelievable pass, which was nine-tenths hork-and-pray but still, you've got to appreciate the shot block. Yeah, you know what I mean. The only time this year I've seen someone hit that hard by a lacrosse ball was the time an Ohio State attacker got beaned by his own teammate's shot against Michigan. (It was funny later because he was OK, but he went down like a bag of bricks. At least Shocker meant to do that.) I wonder how many different colors LaPierre's chest is today.
I'd be remiss also if I didn't mention Matt Lovejoy, who played maybe the best game of his career. Not even kidding, and not even just because he got the first point of his college life. The whole defense was simply excellent - best game of the season - and Lovejoy clearly led the way.
That game was a great experience for getting ready for our next opponent: Notre Dame. The best defense in the country, but not an explosive offense. If you're gonna play the Irish it's a good idea to get used to the idea that five or six goals might be enough, but you'll have a hell of a time just getting to that point. And I'll tell you what else that game was good for: ammo against anyone who wants a shot clock in lacrosse, which I absolutely don't. Look at me like I'm crazy all you want, because I'm well aware that both teams earned stall warnings on their first possession. But the rest of the game, the stalling was not excessive, and the defense was of the tough, physical, and very entertaining sort that would largely disappear if all the defense had to do was wait 45 or 60 seconds to get the ball back. That kind of tight, well-played matchup isn't going to show its face if we have ourselves a shot clock era next season.
One final thumbs-up: the jerseys. I like orange numbers and lettering better than blue, but I never did like the stripe across the front of the shoulders. If this is the look for the next couple years (the way the shoulder-stripes were also introduced in the tournament) then I'm a fan. We'll be the lower-seeded team next-weekend (and thus in colored jerseys) and I hope and expect to see an equally sharp-looking blue or orange version.
-- So the other big news of the weekend was Florida State's temper tantrum about media money, third-tier rights, and leaving the ACC for the Big 12 and so on.
My first thought is, what the hell is your damn problem? We footballized the conference to try and help boost your profile. We extended a middle finger to traditionalists in order to do so. We bent over backwards to accommodate your wishes during our first round of expansion, put Miami in the other division so you could play them in the ACC CG (which you've never done), put the ACC CG in the state of Florida so it'd be nice and convenient for your fans to get there, and embarrassed ourselves by playing the game in front of a totally empty stadium as a result. You repaid us with academic cheating scandals and mediocre-ass football, and now by whining like Texas about third-tier media rights. You want to be treated like kings in football, start by beating Wake Forest and Virginia.
Naturally, the Big 12 is where they'd want to go if they want to control their third-tier rights. Texas made a giant stink about them, drove off the desirable parts of their conference, and turned to the rest of the Big 12 and said "now gimme my Longhorn Network." The remainder of the conference said, "that would be fine, and would you like us to suck your dick too?" Now Florida State apparently wants the same treatment.
Fortunately, there are calming voices in the wilderness. Because despite a few harsh words I might have just said about Florida State, the ACC is not better off if they leave. Frank the Tank is a guy who's always had a level head about realignment issues, and here's his take on the situation. An excerpt:
ESPN has zero incentive to see the ACC get raided. None. Nada. Unlike its contracts with every other power conference, ESPN has complete top-to-bottom control of all ACC TV rights. This means that ESPN has more of a vested interest in the survival of the ACC specifically over every other conference – it’s the one league that the people in Bristol aren’t sharing with Fox, CBS or the Big Ten Network. In fact, think of it in these terms:Emphasis his. Remember who writes the checks, now.
The ACC is the single largest content provider to all of the ESPN networks, whether college or pro.
This next is even better. It's a very, very enlightening look at the reality of the situation and highly recommended. The money shot:
I’ll bottom line this for those of you who think FSU should dump the ACC for the Big 12 because the Big 12 would allow the Noles to reap huge profits from their third-tier rights. If FSU left the ACC for the Big 12 the only additional athletic inventory it would have to offer a TV network is its worst football game and three or four additional men’s basketball games. How much money do you think the Seminoles stand to gain from the ability to sell their football game vs. Savannah State and men’s basketball games against Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Georgia Southwestern, Jacksonville, and UNC-Greensboro? How many of those games would FSU have to sell before unburying itself from the ACC’s $20 million exit fee?
The rest of the article comes highly recommended at least by this intrepid blogger.
So my semi-educated guess is that FSU, or at least their board of trustees, is all bluster. I don't think they'll go anywhere. I could be wrong, of course. I could be overestimating the intelligence of their brain trust. But if they're really serious about the Big 12, someone should set them up a meeting with the presidents and ADs at Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri, and Texas A&M, so as to get a few pointers on working with Texas.
-- Schedule news today: the football "future schedules" page on the official site now lists a home-and-home in 2017 and 2018 with Stanford. Damn if that ain't a long way off. I'd still rather put some Big Ten or SEC teams on the schedule - we seem to be going Pac-wacky with USC, and now future dates with UCLA and Stanford - but I'm not gonna complain about a home-and-home with quality opponents regardless of where they're located.
Also, next year's Big Ten basketball opponent for the Challenge is out, and it's Wisconsin. Cue up the jokes about the score being 38-35. Add that to our gig in the preseason NIT and the picture of our hoops schedule is starting to come together.
-- When it comes to baseball recruiting, every time you get a good one you have to sweat it out until the MLB signing deadline in August to see if you'll actually get to keep your new toys. Sometimes they stay (Branden Kline, Danny Hultzen, Derek Fisher), sometimes they go (Justin Nicolino.) So we greatly appreciate the gem of this year's class saving us the heart attacks; top pitcher Nathan Kirby, who could've been a first-rounder, decided to not even go through the medical requirements. It would've been a little better if he'd phrased it in a way that didn't sound like he was purposely failing a drug test, but we know what he means. Kirby could very well be the best player entering college ball in the whole country next year. So if this year is our reloading year, next year is the one where we just grab a bigger gun.