I’M A STEAMROLLER BABY (James Taylor)
The season is going by like a giant ‘road working’ machine. Time rolls on inexorably as April is about to become May. The last couple of weeks have been a very vivid illustration of lacrosse team life. We played an overall good game in our final on-campus game when we beat top 5 team Chapman. At the same time we did not play a complete game as we were plagued by a combination of a few flat spots where we got in our own way or let the Panthers back in the game that we did more or less control. Giving credit where credit is due, I will say that I think Chapman is really good and very well coached. They make the most of who they are and what they have. In no way would I suggest that we should have beaten them by more or whatever, but in a big way I think we had periods when we didn’t play our best lacrosse.
One week later and one week ago we played C.U. at Invesco for our annual war. This one really was a war and I will get to that in a minute. I have been trying to sit down and ramble about that game, but it has been a crazy week and I am big on finding a ‘block’ of time to write and I just couldn’t seem to find one with all my real life stuff.
OUR BIG HOUSE
Playing in the stadium that is home to the Denver Broncos was once again kind of a thrill, even for me now, and even after all these years. The game was the second of a doubleheader, with the first game being D.U. spanking the Ohio State Buckeyes in a game that was very important game for the Pioneers. Someone pointed out to me that it is not outside the realm of possibility that Denver could play host to an actual NCAA tournament game this very year. How cool would that be?
“BILLY, BILLY, BILLY” (Ted Knight in Caddy Shack) I admit that I am a bit of a Bill Tierney (D.U.coach) groupie. I always have been since I saw his ‘Princeton Defense’ presentation at the national lacrosse convention in 1997. I brought the tape home, watched it a million times, implemented it to a bunch of non- believers, and in spite of that fact (non-believing), within a year we were crushing average teams and hanging with the ones we had previously had no chance against by using all the Princeton stuff.
BEING BILL, or PAYING THE BAR BILL
I knew that making a bunch of CSU heathens who enjoyed bar fighting and things like that into a lacrosse team with a wholly different culture would be a challenge to say the least. Creating a team with the Princeton model ideal I was so enamored with would be a challenge, and no doubt that however one might view reality it became a modified ‘model’ both on and off the field. Princeton, of course, was and is a bunch of pure preppies that wear blazers and ties and hobnob with wealthy alums at the parking lot cocktail party after games. They play with patience, poise and discipline at all times. The CSU team I inherited was a group of run and gun misfits with a heavy emphasis on the gun part. None of the original Rams had girlfriends pretty much because they were so uncivilized that my guess was that girls wanted no part of it. That all changed over the course of the Roth and Harper eras.
KILLED BY BILL
I had been fortunate enough to meet and spend time with Bill in Japan in 1994 when we were both coaching teams in Tokyo, Bill having his Princeton team there and I was with the USA West touring team of college club players. I got to stand on the sidelines and watch his coaching style. It was amazing to me. Talk about accountability. I remember him absolutely ripping the third string (or whatever) trainer for some sideline transgression during a meaningless summer game against an outmanned Japanese National team that the Tigers were devouring with ease. This was just weeks after Princeton played for and won the National Championship back in the States by beating Virginia in the Division I final. The Japan trip was like a summer vacation deal, one would think a chance for the team to bask in the glow of that title. There was nothing for Princeton to prove, but it was clear to me that there was never a time when excellence and perfection were not the highest priority for Bill Tierney. It was also apparent that the fear factor always loomed large in the Princeton program as players inched farther from their coach as he dressed down this particular individual. One did not want to incur the wrath that was for sure.
CLASS IS CLASS AND IT CANNOT BE MASKED
At any rate he couldn’t have been nicer or more gracious with me, spending quality time with a little old ‘Club’ coach like me in the Far East, and I will never forget it. Last week in Denver he delayed getting on the D.U. team bus in the tunnel under the stadium after the impressive D.U. win long enough to greet Alex and myself as we prepared to take the field for our game with C.U. I won’t forget that either.
MILE HIGHS AND LOWS COME AND GO
Our game with C.U. was a coin with two sides, no doubt. Before I say much about that, I want to point out that, if I am not mistaken, our little game drew a larger crowd than did the D.U. game. I can’t say that is 100% correct, but I’m pretty sure we had more people at our game than there were at the preceding ‘bigger’ game. Hard to believe, but that’s what I’m saying.
A TAIL OF TWO HALVES
We endured and won the Showdown with C.U., but truth be known we led
8-3 at the half, making it look like a beat down, but then we were outscored 5-1 in the final 30 minutes. We did ‘man up’ enough to score the winning goal late in the fourth after the Buffs had tied it at 8. Alex Devlin (#18 – M-) embraced the moment and stood up to make
that goal scoring play when we most needed it as we sort of escaped.
We lost a bit of ourselves in that second half as each moment became more tense, but at the same time we hung in there and won. I do give credit to the Buffs as they really made that second half into something special with their heart and desire. I think we were ultimately happy with the outcome, but truthfully I think the Buffs were thrilled with themselves even though they lost.
UTAH OR BUST
Next challenge comes for us in Utah as we play our entire RMLC schedule over the last 8 days of the season and the last two vs. Utah and BYU.