May 28, 2012
THE NCAA WAY
I watched the 2012 NCAA Division I Finals today. Loyola of Maryland had emerged as one of two teams still standing on this Memorial Day, having entered the NCAA Division I tournament as the number ONE seed. They feuded with an unseeded but hardly surprising or ‘remote’ opponent when the gray and green clad Greyhounds faced off against one of their old neighbors, the Terrapins from the University of Maryland. They were the ones proudly wearing the Maryland state flag on their black dominated shell, er, schwag.
SAMPSON STRENGTH FOR (of?) MANY
One thing that struck me immediately as I watched the game unfold was that they, the Loyola Greyhounds, had a total ‘Jui’ (CSU #2) guy, a big, long, fast player (#5) who plays really good, maybe even intimidating defense with his feet and his heart. Then he can quickly turn it around and fearlessly lead the clearing dynamic given the chance or the ball to move. He is a lion, a nightmare to see as your defensive match-up I would think, maybe even if you are an attackman (match-up they usually love), and with that speed, strength, and the long locks that can give Sampsonesque strength, he is I guess the ‘new’ classic SSM (note the upgrade to capitals) /shortstickmiddie. On top of all that it must be scarey for a defense to see Matt Jui cross the mid-line coming at them full speed with the ball in his stick and some daunting ‘downhill’ momentum tilting the field toward the goal. Meanwhile the defenders are all scrambling and trying to protect their butts. I really think #2 (CSU) could play at the next level with all that versatility.
SHORT STICK THIS, BUDDY, or DIRTY DEEDS, DONE DIRT CHEAP (ACDC)
The shortie defensive dominated position within a team has elevated its role in lacrosse in recent years. With improved skill and athletic capability to go along with more big picture ‘I wanna be that’ going on over the last few years, the position has expanded. Players see and are reaching for the star potential of being a certain kind of “two-way middie” when looking for a role. Anyway you look at it, our #2-way middie made his Championship (National and local) team shine way brighter in so many ways. The one I saw on TV for Loyola today I don’t know nearly as well, but man, he was a big dog with deeds done in that very big game.
WHO LET THE DOGS OUT?
The final DI game on this Memorial afternoon quickly became what I might describe as a game-long turtle soup cooking beat-down, as LMU went on to win the title in convincing 9-3 fashion today in Foxboro, Mass.
I was impressed with the way Loyola stood up and performed and in doing so it reconfirmed what people had earlier thought and surmised as probable outcome for this whole tournament. That is often rare. Well, if you can say often, and then put rare right next to it without a comma. I was (liked the movie) riveted to the Greyhound style of play, the speed and the attention to detail they showed with their ‘body language’, which was actually something like ‘confident, yet blue-collar’.
I loved the way they excelled as a team more than functioning as a star-driven force, which sounds ringingly Ramiliar, only the 2012 NCAA DI Championship couldn’t be even mentioned without a star shout out. At times in American college lacrosse teams have an almost prototypical, very left-handed, very dangerous sniper type (#12 in this case), and often they are from Canada, but this one is in fact from Saverna Park, but he likes sidearm Canadian style, and he can flat get to spots and hit shots. That style also faintly wets the sweet aftertaste in my 2012 CSU buds, and we didn’t have any actual Canadian filling in our very tasty 2012 CSU team pie, we had some pretty good shuffle’ stuff from Buffalo (CSU #32), who, when he gets and sets his shooting sights is death comin’ left. Canada is just ‘left’ of #32’s Buffalo border anyway, right, er, eh? I regress, or maybe over-gress, so, back to the game of today and the way #12 shined by doing his job well (scoring) in a very high place (well, Foxboro actually). He was a more than worthy performer and warrior in the Creator’s Game of today. He sparked and sustained life for his team’s fire by burning and killing net, putting it (ball) where, metaphorically speaking, the sun don’t shine, and he had been doing it time and again throughout the tournament.
The Greyhounds played great all year, and then, as a senior-driven force, they shined even brighter and played the game more brilliantly when it counted the most. Today they were almost flawless while totally aggressive. We (CSU) were fortunate that we had a great mix of age and leadership in 2012, but our opponent, Cal Poly had worried me a little for just this kind of reason. The Mustangs had major senior scoring and leadership. Plus, it is a very connected thing that can happen when a group works hard at something they have wanted together for 4/5 years of their lives.
More than any individual or thing, this Loyola team was clean and daring and decisive. In the latter part of the game Maryland, the team that had stunned Duke two day earlier and brought all the mosh-pit energy and mentality to the tournament in fact ended up ‘leaving’ a little early on a sort of ‘melt-down’ wave. In our case, Poly never quit on it in Greenville, and the final count would reflect that, because just when it might have seemed like we ‘had’ the Mustangs corralled, they kept coming at the Ram. It really wasn’t over for us until it really was over.
More later, gotta go.