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Anybody Care to Lax?

It seems that much news discussing the Michigan Lacrosse team eventually works its way to future D-1 status. Coach Paul and I talked about it on the Michigan Daily podcast last week, and now Operations Director Joe Hennessy is answering similar questions in the Free Press. He talks about the (previously-mentioned here) future facility:

We’re in the process of looking at doing a full reconstruction of Elbel Field. … We’re currently looking at converting that to our full-time field with FieldTurf and lacrosse lines. It would be open to other folks but with a new brick facade and limited access… Right by there, near the train tracks, on the opposite side of that we’re looking at building our own facility. It’ll house offices, with a weight room, a training room, locker rooms and laundry facilities. It’s a multimillion-dollar project.

It doesn’t sound like it’s as far along as I’d previously thought, in terms of regent approval, but the blueprints are certainly really cool.

And I didn’t intend for most of the post to be about this, but I guess that’s sometimes how life happens. Rebuttal to the rebuttal from Black Shoe Diaries. I was originally going to spend a bunch of time doing some actual research and perhaps journalism-like activities, but I decided I don’t care enough, and I’d just like to clear up a few things instead.

Most of the stupid arguing is over the Brother Rice dominance, which is pretty far from important to me. The only take-home point was that a theoretical Michigan varsity team would recruit from that school. That said, did Brother Rice win the Mythical Lacrosse National Championship in 2008? Per Black Shoe Diaries:

Other than this self promoting, unreferenced photo from the Brother Rice website, there isn’t any evidence any of this is even close to true.

Except, like, there is. Funny what typing “Brother Rice lacrosse championship” into Google will find you:

The Warriors went 23-0 last year and finished No. 1 in the STX/Inside Lacrosse national rankings.

Yes, Brother Rice definitely decreed from on high that they earned a national championship, and not some third-party organization. As far as the two previous years that Rice claimed National Titles, their veracity is certainly in question (ESPN:

The Warriors have won 11 of the last 13 state championships and five of the last eight Midwest titles. They’ve also gone undefeated three times since 2004, and there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight.

certainly doesn’t back up the claim, though it does speak to the fact that Rice is, almost without question, the dominant midwest team. The only indications I’ve seen of the previous two national titles do indeed come from Rice), and the details may not be quite right, but the point is the same: Rice is no slouch in the lacrosse world. Consistent top-25 finishes (even in down years) means that the school can compete. Are they always the best? Almost certainly not not, but that’s absolutely tangential to the point, that they produce D-1 prospects, and hopefully enough for Michigan to use a number of them to be competitive at the next level.

As far as the 13 D-1 players (and yes, saying “more than a D-1 team” was a joke: D-1 lacrosse teams are only permitted to grant 12.6 scholarships, which they give out in partials. The 13 Rice players moving on to D-1 will only get partial scholarships as well, of course). The 2008 team featured 11 D-1 players, and like I said, I can’t find the original article (from the Oakland Press circa late April if there are enterprising VB fans out there) about the 13 number from this year. In a rudimentary search of the internets (“brother rice lacrosse roster”), encompassing approximately 5 minutes, I found at least these players, with likely many more:

Class of ’08
Joey Fontanesi – Maryland
Michael Hamilton – Hofstra
Andrew Cote – Johns Hopkins

Class of ’09
Nick Dollik – Penn State
Danny Henneghan – Penn State
TJ Yost – Quinnipiac
Brian Walker – Yale

Lacrosse recruiting information is epically hard to find, and rather than scour the roster of every D-1 team to find Rice alumni, I think the point is made. Of course no lacrosse team is going to be fielded entirely of players from Michigan (just like even Maryland and Virginia’s teams are not composed entirely of native sons), but there is definitely some talent in the state. Don’t miss the forest for the trees here.

“There are probably some Michigan natives out east, I don’t feel like looking through any more rosters, but the point is a UM team would be competing with ND, OSU and perhaps PSU for midwest recruits and there simply aren’t enough to go around (and keep in mind they don’t stand a chance of picking up guys who Cuse, Hopkins or Maryland think are worth a phone call). “

That’s stupid. Of course no Michigan team would field a roster composed entirely of midwest players. I said as much in my original post. Thank you for making an asisnine statment, implicitly attributing it to me, and then rebutting it. Michigan would absolutely have to recruit the east coast, the same way they have been, with 16 current players on the roster who come from states that touch the Atlantic Ocean. Sure, as a new program, Michigan would probably have a ton of trouble recruiting, but as Brian mentioned last week, since when has Michigan struggled getting kids from New York to come here? With (potentially) some of the best facilities in the country, it wouldn’t take long for Michigan to build a respectable, though not Syracuse/Maryland/Hopkins-level recruiting ability.

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8 Comments so far

  1. LAX4MAN says...

    College lacrosse is unique as there isn’t a big gap between DI and DII & DIII. Denison and Ohio Weslyan both have all time winning records agains Ohio State. They competed with MSU when they had a team and they used to play ND in the regular season as of about 10 years ago. If OWU and Denison can pull respectable players from the East Coast I am sure Michigan can do it. Both have a few players that have made MLL rosters in recent years. I can’t imagine a lacrosse player wanting to go to OSU unless they are a total meat stick. I thing Michigna and ND would quickly become rivals. Even Butler had a better program that Ohio State did before they closed down shop. They used to pick off all of the good Ohio talent. I really think Michigan would have a competitive progam in a short amount of time. Especially since they arleady have a strong club team that is at least on par with the top DIII schools. Get a blue chip or two in there and M is on their way to a winning record.

  2. Rosey says...

    I think there’s a fault in your logic in assuming that one high school would be enough to fill a program. Michigan would have to compete with all of the east coast schools that Brother Rice sends kids too. If Rice lax kids are getting scholarships to perennial powerhouse schools like Hopkins and UMass, why would they automatically go to Michigan?

    Look at football, the top recruits that Rice has produced recently have gone to schools such as Penn State, Tennessee and Cincy. You even pointed out that PSU LB and Rice alum Chris Collasanti didn’t count as Michigan losing an in-state prospect last year because “he was considered long gone anyway”.

  3. Tim says...

    I don’t think I’m making those assumptions at all. On the contrary, I think Michigan would probably get a maximum of 1 or 2 guys a year from any given school, and spread out their recruiting among various schools.

    The only point with Rice is that there is indeed good lacrosse in the midwest, and there are going to be some homegrown players available. They’ll fill a roster, not comprise the entire thing.

  4. LAX4MAN says...

    Brother Rice isn’t event the best program in the Midwest. They lost 3 games this past season. All 3 of them were Ohio schools. There is a lot more talent in the Midwest other than Brother Rice.

  5. Old Blue says...

    Laxman,
    You’re right. Down year for BR this year. But that goes even farther to prove Tim’s point. If Rice isn’t the top team in the midwest, but they are still sending a handful of kids D1 every year, then there must be a lot of talent in the midwest.

    It’s amazing how many people read Tim’s arguments and twist them. Bottom line, if Michigan had a D1 program they would be able to draw a few very good players from the midwest every year, maybe one or two from the far west (Colorado, California, Oregon, Texas, etc) and the rest, and perhaps the majority, from the east. Fortunately, the club team is already making strong inroads in eastern recruiting (see the goalie from Gilman coming this fall for example) and Michigan draws very well from the east in the general student body. Do they get blue chip kids now? Of course not. But it’s not far-fetched to think they would as a D1 team – especially if the facilities that Hennessy alluded to in the Free Press article are actually coming.

    Might be a moot point for awhile anyway. I don’t see Bill Martin talking about lacrosse much. They’ll need an AD who sees potential for a lacrosse program, especially compared to some of the declining or publicly ignored sports that are currently sponsored.

  6. Tim says...

    Bill Martin doesn’t talk about lacrosse because it’s definitely near the top of his priorities list right now (and for good reason). Once the Michigan Stadium, Crisler, and BBall practice facility renovations/building are done, I think there’s a pretty good chance you’ll see a minor boom in the number of D-1 sports at Michigan, even if it’s just the lacrosse teams.

  7. Old Blue says...

    Tim,
    Do you know that for a fact? I have heard that Martin has no interest in lacrosse.

  8. Tim says...

    Context clues are the biggest point, as Martin has so much on his plate right now, why should he add more to it by worrying about lacrosse?

    Sadly, Coach Paul seems to think more along your lines than mine – that he’s just not interested for the time being.

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