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Of Warriors and Wolverines

Black Shoe Diaries, which is in all likelihood the most popular Penn State blog on the internet, recently took umbrage with an article published by Rivals affiiliate Blue & White Illustrated regarding lacrosse recruiting. The offending portion was the mention that Birmingham Brother Rice maintained a #1 national ranking in high school lacrosse this year. BSD is right in pointing out that this is an erroneous statement, and takes the opportunity to ruminate on high school lacrosse, the viability of varsity D-1 programs in the midwest, and the possibility of a varsity program at Michigan in the future. HOWEVA, BSD is making some assumptions (and drawing conclusions, etc.) that simply don’t hold true.

Brother Rice LacrosseBrother Rice

The BWI article spoke thusly: “All-Americans Nick Dolik (attack) and Danny Henneghan (midfield) will bring championship experience after leading Brother Rice to the No. 1 national ranking this year.” Black Shoe Diaries pointed out the error in this statement by pointing out that Rice finished #21 in a year-end power poll. They go on to say that they dominate Michigan competition, but wouldn’t stand a chance out East. So the Warriors didn’t finish this year #1 in the nation. BWI regrets the error, since the #1 ranking for Rice was not this year, but last year. And the year before. And the year before that. Yes, until this year, Rice was 3-years running considered the best lacrosse team in the nation. BSD: “Geekness aside: only historians in the great state of Alabama would ever consider Brother Rice a national champion.” Except for those three years that they were, apparently. Even in a down year, the Warriors still managed to crack the top-30 among the 3,037 schools in America playing lacrosse. These are not scrubs.

Also, KevinHD, you may have heard of Warrior Lacrosse (for those who aren’t familiar, it’s the largest (only?) reputable manufacturer of lacrosse gear). Huh, what a coincidene, it shares a name with the mascot of Brother Rice. Coincidence this is not. Warrior Lacrosse was founded by a Brother Rice alumnus, and is based in Warren, Michigan. Brother Rice is indeed a lacrosse school, despite being some 500 miles from the Atlantic Ocean.

Varsity Lacrosse in the Midwest

Black Shoe Diaries says that there’s no way Rice possible could put out enough prospects to fill a full team, noting that the OSU Buckeyes have only 1 player from the Great Lakes State, and only 5 from the Buckeye State. This is qualified with “There are probably some Michigan natives out east, I don’t feel like looking through any more rosters…” This is in relation to a later point I’ll be covering, but I digress. Perhaps you should have spent the time to look through some of those rosters, because they’re littered with players from Michigan in general, and Brother Rice in particular. The least you could have done was look at THE TEAM WHO WON THE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME, for god’s sake. The National Champions from Syracuse have three players from Michigan on their roster.

Let me give you a little background for those who don’t know: Division 1 lacrosse teams are allowed by the NCAA to give out 12.6 scholarships. These are generally divided up in partials, unlike football and basketball. Brother Rice’s team in 2009 has 13 players committed or signed to play with Division 1 schools (sadly, the source for this is an article in the Oakland Press that I read in an actual newspaper, and can’t find in a quick search of the internets). So, Brother Rice has more Division-1 players than a Division-1 team. Way to do the homework before running your mouth, Kev.

rileykearns

Wolverine and Brother Rice Alumnus Riley Kearns

Michigan Lacrosse

The Michigan lacrosse team is ridiculously successful at the club level, but is nowhere near the quality of a top-notch D-1 varsity team. Kevin says the midwest ain’t big enough for the 4 of us (the existing three varsity teams in the midwest are OSU, PSU, and Notre Dame – we’ll not mention the potshot he takes at Detroit Mercy in its first year of lacrosse, which took leftovers not from Maryland and New York, but from Michigan State, the second best CLUB TEAM in Michigan). Michigan will have to resort to hoping their terrible players from Michigan will be able to compete with real life lacrosse players from out East, because the Wolverines will never be able to recruit the East coast against other D-1 programs. Never mind the fact that, even without being able to give them scholarships, the club team has players from Virginia, Colorado (along with Michigan and California, probably the most lacrosse-enlightened state outside of the East coast), New York, Florida, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Missouri, Maryland, Washington DC, and Connecticut. No, why worry about “facts?”

The truth of the matter is, if the Wolverines were to make the jump to varsity at some point in the near future, they’d be well-positioned. No, immediate success wouldn’t come, but there are certainly some factors working to their advantage. Aside from the aforementioned recruiting hotbed in Oakland County (Birmingham Seaholm and Detroit Country day also produce a number of D-1 players, and Orchard Lake Saint Mary’s is a program on the rise), the team would have the most financially-stable athletic department in the nation backing it, the world’s foremost lacrosse manufacturer just a stone’s throw away, and by the time the leap was made, one of the best lacrosse-specific facilities in the nation will likely be completed (boy, do I ever wish that link went to the blueprint, because it’s awesome).

So basically, don’t talk if you have no clue what you’re talking about and have no interest in researching the actual acts. kthxbai.

For the record, I’m no Brother Rice homer, and the opposite is more likely to be true. That said, you can’t downplay the team’s quality, unless of course you ignore reality.

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22 Comments so far

  1. LAX4MAN says...

    I think lacrosse in the Midwest is terribly underrated. The reason OSU doesn’t have any Midwest talent on their roster is that they think they are too good to recruit on their own home turf. Most top D1 schools out east have at least a few Ohio and Michigan players on their rosters. A D1 Midfielder of the year that played at Georgetown was from Columbus. The game is getting much better out this way. If you look at women’s field hockey and lacrosse, Midwestern schools have strong collegiate teams. Northwester, ND, etc. They recruit out of similar pools that the men’s lacrosse programs do. I don’t think there is any reason why Michigan couldn’t compete with East Coast schools for national talent. The schools that have strong lacrosse programs at the HS and collegiate level also tend to have strong academics. Hence, ND can attract talent but OSU can’t. A top lacrosse player from the East Coast that wants to get a good education and play lacrosse doesn’t want to be a Buckeye, yet they won’t recruit local talent that may already be a Buckeye fan. I think that ND has potential to be a top contender. They just need to play better talent in the regular season to gain more exposure. What NBC brainwashed kid doesn’t want to go to ND. The only major downside that Michigan may have is the weather. Someone can play lacrosse year round outdoors in Virginia or North Carolina. Michigan not so much.

  2. EGRfan says...

    Its funny that a PSU guy says Michigan does not have lacrosse talent. A few years ago my neighbor in East Grand Rapids (which is in Michigan!)went to Penn State on a lacrosse scholarship!

  3. Huss says...

    Hooray, the guys at BSD make asses out of themselves again, hooray!

  4. Brown says...

    I went to one of the top 30 upstate NY high schools on that on that power ranking BSD cites (played lax) and then went to Michigan for school… (but didn’t play lax).

    I have seen U of M play live and up close, and judging from that alone I think Michigan high schools would get rocked if they had to play in upstate new york, just my opinion. This assumes that U of M’s players are mostly from michigan, which I think they are. What’s even more telling is that a lot of U of M’s players are still from the East Coast.

    I have never seen Brother Rice play, but just because Warrior lacrosse was invented by a guy who went there does not mean they are any good.

  5. Tim says...

    I think it’s pretty fucking clear that he didn’t know what in the hell he was talking about.

  6. ShockFX says...

    That’s a surprise how Tim?

  7. Stephen Y says...

    @ Brown, I went to Brother Rice, and I will try to make this as unbiased as possible…

    Nobody in the state of Michigan holds a chance against the Warriors, and I have absolutely no clue why (perhaps lax players are attracted to the facilities and tradition?). They have been a powerhouse since before I got there as a freshman in 2001. That being said, their lacrosse team is still something I follow, and I cannot remember the team not being nationally ranked.

    As for Black Shoe Diaries, one of my friends who I graduated with (Danny Henneghan’s brother) is playing lacrosse at Penn State. Way to go.

  8. Stephen Y says...

    and speaking of lacrosse, when the hell is EA going to come out with a lacrosse game for ps3 and 360?

  9. Rosey says...

    Brother Rice has also had to travel out east to play some tough prep schools for competition (Georgetown Prep in 2006, etc.) This was before there was an MHSAA championship for lacrosse though, and now I think there’s rules that control travel out of state for games (i.e. based on distance/time out of state).

    FWIW, these East Coast elitist arguments sound eerily similar to Euros bashing American soccer, and Americans bashing European basketball. Sports will always have the playing field leveled over time(unless we’re talking about football of course).

  10. Tim says...

    I have no idea on the video game. I presume they think there wouldn’t be enough interest (it certainly couldn’t be because of programming difficulty, since you’d only have to modify it so much from a hockey engine).

    That would be a great way to continue the growth of lacrosse as a mainstream sport, though.

  11. mdblue says...

    But Tim, the national rankings BSD used were from LaxPower.com, pretty much recognized as the top source on high school lacrosse rankings (at least as far as I’ve seen). While it of course is imperfect as any poll, Brother Rice is not ranked number one for any of the past four years. So you’re arguing apples to oranges with BSD over the rankings.

  12. lacrossenut says...

    Dude There is no disputing Bro Rice is the best in Michigan and a “competitive” team with several of the schools out east but cmon. Back to back national championships??? Warrior Lacrosse? Using that analysis Oregon is the greatest football team in the country because of Nike.

    Make a point but dont pull it out of your arse.

  13. Pete the Streak says...

    Tim, if you think Brother Rice (as dominant as they may be on their own turf) would be even roughly equal to the top eastern teams (especially Maryland and New York), then you don’t know lacrosse. At all. Period.

    Sorry – you got pwned by BSD.

  14. Tim says...

    The Warrior point doesn’t have anything to do with Rice being competitive with teams out East, but rather that it’s not the nothing school that Kevin is trying to make it out to be.

    The larger Warrior point is that it gives Michigan an advantage that most midwest schools don’t have, so saying “Michigan would suck because it is in the midwest” is, like, epically stupid.

  15. Pete the Streak says...

    Well, when you make a point of how they’ve been #1 for 3 years straight (which is bogus, BTW), you pretty much ARE making the point that not only are they competitive, they’re the best. Which is, like, epically stupid.

    Michigan wouldn’t suck just because they’re in the midwest. They’d fail, though, if they rely on midwestern players only. No real mystery.

  16. Tim says...

    I never said Brother Rice would beat top East coast teams year in and year out, the only point is that yes, there is indeed competitive lacrosse in the midwest. The Brother Rice point is tangential to that, not the crux of the ost.

  17. Tim says...

    Who ever said they’d be relying on midwest players only? The only person who has implied anything of the sort (my post even says that it ABSOLUTELY WOULDN’T be the case) is Kevin. He can tear down a straw man argument, but that has nothing to do with my actual argument at all.

  18. Tim says...

    I’m not making the point that they are the best. I’m saying that there are obviously people out there (who likely know far more about lacrosse than you, or I) that, for some reason, think they’re deserving of that ranking. Take it up with those people, not with me.

  19. lacrossenut says...

    Please inform me of “those people” who think they are deserving so that I may take it up with them.

    Thanks

  20. Old Blue says...

    Nice podcast on the Daily site Tim! That was also the first time I’ve heard Coach Paul interviewed aside from very short TV bits, and I must say, he sounds impressive – very realistic about what it would take to go D1, and he seems to have his priorities straight. Michigan is lucky to have him, at what I assume is a bargain salary.

    As for the argument, I would point to Northwestern women’s lacrosse as an example of the possibilities. I know that men’s and women’s lacrosse are very different in many ways, but women’s lax is just as much of an east coast sport, and Northwestern has won five straight D1 national championships in just eight years as a program. Michigan is an elite public school at the level of Virginia and Berkeley. It’s very well known on the East Coast already. I could go on and on why it’s a perfect fit for lacrosse and why it would do well quickly at D1.

  21. Jonny says...

    “(for those who aren’t familiar, it’s the largest (only?) reputable manufacturer of lacrosse gear)”

    You sir, are an idiot. I suggest you stop in your nearest lacrosse shop and look on the walls before writing a post about the sport. You clearly don’t know what you are talking about.

  22. Tim says...

    I said it was the largest, as someone who’s an admitted ignoramus about the sport, outside of most of what was in this post, I qualified that I didn’t know whether there were any others, because, well, I didn’t.

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