April 2, 2006
By Paul Carcaterra
Special to CSTV.com
An analyst for CSTV, Paul was All-American on Syracuse's '95 title team. He is president of No Limit Lacrosse Camps, and developer for Maverik Lacrosse.
As I mentioned in my column last week, I am not in a position to editorialize on the legal ramifications of the Duke lacrosse scandal. We will all have to wait until the facts emerge before we can really pass judgment.
In the meantime, it is not fair to bury any person, or group of people before the facts are revealed.
But there are significant effects on the field and for the sport itself that are worth examining closely.
Is it fair to the opponents of Duke to have to continue with their season without knowing the permanent status of the team's (Duke) season?
Game planning and routines for teams is critical in a sport that has a season as short as lacrosse. If you are a coach that has a date scheduled with Duke this season, when will you find out the status of the game?
In the event the game is cancelled, how does a coach feel about having potentially fourteen days between games (many teams play Saturday games only at this point in the season)?
Some teams handle time off well, while others play their best ball when they are on the field as much as possible. I know if I coached a young team that had a date with Duke, I would not be happy with the time off, as I would want my team with less experience to be able to play ball, and gain valuable game experience before playoff time.
Many people have brought up the fact that common opponents that Duke has had to cancel should schedule games against one another if they do not have scheduled date already. This cannot happen, as the NCAA ruled against this a few years back when teams would pick-up late season games with cupcake competition to pad (getting wins to become playoff eligible) its season record. Games are limited to begin with, and yes, one contest can make or break a season. Why should a team that had Duke on its schedule suffer?
After UVA gave Maryland a beating this past weekend, it is safe to say they will be the first seed in the ACC Tournament, barring a UNC upset (which is unlikely based on UNC's performance at Hopkins this weekend) against the Cavaliers.
Without Duke participating in the ACC Tournament, the field gets narrowed down to a whopping three. This would give UVA a first-round bye, and they'd have to go on a one-game run to win the ACC tournament.
Regardless of UNC's ineffective play this season, they would play Maryland the Friday night of the tournament, forcing the Terps to play two games in less than 48 hours, while the Cavaliers sit back and relax and get ready for the Sunday championship game.
I have never heard of having to win one game to win your conference championship. I am well aware of UVA being the best team in the country right now; however, the Duke situation gives them even more of an advantage come ACC tournament time, making it extremely difficult for Maryland to win.
How about the ACC post-season awards? UNC has one player who will make First-Team All-ACC. The nine others will be comprised of two teams: Maryland and Virginia. If Duke were playing they would probably have three to four First-Team selections. UVA and Maryland will end up getting all the post-season honors with Duke out of the equation.
How will this impact Coach Pressler and his team's future?
No other lacrosse coach in the history of the sport has ever been in the same boat as Duke's coach. I am not in touch with the Duke administration, therefore, speculation is difficult. When the dust settles, will they look to start a new regime under another coach?
Universities have their own ways of dealing with negative attention, therefore, his success as a coach on the field may or may not matter. Regardless of the outcome of the allegations, Duke lacrosse will always have a dark cloud hanging over them (even if they are exonerated - unfortunately, people tend to always remember negative news). Those who don't even know much about lacrosse are aware of what's going on at Duke. It has been media frenzy in Durham as of late, and the program has its' back against the wall.
Coach Pressler and his staff worked extremely hard to put together a team that arguably has the most talent in the country. The biggest factor in doing so was his ability to recruit. He has been able to land blue-chip recruits over the past few years such as Matt Danowski, Matt Zash, Casey Carrol, and Peter Lamade.
In the past Duke was an easy sell to all prospects. Top-notch education, warm weather, and great lacrosse program lured the nation's elite. Time will tell, but it will be a harder sell than ever for Coach Pressler when it comes to landing blue chip talent. Landing recruits will be only one of the problems the program faces. Current Blue Devils could possibly explore options (transfer) elsewhere, giving them a fresh start where they will not be scrutinized.
Image of the Game
I must say over the past few weeks I have been upset at how the image of the game can be affected by the allegations in Durham. Those who do not know the game of lacrosse, or who are not involved with the sport can, and in some cases have stereotyped the game because of the alleged incident.
I guess that is the price you pay when you get involved with a game and decide to play at a young age, but It bothers me how the fastest growing sport in the country can suffer from a black eye. I guess it is reality.
A good reason that we are the fastest growing sport in the country is because of the great people who promote the game. Lacrosse has always been much more than a game to many of us. It has been a lifestyle, one in which has allowed me to meet some of the best people the world of sports could possibly offer.
My suggestion is for all that do so many great things for the sport, to continue to do so. The outside world will hopefully acknowledge this, and maybe they can have an open mind when they judge people.
One of the greatest gifts my father gave me (an inner-city school teacher for 30 years) as a child was to look at the world with an open mind, never be judgmental, focus on people as individuals, and ultimately not to stereotype a person based on a group one claims affiliation with. If the world outside lacrosse can do this we will be ok -- just don't count on it.