Big Red Are One Big Machine

Cornell, Duke headline top half of NCAA tournament bracket

  • Men's Lacrosse Tournament Coverage: Herwitt Selection Reaction | Carcaterra Selection Reaction
    | Hoyas Ready For Next Step | Navy With A Lot To Prove | Big Red Are One Big Machine | Towson Returns To Where It Should Be | Maryland Exceeding Expectations | Cavaliers Are On The Move | Blue Hens Looking For Shock Effect | Staying Alive | Duke Blasts Providence | Hopkins Abides Two Rain Delays and One OT in Win | Great Danes Win This Dog Fight | UNC's Unscripted Offense | UMBC From All Angles | Underdogs Closing In On Baltimore | Still Wearing Their Slippers | Queener Likes It His Way | For Almost All The Marbles | Don't Forget About The Blue Jays | Cornell's Coming For It | Hopkins Plays Another Day | Drama Doesn't Get To Duke | Le Moyne Stuns Mercyhurst For DII Crown | Salisbury Earns Revenge On Cortland | Hopkins King For Another Day
  • Full Tournament Bracket

    May 10, 2007

    By Bill Wilson

    Special to


    Bill Wilson

    Bill is the men's lacrosse coach at Dartmouth and will be contributing to
    E-mail here!

    Bill Wilson is the head coach of the Dartmouth men's lacrosse team. A graduate of Loyola, Wilson came to Hanover, N.H. in 2003 after leading Cornell to its first Ivy League title in 16 years as the Big Red's top assistant coach and defensive coordinator. He offers his analysis and opinions on the top half of the NCAA tournament bracket while taking a look at the remaining four first round matchups Friday.




    No. 1 Duke vs. Providence


    Duke is the closest team to Cornell that tries to cause turnovers in the middle of the field. The Blue Devils have a blue-collar mentality at the midfield, and they run a lot of people at you like Cornell. The entire midfield gets involved. Brad Ross, in particular, has come a long way this year and is an offensive player for them where he wasn't in the past. They keep their offensive players on the face-off, and it creates opportunities for them.


    Matt Danowski is arguably the best offensive player in the country, and he's certainly a favorite to win the Tewaaraton Trophy award. He can feed from the sideline to the endline. And then you throw a playmaker with Danowski in Zack Greer, a guy that nearly finishes the ball 50 percent of the time, and it makes it very difficult for teams to slow down their offense. Danowski, however, does turn the ball over a little bit, and that might be a difference-maker for teams that play against Duke. Danowski turns the ball over and isn't afraid to make mistakes because he makes so many great plays. Teams are going to try to force him into turnovers.


    Providence is going to try and hold the ball, slow it down and create a boring atmosphere for Duke. At the same time though, that can make another team crazy. It will give them a chance, and anyone can beat anyone in the NCAA tournament.


    No. 4 Cornell vs. Towson


    Cornell is a senior-laden team and has an unbelievable group coming out for the NCAA tournament. They have three attackmen in Henry Bartlett, Eric Pittard and David Mitchell. Mitchell, in particular, is a dangerous player. He can put the ball in the back of the cage more than 50 percent of the time. He changes the way people play defense against Cornell because they're afraid to leave him and that opens up everyone else's game.


    Cornell, in turn, moves the ball and shares the ball as a team. They drive slides and make the extra pass. Some games it might be John Glynn. Some games it might be Max Seibald or Brian Clayton. It changes game to change at the midfield, but their attackmen are pretty consistent with finishing transition opportunities.


    One of the things that hurt a lot of teams is that Cornell can create opportunities and finish those opportunities. Right now, Cornell finishes almost everything. And if they don't finish it, it turns into a possession. So very rarely do you see them throw the ball, hit the goalie in the chest and see the ball go the other way. That's been a huge difference for Cornell.


    Cornell coach Jeff Tambroni certainly likes to play a lot of personnel. They play at least two midfields, and he's playing three to four attackmen, each rotating in whenever possible. Their fourth attack in Christian Pastirik is playing man-up, and they all have a role right now.


    You look at their defense and perhaps their best player on the team is senior goaltender Matt McMonagle, who has been the best goalie in the country this year and has a chance to be Player of the Year. He is a guy that changes the game for Cornell. Any time the defense breaks down, he saves their tail. All of them come up big for each other and have consistently over the course of the year.


    Cornell tries to defend the midline first and then they try to defend the offensive restraining box. And they create a lot of turnovers. They funnel guys in certain areas of the field, and they do things that other teams don't do. Cornell just does it better than anyone. Then you add in three defensemen, including Mitch Belisle, who is a First Team All-American defender and maybe Defensemen of the Year, and you have to credit Tambroni and his coaching staff for developing Belisle into a close defenseman after being a short-stick. They all play with a lot of grit, and they've done a lot with their talent.


    Towson, on the other side, welcomes that up-and-down style that Cornell brings to the table. They want to play a sloppy game. They're best in unsettled situations and creating second-chance opportunities off the ride from defense to offense by running more and more personnel. But it's going to be difficult if they let Cornell run. Towson would have to change its game plan and not try to go toe to toe with Cornell. If Towson can control the face-off game, they can obviously control the possession time and possessions while limiting the amount of time Cornell has the ball. If you think you're going to beat Cornell, it's got to be a four-quarter, 60-minute effort. I think you chip away and chip away.


    No. 5 Albany vs. Loyola


    Albany runs a 1-4-1 style offense where they look to jam the ball inside. The Great Danes will also run an offense where they dodge up top and stack the entire offense up with an attackman at each pipe. From there they'll fall into different hot spots when the guy dodges from up top. It's effective for them, but they're best out of the 1-4-1. They'll try to hang you up on the backside when they dodge from the high or low wing, and they try to make you feel uncomfortable with their defense.


    But what changes their team is the combination of Frank Resetarits and Merrick Thomson. Albany's attack is good, but those two guys are great players. Thomson needs other guys around him, there's no question about that, but when you're scoring five or six goals for your team, that's a huge advantage.


    The biggest X-factor for Albany is Jordan Levine, though. He's willing to go to the goal at any time. He's willing to push the tempo any time, and if you let him take his right hand down the alley, he can shoot on the run as well as most guys. If you know he's on the field and lock him up on the wing, you're fine. But he sneaks up on you, and he's the fastest guy we saw all year.


    Corey Small deserves a lot of credit, too. He's a crafty guy who shoots the lights out of it. He can snipe the corners and he's become more of a dodger this year, which is something he hadn't been in the past. He can go right or left, something that he wasn't capable of before because he's a left-handed player, and you have to respect him now. Albany's a no-quit team, and coach Scott Marr has his team fired up for the NCAA tournament.


    Loyola, conversely, has come a long way. One thing that's changed the Loyola team is that all their midfielders are seniors. They've really moved their talents around with strong midfielders and a lot of speed in between the lines.


    What's different for them this year is Dan Kallaugher, who transferred from Yale. He was great when he was at Yale, and he creates instant offense for their team. He can keep Jordan Rabidou fresh at the face-off, and I think that's the big difference in Loyola's game this year. That's how they beat Duke--they won face-offs and held the ball, and Duke never went after them.


    I think Loyola has found an offense they feel comfortable with where Pat Kennedy doesn't have to handle the ball so much. Now when they put the ball in the hands of their better midfielders, they can let their attackmen play off the ball and let their shooters be shooters. I think that's who Loyola is right now.


    No. 8 North Carolina vs. Navy


    This is an interesting matchup and certainly won't be an easy game for either team. North Carolina's offense is different than it was and is definitely stronger than a year ago. They have a lot of movement and a lot of guys moving off the ball. John Haus has a team that is willing to move the ball around, and that's why they've been successful. They share the ball and make plays as a unit. If they're willing to do that, they're going to be a dangerous team. They have a face-off guy that does well, and their first midfield is solid. It's as good as any midfield out there.


    If North Carolina is willing to play three lines like they did at certain stretches of the year, they can compete against teams. Whoever runs up against Duke and Cornell, though, is going to have their hands full because the coaches and players are both doing a good job.


    For Navy, Ian Dingman makes the Midshipmen a different team. He's a competitor, and he might not be the most mobile player in the world, but he can shoot the lights out of it.. He's not going to let anyone beat their team easily. Navy has midfielders that are in great shape because they're Academy guys. I think they have talented defensemen, and they're going to play with a no-quit mentality. I believe they believe they're one of the best teams in the country, so it's going to be a tough game for UNC.