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July 4, 2010

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The MLL College All-Stars, a group comprised of recent college graduates and pro lacrosse draftees, defeated the U.S. national team, 12-11, in a lightning-shortened exhibition at the Yale Bowl. Team USA goalie Brian Dougherty (16 saves in first half) gets some love from the fans. © Richard Orr
The MLL College All-Stars, a group comprised of recent college graduates and pro lacrosse draftees, defeated the U.S. national team, 12-11, in a lightning-shortened exhibition at the Yale Bowl. Team USA goalie Brian Dougherty (16 saves in first half) gets some love from the fans. © Richard Orr
Click here for the latest Team USA news, scores and Facebook updates.

Gone Campin: Pick-Up Hoops with Team USA

by Nathaniel Badder | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

Intrepid reporter -- and US Lacrosse Director of National Teams -- Nathaniel Badder is embedded with Team USA at Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I., as it heads into training camp to ready for the MLL All-Star Game and FIL World Championships. Check back to laxmagazine.com this week for continuing coverage.

*****

SUNDAY, JULY 4, 2010

Introduction: It’s time to go camping.  But, for all of you looking for campfires and tents, ghost stories and s’mores, color wars and talent shows, look elsewhere. This is training camp. This is the U.S. Men’s National Team’s chance to come together at Bryant University for five days to get ready for the 2010 FIL Championship. The 23 players were named in November and since then, they’ve played together three times -- at Champion Challenge in January and then at two exhibition games last month against a team of college stars auditioning for the MLL and then against a team of all-stars from the Philadelphia area. So, this is Team USA’s first time to really come together, to practice, to meet, to watch film, to talk strategy, to form lines, to try some new things, to work out some kinks, to answer some questions, and to transform from a disparate band of the world’s best players into a finely-tuned and singularly-focused team. And it’s going to be old school: two-a-day practices in 90-plus degree heat. It’s going to be awesome.

4 p.m.: Check in.  Within minutes, Brian “Doc” Dougherty has locked himself out of his room and needs to borrow a key to get back in.

5 p.m.: Dinner. Nothing says American Independence Day like lasagna and green beans. But man, was it good.

6:05 p.m.: I miss roll call for a pick-up hoops game because I have now locked myself out of my room. Only, I didn’t just lock myself out of my room. I broke the lock. You see, it didn’t open, so I jiggled my key -- just like Fonzie taught me -- and when I pulled it out, the entire lock mechanism was stuck to it.  And, being a national holiday, let’s just say locksmiths weren’t standing around waiting to let me back in. Argh.

6:12 p.m.: Problem solved, I lace up my sneaks and head out of the dorm in search of the gym. I find a group of guys playing 4-on-4 and when the game ends, Kyle Sweeney and I hop on opposite teams to round out the squads. It’s not too surprising to see that some of these guys can really play -- Sweeney, Matt Striebel and assistant coach Paul Cantebene nail some tough drives in the lane and Doc rains a flurry of long distance bombs -- nor that they are all exceptional athletes.  What is surprising, however, is how hard they go at each other. It doesn’t matter that it’s pick-up basketball or that it’s the night before training camp or even that they are teammates and will be playing together for the next three weeks. They just battle. Hard picks, loose ball tussles, rebounding scrums. Competitive juices flow and nobody wants to lose. Unfortunately, Doc buries a two to give his team the "W" and my team a sour taste for the rest of the night. 

10:15 p.m.: Two words: twin bed.  Gotta love college dorms.


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