NCAA Division II Notebook
Selection Sunday will be a lot less hectic this spring for Limestone. Instead of flying up to Long Island on the final day of the season to play Dowling — a game that ending up being a preview of the national championship game — the Saints players will be taking exams and putting their academics to bed for the spring.
It's a rare weekend off Limestone, which always tries to stuff competition into every possible date, but Saints head coach J.B. Clarke is OK with this setup. Because the NCAA tournament starts a week earlier with the addition of a quarterfinal round, his players will be idle for the standard two weeks they usually are between the selection announcement and the first game.
They'll be idle in the sense that there are no games, but there will be plenty of competition.
"We have the Gaffney Cup," Clarke said. "We split the guys into four teams, with the players picking them, and we play seven-on-seven, sideline-to-sideline. We keep stats and change the rules up on them all the time: defenseman playing offense, can't score unless it's assisted, all sorts of different rules. A lot of practices are keeping them fresh and letting them play, not bogging them down with a lot of mental stuff, especially during finals. And we condition the heck out of them. We want them to be in better shape by the time they are done."
Not to say the Saints are out of shape. In fact, if the sweep of Pfeiffer last week is any indication, Clarke feels they might be slightly ahead of last year's pace.
"We're playing better right now than we were at this time last year," he said. "Last year, Pfeiffer was able to really slow the game down to a crawl, frustrate us with that. We had trouble getting enough possessions to score the way we like to. I don't think it is so much about the new rule with the timer on. Quite frankly, we got called for more timers on than Pfeiffer did, and we're not a slow-it-down team. We're just clicking a little bit better right now. We played some really good lacrosse."
They've been solid all season, and they hand over a 15-1 mark to the selection committee — a record that makes them locks for one of the four South Region bids. Where they end up getting seeded is a bigger question. Seton Hill and Limestone have swapped spots in the regional rankings at Nos. 2-3 the past two weeks, and if Mercyhurst wins the ECAC title, it's almost certain that the Griffins and Saints will meet in the national quarterfinals. The only question is where.
It's not something that the Limestone players or coaches worry about.
"Those [rankings] are so based on stats, numbers, percentages, RPIs and all that stuff," Clarke said. "Other than knowing that we're in the Top 4 right now, which is important, where we're ranked just really doesn't matter. I don't even know when it comes out. I'm not even coaching you either; I just don't know."
The Saints know they will get another chance to make a run to the national championship game, so Clarke is just keeping things simple prior to their first match-up.
"We're trying to get better and deeper every day," he said.
- There are certain players we're used to seeing atop the Limestone box scores, but a new name came into focus after the Conference Carolinas championship game against Pfeiffer. Junior Todd Nakasuji had four goals to lead the Saints to a 16-8 victory. Nakasuji isn't a complete unknown — he is fourth on the team in scoring with 26 goals and 17 assists — but he gets lost in the shuffle sometimes.
"You get so enamoured with Riley Loewen and you're used to hearing Shayne Jackson," said Clarke. "Todd is more than adequate down there. [Pfeiffer] tried to short stick Todd a couple of times and that didn't work out real well. He has really come into his own. He's a solid player, nothing real flashy, but he gets the job done for us. He's another Canadian lefty and a real smart lacrosse player."
- The St. Michael's loss didn't end up costing Adelphi. With Le Moyne taking down the Purple Knights this past weekend, Adelphi scooped up the No. 1 seed in the Northeast-10 tournament and will earn a first round bye along with No. 2 Merrimack...Merychurst got the top seed in the ECAC tourney after handling Seton Hill on the road, 12-9...check out the updated Division II conference tournament clearinghouse for complete brackets.
- East Coast Conference commissioner Bob Dranoff said that the conference will adopt a league tournament next year. The details of the playoff will be determined during the spring meeting of league officials, but it's a done deal...Merrimack's Greg Melaugh tied the school record for goals in a game (9) against Assumption and is also now tied for third in single game points (11) after dishing out a pair of assists in the win...Chestnut Hill's 18-8 victory over Dowling was certainly a surprise, if only for the margin, and the Griffins can now say they put the defending champs to bed.
- Pfeiffer made its final case to the committee by beating Rollins, and now must hope for a quick exit by Lake Erie in the ECAC tournament, where the Storm matches up with Seton Hill in the first round. In the Rollins win, junior pole Mike Triolo scooped up 11 ground balls, giving him 105 for his career and breaking a school record that had stood since 1991 (Dan Ciaravino). At 6-foot-7 and 205 pounds, Triolo gives new meaning to the word lanky.
- Dominican (Calif.) capped off its undefeated WILA season with a thorough, 22-3 victory over Bay Area rival Notre Dame de Namur. In the victory, the Penguins set the single-season school record for wins (8), goals (167) and total points (261) while the 22 markers was a single-game school record...speaking of Western rivalries, Colorado Mesa defeated Adams state in a nailbiter, 10-9, to sweep the season series...I received word from a reliable source that there is an impending announcement coming from a D-II Colorado school that will be making the jump to varsity in the near future. This team is expected to join the WILA, which will give the league five teams and perhaps break the ice for numerous other schools in the area.