Beville's Achievement Lost in Team Success
After Steve Beville starting getting pats on the back after his Cortland team dispatched SUNYAC rival Oswego on April 25, he wasn't sure what was going on.
"I actually had no idea," said Beville about reaching the 100-win mark with the Red Dragons during his sixth season. "It happened pretty quick and we've been fortunate because we played a lot of games over the past five years. It jumped on me pretty quick. It's nice, but it is also telling me I'm getting pretty old."
This has been a year of milestones for Beville and Cortland. Earlier this spring, Beville surpassed Chuck Winters – who had 94 wins in 11 seasons – as the program's all-time wins leader and last weekend's 16-8 victory over Potsdam marked the first time in its illustrious history that the program finished a regular season undefeated.
They are impressive accolades, to be sure, but the Red Dragons are trying to downplay them as much as possible.
"We can reevaluate things and take a look at things at another time, but right now we just want to win games," said Beville, who also eclipsed the 100-win mark while coaching at Colorado College from 1989-98.
Cortland has won all of its games to this point with a group of very good players, but none of whom who have really separated himself from the pack. Going up and down the roster, there is not one player who can be pinpointed as key to the Red Dragons' success.
"We're struggling trying to pick an MVP for ourselves because we have so many guys who have been solid all through the year," Beville said. "Greg Wright's been great and Mike Tota's had an unbelievable year. Mike Kaminski has played well. Jack Kennedy, our LSM, is one of our best players. Joe Slavik is starting to turn it on again. We're just getting really solid contributions from a ton of guys and our defense has been solid through the year, as well."
That kind of balance makes it nearly impossible for opponents – especially those in the relatively weak SUNYAC – to stand toe-to-toe with the Dragons. As such, Cortland has been forced to grind out victories down the home stretch.
"Teams are starting to pack in zones and double invert and kind of stall," Beville said. "It's just something that we've just had to deal with over the past month or so. Clarkson played a smart game. It was cold, nasty and wet and we didn't play as well as we could have. At the end of the day, if teams can pass and catch, they will be able to take a lot of time off the clock."
Beville is an unabashed proponent of adding a shot clock to the college game to avoid some of these slogging contests, but he also realizes that the Cortland brand means foes will do whatever it takes to get a win.
"It's the same as Tufts, Salisbury and teams like that," he said. "We're everybody's big game. We're everybody's Super Bowl and everybody is pulling out all the stops and getting pumped up whenever they play Cortland. It's obviously a sign of being very successful over a number of years. You just have to be guarded that it's going happen."
The Red Dragons are going to get a big dose of slow down during the SUNYAC tourney and likely when they get to the NCAA tournament, so they might as well get used to it. At this point of the season, picking up wins isn't about style points, anyway.