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posted 04.14.2011 at 7.00 p.m. by Gary Lambrecht

Johns Hopkins' Pietramala Having a Coach-of-the-Year Kind of Season

The last time Dave Pietramala was named National Coach of the Year was in 2002, after he had guided a very young Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse team to a 12-2 record and a surprising berth in the NCAA tournament semifinals.

History could be fixing to repeat itself. At the mid-April point of the 2011 season, no head coach in Division I has out-performed Pietramala, who has the Blue Jays (8-2) surging and off to their best start since that senior-packed squad went 16-0 and won the national championship in 2005.

The Blue Jays appear to be back, after stumbling to their first losing record (7-8) since 1971. They have broken sizable losing streaks against Virginia and North Carolina while climbing to No. 3 in the rankings, and are doing it with youth again. Eight of Hopkins' starters are either sophomores or freshmen, including the core of one of the country's stingiest defenses, which is led by sophomore goalie Pierce Bassett and sophomore close defenseman Tucker Durkin.

Then there is freshman defensive midfielder Phil Castronova, who arguably has brought the most impact to the position since Benson Erwin set a new standard for Hopkins. Erwin was part of a pretty special incoming class in '02 that included guys like Kyle Harrison, Chris Watson and Tom Garvey.

This year's Blue Jays reflect the tough-minded, detail-obsessive nature of the guy in charge. They get after ground balls hard. They bump and grind and help on defense with strikingly mature focus. They value possessions, share the ball and take intelligent shots.

hey are growing up fast and looking precociously dangerous, as the favorite for Coach of the Year drives them harder by the day.