February 23, 2011

NCAA Preview: No. 1 Syracuse

by Gary Lambrecht | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

The February issue of Lacrosse Magazine features an extensive NCAA lacrosse preview, from Division I through Division III, plus in-depth features on the top-ranked Syracuse men and the snake-bitten Cal women. Lacrosse Magazine Online (laxmagazine.com) examines the key players, strengths, weaknesses, best- and worst-case scenarios, sleepers, what's new, what's not and rival coaches' takes on each of the top 10-ranked teams in Division I men's and women's lacrosse.

MEN: 10 COR | 9 HOF | 8 DUKE | 7 UND | 6 PTON | 5 MD | 4 SB | 3 UNC | 2 UVA | 1 CUSE
WOMEN: 10 UND | 9 JMU | 8 PENN | 7 UVA | 6 GTOWN | 5 CUSE | 4 DUKE | 3 UNC | 2 NW | 1 MD

NO. 1 SYRACUSE

Jovan Miller is a spark between the restraining lines for preseason No. 1 Syracuse.

© Greg Wall

Head Coach: John Desko
Conference: Big East
2010 Records: 13-2, 6-0
2011: Schedule

KEY PLAYERS

LSM Joel White (Sr.)
No one is better at shutting midfielders down and going from defense to offense than White (78gbs, 31 caused TOs, 6g, 4a). "Joel is an example of why that position should have an All-American designation," Desko said.

G John Galloway (Sr.)
The nation's leader in goals-allowed average (7.16) in 2010, Galloway has won 44 games and two national titles, the first goalie ever to win it all as a freshman and sophomore. He needs eight more wins to become the all-time leader.

M Jeremy Thompson (Sr.)
Thompson impacts the game everywhere. Last year, he won 58.2 percent of his faceoff attempts, grabbed 46 gbs and added 15g and 8a. Look for him to create more shots aggressively off the dodge.

STRENGTHS

• Defense, led by three returning first-team All-Americans
• Very deep at the midfield position

WEAKNESSES

• Attackman Chris Daniello, the top playmaker a year ago, graduated
• Offense needs to be steadier, less streaky

BEST CASE

If Marasco and Ward live up to expectations and the Orange stay healthy, the seniors could be celebrating their third national title in four years.

WORST CASE

The Orange draw a playoff opponent that excels at facing off, making saves and milking the clock – as Army did last year.

SLEEPER

M Kevin Drew (Jr.)
At 6-feet-4 with outstanding speed, Drew, who missed five games last year with injuries, presents offensive midfielders with a matchup nightmare. He is very hard to beat on the wings.

RIVAL COACH'S TAKES

"Last year on attack, it was just trying to fit square pegs into round holes ... They were easier to get a handle on than they have been in the past. In the settled game, they were never quite set on who they were or who they wanted to be. Defensively, they're very good."

"Offensively, they were trying to stick a lot of the same pegs in the same hole [a year ago]. Lots of lefties on the wings playing the same position. Do they figure out a system? Who is going to have the ball in his stick when the game needs to be decided?"

"Take your pick between them and Virginia for No. 1."

"They have the first team All-American goalie coming back. Young in some ways, but they don't rebuild, they reload. Created a ton in transition last year. Graduate a couple attackmen, but the Marasco kid is very good."

"The last time you saw that program have that type of disappointment, they roared back and won a national championship the next year. Again, they brought in some incredible talent. The defense has picked up quite a bit in recent years as opposed to its customary run-and-gun style and scoring way more goals than the opponents. If they remain healthy, I think they have to be the preseason favorite to win it all."

WHAT'S NEW?

Freshman attackman Billy Ward. Heavily-touted recruit out of C.W. Baker High in Baldwinsville, N.Y., produced 135 goals and 130 assists there.

WHAT'S NOT?

Desko enters his 12th season as head coach, his 32nd season as a coach at his alma mater. His senior class has a 45-6 record.

5.07

Average scoring margin by Syracuse last season (12.47-7.4), second best in Division I. The Orange won the ground ball battle, 552-390.


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