February 10, 2012

Towson's Nadelen Era Begins vs. Jacksonville

by Matt Forman | LaxMagazine.com

Shawn Nadelen, a Towson assistant for seven seasons under Tony Seaman and Team USA goal medalist in 2010, makes his regular-season head coaching debut this weekend.
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

Saturday marks the official start of the Shawn Nadelen Era at Towson.

The former All-American midfielder at Johns Hopkins and Team USA gold medalist at the 2010 Federation of International Lacrosse World Championships kicks off the task of "restoring the roar" to Tigers lacrosse against Jacksonville this weekend.

The first-year head coach, who served as an assistant at Towson for the last seven seasons, said everything begins and ends with work ethic.

Mingling in the press box overlooking Awalt Field at Loyola's Ridley Athletic Complex on Wednesday at the Baltimore-area coaches' media event, Greyhounds coach Charley Toomey approached Nadelen, shook his hand and said — at least somewhat in jest: "If I hear one more time that Towson is out-working us..."

The comment invoked a smile from Nadelen, who quickly clarified the statement when asked about his team's mentality. It's not hard-working, it's working-hard. It's not hard work, it's working hard.

"That's been a belief and a way of life that's been instilled in me throughout. My parents are worked very hard and demanded a lot out of me," he said. "It's something that I truly believe in: If you work hard at accomplishing a goal, accomplishing whatever it is you have in front of you, you will be able to be successful at it and attain it. Nothing comes easy to anybody. You really have to work at it. Instilling that in our players has been a main focus, making sure we understand what it means to work as a Division I student-athlete, both on and off the field. There's a certain amount of responsibility, effort and commitment that goes into that."

Nadelen's approach will carry over into his team's travel arrangements too. He scheduled this early-season test at Jacksonville to logistically prepare his team for road games at Stony Brook, Hofstra and UMass in the conference season. Those are business trips, just like Saturday's contest at Jacksonville.

"Obviously we're really excited to play Jacksonville. It's our first game of the year, so I think our guys are pretty jacked up for it. And the coaching staff is too, to kind of get out there and get the season rolling. It's here before we knew it, and it's right on top of us," Nadelen said. "But we're not going down there to Florida to enjoy ourselves and hang out on the beach. That's not what we're going to be about. We're not even going to let them see the water when they fly over the ocean as we're landing. I'm going to make them shut the windows on the airplane."

Nadelen addressed several other topics at the media gathering:

Show Stopper

Towson lost six one-goal games a year ago, including three straight nail-biters in April, en route to a 3-10 finish. A different result in half of those games makes the 2011 season look a whole lot better. But as football coach Bill Parcells used to say, "You are what your record says you are."

"That was crazy," Nadelen said. "Could've made a huge different. It definitely killed us last year. It's a two-sided coin where we have to be better both defensively and offensively to make those one-goal games in our favor."

In last Saturday's scrimmage against Albany, Towson let a four-goal lead turn into a two-goal second half deficit before falling 11-10. The Tigers were never able to draw even after falling behind, though they won the final faceoff with nine seconds left and couldn't get off a quality shot.

"Our guys did a decent job in the first half taking the game to them. We controlled faceoffs. We controlled possessions. That showed me that we have the ability to play that way against a tough team," Nadelen said. "But I wasn't happy with how they came back, and they were able to mount a comeback. We didn't have the ability to make a stop when we needed to, or to get a goal on the other end to stop that run. So that's obviously something we've continued to focus on and make our guys more aware of."

Nadelen said a contributing factor could be his team's ability to finish shots; Towson converted only 23.7 percent of attempts last year.

Same Field, Same Game

You can't really predict how you'll respond to a situation until you've lived it, breathed it, and experienced it. Does Nadelen expect to get any butterflies walking down the sidelines as a head coach for the first time?

"I never really get too nervous," he said. "There could be. I don't know. I haven't been in that situation yet. The excitement is definitely there, though. The anticipating of that game is right in front of us. The excitement and butterflies could work their way in. But once that whistle blows, I might have coach Cocchi give me a little forearm to the chest to kind of settle me down and say, 'We're just in a lacrosse game.' Same field, same game. Ten guys on the field ready to battle."


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