Turnaround Title Earns Danowski Top Billing
|After a typically slow start for his Duke squad, John Danowski led the Blue Devils to another NCAA championship with a 14-1 run to close the season. (Lee Weissman)|
This story originally appears in the December 2013 issue of Lacrosse Magazine. Start your subscription by joining the over 400,000 members of US Lacrosse today.
About 30 minutes after Duke beat Syracuse for its second NCAA championship in four years, John Danowski was asked in the post-game press conference at Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field if this was one of his better coaching jobs.
The Blue Devils were just 2-4 on March 2 after a 16-7 loss at home to then-No. 1 Maryland. And while Duke had a history of slow starts under Danowski, it seemed to linger longer than usual this time.
"Maybe if we kept losing they weren't going to listen to the coaches," Danowski said. "Thankfully, they listened just enough."
Things turned around. Duke beat Loyola 9-8 in a Friday night thriller in Durham, N.C., on March 8, starting a 14-1 run to end the season. The Blue Devils' turnaround coincided with sophomore goalie Kyle Turri assuming the starting role after Dan Wigrizer's career ended because of concussions. Duke's coaching staff also switched two-year starting attackman Christian Walsh to midfield to allow heralded freshman Case Matheis playing time.
Danowski deflected the query about his job and mentioned just about everybody else involved in the team but him. He said he respected the players for the dealing with the program's year-round demands, including 7 a.m. weightlifting and running in the fall. "If I'm those guys, I'm not playing. I'm doing something else," he said. "I've been here for seven years. Nobody has ever quit. Nobody transfers. One-hundred percent of the guys graduate. They just buy into what's being taught."
Danowski was the overwhelming winner in the men's fan vote as well, taking home 30% more of the vote than his closest competitor, NCAA finals foe John Desko. First-time NCAA champion Paul Cantabene was third for his work at Stevenson, with MLL head men Dave Cottle and Jim Stagnitta rounding out the voting.
John Danowski, Duke 47%
John Desko, Syracuse 17%
Paul Cantabene, Stevenson 16%
Dave Cottle, Chesapeake Bayhawks 12%
Jim Stagnitta, Denver Outlaws 8%