NCAA Notes: Role Players Powering Hopkins' Surge
Pietramala to miss second straight game because of back infection
Updated 03.26.2016 at 9:05 a.m.
With its come-from-behind victory in overtime against Syracuse on Saturday, fifth-ranked Johns Hopkins continued its recent roll by winning its third straight contest. And the story of the win over the Orange has been the story of Hopkins' surge in March.
The Blue Jays (4-2) are learning how to thrive without leaning too much on senior attackman Ryan Brown's goal-scoring. And Hopkins has become an explosive second-half offense, as its scoring balance and depth have emerged throughout the streak.
"We mourned a little bit [when Tinney and Reed were lost]. But the coaches were right. Someone else had to step up. We just had to stay calm, not force shots and run our offense."
-Hopkins attackman Wilkins Dismuke
Hopkins has scored 27 goals after halftime during the three-game streak, including 17 in the fourth quarter and overtime.
And with players such as junior attackman Wilkins Dismuke and midfielders Drew Supinski and Cody Radziewicz playing important roles, Hopkins has delivered answers to those wondering how the Blue Jays would compensate for the preseason losses of starting midfielders Joel Tinney [ineligible] and Connor Reed [knee] for the season.
"Our motion offense allows a lot of people to get open. We never want to rely on one or two guys," said Dismuke, who has eight goals. "We mourned a little bit [when Tinney and Reed were lost]. But the coaches were right. Someone else had to step up. We just had to stay calm, not force shots and run our offense."
"I think it's a tribute to [offensive coordinator] Bobby Benson," added Bill Dwan, who has been running the Blue Jays for the past week while head coach Dave Pietramala continues his hospitalized treatment for a lower back infection that sidelined him for the Syracuse game.
Pietramala will not make the trip to Charlottesville for Sunday's game at Virginia (1 p.m., ESPNU), Johns Hopkins confirmed on Saturday morning. He had a surgical procedure earlier in the week that was intended to speed up his recovery.
"We lost our three most athletic middies," Dwan added, including freshman Alex Concannon, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last month. "I'd like to tell you we're making great halftime adjustments, but it's just guys settling down and doing their jobs, while trying not to do too much. They've got some confidence now."
The confidence began to grow on March 5, the day the Blue Jays got scores from 10 different players – none of them named Ryan Brown – and turned a 6-3 halftime advantage into a 17-7 rout over Princeton.
Brown, who is encountering lots of shut-off game plans these days, did not score a goal for the first time in 38 games. Dismuke, who had five goals in his first two seasons mostly as a reserve, scored a career-high four goals. "A big day in my life, the best game of my career," he said.
The Blue Jays also got scoring from six different midfielders, along with two goals from freshman attackman Kyle Marr. Hopkins went 5-for-6 in extra man.
In its 14-8 win over Towson on March 12, the Blue Jays blew open a tense battle with a seven-goal, fourth quarter. Brown and sophomore attackman Shack Stanwick each scored four times, but the supporting cast was outstanding again.
Supinski and Radziewicz combined to score three goals and six points. Holden Cattoni, who has run on the second midfield this month, had two points, as did Dismuke.
Radziewicz, starting in place of Cattoni again, hurt the Orange badly a week later with his first career hat trick. Midfielder Patrick Fraser scored two, extra-man goals, with one coming off a tremendous assist from Brown, who sent the game into OT with his only goal of the day.
Hopkins, which struggled with turnovers early in the second half as it trailed the Orange by three, scored 11 times on only 26 shots. Dismuke took the last shot and ended the game on a put-back.
"I'm not too sure how to explain the second half [scoring],' Radziewicz said. "We're just breaking the game into five-minute segments, trying to play the best five minutes we can play each time. We definitely believe in each other."
There is no question that Brown (16 goals, 7 assists) and Stanwick (9g, 19a) set the tone at Homewood. But the scoring balance has been impressive. Midfielder John Crawley (12 points), Dismuke (10 points), Supinski (nine), Radziewicz (eight), Cattoni (seven), Marr (six), midfielder Kieran Eissler (five) and Fraser (four goals) have contributed.
Ben Reeves has 32 points already and Yale has the top defense in the country, powering the Bulldogs to its first 6-0 start since 1990. (Kevin P. Tucker)
Mental Toughness the Key for Unbeaten Yale
No. 3 Yale, ranked higher than ever, off to its first 6-0 start since 1990 and angling for its fourth NCAA tournament berth in the past five seasons under 13th-year coach Andy Shay, is obviously doing a lot of things right.
Sophomore goalie Phil Huffard (.590), senior close defenseman Michael Quinn (six caused turnovers) and junior defenseman Christopher Keating (12 CT) anchor the nation's top ranked defense. The Bulldogs have yet to allow an opponent to reach double figures in scoring.
Sophomore attackman Ben Reeves (17g, 15a), junior attackman Jeff Cimbalista (10g, 5a) and midfielders Michael Keasley (12 goals) and Eric Scott (9g, 8a) have sparked an offense that is averaging 12.83 goals per game. The Bulldogs are performing well at both ends in transition.
Yale was only in danger of losing once when it spotted St. John's a 7-1 lead, before overcoming 1-for-27 shooting in the first half to end the contest with a 12-1 run.
Shay said the one constant in every game this year has been mental toughness.
"We don't pretend to be tougher than anyone else, but we hold toughness at a high premium here. We've never [won] on pure talent. We have to be grinders," said Shay, whose Bulldogs continue their Ivy League schedule with a visit from struggling Princeton (2-4) on Saturday.
"The guys understand the expectations are higher around here now. There are a lot of subplots to this team, but the constant is they've been intensely focused on doing things the right way," he added. "And we push them hard. We've tightened the screws after wins. No one is asking us to back off. It's not unusual for me to get a text from a senior that says, "Light us up today [in practice]."
Free-Fall Continues for Georgetown
With Wednesday's 10-7 loss to 14th-ranked Loyola, the misery continued for Georgetown. The Hoyas (1-7) were considered by many to be an emerging threat in the Big East, a year after making it to the conference title game in Kevin Warne's third season as head coach.
There is still time for a recovery, as the Hoyas open conference play on Saturday at Marquette. But Georgetown is really suffering on offense, where youth, bad shooting and a lack of possession time have hurt the Hoyas. They are averaging just eight goals, have yet to score in double figures, and have won only 35.5 percent of their faceoff attempts.
Those factors conspired in an 11-8 loss at Mount St. Mary's last month, just as they did in a recent, 20-6 disaster against Duke.
"Our faceoff issues are no secret. We actually scored on 40 percent of our possessions against Mount St. Mary's, but we only had the ball for 17 possessions. And we're losing the battle of tempo too much, trying to get it all back on one play," said Warne, whose team also suffered a big loss when junior midfielder Peter Conley went down with a season-ending injury.
"We lucked out last year by having a lot of seniors who had played a lot together. You can't replicate game experience," he added. "We're breaking the game down to its simplest form. And the guys are still playing hard. If you lose your effort, the bridge will cave in."
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