September 12, 2013

Beville, Iroquois Prepared for Evaluation Weekend

by Sean Burns | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

The Iroquois National team will be trimmed to its training roster of about 50 after evaluations this weekend. Hopes are high following the U19 team's third place finish in the 2012 games in Finland.
©Tero Wester

With Team USA's training team selected, the other teams are beginning to take shape as well as we push on towards the FIL World Championships next summer in Denver.

One of the teams that everybody in the world is paying attention to – both for the skill level and potential it has and for the fact that it was held out of the 2010 games in Manchester after some passport issues and political fumblings – is the Iroquois Nationals.

Saturday marks their first large scale training event, as coach Steve Beville and his staff will be evaluating most of the hopefuls in a two-session event at the Six Nationals Field Lacrosse Center in Ontario, after which they hope to trim down to their 40-50 man training roster for the fall and spring.

We caught up with Beville, who coached the U19 Iroquois bronze medalists last year in Finland and is also the head coach of Cortland State, on Thursday afternoon to ask about how things are progressing for the Nationals.

What is your big-picture goal for this weekend?

We're really hoping to narrow our team down to 40-45 players after this weekend and have that be our training team.

There are a bunch of players that won't be able to make it (Mann Cup and college obligations). I'm assuming some of them will make it through to that training roster anyways?

We're certainly going to have a few guys that aren't there this weekend – I think seven are in Victoria (for the Mann Cup) and then there's a couple others who are injured or can't make it because of school – so we're going to keep a large number [for the training squad]. We want to be fair in the process and give all of these guys the best chance to make the team.

Some guys won't be here, but that's okay.

At their trials, Team USA coaches mainly had the players scrimmage. Will you have a similar setup, or do you have different plans?

We'll definitely scrimmage plenty, but we've also got a large number of guys who haven't played a lot of field [lacrosse] recently. The've been mostly in the box for the past year and a half, so we're going to throw in a few drills just to see who has a good defensive field sense out there and try to get started on developing the defenders. That's going to be one of the biggest challenges on the team, developing those defenders and longstick midfielders.

Overall, it's probably going to be mostly scrimmaging though, We need to see who can handle the full 120 by 60.

Do you have an idea of how you want this team to play, or are you trying to avoid focusing on that at this point and letting the players dictate the style once you have them selected?

Well I think we all know the incredible skill and creativeness that so many of these Iroquois players have. We'd be remiss to not take advantage of that – the things they do with the picking game and the shooting ability and all the other things that they bring to the table – but our plan is to evaluate the talent this weekend, see what we have, and then start to formulate our game plan around it.

This team has some potential for emotional baggage stemming from their being left out of the Manchester event four years ago, literally staying in New York while the time expired on the approval of their passports in time for the games. How do you plan to manage that as a coach?

It's something that we have to take a good look at, but I think we can use it to our advantage. That chip on your shoulder type of attitude because of what went down four years ago – it'll be something we certainly have to control, but we can use it to our advantage.

Another 'down the road' thought is that this team has been pretty hyped already along with the US team and Canada. But the Iroquois have never finished higher than fourth and nobody's even talking about Australia (which has finished third in every event since 1998 and never behind the Iroquois since their debut in 1990). How do you keep your guys from buying into the hype?

These guys are grown men, and I don't think we're going into any competiton with the idea that anything is going to come easy or belongs to us. I know that they feel like they have something to prove and an attitude that they're going to achieve. Our goal is the highest goal – we want to play to win, and we'll see what happens.

They're ready to work and they have a great attitude, with that chip on their shoulder, but I don't think anybody feels like they've proven anything yet.

After this weekend, what's next?

We have a couple of scrimmages set up – we're playing here at Cortland on the 28th of September against the Israeli national team at 8 pm. We're also scrimmaging Cornell (and Cornell is scrimmaging the Israeli team that afternoon), so that's our first go. We're also working on scheduling a couple more, hopefully heading down to Baltimore as well in November.

Ultimately we hope to keep the training roster into next summer, to get as many guys as long of a look as we can. It'll help because of all the travel and some guys not being able to make certain things, but it'll also help by letting some of the younger guys get that extra work and development in the field game. We don't have the luxury of picking from 10,000 players, so the development of these young guys is going to be very important to Iroquois lacrosse for the long term.


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