Inside Navy Lacrosse

George Mason Athletic Director Tom O'Connor said that the men's basketball team's run to the Colonial Athletic Association championship game on Monday night--they had to win three games in three days to get there--reminded him of the program's run to the Final Four last year.

The comparison went as far as how the streak began, i.e. with blowout losses (Mason lost by 23 in its regular season finale this season and lost by 15 in the CAA semifinals last season).

There was another result this weekend that reminded me of run to the Final Four, though in another sport. Navy's 19-8 victory over North Carolina in lacrosse on Friday night was the first time I felt like Navy had really unloaded on a quality opponent since an 18-10 win over then-No. 9 Army in 2004.

Friday's game, like the Army game in 2004, was keyed by Ian Dingman. He had six groundballs in the first half on Friday and finished with seven, tied for a team-high with goalie Colin Finnegan. (He also scored three goals.)

The attackmen who are among the team leaders in groundballs are players like former Georgetown standout Scott Urick--he held the school's career record until a couple years ago--and Virginia's Matt Ward, who had 45 groundballs and 46 points in 2003. Those two were known for working extremely hard in all areas of the game.

If we can deduce that Dingman is headed in that direction--his 12 groundballs are second on the team--Navy would appear to be on the verge of another special season.

There is other good news from Friday. Navy scored 19 goals and Billy Looney did not have any; hopefully this starts a trend in which teams who pay too much attention to Looney are going to pay for it. Freshman Basil Daratsos is on the first midfield; he took seven shots and scored two goals against the Tar Heels.

The second midfield will get a boost if Mikelis Visgauss continues to excel on faceoffs (he won 11 of 15). That would free senior William Wallace, who has one of the team's hardest outside shots, to play offense.

And maybe the best news to come out of Friday was how under the radar the game was. Friends who attended Duke-Maryland on Friday night noted how many college coaches were in the stands or who scouted the game from the press box.

College lacrosse is one of the only NCAA sports where coaches are allowed to scout in person. I know coaches prefer to see a team in person rather than on film from having been lucky enough to read Steve Belichick's book, "Football Scouting Methods." (He wrote it when college football coaches were allowed to scout in person.)

He lays out all of the advantages of seeing an opponent in person. For one, you can tell who the coaches talk to immediately after a timeout or who gets pulled from the game following a mistake; i.e., much of a scout's work is done during timeouts or even in the pregame warmups, where he (or she) watches which players work with which personnel groups.

For instance, the ESPNU cameras at the Inside Lacrosse doubleheader on Saturday likely were in commercials when Johns Hopkins and Princeton were leaving the field at halftime.

If so, they missed a Johns Hopkins defensive assistant talking to one of the starting defensemen for several minutes before the team had even left the field, let alone gotten into the locker room--it appeared the discussion was about the player's positioning.

I think Navy likes flying under the radar, and even with a 19-8 win, a lot of the talk on Saturday in Baltimore was of North Carolina, not Navy. My best guess is that's fine with Richie Meade and the guys. We'll talk about the Mids, of course, but we'll try to keep it a secret.

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