A PRIMER FOR NAVY LACROSSE FANS THIS WEEKEND

The Navy-Lehigh lacrosse game on Saturday is not being televised. So the next-best thing is to listen to Pete Medhurst's play-by-play while watching a few of the televised games this weekend, considering many of them involve future Navy opponents.

If anyone wants to do some advance scouting, here's what I would suggest watching to be best prepared for when these teams play the Midshipmen. N.B. Numbers in parenthesis are jersey numbers.
 
HOFSTRA AT JOHNS HOPKINS
Noon, ESPNU, WMAR-2
When they play Navy: Hopkins, April 21, 3 p.m. (ESPNU)
COMING OUT PARTY?
Hopkins goalie Jesse Schwartzman (#2) has played very well the past two games--victories over Princeton (17 saves, 7 goals against) and UMBC (13 saves, 6 goals against). On most shots, Schwartzman comes far out of the crease and cuts down a shooter's angle very effectively. Where the tactic leaves him vulnerable, however, is on bounce shots and especially on quick shots. (Bounce shots would be more effective on grass, where the bounce is less predictable than on turf or field turf.)
 
The best shot in lacrosse is one that is taken while the goalie is moving his feet. Goalies' mechanics are not sound when their feet are moving. Imagine a quarterback trying to throw the ball in the face of a blitz; usually they throw off their back foot or on a rollout, and neither pass is particularly accurate.
 
Virginia's fast-passing offense last year (we're back to lacrosse) was predicated on getting the goalie to move his feet to react to a cross-field or cross-crease pass. The recipient of the pass was to shoot the ball quickly; location didn't matter. The Cavaliers finished 17-0 and had assists on 68 percent of their goals, an uncommonly high number.
 
Watch if Schwartzman comes out of the crease to cut down angles and what kind of shots Hofstra takes--and which ones work.
 
THE BIG 'D'
Hopkins junior defender Eric Zerrlaut (16) helped guard Ian Dingman last year, and Dingman finished 0 for 12. Zerrlaut tore his ACL in the fall and I doubt he is 100 percent yet. In the two Hopkins games I have seen, junior Matt Bocklet (7)--the team's best defenseman, IMHO--has split between defensive midfield and close defense. When he plays close, Zerrlaut has come out of the game.
 
Keep an eye on how much Zerrlaut plays on Saturday and how effective he is. Zerrlaut is a tough matchup because he is 6-feet-5, 230 pounds and plays very good position defense. Leaning on him isn't going to work. The best way to attack him is to try and be mobile or try to pass the ball quickly.
 
See if Hofstra uses the player Zerrlaut is defending on a lot of picks; they may be trying to get Zerrlaut to switch to have to play a faster offensive player (Hopkins's defense is predicated on a lot of switches on picks). If he is not 100 percent, we will know right away, because JHU may try to fight through the pick instead of switching.
 
RUNNING MEN
Hopkins picked up the tempo in transition against UMBC after being fairly conservative the first two weeks. UMBC was coming off two games in two days in Denver last weekend, so maybe Hopkins felt like they would try to run to wear UMBC down (though don't forget Hopkins had played Princeton in double-overtime, which must've felt like two games.)
 
The transition worked very well. See if the Blue Jays use it again or if they pulled it out for UMBC because it entered overmatched or tired (or both).
SYRACUSE AT GEORGETOWN
2:45 p.m., MASN (I believe this game also is on a sports channel in NY)
When they play Navy: Georgetown, March 31, 3 p.m. ESPNU
 
SIZE IT UP:
Syracuse attackman Dan Hardy (22) is the closest thing Georgetown will see to Ian Dingman before getting an eyeful of the real thing. Hardy is 6-feet-5, 230 pounds and, like Dingman, is a good passer when he wants to be. My guess is whomever defends Hardy on Saturday also will draw Dingman in three weeks (and probably Zack Greer of Duke on the 24th).
 
I think it will be junior Craig Stevenson (17), a pretty good recruit out if Ithaca, N.Y. (Princeton, which knows defense, reportedly recruited him very hard.) The Hoyas have done well against Dingman in the past--usually with since-departed Reyn Garnett defending him. Even in Navy's 7-5 win in 2004, Dingman had one goal and one assist.

See if Stevenson is up to the challenge Hardy poses. How is he positioned? Does he get his stick in a passing lane? Does he try crazy checks that leave him off-balance? Also, how many penalties is he called for? As Shaquille O'Neal notes, sometimes it's hard for the big guys to get a break from the refs.
 
THE SHORT END OF THE DEAL
In some ways, it will be hard for Navy fans to discern too much about Georgetown's offense on Saturday because Syracuse's defense is so much different from Navy's. Likewise, Georgetown likes to use a pressure defense, but may have to shelve it on Saturday because the Orange are good passers and dodgers. (Make no mistake, however, that the Hoyas will use the pressure defense against the Mids.)
 
So the best thing to glean from this game is how the Georgetown players who have the short-stick defenders do. If I were facing Georgetown, I would triple-pole the midfield and junior attackman Brendan Cannon (21) and leave shorts on two attackmen. It's similar to what Navy did against Hopkins in 2005.
 
If Syracuse does this, how do the attackmen react? How does Georgetown midfielder Trevor Casey (42) react? He is the one most likely to benefit from being defended by a shortstick because he is a good time-and-space shooter.

MARYLAND AT TOWSON
8 p.m. ESPNU (tape delay)
When they play Navy: Maryland, April 6, 7 p.m.
Again, Navy fans may not be able to glean too much from this one, considering Maryland is likely to have starting goalie Harry Alford back by April 6. (He had shoulder surgery in the offseason.) I guess the main thing to watch is the matchups. Maryland defender Steve Whittenberg (24) played well against Georgetown, but he was given the assignment of Jake Samperton (2), who isn't asked to do a whole lot.
 
Whittenberg struggled against Duke's Matt Danowski last weekend. See what kind of player is he matched up on. Will they bump him to midfield to face Brian Vetter (5)? I doubt it, since Ryan Clarke (7) is a very good longstick middie and because Clarke and freshman Brian Farrell (37) are very good in transition.
 
Also, expect Farrell and Clarke to defend Billy Looney, to check out what kind of checks they throw and if they throw them on the run, since Looney likes to dodge and shoot...

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