Manning finding his niche

Throughout this week, CuseNation.com will continue to have Syracuse lacrosse articles from Monday's media day. Next up, Onondaga Community College (N.Y.) lacrosse transfer Niko Manning. The long stick midfielder is slowly, but surely coming along in Syracuse's system. Article inside.

Onondaga Community College (N.Y.) lacrosse transfer Niko Manning seems to fitting in quite nicely at Syracuse. Shock aside, he is finding his niche slowly, but surely.

"Coaches have made it very clear that I'm here to play a role," Manning said on Monday during the men's lacrosse media day. "I'm sure we will talk in the spring. A lot of stuff happens in the fall, but there has been a lot of changes: guys coming in, guys with injuries. My biggest thing right now is staying healthy. Where ever they ask me to play, I'm going to play. I just want to be a team player here."

While parts of the team are yet to be finalized, it's safe to say that Manning will make his living on the wings when it comes to faceoffs. The versatile long stick midfielder is yet another solid addition at pole, a position that is fairly deep entering the 2014 season according to head coach John Desko.

Manning will join the likes of senior Matt Harris (52 ground balls, 29 caused turnovers), redshirt junior Peter Macartney (30 ground balls) and freshman Scott Firman. "(Macartney and Harris) did a great job last year," Desko said on Monday during the men's lacrosse media day. "Peter has come back and he's playing better than he did last year. He is playing his best lacrosse so far."

Desko also praised Firman during Monday's press conference, too.

"I believe he's every bit the defenseman that Evans is an attackman or midfielder."

For the most part, Manning will strictly play defense, however, the junior isn't afraid to go down on the offensive end and make things happen. Watching his highlight reel (again), it's evident that Manning isn't shy to let it rip from up top when defenders play off of him. He is a good pick up for the Orange and will offer an instant spark when it comes to scooping up offensive possessions.

Transitioning from one lacrosse powerhouse to another hasn't rattled Manning too much. The defensive playbook, though, well, that's a different story. He said he was "shocked" by the volume of plays that a defense like this has.

"It's from day 1," Manning said about grasping the playbook, "but if you all let it go to your head right there, you lose sight of who you really are. You need to go out there and play your game under their rules. You need to step up and have their playbook known and play their style because their style is going to win.

With conditioning and practicing getting underway this week, Manning is doing what he can control: playing to the best of his ability and putting forth maximum effort out on the field.

"It's a great opportunity for me," he said. "I'm very blessed. I'm surrounded by a bunch of good guys. I'm just playing my part everyday and playing to my full potential. That's really what I can give (coach Desko), no matter what he asks. And that's what he asks of us: to play hard."

For those who haven't seen Manning's tape, check it out below:


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