Coming up on Mid-Season
Without an All-Star game for which to break, this week-end and next see the passage of the 2010 NLL season’s midpoint. The Washington Stealth continue to lead the League after their first first loss to Minnesota, while the Toronto Rock lead the East going into the second half of their schedule.
Staying with the East, the third-place Orlando Titans, before this Saturday’s match with the Philadelphia Wings, have as much as four games in hand on the rest of the division (with a date in Philly to make up), as well as six home dates left. The Rochester Knighthawks are beginning to show their form, moving above .500 and 2 games behind the Rock — Krew members take heart, and bear in mind that the K‘hawks have a history of slow starts. The Boston Blazers need to find a way to win on the road if they are to take a run at a home-playoff-game seeding. The Buffalo Bandits find themselves in an unfamiliar position, at the (near-) bottom looking up; they won John Tavares’ first game back, but their scorers aren’t scoring — among Steenhuis, Accursi, Bucktooth, Vyse and company, no one is even averaging 2 goals a game. The only noteworthy team streak (in either division) is the Wings’ four straight losses. They don’t have a scorer in the Top 20, or a goalie in the Top 10, a considerable departure from the Marechek – Eliuk days. Attendance at the Wachovia Center is in the four figures and declining game by game; I don’t see much relief in the remainder of their schedule. As for the Toronto Rock: Colin Doyle leads all NLL scorers, Bob Watson leads all goalies, their rookie “O” guys are at the head of their class, and Kim Squire is making a successful comeback. All they need now for a complete “back in the day” script is Jim Veltman coming out of retirement. Seriously though, full marks (and my vote for the NLL Hall of Fame) to Head Coach Troy Cordingley and GM Terry Sanderson, as well as to new owner Jamie Dawick.
In the West, the (Everett) Washington Stealth are still the class of the field despite their first loss last week in the Twin Cities. No team is within 3 games of them, their offence is hitting on all cylinders, and their young US-born NCAA studs are rounding into box lacrosse form. Special mention here goes to Jamison Koesterer: — the Blue Jay middie turned pro indoor D-transition stalwart leads the team in loosies and sports a .663 face-off average. The Champions Cup-defending Calgary Roughnecks have worked their way to .500, the Edmonton Rush backed into the same position, while Colorado and Minnesota have just 2 wins each. All this in a division where all but one team make it into the post-season. With Jeff Zywicki on a mission, I don’t see the Stealth collapsing; and as I’ve opined before, as Tracey Kelusky goes so go the Roughnecks. I’m still waiting to see the “Randy Couture” effect in Edmonton, although with his proven comeback ability, they should give him a shot on the back door. Steve Govett just made what may prove to be the move of the year, adding Bob Hamley to the coaching staff. As for the Swarm, I for one like their jerseys, a cool retro box lacrosse look for sure. I’m not so certain about Zack Greer. He capped an exemplary NCAA career, and demonstrated admirable loyalty to his coach by following him from Duke, at D-1 newbie Bryant. I’m looking at his Ontario Lacrosse Association Jr. A career with the Whitby Warriors, where he drew the serious attention of NCAA coaches / recruiters.
In 2004 Greer played all 20 regular-season games and finished fourth in the league in points and third in goals; he lead the OLA post-season (another twenty games) with 37 goals and 31 assists, and nobody from another team came within 30 points. The Warriors took the Six Nations Arrows to seven games before losing the Ontario Jr. A finale. [The Arrows fell short in the Minto Cup, won by the Burnaby Lakers.] In 2005 he played in just 4 regular-season games, tallying 8 goals and 12 points, and missed more games due to injury than to a late return from Durham; he had more production in 6 play-off games, but his Warriors went out in the first round. And in 2006 his OLA season was shortened by injury again, to 6 games and 21 points, and he missed 5 (6 goals, 7 assists) of 10 play-off contests as the Warriors went out in the second round. In his last Jr. A season in 2007, Greer played a healthier 11 regular-season games (11 goals, 17 assists) and all 10 of his team’s play-off games (8 goals, 22 assists) and was named to the OLA Jr. A second All-Star team.
All of the above to say that, compared to his leading OLA Jr. A peers, who include the likes of Shawn Evans and Cody Jamieson, Zach Greer did not demonstrate box lacrosse durability and consistency to go with his premier talents. I do not discount the likelihood of a ‘return to form’ with the Swarm, in fact I look forward to it. I do not foresee him keying a second-half turnaround for Minny this winter.