Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Early Bird Special: 2011 NCAA Lacrosse Media Polls

With the NCAA lacrosse season at an end, there isn't much to do in the way of reporting (other than recruits) until February. So Inside Lacrosse has taken it upon themselves to poll voters in the Nike/Inside Lacrosse media poll on who they thought was going to be the top team in the 2011 season.

I was surprised but not at the same time as I read the results of the poll: (the numbers in parentheses are the number of votes and the number of first place votes if there were any)

1. Syracuse (284/7)
1. Virginia (284/5)
3. North Carolina (267/2)
4. Cornell (244/1)
5. Maryland (232)
6. Duke (217)
6. Princeton (217)
8. Stony Brook (173)
9. Notre Dame (171)
10. Hofstra (153)
11. Johns Hopkins (134)
12. Army (130)
13. Denver (122)
14. Georgetown (83)
15. Loyola (79)
16. Villanova (69)
17. Brown (58)
18. Harvard (50)
19. Drexel (36)
20. UMass (32)

Other teams receiving votes: Delaware 25, Yale 24, Penn State 14, Fairfield 9, Navy 9, Albany 8, Bucknell 8, Towson 7, Bryant 5, Robert Morris 2

Let's start with my first obvious surprise and what made me most upset about this poll: Duke being tied for 6th with Princeton. Really? After the team has won a national championship? But after considering that their extremely top-heavy senior class was graduating (and essentially two senior classes were graduating because of the extra year of eligibility post the 2007 scandal), I realized that next year is probably going to be a rebuilding year for the Blue Devils.

Secondly, Notre Dame as 9th. They beat Princeton in the tournament, and I certainly believe they should be seated ahead of Stony Brook regardless of anything. But considering they are losing key players like Kelly McKenna and of course, MVP goalie Scott Rodgers, I'll settle for 9th.

As far as Syracuse being tied with UVA for first place (and getting 2 more first place votes than them), it annoys me but it's probably accurate. According to experts, this is going to be the strongest team Syracuse has seen in a decade (which is scary because they have won two of the last three national championships). Personally, I hope UVA bounces back from the tragedy that occurred earlier this spring and knocks Syracuse out. But that's just me.

As far as the rest of it goes, I was pleasantly surprised to see UNC so close to the top, but I suppose Billy Bitter will certainly help their cause for a run at the trophy. I'm glad to see Johns Hopkins out of the top 10, but I think Army's double overtime win over Syracuse certainly should put them ahead of the Blue Jays in preseason polls.

Below are some comments provided by InsideLacrosse.com about why some of the experts voted the way they did:

On Syracuse:
"Make no mistake: all pressure will be on arguably the best senior class the Orange has seen in a decade.  No Orange team in history has entered a season with first team All-Americans at midfield, defense and goalie.  And never before has a Syracuse team carried 10 All-Americans on a roster and failed to make it past the first round of the postseason.  “Redemption” will have to be colored Orange next season."

On Virginia:
"A Bratton, another Bratton, a Stanwick and a Bocklet…that's a pretty good offense."

On North Carolina:
"For the love of God rest of the country, stop taking runs at Billy Bitter.  And Billy…get out of the way!"

On Cornell:
"After losing all but three starters in 2010, the Big Red lose just two in 2011.  The “we-succumb-to-comeback” kids reached the Final Four with starting ten of six freshmen and sophomores.  They may not have the talent of the ACC, but Tambroni and co. will have a much easier time next season without recouping from so many losses."

On Maryland:
"Rest assured, Terrapin nation: whoever the team hires as its newest coach will likely be one of the best in the nation.  The Maryland job is easily one of the most prestigious jobs in the sport, so the athletic department can do little to mess this one up.  Teach the Terps to shoot with discipline, and the all-senior attack of Catalino, Reed and Young should be unstoppable.  Maryland needs poise and presence, not more talent.  The fact that the Terps haven’t seen Memorial Day Weekend in four years is unspeakable for this program."

On Duke:
"The party’s over for the Blue Devils, who lose a top-heavy senior class and the last round of the fifth-year seniors.  Zach Howell and Justin Turri will have to become the latest Blue Devil bromance on offense, following in the footsteps of Crotty/Quinzani and Danowski/Greer.  Still, too many questions at every starting position prevent Duke from cracking the top 3."

On Princeton:
"Same story as Cornell.  The Tigers lose next to nothing, which should set up yet another Ivy League showdown.  As a freshman, Mike Chanenchuk is already the best pure offensive midfielder in the Ivy League.  It’s about time the Tigers make a deep run in the postseason; Princeton hasn’t reached the Final Four since 2004."

On Stony Brook:
"Rick Sowell will stick around, and so will a whole bunch of goal scorers."

On Notre Dame:
"Alright John Kemp, you ready to step in where your brother and Scottie Rodgers left off?"

On Johns Hopkins:
"It's hard to believe the Blue Jays will have two losing seasons in a row, but they'd better show some improvement or their devoted fans will grow more discontented."

Keep your eye out for the real 2011 pre-season polls, and we'll see if the big dogs stay on top.

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