Lacrosse fans lucky enough to receive the inaugural offerings on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network have been blessed so far with the insight of the game's newest analyst; former Army head coach Jack Emmer. Emmer and Leif Elsmo combined to deliver a crisp call of the 12th ranked Syracuse vs. # 2 Georgetown game, won by the Orange 14-9 at Georgetown.
Emmer proved throughout the game why he earned induction into the National Hall of Fame. He showed an uncanny ability to explain the X's and O's from the action, boiling his comments down into understandable language that was not overblown with lacrosse lingo and cliché. Emmer was able to not only explain how plays developed during the contest, but also was able to outline why things developed as they did. Emmer was also excellent in putting into perspective the early successes of Georgetown and the trouble Syracuse had experienced up to this point in the season- showing he was not only in the moment, but had taken the time to do his homework before he donned the headset. During his coaching career, Emmer was certainly no fan of the guys who wear the stripes. To say he and the officials enjoyed an adversarial existence is understating the case. However, in his new role as analyst, Emmer was deft in explaining some of the calls the officials made and the lacrosse rules that created the calls. For example, in the second quarter, Emmer alertly picked up the officials signal that warned Syracuse to keep the ball in the box and concisely explained how that rule worked.
Probably the best contribution Emmer made to the broadcast came with about 10 minutes remaining when Georgetown scored and closed the deficit to 12-8. Syracuse called time out and Elsmo pointed out that the Orangemen had seen their leads collapse in the late stages. In fact, the orange squandered leads to Army and Virginia, leading to their two losses this season. Elsmo asked Emmer if Syracuse head coach John Desko was reminding his players of this fact during the time out. Emmer, calling upon his many years on the sidelines pointed out how wrong it would be for Desko to plant negative thoughts into the heads of his players at that stage of the game, adding that bringing up negatives in that situation could plant the seed in the Orangemen that it could happen to them again. Better to emphasize the positive that got Syracuse to a 4 goal lead during this time out and point his team forward, rather than look backward on a bad experience from earlier in the season, said Emmer.
That's the kind of insight you do not often get in lacrosse television. Congrats to MASN for bringing Emmer to the microphone and I hope he receives a wider audience for his insight.
Sports history is littered with the stories that tell of the guy who replaces the legend and has a nearly impossible time living up to his predecessor. Therefore, an intriguing subplot to the Hofstra-Hopkins game was the return of former Hopkins assistant coach Seth Tierney to Homewood as the new coach of the pride. Of course, the man Tierney replaced was none other than John Danowski, who left to take the Duke job after leading the Pride to the CAA Title and the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament where they lost in overtime to Massachusetts. Talk about big shoes to fill. But Tierney has held up his end the bargain quite well so far. Hofstra avenged that loss to the Minutemen by defeating UMass 8-6 in the opener, and then dropped a one goal decision to Brown before heading to Baltimore to face the Blue Jays. After falling behind 4-1 at the half, Hofstra came storming back to close within one goal with 3 ½ minutes to go. Alas, the upset was not to be as the Blue Jays were able to hold on to win it 9-8, their second straight one goal victory. What lacrosse fans saw this day was a contest featuring identical offenses- not a surprise since Tierney was the offensive coordinator at his alma mater before heading to Long island to take over the Pride.
It appeared that both Hopkins and Hofstra featured offensive schemes that relied heavily on one-on-one dodges and set plays, trying to exploit defensive breakdowns caused by late slides to the shooter. What this creates is a slow-paced game where the ball rarely goes out of bounds, is not shot very often and the clock runs and runs and runs. What we saw Saturday was nearly a repeat of the first game at M& T Bank Stadium a week ago when Hopkins and Princeton slowed things down to a crawl. But why should that be a surprise. Princeton's coach, that other Tierney guy was once an assistant at Hopkins. So in back to back weeks, a pair of Tierneys, both disciples of "The Hopkins Way", have lost one goal decisions to Dave Pietramala, using the same offensive scheme that he of course uses at the Hop. Both could face Hopkins again in post season play and don't expect a change in strategy or perhaps the outcome.
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