As Maryland lacrosse coach Dave Cottle rattled off injury after injury the Terrapins dealt with last fall, it was clear he wasn’t thrilled with how the pre-preseason worked out.
“I think our fall wasn’t as productive as it needed to be,” he said. “It was the least productive in the last eight years. We’re changing what we’re going to work on. We’re going to work on ourselves.”
Translation: Kiss any fall scrimmages goodbye, with the possible exception of a JV scrimmage.
This has a few benefits. One, you can pocket a play date for the regular season (more on that later). Two, there’s the opportunity to just try to improve individual skills rather than build up to a scrimmage date in early October.
Last year brought a confluence of issues. The injuries didn’t help, and assistant Andrew Copelan’s jump to the top job at Fairfield meant a search for a new assistant – and Ryan Moran didn’t arrive until well into fallball.
“We’re going to do three weeks of individual work,” Cottle said. “You only practice 12 days, so you have to try to get ready. We’re going to get our team ready.”
Adding an extra game in the regular season doesn’t seem like a bad idea, but there are things to be wary of in the form of scheduling. Cottle spent the last three years on the NCAA selection committee and found out first-hand how dangerous it was to place poor teams on the schedule.
For example, if you play Nos. 1 and 51, that average comes out to 25. If it’s Nos. 1 and 31, that’s a more respectable average of 15. Obviously, that’s a simplified version of things, but there’s no question some opponents can serve as an anchor to a team’s RPI, especially with a smaller sample size than basketball.
“You can’t play 40 through 56 in the RPI or it kills your RPI,” Cottle said. “You want to play some teams in the top 25 or top 30.”
So who could Maryland play? There’s certainly some interesting names floating around.
A game with Cornell – the Big Red have played everyone else in the ACC the last two years – would be fascinating. Notre Dame’s schedule is in a bit of flux since it joined the Big East. Even a team like Bucknell, which Maryland played in a midweek March game from 2000 to 2006, would be a quality addition.
There’s an obvious hole in the next-to-last week of the season with the ACC tournament moving back. But the final spot on the schedule is secure.
Cottle said the Terps will finish up with Copelan’s Fairfield bunch next season – a game that takes the place of the Yale series that wrapped up this season because the Ivy League is beginning a tournament in 2010.