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10 Man Ride: Run outs & rookie scouts

By Joe Keegan

PLL Analyst

Aug 20, 2020

CLEAR! The ride is on. We’re covering Tucker Durkin’s pregame prep, Harbeson’s Harlem Lacrosse fundraiser, why Matt Rambo is still the best punter in lacrosse, and a new stat: run outs. Let’s go!

1. Tucker Durkin’s pregame prep

Emma Adams shared this story on the latest episode of The Inside Feed about Atlas LC teammates Tucker Durkin and Bryan Costabile:

During the morning walkthrough of their elimination game against the Archers, Durkin and Costabile were working one-on-one in the corner. Atlas LC defensive coordinator Ric Beardsley asked Emma if she knew what the two were doing. She was curious. Beardsley told her Costabile was helping Durkin scout Grant Ament, his assignment for the night.

Costabile’s Ament impression must be spot on. The Bulls captain held the Archers rookie attackman to one assist, 0-for-3 shooting, and three turnovers. Durkin was ready for the matchup – more specifically, Durkin was ready for Ament’s rollback.

Notice how Durkin looks to lock Ament into a V-hold whenever Ament drives to his right. That puts him in perfect position to throw this takeaway check as Ament plants, changes direction, and removes his right hand from his stick.

Watching this game in real time, I was surprised to see Durkin gamble like this. That’s a heavy check! Durkin puts everything into it. If he doesn’t connect, Ament is getting a quality shot. But it turns out, Durkin wasn’t gambling at all – the veteran knew exactly how to expose the rookie.

Listen to Lisa and Emma’s full behind-the-scenes podcast on Spotify.

2. Two Slide of the Week

Brodie Merrill has seen every offensive scheme under the sun. He’s the best read-and-react middle linebacker in the league. Nothing catches him by surprise. Two defenders away from the ball, he’s ready to rotate upfield to the pop – and he ties up the shooter’s hands. (Shoutout to BJ Grill moving on a string across the crease to Brodie’s man. This Waterdogs defense was more cohesive than anyone expected from an expansion club.)

3. Weekly Watch

The Weekly Watch – now hosted by Mikey Diggs a.k.a. Diggstape – is back. This week’s episode covers Diggs’ top goalies, favorite goals, and Zed Williams’ MVP performance.

Check out Diggstape’s Weekly Watch here.

4. Tyler Warner’s thoughts on BLM and the lacrosse community

Please read Tyler Warner’s letter to the lacrosse community on his open dialogue with teammates who chose not to wear the “Black Lives Matter” patch.

Tyler’s message was equal parts thoughtful and thought-provoking:

“I’m fearful some of my teammates have misinterpreted my respect for their right to make their own decision as an acceptance of their complacency. Do I believe my teammates are racist for making this decision? No. Do I believe that they’re actively anti-racist? Unfortunately, the answer to that is no, as well.”

This conversation must continue, both privately and publicly. It requires discussion, not debate. And it is time to be anti-racist – being “not racist” is not enough. As Tyler asks, “Allow yourself to be vulnerable, to be challenged, and ask questions because that is the only way forward.”

5. Harbeson raises $10,000 for Harlem Lacrosse

Shoutout to Redwoods LC SSDM Pat Harbeson who pledged to donate to Harlem Lacrosse for every groundball he picked up. Harbeson had a huge series, leading all short-sticks with 11CT and scooping 16GB. Perhaps most importantly, he was pivotal in the Redwoods’ pick-and-roll defense.

The Redwoods switch everything, often putting their short-sticks – Harbeson, Jack Near, Nick Ossello, and Brent Adams – on an island against elite attackmen. Switches stop the initial pick-and-roll threat; opponents shot 3-for-21 (14.3%) out of two-man games against the Redwoods (lowest in PLL, average = 26.1%).

Switches also allow the Redwoods to slide with five off-ball defenders rather than four. Sometimes they don’t even need to slide to Harbeson & co. Watch Harbeson cut the field in half, forcing Jordan Wolf to his left. Do you realize how difficult it is to force Jordan Wolf to his left?!

Here are two minutes and change of Harbeson switching, sliding, and stopping the league’s best dodgers on-ball. 

6. Stat of the Week: Run outs

Whipsnakes LC defenseman (and 2020 DPOY) Matt Dunn and Archers LC defenseman Matt McMahon tied for the league-lead in run outs (4 each).

McMahon deserves bonus points for this run out, which would have resulted in a shot clock reset for the Waterdogs. His hustle helped spark a second half comeback. The Archers feed off these plays – Marcus Holman’s assisted groundballs, Mark McNeill diving multiple times per faceoff to keep a scrum alive, and Adam Ghitelman’s blind dive outs to the endline. You can see McMahon’s teammates (and defensive coordinator Tony Resch) charging up their batteries for the fourth quarter as he wins this race.

7. PLL Island postmortem podcast

Paul Rabil joined Inside Lacrosse’s Terry Foy for an extensive recap of the Championship Series, covering everything from the on-field play to off-field preparation. Listen on Spotify and/or read Terry’s takeaways from their conversation.

8. Matt Rambo: The best punter in PLL

The Whipsnakes defend fast breaks (a.k.a. “first down”) better than any team, and it starts with their offense. When the clock dwindles, the Whips will substitute offensive midfielders off (a.k.a. “punt”).

Last year opponents shot 23.9% with 40 or more seconds remaining on the shot clock – well below the league average (31.6%). The Whips’ first down defense was even better (20.9%) in 2020 despite league average creeping up to 33.0%.

Rambo’s playmaking peaks with low time. He shot 2-for-4 and dished a league-high three assists with nine seconds or less on the clock. Instead of hitting singles, he can hunt for home runs. He’ll put his shoulder into his defender and take the extra step above GLE. Or he’ll throw a low-risk, high-reward skip pass. When it’s the game clock that’s expiring (rather than the shot clock), the Whips will leave their offensive personnel on, and Rambo will squeeze one more play into the quarter.

Leading up to the Championship Series, I wrote about the Whipsnakes' substitution patterns and how they attack four-on-six and five-on-six situations.

9. BOOM

Inside Lacrosse’s Chris Rosenthall dissected Method Man’s 16-bar track, ‘BOOM.’ After reading Rosie’s review, you’ll have an even greater appreciation for what many are calling the song of the summer.

10. #LaxTwitter 

Tari Kandemiri wrote about the virtual fan experience of #LaxTwitter. There are niches within the niche that is #LaxTwitter: lacrosse coach Twitter, recruiting Twitter, DII Twitter, DIII Twitter, boxla Twitter. At its worst, #LaxTwitter wastes Sunday nights in the spring by arguing arbitrary top 20 media ballots. At its best, this community comes together to organize gear drives for Team Golden Rocks in Uganda or collect over 52,000 signatures in support of the Iroquois Nationals.

The Outside the Box podcast crew (who recently had the voice of the PLL, Chuck Lott, on as a guest!) said it best during the Championship Series: #LaxTwitter evolved this summer.

Thanks for reading!

Spread the word, submit any questions you want to see answered in this space to me on Twitter (@joekeegs), and I’ll talk to you next week!

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