10 Man Ride: Week 1

Welcome to the 10 Man Ride - a weekly Monday recap hitting on the 10 best stats, plays and moments of the PLL weekend.

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1. Matt McMahon and the Archers LC defense forcing Jordan Wolf to his weak hand

The Archers LC defense dominated six-on-six sets. It took the Chrome LC offense a quarter to settle down and adjust to the 52-second shot clock, then a couple more quarters to find out what they wanted to do in settled sets. They generated quality looks off pick-and-rolls at X with Justin Guterding and Jordan Wolf, but McMahon contained Wolf – the best one-on-one scorer in PLL – in isolation by forcing him left.

Wolf is not an ambiturner. He has shot 23.9% with his left hand as a pro – a steep dropoff from his right (39.1%). Wolf only attempted five shots all game. Three shots were off drives from X, and all three of those were left-handed. The Archers made it difficult for him to catch the ball in re-dodge scenarios; whenever he got the ball, McMahon was there waiting ushering him to his left.


2. Redwoods LC’s substitution patterns

With a shorter field and a shorter shot clock, offensive players will play more defense than ever this summer. No club capitalized on these mismatches more than the Redwoods, who used Jack Near, Pat Harbeson (2GB), Sergio Salcido (2G, 1A, 2GB) and Brent Adams (1G, 2GB, 1CT) to trap opponents on the field.

Offenses can get creative with the way they attack those mismatches. It doesn’t need to be Harbeson, Salcido or Adams who dodges the mismatch. They can flow into a pass down pick down (more on that later) or pull their opponent into the alley to play five-on-five. Other teams will improve here, but kudos to head coach Nat St. Laurent and staff for having this group ready to scheme some impromptu powerplays.

3. John Galloway mic’d up after threading an outlet pass to spark transition

The Chrome’s best offense was in transition. They were able to run early against an Archers’ lineup featuring six attackmen (although credit goes to the Archers for allowing only one fast break goal in the second half). Most of the Chrome’s transition looks began with saves and dimes from their keeper, who was mic’d up and able to give an instant reaction on the broadcast.

“My man [Ryan] Flanagan got up and out quick,” Galloway told the NBC broadcast crew following the pass. “That’s a tall target. I can look at him any day.”

4. “Giraffes”

Ryan Boyle referred to the referees as “giraffes.” This is perfect. I am now retiring the term “referee” from all future PLL content.

5. Tim Troutner Jr. talking trash

Speaking of goalies talking, I can’t wait for the first Redwoods LC game on NBC Sports Gold for unfiltered audio of Tim Troutner Jr. Multiple people mentioned that the rookie out of High Point was among the loudest players at camp – even chirping his own team at times – and he lived up to the hype.

Troutner (17 saves, 65.3 save percentage) tried to run out every wide shot, and lobbied with the giraffes when the call didn’t go his way. LaxAllStars’ Ryan Conwell noted that he exclaimed, “Ew! Ew! Ew!”after a missed shot by Kyle Hartzell. What sort of madman antagonizes a dude who catapults 111-miles-per-hour bombs from a six-foot pole?! If Hartzell shoots and misses, then you exhale; you don’t dare him to come back for more. Troutner isn’t backing down from anyone in this league.

6. Pass down pick downs in transition

There are longpoles who will feast from beyond the 15-yard 2-point arc. Scott Ratliff and Michael Ehrhardt have shot 22.4% and 20.4%, respectively, from 16-yards in their careers. An extra yard will make them even more dangerous – and will make decisions even more difficult for the point defender on fast breaks. For everyone else, I’m not convinced 2-pointers are the smart transition look.

Fast break shooting percentage hovers around 36.0%. Players would need to shoot 18.0% or higher from deep to make that shot worth it. My personal favorite option in transition: The pass down pick down.

When a long-stick, short-stick defender or faceoff athlete passes then picks for an attackman, matchups get messy in a hurry. Offensive midfielders hustling back to the hole are now defending the opponent’s top threat. If the pick doesn’t get you to the middle of the field immediately, then it usually creates a mismatch that you can exploit.

(Sidenote: Ratliff and Will Manny have amazing chemistry with these actions. They forced a switch that left an attackman on Manny early in the Archers-Chrome game, but Manny looked to feed Ratliff rather than dodge.)

One of the smoothest pass down pick down looks was generated by Chaos LC short-stick defender Mark Glicini and attackman Josh Byrne. It was a delayed pick – notice how deep Glicini gets so that Byrne can attack the heart of the defense. As good as the Whipsnakes LC two-way midfielders are, none of them want to switch onto Byrne.

7. New faceoff violation rule

I am adamantly pro-faceoff. They’re such a unique part of the game. Faceoff wins allow you to stack possessions and go on runs. Sometimes those runs go against your favorite team; that’s tough, but we’re not changing the rules to help your favorite team. Sometimes those runs lead to the best comebacks – and best games – of all-time. That said, I was open to the PLL’s rule changes, especially following violations.

Players who commit a pre-faceoff violation are disqualified from the following faceoff. That’s big. Some assumed that dressing two faceoff athletes is now a must. Chrome LC was the only team to dress two: Connor Farrell (11-for-17) and Drew Simoneau (7-for-11). The other teams asked poles or players with minimal faceoff experience to take draws; it nearly cost the Whipsnakes when Tommy Kelly scored off a win against midfielder Jake Bernhardt. Expect most teams to experiment with lineups this summer as they try to measure whether a second faceoff athlete is worth the roster spot.

8. Whipsnakes LC’s help defense

With a decade’s worth of Maryland Terrapins defenders comes hundreds of hours of experience playing together. Head coach Jim Stagnitta’s defense seems to share the same brain. They flew around the field, doubled post-ups, collapsed to the crease, and clogged skip lanes. This sequence by Bryce Young is jaw-dropping.

Young starts on-ball. He fights through a pick and gets physical at the island. Tim Muller slides, and Young peels off his original matchup looking for blood. He arrives to the crease on time, lays the hammer, and separates the would-be shooter from his stick.

 9. Atlas LC’s lack of ball movement

The Atlas offense was at its best when it moved the ball; unfortunately, it only moved the ball in unsettled situations. Attackman Eric Law emphasized the importance of ball movement during his in-game interview.

“Both teams are super excited to play. I think people are really trying to take that first look, especially us,” Law told Boyle and Brendan Burke. “We were coming down and shooting on the first dodge way too quick. Now we’re starting to get into that second and third dodge.”

Head coach John Paul reiterated that point during multiple fourth quarter timeouts. It may have been Week One jitters. Or it could be four attackmen trying to find a rhythm splitting minutes in a 48-minute game. Whatever it is, it needs to be solved. Even the best heroballers aren’t as efficient on their own as Ryan Brown and Eric Law are off the catch.

10. Joey Sankey returning from two knee surgeries and cancer treatment

Sunday was Sankey’s first pro lacrosse action since August 2017, and he looked like the same Sankey we remembered. He was part of what looks like the league’s most lethal ride. Sankey (1G, 1A, 2GB), Matt Kavanagh (2G, 1A, 5GB, 2CT) and Clarke Petterson (2G, 1A, 2GB) all picked up multiple groundballs and rode back some key possessions late in the game. All attackmen will want to ride hard against the Atlas – those defenders slashed wrists, arms and backs until the clock struck 0:00 – but this won’t be a one-game fluke from the Redwoods. Bet on those three to ride hard all summer long. The ride’s impact won’t be whopping in the box score, but wearing down a defense with the ride can have residual benefits.

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