1. What trick did Ryder Garnsey add to his bag this week?
Every damn week Ryder Garnsey (4G, 3A) adds a new trick to his bag. Sometimes it’s a pass – a shovel, a lever, or a behind-the-back. Sometimes it’s a new shot release point. It can be a new idea entirely, like throwing the ball to a defender as the shot clock expires in hopes of causing a turnover to earn a fresh 52-second clock. Most of these tricks aren’t new for Garnsey alone – they’re new for the entire sport of lacrosse.
I should have added this as a weekly staple to the 10-Man Ride weeks ago. It’s here now. This week: Garnsey posts up, draws the slide, and throws a one-handed, right-handed feed across the crease to Matt Kavanagh (4G, 1T). He zips this by Joel White’s ear with his weak hand. Reminder: Garnsey is a lefty.
2. Matt McMahon playing right-handed against Rambo
Speaking of lefties playing right-handed, Matt McMahon switched to his off-hand late in the game to deny Matt Rambo topside. Rambo went for two goals and two assists in the first half; in the second half, McMahon held him to one assist.
With his stick in his right hand, McMahon turned Rambo away from the middle of the field, daring him to score on question marks and inside rolls. Drew Adams stuffed Rambo on two inside rolls. McMahon caught a piece of Rambo’s stick on multiple shot attempts.
The Archers are the best defensive team in PLL, largely because they are the best second half defense in PLL. Defensive coordinator Tony Resch makes adjustments on the fly to deny opposing offenses’ favorite actions. Macro tweaks (like where to slide from against certain sets) and micro tweaks (like which hand to hold your stick in) will be crucial in the postseason when every point matters.
3. Ryan Brown’s release points
The concept of “changing planes” used to be two-dimensional. You could shoot low-to-high, low-to-low, high-to-low or high-to-high. Ryan Brown (3G) has revolutionized shooting, releasing right- and left-handed shots from every hour on the clock to every corner of the cage. Part of what determines Brown’s release angle is where his stick is when he catches a pass; he turned a low pass into a low release for a goal on Saturday night.
Another factor: Where he is standing on the field. On his wrong side, dropping his stick would decrease his angle. Bringing an overhand hammer from this side of the field allows his stick to see as much twine as possible. A two o’clock release point would decrease his shooting percentage from outside the hash marks here. Brown brings the heat from a midnight release, smoking this shot past Blaze Riorden (and that diving madman, Mark Glicini).
4. Archers’ east-to-west ball movement
When the ball is moving from the righty twin to the lefty twin and back, this Archers offense is beautiful. The ball is never in anyone’s stick for more than one cradle once the defense starts scrambling. Ryan Ambler draws a slide from his twin, Will Manny, then moves it to Tom Schreiber. Schreiber sends a touch pass to Manny, and the defense is forced to rotate upfield again. Manny creeps in as a shooting threat, then threads a behind-the-back dime to Christian Cuccinello. This time, there’s no defense rotation along the carousel, and Cuccinello finishes in front.
These shooters – especially Manny (3G, 1A) and Marcus Holman (2G) – have split-second pop times. The ball is often out of their stick before they’re on the TV screen. Defenses cannot flood the ball side and stay within closeout distance of these shooters. If they sink in too far, Schreiber (3G, 1T, 2A) will make them pay.
Schreiber is to passing angles as Brown is to shooting angles. He throws this 80-mph cross-field skip pass on pure wrist strength. By passing from his hip, his defender is unable to throw a “goodbye!” check and Manny’s defender is late on the closeout.
5. Trevor Baptiste: Emmy Award winner?
Trevor Baptiste (12-for-22, 54.5%) mic’d up is electric. He gave us the line of the year (“Step in, mother****er!”) in Denver. This week, he talked Ryan Boyle through his heavyweight matchup with Tommy Kelly (11-for-20, 55.0%) on his way out to the X.
“I gotta go,” Baptiste told Boyle. The mic stayed hot as Baptiste took the ensuing faceoff to the house, celebrated with his teammates, and explained to Boyle the difference between that faceoff win and the rest of the game.
“That’s speed, boy!”
Paul Rabil said it best: Give Baptiste and the league an Emmy now for innovating sports broadcasts.
6. Goalies stepping up with seasons on the line
First, Jack Concannon turned away 18 (!!!) shots on Saturday night to keep the Atlas’ postseason hopes alive. Then, Tim Troutner stopped 56.2%, won run-outs to the end line, and started fast breaks to push the tempo as the Redwoods clinched a spot.
And finally, Drew Adams made eight second half saves (88.8%) as the Archers secured the final postseason spot. Adams appears to make more saves as shooters move closer to the goal. It makes no sense. He isn’t a huge goalie who happens to get hit with the ball. The game slows down for Adams as he manages to get a foot or the butt end of his stick on the ball.
7. Dhane Smith and Miles Thompson two-man game
We’ll go more in-depth on this later in the week, but the Chaos’ 1-4-1 set presents a lot of matchup nightmares on the wings. Dhane Smith (1A) attacks the middle of the field relentlessly. This is a slick one-handed pass to a rolling Miles Thompson (2G), who snaps this shot past Concannon before Tucker Durkin can arrive on the two slide.
8. Whips experimenting with junk defenses
Jim Stagnitta does not shy away from bold defensive strategies. He has shut off Marcus Holman with a short-stick in the past – and he tried it again out of the gates on Sunday. Short-sticking Holman frees up a pole; the Whipsnakes defended Ben McIntosh with the extra pole. Since McIntosh typically pairs with Schreiber for two-man games, this means the Whipsnakes could switch pick-and-rolls while keeping a pole on Schreiber. This is the one (1) pro of short-sticking Holman.
Holman is enough of a dodge-to-shoot threat to run by most short-sticks. The Archers did a great job of allowing Holman to attack mismatches without losing their identity. They are still at their best when Holman is popping into passing lanes for stepdown shots. And if the Whips refuse to slide from Holman, then you see late rotations like in that Ambler-to-Schreiber-to-Manny-to-Cuccinello sequence.
9. Welcome back, Eddy Glazener
The Redwoods defense missed Eddy Glazener’s vocal presence last week. They were lost against off-ball exchanges. They had no two slides ready. It was ugly and uncharacteristic. With Glazener back, the Woods were once again dominant defensively.
Glazener, like Baptiste, is a must-mic. Hearing him bark out instructions elevates the broadcast to new heights. He talks his teammates through every step of this pick-and-roll – from the switch, to Epple trying to get back on his matchup, to telling Epple to look away. Then, he finishes the play with a nugget and a chirp.
“EPPLE YOU’RE IN BETWEEN! MY GO! I CAN GO! EPPLE YOU’RE OFF! GET OFF EPPLE! TURN HIM! TURN HIM! GIMME THAT!”
10. Crease Collapse of the Week
As Garrett Epple turns on the jets to fight through this razor pick, his momentum carries him too far upfield, giving Justin Guterding the inside roll. Glazener slides to the inside roll – so Guterding looks to feed where Glazener came from. But as Glazener steers Guterding outside the hash marks, Epple peels toward the paint and picks off this feed to a cutting Jordan Wolf. And just for good measure, Matt Landis is breathing down Wolf’s neck as well.