Atlas Roster Recap
By Joe Keegan | Jun 7, 2020
The United States of Atlas have plenty of experience in a two-week, tournament format. Here’s what their roster looks like after adding the offseason’s most hyped free agent, Rob Pannell.
Rob Pannell (entry draft), Bryan Costabile (NCAA draft), Craig Chick (entry draft), Aidan Hynes (NCAA draft), Romar Dennis (trade)
Kieran McArdle (expansion draft), Noah Richard (expansion draft), Steven DeNapoli (expansion draft), Ryan Conrad (expansion draft)
Three rights make a left, right?
The Atlas attack will feature three righties: Rob Pannell, Eric Law, and Ryan Brown. The talent is top-notch; the spacing is a question mark.
Brown played left-handed on the powerplay for a Team USA squad deprived of natural lefties. That’s a different game. International teams are looking to extend offensive possessions; pro teams need to be as efficient as possible in a 52-second window.
Chris Cloutier should see time on attack as a lefty. Who runs out of the box when he plays? Finding your flow in a 48-minute game can be difficult; alternating quarters makes it even tougher.
Shortage of short-sticks
One of the league’s strongest short-stick units took a huge hit when the Waterdogs drafted Steven DeNapoli. Kevin Unterstein and Jacob Richard return. Andrew Hodgson – a favorite among teammates – will see an increased role (3 games in 2019).
Can those three take every short-stick run for two weeks? Most teams dressed three short-sticks last summer when playing one game per week. It’s an exhausting position for a tournament style. Kyle Hartzell took short-stick shifts for Team USA in 2018; he could be an option.
For the Atlas to compete for the championship, one (or more) of these offensive midfielders will probably need to emerge as a two-way option. Joel Tinney played from endline to endline for his entire college career. Bryan Costabile earned playing time at Notre Dame as a defensive midfielder before he had an offensive role. John Crawley is a dark horse candidate; he has the athleticism and IQ to play anywhere on the field.
Does the defense want to be coaches or to be coached?
First-year defensive coordinator Ric Beardsley will be coaching a lot of coaches. Jacob Richard (Marquette defensive coordinator), Tucker Durkin (Drexel), and Kevin Unterstein (UNC) each run defenses at the NCAA level. That can be a huge plus when gameplanning – but it can also divide a unit.
The best defenses in this league are the defenses that are on the same page. The Whipsnakes wanted to be coached; they executed defensive coordinator Mike Murphy’s gameplans weekly. Ditto for the Archers, who had faith in their short-sticks and listened to Tony Resch, one of the all-time great in-game adjustment makers. That cohesiveness didn’t happen instantly or easily for everyone; the Redwoods players were a perfect fit for head coach Nat St. Laurent’s slide-and-recover defense, but they weren’t originally thrilled about switching picks.
Last year, the Atlas defense debated their pick-and-roll rules throughout the year. They will need to agree on a philosophy for defending picks – and wing dodges, fast breaks, and more – prior to the Championship Series.