Brian Minicus Finds Success Off-ball in Victory Over Atlas
In Brian Minicus’s return to his home state of Connecticut, he had his best performance of the season. With an army of friends and former teammates from his time at Colgate rooting him on from the stands, Minicus left his mark on a familiar field.
He led the charge on the offensive end propelling Chaos to a 15-11 victory over Atlas, putting up a season-high 5 points (3 goals, 2 assists) and recording his first PLL hat-trick in the process.
“It's great, especially on this field I was fortunate enough to play a couple of high school games on that field so it's great to play on familiar turf,” said Minicus. “And to have those guys up there was an extra bonus. I knew a few of them were coming, but I didn't know the army was coming and yeah they seemed to enjoy themselves.”
With increased versatility to their offense and more threats to utilize, there’s a new sense of life in this Chaos unit. With all the talent throughout this offense, they’re knocking on the door of a 15-goal performance each game.
“We're just really lucky to have an offensive group that reflects the joy of being out there and being able to compete at the highest level in the game they love,” said Andy Towers in the post-game press conference.
It’s not the individual accolades that make Minicus special, but the new sense of versatility he’s brought to the offense has had a big impact.
Chaos' Indiana Set
The “Indiana” set, which they use as a framework when attacking from X, has become prominent since Minicus arrived.
The 1-1-4 set has led to X becoming Chaos’s most efficient area to dodge from.
Chaos has shot 17-for-55 (31%) when initiating from X, good for second in the PLL. They’ve created the most shots when dodging from behind and have their best shooting percentage compared to any other area they initiate from.
With Tye Kurtz given the opportunity to play his natural position of attack against Atlas on Saturday, Dhane Smith came out of the box. Matching up against a short stick on numerous occasions made it ideal for Dhane to be the invert initiator.
Mainly the primary initiator from X, Minicus had to find another way to impact the game. Against Atlas, Minicus added another layer to his already deep bag of tricks – off-ball finishing. He was able to capitalize by rolling off the crease and finishing backdoor passes.
On this goal, as Dhane carried the ball down the wing and Minicus in the slot, the rest of the Chaos offense set up outside the 2-point arc.
What this set does is put a ton of pressure on the interior defender that’s responsible for covering Minicus, as well as the backside defender.
Three things can happen; no slide from the interior and Dhane takes it to the rack; the interior defender slides and Minicus is open on the crease, which happens on this occasion; or the backside defender slides downfield to cover Minicus opening up the skip pass, which occurs later on.
Given Smith gets a step on his defender in a threatening area - above GLE - Atlas has to slide, leaving Minicus open. The backside defender has too much ground to cover and is unable to get his hands on Minicus before he finishes. Credit to Smith for the slick feed on his offside to get the ball to Minicus and draw the defender’s eyes to open up the backdoor cut.
His third goal of the game, which made it 10-8 Chaos, was nearly a carbon copy of the first.
Dhane worked his matchup toward his strong side and opened up the inside roll. His patient dodge led to some hesitancy on when to slide and the backside help was not able to get down in time to stop Mincus.
On the next possession, Dhane was able to find Kurtz open on the skip feed as a result of an early slide down the backside pipe, extending the Chaos lead to three.
There are so many layers to this offense, while also providing limited structure, allowing the players to express themselves freely.
Minicus has been the catalyst to inject more dodging from behind, but as we saw this week, there’s more to his game than what meets the eye.
“I don't know how many goals he had, but I know that he could have five in the first quarter off the dodge. And so, he's just scratching the surface of what he can be and he's grossly exceeded expectations as a player. But as good of a player as he is, he's as humble as they come, and he’s an unbelievable teammate and a great representative of the culture of our team,” said Towers.