Film Study: Bubba Fairman the defensive straitjacket
Yesterday, Bubba Fairman was announced as a finalist for the 2023 George Boiardi SSDM of the Year award alongside fellow Cannons teammate Zach Goodrich. In his sophomore season, Fairman has caused the third most turnovers (13) of any player in the league while holding opponents to under 20 percent shooting.
Fairman’s success this season has overshadowed the fact that he’s still new to the position - he only started playing as a defensive midfielder last spring in his graduate season with the Terps. After dealing with some nagging injuries coming out of training camp, Fairman has gotten healthier throughout the summer and in turn seen his confidence and impact increase exponentially from week to week.
He plays an aggressive brand of lacrosse that makes him a nuisance for any offensive player he’s matched up against. His strength and physicality is what’s made him an elite disruptor this season. Last week against Atlas, Fairman’s full repertoire was on display.
Watch how well Fairman defends this two-man game between Jeff Teat and Xander Dickson. Early in the clip, you can hear Fairman communicating to Jack Kielty that a pick is coming and he should stay with his man. When Dickson catches the pass from Teat, Fairman stays balanced, gets his hips square and doesn’t allow Dickson to find a clean look.
Eventually, the ball ends up in Bryan Costabile’s stick, but not for long. Fairman switches on to him without hesitation, runs him off the 2-point line, and puts Costabile on his back and the ball on the ground. In one play, Fairman is able to lock down both wings and cause a turnover.
Even if Fairman loses a step on whoever he’s guarding, like he did early in the first quarter last week defending Teat, he’s so good with his hands and stick placement that he’s able to recover and not only prevent a shot, but force a turnover.
Fairman spent the first four seasons of his Maryland career on the first line midfield, so it should come as no surprise that he leads all short sticks in assists with five.
He’s assisted on both of Cade van Raaphorst’s 2-pointers in the last two weeks, and been a main catalyst in the Cannons transition offense, which has been the most efficient in the PLL. Fairman is a sure-handed and reliable outlet for Kirst.
Fairman has also committed only two penalties all season. If the PLL had a “most improved” player award, Fairman would have to be in the running. He caused one turnover all of last season. Now that the dust is starting to settle on the Cannons 2022 draft day trade that sent this year’s 2023 first overall pick (Gavin Adler) in exchange for Fairman and Colin Kirst, one thing’s for sure, the Boom Squad did not get short changed in the exchange.
Fairman will be playing in his home state of Utah when the Cannons close out the season this Saturday against the Whipsnakes. If he puts up a third consecutive week with at least a point and multiple caused turnovers, he has as good of an argument for the George Boiardi Award as anybody.