Brennan O'Neill, Logan Wisnauskas

Film Study: How Outlaws can maximize Brennan O’Neill and Logan Wisnauskas

By Topher Adams | May 17, 2024

The Denver Outlaws drafted a big, left-handed Tewaaraton-winning attackman No. 1 in the 2021 PLL draft. Two years later, they did it again. Now, head coach and general manager Tim Soudan and his staff have to find a way to make Brennan O’Neill and Logan Wisnauskas thrive together.

Wisnauskas was the elephant in the room when Denver made the first pick in the 2024 draft. O’Neill nominally plays the same position on the lefty wing, and Connor Shellenberger seemed a more natural fit to get the best out of Wisnauskas.

But O’Neill’s rare blend of athleticism and skill was too good to pass up. This leaves two remaining questions: How does Denver maximize Wisnauskas and play him alongside O’Neill?

O’Neill and Wisnauskas both like to operate on the lefty wing, but they do it in different ways. O’Neill is one of the best dodgers in the world and attacks defenders with the ball in his stick. Wisnauskas is a true off-ball shooter, stretching defenses with his finishing ability. 

These contrasting play styles should make it easier for the two to coexist. While they’re both left-handed attackmen, they’re not redundant. 

One potential solution is to play O’Neill as a midfielder. We’ve already seen Wisnauskas play well with lefty midfield partners. At Maryland, Wisnauskas thrived with Anthony DeMaio on the left side.

Wisnauskas has found success with a lefty midfield partner with the Outlaws. Colin Heacock is a different type of player from DeMaio – more of a powerful, downhill dodger – but he complemented Wisnauskas well, especially in 2022. 

Heacock effectively used the pick game to free up Wisnauskas’s hands, especially as a feeder.

But Wisnauskas also pinched inside to free up dodging lanes for Heacock to get downhill. Heacock, a former attackman, was also opportunistic with off-ball finishing opportunities.

It’s not hard to imagine Denver running essentially this same offense, but upgrading from Heacock to O’Neill.

O’Neill and Heacock are similar players in terms of build (6-foot-2, 250 pounds and 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, respectively) and play style. The difference is O’Neill has the potential to be one of the very best offensive weapons in pro lacrosse.

Lefty pairs are a common building block for offenses across the PLL. The last three PLL champions had a pair of lefty attackmen thriving together. In 2021, the Carolina Chaos built a dynamic duo with Josh Byrne and Mac O’Keefe.

O’Keefe ran out of the box with the Chaos, which created big-little matchups to attack defenses.

If Wisnauskas assumed the O’Keefe role for Denver, he’d likely draw a short-stick matchup, creating an opportunity for these big-littles with O’Neill.

This approach, especially if Wisnauskas runs out of the box, may limit Wisnauskas’s production. O’Keefe was good for Carolina as a midfielder, but he exploded as an attackman with the Utah Archers. 

O’Keefe scored nine goals and two two-pointers in his best Chaos season; he doubled both of those with the Archers (22G, 4T).

A third option is to start both Wisnauskas and O’Neill on attack. While they both prefer to start on the lefty wing, pushing Wisnauskas inside like his early college career could be an option to get both players on the attack line.

O’Keefe’s transition with Utah is a potential example of how this could work at the professional level.

O’Keefe starts alongside Connor Fields on Utah’s attack line, but the two lefties rarely conflict with one another. They both proved to be dominant offensive forces, and both finished in the top five in goals scored last season.

With O’Keefe floating centrally and Fields attacking up the left, both players get opportunities to do what they do best. The left side rarely gets bogged down, creating lanes for Fields to attack his defender and create for himself.

But the Archers don’t forget about O’Keefe, finding ways to free his hands in dangerous shooting areas.

While both players are left-handed goal scorers, they play in such different ways that they don’t conflict with one another. This approach could fit the Outlaws perfectly.

O’Keefe might be the best shooter in the world, but Wisnauskas has a similarly dangerous shot. While Fields and O’Neill dodge in different ways, they’re both two of the best dodge-to-score players in the world.

Allowing Wisnauskas to roam the high crease like O’Keefe and giving O’Neill the lefty wing to himself is another possible key to unlocking the pair’s potential.

If this exploration tells us anything, it’s that two lefties isn’t an impossible problem to solve in the PLL. The Chaos, Archers and Philadelphia Waterdogs all won titles with lefty duos. There’s no reason to believe the Outlaws can’t do the same with O’Neill and Wisnauskas.

Throughout their careers, they’ve both shown the ability to play well with other lefties --- O’Neill played his entire college career alongside Utah draft pick Dyson Williams --- and both have skill sets that are proven to work together in the PLL. 

O’Neill might not be the natural quarterback to complement Wisnauskas, but Denver now has the pieces and framework to build one of the best left sides in lacrosse.