California Redwoods defenseman Arden Cohen

Who replaces Eddy Glazener as voice of Redwoods defense?

By Jerome Taylor | May 25, 2024

The California Redwoods' defense will look very different this season, and one of the biggest reasons is that Eddy Glazener retired. 

Glazener’s departure leaves a vocal void that the Redwoods must fill throughout the season. If luck is on their side, some options for replacing Glazener’s presence might emerge in training camp.  

But who? Or maybe the better question is: How will the team overcome his absence? 

“No one will ever step in and be the same Eddy Glazener type of player,” Redwoods assistant coach Chris Collins admitted. 

The plan, then, is to take a “Moneyball” approach, where multiple players will have to replicate the efforts of one. 

With Glazener, John Sexton (retirement) and Garrett Epple (signed with the Boston Cannons) all departing this offseason, the Redwoods will use that approach for several players. 

Banking on Past Experiences and Veteran Leaders

The “Moneyball” strategy will have some roadblocks, considering this crop of poles will be much younger than what the Woods are accustomed to bringing into camp. But Collins believes some of the newness this squad will face is not unique to California’s defensive unit because of the nature of the PLL. 

“The inexperience, the ups and downs happens year to year, whether you have a vet group or not because each year is so different, and because your opponents are always so different too,” Collins said.

The Woods' relative youth brings several positives. The team is taking a “faster, bigger, stronger” mantra into training camp, but the players heading into camp also have a tremendous pedigree. 

Jared Conners won the 2023 Cash App Championship with the Utah Archers, Chris Fake won national championships at Yale and Notre Dame, and Chris Conlin won a national title with Notre Dame and will join the team at training camp after competing in another Final Four weekend. 

Those championship experiences are partly why Collins sees the “Moneyball” route as an attractive path to recreating the synergy on his defense.

“We’re going to have so many different levels of leadership,” Collins said.  “Not only will you have your captains on paper, but I think the most interesting part about this group is that you've got former captains, former national champions and former PLL champions on your roster right now. So you're going to have to rely on their experiences.”

Collins did acknowledge, however, that he still expects his veteran leaders to be vocal members of the locker room. Guys like Jack Kelly and Isaiah Davis-Allen, whom he credits with cultivating the current Redwoods culture, will still be expected to instill accountability and lead by example in Albany and throughout the season.

Will Arden Cohen Emerge As A Vocal Leader?

Outside of the team approach to replace Glazener’s voice, one obvious candidate for the newly vacant “command center” position is Arden Cohen

“l say Arden exceeded expectations in Year 2,” Collins said. “In Year 1, I probably put too much pressure on Arden. ... I think we forced limits on Arden in Year 1. But in Year 2, there were a couple of matchups throughout the year that he owned. … We kind of saw Arden kind of really come into his own in Year 2.”

Cohen’s growth can be seen in his counting stats, where he doubled his caused turnovers year-over-year (from three in 2022 to six in 2023). Some of his growth passed the eye test, like how he introduced himself to the 2023 Cash App Playoffs, during which he had three additional caused turnovers.

But in Year 3, he’ll effectively be the defense's veteran, and Collins expects him to develop even more in his new role as an elder statesman – specifically as a communicator. 

“Sometimes when you're part of a team where you have guys who have been in the league for X amount of years, you probably don't have to say anything because it's already being said,” Collins said. “He has always been vocal. So for him now, instead of having three or four vets in the room, it's Arden.”

Cohen and Collins have already discussed how they expect him to develop as a communicator, but Collins can also see him leading with his play.

“Having him be one of the alphas down low is super important for us, but super important for him because that's what he wants to do,” Collins said. There's a reason why Arden's going to be one of our leaders down low because he's an animal. …

"Sure, there are growing pains, but those guys who become the guys on your team take leaps and bounds from year one to year two, and now we’re looking at Year 3 Arden Cohen.”

As the Redwoods head into training camp, the collective, established and emerging leadership styles will have to come together in Albany so that they’re ready to navigate their first season without their longtime “command center.”