Commentary

Tewaaraton, tourney and a king

Updated: May 6, 2009, 12:52 PM ET
By Kyle Harrison and Brett Hughes | Special to ESPN.com

Editor's note: Each week, 2005 Tewaaraton winner and four-time Major League Lacrosse all-star Kyle Harrison and former Virginia Cavaliers All-American and MLL all-star Brett Hughes will use this space to debate their thoughts on the sport. And these Southern California roommates have a lot on their minds.

Kyle Harrison: All right Hughey, I know you saw the announcement of the Tewaaraton finalists. Cornell's Max Seibald, Duke's Ned Crotty, Syracuse's Matt Abbot, Virginia's Danny Glading and Bryant's Zack Greer are talented players, and an argument can be made for each of them. I want to say congrats to all of them, as it's an honor to be picked in the final five for the most prestigious individual award in our sport. You should all be extremely proud of what you've been able to accomplish in your career.

[+] EnlargeNed Crotty
Courtesy Duke PhotographyDuke's Ned Crotty has put up numbers this year that are impossible to overlook.
After thinking about it for a little while this afternoon, I've got to go with Crotty as the winner. The kid has been putting up ridiculous numbers all year, and everything Duke does runs through him. He's able to play up top and behind, and even though teams are designed to shut him down every time he steps on the field, the kid continues to put his team in a position to win ballgames.

If Duke goes all the way to the title game, Crotty will have to carry them there, and he's been doing it all year long. Oh yeah, and a shout-out to Billy Bitters from UNC! You'd be in my top five, homey.

Brett Hughes: Weapon H (thought I'd call you that 'cause I know you just saw the new X-Men movie), I love watching your boy Crotty play, but I am going with Seibald. He is everything to that Cornell team. They do have his counterpart, John Glynn, but make no mistake, Cornell goes as Seibald goes.

Duke on the other hand has a really, really strong defense, and not to mention Max Quinzani is as big a threat as just about anyone. But Seibald is the guy you have to stop to beat Cornell, and people just don't do it. I also think the award should be geared toward midfielders -- they have to do it all (if they want to be elite, that is).

Congrats to all these young men for getting nominated. And I'd like to throw a shout-out to Brandon Corp. This kid was putting up numbers all year for Colgate no matter who the Red Raiders played. I think we give Greer a nod because he put crazy numbers up last year at a Division I powerhouse, and I think he deserves to be right up there again, but Corp was also the heart and soul of his team and had to control the ball most of the game for Colgate.

Well, it's time. Now that we've seen the bracket, I have to go with Virginia, Cornell, Syracuse and UNC as my Final Four.

And I have to say, I think Duke got the toughest draw. The Blue Devils have to get through a Navy team that always plays hard, then UNC and then the winner of Cuse versus Maryland or Notre Dame. Sorry about your luck, Duke. That is a crazy talented team, so they could do it, but that's a tough road.

KH: Not bad, not bad. But I'm going to have to go with Johns Hopkins, Hofstra, Cuse and Duke.

I know, I know -- Hop has a tough road. But we all know how hard it is to beat a team twice in one season, especially an out-of-conference team, and Hopkins lost to Virginia by one goal in March.

The Hofstra-Cornell matchup is an interesting one to me for a number of reasons. I know Cornell has got a lot of talent (and arguably the best player in the country in Seibald), but I feel that Hofstra is going to come out flying and put it together. The Pride were my Cinderella team earlier this year, and this is when earning that title starts!

You have an interesting pick with UNC sneaking in there, Brett, but I just don't see the Tar Heels beating Duke. I got back from running today and was channel surfing and stumbled across the Duke-UNC ACC championship. I honestly believe Duke is the better team, and when they meet in the quarterfinals, I see Duke moving on.

I guess the only team we agree on is Cuse. I'm definitely digging their road to the Final Four more so than any other team.

So all that said, what's the single most important thing to have on a championship run?

I think, without a doubt, a hot goalie. I remember what Tillman Johnson did to me and my Hopkins boys my sophomore year when we played your Virginia team in the national championship game. The guy literally saved everything we shot at him. Not only was it frustrating for us as shooters, but every save he made, you could feel the momentum swinging more and more in UVa's direction -- the entire team was becoming more and more confident.

If I had to pick one thing to have on my squad come playoff time, it would be a goalie that's seeing that thing like a beach ball.

BH: First off, I am looking at your Final Four and I have to ask: Are you taking any of my medicine from the surgery I just had?

[+] EnlargeMax Seibald
Peyton Williams/Icon SMICornell's tourney fortunes will rest in large part on the play of Tewaaraton-finalist Max Siebald.
Hop and Hofstra? I mean, I love Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala, and the Jays' tournament record is always good, but if Jordan Burke gets hot for Brown, Hopkins will have a tough time with that one. Let alone UVa.

And Hofstra taking down Cornell and Princeton -- ain't happening. I know Seth Tierney is an amazing coach, but so is the guy he is going against.

The most important thing for a team to make a run is leadership, preferably senior leadership. A hot goalie is great -- and believe me, Johnson going off in the Final Four was something our entire team got behind -- but that team and those seniors just knew they were not losing either way.

When seniors get together and they have the respect of the team, everyone just saddles up and rolls with the seniors come playoff time.

A hot goalie is always great, but if we weren't scoring, Johnson's effort would maybe not have been enough. Leaning on just a class of seniors who know their roles and everyone sells out and does exactly what they need to do in May seems to be the perfect recipe for success.

Oh, and NBA MVP LeBron James -- if he were in the NCAA bracket, he would be in my Final Four, just playing alone with a wooden stick and no pads. Except his mouth guard that says "KING."

Brett Hughes is the lacrosse editor of ESPNRISE.com, ESPN's high school sports site. Check out his blog.