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Final thoughts on the season and more

5/28/2009

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: Well, it was an interesting weekend, Hughey, that's for sure. What'd you think about the national semifinals and Syracuse's win over Cornell in OT for back-to-back titles? What was the biggest surprise?

Brett Hughes: Harri, it was wild. The championship game reminded me of what your Johns Hopkins team did to my Virginia boys some years back. You could just see little things happening that were leading up to a Cornell collapse.

My biggest surprise of the weekend still had to be the UVa loss. When Cornell went up 4-1 in the first quarter, I started getting a little worried because I could see no real sense of urgency on the UVa bench.

Max Seibald and that Big Red team beating UVA was not the big surprise, as they were very good. The surprise was the way it happened -- Virginia coming out flat in the national semifinals. Just not sure how a senior-dominated team could allow that to happen.

KH: While most people would agree with you and pick the UVa loss as the shocker of the weekend, I'd have to go with the last 3½ minutes of the national championship game being the biggest shock of the weekend.

For such a disciplined team as Cornell to make major errors at such a critical point in the game was unbelievable! From the Matt Abbott strip that led to a Syracuse goal to the failed Cornell clear that led to the Orange's game-tying goal to Sid Smith's strip behind the goal that led to the game winner in OT for Cuse. Cornell had executed its plan perfectly all game long: taking the air out of the ball (taking a few minutes off the clock each possession) winning faceoffs and limiting Syracuse's transition opportunities.

Then, with 3½ minutes left in the game it's like all of that went out the window! Sloppy turnovers, failed clears and Cuse pushing transition.

I wanted nothing more than to see Cornell coach Jeff Tambroni and his squad run around that field with the national championship trophy. Max Seibald is the Tewaaraton Trophy winner in my book, and winning the championship would have been a great way to end his career.

BH: Yes, absolutely Seibald is my pick for the Tewaaraton, too. That kid simply brings it every second he is on the field.

So the NCAA season is done and done. The seniors have a chance to make it in Major League Lacrosse -- although it's a lot harder these days with only six teams in the league, as opposed to 10 the past three years, and every team is stacked with talent. But it's always fun to see a couple of rookies blow up. These kids have been practicing every day, so most of the time they come in to the MLL season (which just started two weekends ago) sharper than the veterans.

Obviously, Seibald and Virginia's Danny Glading are my top two picks because both are suited to play MLL's physical style and are just talented all around. But the player I see blowing up is Bryant's Zack Greer. Everyone likes a goal scorer, and there are so many talented players in the league that he will be able to do what he does best: score. And imagine if he gets drafted to the Long Island Lizards, where he'd reunite with Matt Danowski. They put up silly numbers last time they played together before Greer transferred from Duke.

KH: There are a handful of guys I see leaving the college game this year and instantly becoming impact players at the professional level. Both Glading and Seibald are safe choices for sure. Abbott is going to be a great pro as well because he can get up and down the field and make plays in between the lines -- which is what the pro game is all about.

Brian Christopher from Hopkins will also be a great MLL player because he runs full-speed all the time and can shoot the ball on the run with either hand. Chances are he'll be matched up with a shortstick, so he'll definitely be able to get a step and get his shot off. As you mentioned, Brett, it's a tough year to jump into MLL from college with the league shrinking to six teams. Should be interesting to see which rookies rise to the top.

I know it's a long time from now, but I'm already thinking about next year's player of the year possibilities. While a big part of me wants to go with Virginia's Shamel Bratton, I'm going with North Carolina's Billy Bitter. That cat can flat-out play! I feel like he could have easily been in the final five for the Tewaaraton Trophy as a sophomore this year -- maybe even in the top two.

BH: My POY is Duke's Ned Crotty because he has his entire team coming back and will be playing his fifth and final year. Billy Bitter will be the most fun to watch, but I thought Crotty was as good as anyone this year. Crotty is so consistent and has the skill set to go anywhere on the field and do anything his team needs him to do which comes from playing midfield and attack, I think he is the most complete player in the country.

So who is in the semifinals next year? (Just so we can have it documented to talk trash in 11 months.) I'm saying Duke, UVa, Princeton, Cuse.

KH: Not a bad choice with Crotty. I actually forgot he was coming back for his fifth year, so that should be interesting.

I'm thinking the semifinals next year will be Hopkins (yup, they're back), UVa, Duke and UNC (on Bitter's back).

BH: Well homey, this has been fun. Hopefully we will be back next season and our alma maters will be playing in the championship game. Either way, lacrosse is getting so much bigger every year, it's pretty amazing to watch it blow up while we are right in the middle of all of this. OK, time to rehab the ankle -- back to the Thera-Bands.

KH: I agree -- agree! -- this has been fun, and I look forward to getting after it again next season. Good luck with the Thera-Bands, I'm going to finish up my final set of 275 on the bench. (Right …)

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