Preston: Marr vs. Marr in the NCAA men's lacrosse championship game? Don't count it out

Some friends and relatives of Scott and Kyle Marr would not like to see them compete against each other in the NCAA men’s lacrosse national championship game, but they wouldn’t want it any other way.

Kyle Marr is the starting attackman for No. 5 seed Johns Hopkins, which plays No. 4 Duke in the NCAA Division I quarterfinals in Annapolis on Sunday. Scott Marr is the coach of No. 2 Albany which plays unseeded Denver on Saturday in Hempstead, N.Y., in another quarterfinal game.

Neither one of them wants to get ahead of himself, but it would be an honor for both.

“I am thinking about Duke right now, not that it isn’t in the back of my mind,” Kyle Marr said. “My friends and family talk about it and I’ll deal with it if it comes up. But if we play each other, at least somebody in the family wins it.”

Scott Marr puts in it better perspective.

“My daughter [Keeley] says it would not be fair for me to beat Kyle and crush his dreams,” said Scott Marr laughing.

“It would be a tough spot to be in, but I would love for it to happen,” said the father, in his 18th season as Albany’s coach. “The percentages of that happening are small, but I’ve been in five of them and it’s great to be playing on the last day of the season. Someone has to win and someone has to lose — that’s the nature of the championship game. But it is gratifying to set a goal on the first day and to be there at the end regardless of winning or losing.”

Most of the attention on the Marr family seems to be focused on Kyle Marr because he leads the Blue Jays in goals with 39, including five he scored in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 10-9 overtime win against Georgetown. But the Marr connection to Blue Jays lacrosse is much deeper than a few goals.

Dave Marr, Kyle’s uncle, played at Hopkins and is the Blue Jays’ all-time assist leader. Scott Marr was an attackman at Hopkins in the mid-to-late 1980s who played with current Blue Jays coach Dave Pietramala. Both were members of the 1987 Johns Hopkins national championship team.

On Saturday after his game, Scott Marr will travel back home with his team and then fly to Baltimore on Sunday morning. His wife, Traci, will pick him up at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport and then drive over to the Naval Academy to watch Kyle play.

In the younger Marr’s first two seasons his dad got to watch only five games in person. Because of conflicting schedules and available fights he will get to see at least seven this season.

Of course, there could be more championship weekend.

But the two would handle it well. They communicate regularly after every game.

“He watches all my games. I watch his,” Kyle Marr said. “We talk about the good and the bad and about going forward. He is an outside source for me; maybe he sees something I didn’t notice. If we play a similar teams, we exchange information.”

But they don’t talk a lot about X’s and O’s. There is a fine line between giving advice and overstepping another coach, especially when Pietramala and Blue Jays defensive coordinator Bill Dwan are two of Scott Marr’s best friends. Pietramala and Marr are former roommates.

“I might offer him some suggestions on how he can work with Shack [Stanwick, senior attackman] or something he might want to improve on, but nothing where I tell him they need to do this or that, or something he needs to tell Bobby. I won’t undermine a coach that way, and I didn’t do that when he was in high school,” Scott Marr said. “He is his own man. If he wants to make changes, let him go talk to the coaches. I know those guys very well.”

That’s part of the reason Kyle Marr went to Hopkins. Other schools such as Penn and Michigan recruited him, and his father wanted him at Albany. He had grown up with the Great Danes program standing on the sidelines, hanging out in the locker rooms and riding on the team bus.

But when it came time to make the decision three years ago, Kyle Marr wanted to wear the same Hopkins blue as his dad despite his father having coached at Albany for 15 years and turning the program into a national power.

“I’ve seen enough of Coach Petro’s style on the sideline, but I know the other side that people don’t see,” Kyle Marr said. “He is a very caring person and will go to bat for his players. He believes in the guys he has brought to this program.”

“My dad didn’t pressure me one way or another, just let me make my own decision,” Kyle Marr said. “I wanted to try something new, and they knew I would be in good hands here. I am sure he wanted me to play for him, but playing at Hopkins has made this enjoyable for the both of us and our entire family.”

Blue Jays offensive coordinator Bobby Benson is happy, too. Marr is the perfect complement to Stanwick (Boys’ Latin) and Cole Williams (Loyola Blakefield), the Blue Jays’ other starting attackman. At 6 feet 5 and 210 pounds, Williams can take over a game with a sheer physical presence. Stanwick is the quarterback of the offense who can make the great passes.

“He has the calming presence about him,” Kyle Marr said of Stanwick. “He allows everyone to take a step back and get a deep breath.”

And what about Kyle Marr?

“He is a talented shooter and done a good job of moving without the ball, finding the gray area which allows him more scoring opportunities,” Benson said. “It’s not always easy to play without the ball. Most of these guys in high school always had the ball in their sticks. Kyle is very coachable and understands what we’re trying to accomplish.”

He is a coach’s son. He doesn’t have the physical talent of Williams or the athleticism of Stanwick, but he survives on knowledge of the game and being able to finish. He came up in Clifton Park, N.Y., watching and playing a lot of Canadian-style lacrosse.

But like the rest of the Hopkins offense, Marr is a work in progress. The Blue Jays lack consistency and have had to rely on several fourth-quarter comebacks. In some ways that shows resilience, but those attempts have created some nervous moments on the Hopkins campus.

“We’ve had character wins where we proved we were legitimate, that we weren’t going to have up-and-down seasons like in the past,” Kyle Marr said. “We have made a statement and proved we are here to stay. But we definitely don’t need those comebacks on a weekly basis.

“Because at some point that comeback may not come and the fourth-quarter goals won’t fall. We can’t have any more periods where we got 35 minutes without a goal.”

Because if they do, Hopkins won’t achieve their goal. And if that happens there certainly won’t be Marr vs. Marr in the championship game.

mike.preston@baltsun.com

twitter.com/MikePrestonSun

 

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