After the storm, Duke getting back to normal

The Baltimore Sun

There is peace on the Duke campus this season, as far as men's lacrosse is concerned.

Jesse Jackson hasn't been around, and neither has the NAACP. There are no local or national authorities snooping in dorms, and Fox News and CNN haven't had any correspondents hanging in bars and restaurants trying to find witnesses.

There isn't even any talk about the Blue Devils having a major advantage on the playing field.

For the first time in four years, Duke is playing unencumbered by controversy or criticism.

The 2006 season was canceled in the wake of rape allegations against three players (charges that were eventually dismissed), the 2007 season trudged under the shadow of that scandal and last year was burdened by the NCAA's controversial decision to grant a fifth year of eligibility to 13 seniors (only five accepted).

Now, it's just back to playing simple old lacrosse.

"We're trying to figure out how to make this as normal as possible," Blue Devils coach John Danowski said. "At the end of last year, it wasn't fun for everybody. The whole fifth-year thing became over the top. This year, it just seems more normal. We'll just let that ride for a little bit."

Motivation for Princeton

With a 7-6 record last season, Princeton failed to make the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2005. Lacrosse fans aren't rating this year's team highly in the preseason.

Some college coaches, however, think Princeton will field a pretty strong team. Princeton usually has one of the nation's top defenses, and the Tigers should be able to score with attackmen Tommy Davis and Jack McBride and midfielders Mark Kolvler and Josh Lesko.

The preseason disrespect might be used as motivation for Princeton coach Bill Tierney.

"I don't blame people for not thinking we're a great team. I wouldn't rank us very high either," Tierney said. "But there is a lot of pride here. ... We'll see what happens on the field. ... Look at what Syracuse did a year ago after their rough season [in 2007]. If [motivating the players with a reminder of the preseason disrespect] can help to get guys excited about the next game, it's worth a shot."

Tough road for Towson

Towson will play what generally is considered the fourth-toughest schedule in the country in 2009, one that includes Virginia, Maryland, Loyola, Drexel, UMBC, Johns Hopkins, Delaware, Hofstra and Sacred Heart.

Tigers coach Tony Seaman has a strong freshman class, but a couple of the additions, such as defenseman John Kenyon, midfielder Kevin Lalley and attackmen Sean McGuire (Calvert Hall) and Matt Lamon (St. Mary's), will probably have to play right away.

If Seaman's team stays above .500 and hangs around playoff contention, he'll have done a good job this season. If he gets to the playoffs, he should get a raise and a contract extension.

All over the field

Let's not put Maryland long-stick midfielder Brian Farrell on close defense yet.

Maryland coach Dave Cottle said the Terps have been doing a lot of experimenting in the preseason, including teaming Farrell with Max Schmidt on close defense. But the Terps might not want to give away the transition game that Farrell brings when he is at midfield.

"I think it's safe to assume he will play both positions," Cottle said.

One thing Cottle is sure of is that attackman Will Yeatman, the 6-foot-6, 260-pound transfer from Notre Dame, is the real deal.

"He is highly intelligent and tremendous with his teammates. When do you ever have the equipment guy come up and say he is the nicest guy he ever met?" Cottle said. "He runs a 4.7 40[-yard dash], and we've had to order him special gloves because he hands are so big. He can play."

Quick start for Stanwick

Was anyone really surprised that former Loyola High star attackman Steele Stanwick would start as a freshman at Virginia?

He's extremely talented and has all the tools. Plus, he is probably older than most of the sophomores on the Cavaliers' roster.

Baltimore Sun reporter Edward Lee contributed to this article.

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