During ESPNU's broadcast of No. 3 Maryland's 11-8 victory over No. 9 Johns Hopkins on Saturday, color analyst and former Blue Jays midfielder Mark Dixon said the Terps' Isaiah Davis-Allen is arguably one of the top short-stick defensive midfielders in the country.
It sounds like heady stuff, but the junior is taking the praise in stride.
"That's always flattering to hear that, but I don't focus on that," Davis-Allen said Tuesday. "I focus on doing anything I can to help the Terps win. I'm happy to play a large role or a small role. Obviously, this season, it's been a large role. So I would say yes, it feels good, but I would say that for me, it feels better to win and to see my teammates happy."
Davis-Allen ranks third on Maryland (12-2 overall and 5-0 in the Big Ten) in caused turnovers with 10 and fourth in ground balls with 30. He has already smashed his previous career high of four caused turnovers and is just three ground balls shy of his career best of 33. And he was the only short-stick defensive midfielder to be selected to the Big Ten first team announced Tuesday afternoon.
Asked to assess Davis-Allen's value, coach John Tillman admitted that he "could go on and on."
"Isaiah means so much to us just in so many different ways," he said Tuesday. "His impact on our team is felt on so many different levels. Ground balls on the wing, transition, he's a guy that every time he's got the ball, he's got the green light [to shoot]. He obviously helps us in the clearing game, he helps us on defense. He's also a very vocal leader. … I don't know where we would be without him just in so many different ways."
Davis-Allen has notched three goals and one assist this spring, matching his career highs in both categories from last season. He conceded that he is still getting comfortable playing offense.
"I don't spend too much time down at that end," he said. "So when I do take shots, I try to can them. But as far as where I get the most beat up and get the most wear and tear, that would be off the ground. Each team's wing guys and poles and faceoff guys are super tough, and those guys are fighting every day to pick up ground balls."
As encouraging as his numbers this year are, Davis-Allen said his biggest gratification is the Terps' success, which currently includes an 11-game winning streak and the top seed in the Big Ten tournament.