Evan Washburn, the former Delaware defenseman and current CBS Sports Network men's lacrosse analyst, shared his thoughts on several storylines from this past weekend's Division I action making waves nationally. Here, Washburn, who can be followed on Twitter via @EvanWashburn, offered his opinions on what he has seen from area programs.
How significant is No. 6 Loyola Maryland's 9-8 win against No. 8 Johns Hopkins?
I think it's really significant. I think Loyola has put themselves in a position where if they don't win the Patriot League tournament, they've got two big wins on their resume. Now, who knows how Virginia and Hopkins will continue to run through the season, but I have to imagine those are going to be Top-15 wins come [NCAA] tournament time. The Patriot League is shaping up to be deeper than it has been in years past with [No. 16] Navy looking good and [No. 20] Bucknell doing pretty well. But I think Loyola is putting themselves in a position where if they didn't win out and didn't win the automatic qualifier from winning the Patriot League, they've got two great wins for their at-large resume, and from what little I've seen from Loyola, they seem to have that edge back that you saw a few years ago. It's not necessarily that they're the team that won the national championship [in 2012]. But they seem to have that edge and intensity that is common under Charley Toomey. They've found a variety of ways to win some ball games with a decent number of goals against UVA and a slugfest against Hopkins.
If you are Johns Hopkins, what are you worried about?
Offensive team speed and athleticism. That's my biggest concern. And that's been part of Hopkins' recent M.O. They have some good athletes, but they're not guys that are going to blow by you. They had trouble beating one-on-one matchups against Loyola, which is a good defensive team. That would be my biggest concern because that puts more pressure on your offense to generate slides if you're not beating your man. And as we know with them every year, their schedule is going to present more and more athletic offensive players and more and more athletic defensive players, and it starts with [No. 11] UNC on Sunday.
How surprised were you to see High Point with a 6-4 halftime lead at No. 4 Maryland?
I'll put High Point on my list of teams that I just have to understand better. I know they've been around, and they've been improving. I had a good friend that was on the coaching staff when they first became a Division I team, and he told me this was in the making. But from my perspective, it seems to have happened quicker than I imagined. I think Maryland suffered from this just being their first game. It happens. You don't shoot the ball well, and in that first game, there's jitters and rust and all of those things. They've been waiting around to play this thing for a while. So I think it speaks highly to what they can be based off of the fact that at halftime, they were able to come together. I doubt it was a massive undertaking, like, 'Hey, here's all the adjustments we have to make.' I think it would be more of a sharpening of the concentration and getting back down to the details of what they wanted to do offensively and defensively. You saw those athletes come out in the second half and put High Point away. But I do think it was two-fold in that Maryland looked a little bit rusty and High Point looked better than I expected.
Navy came away with a 5-1 win against Delaware on Sunday, but should the Midshipmen be worried about the offense or happy with the defense?
I was struck by what Navy has defensively. It's one of the best in the country, and I know that's been said. That's one area of the field where having played that position, it takes a lot to impress me, but their team defense is impressive. But I think offensively, there has to be some concern. I think Delaware had a game plan where – and I've been a part of it with coach [Bob] Shillinglaw – they were going to take the air out of the ball and play it really slow and try to make it what it was, a sort of ugly slugfest, low-scoring type game. But I wouldn't be concerned if I was a Navy fan based on what the score was. The defense is unbelievable and will keep them in every game. The offense does need to get better, but it's the middle of February and that group can get better. I think the attack has the makings of a group that when March and April start trickling in, they'll be one of the better offenses.