Evan Washburn, the former Delaware defenseman and current CBS Sports Network men's lacrosse analyst, contributed to the network's coverage of Navy's 16-9 win against Colgate on Saturday. Washburn, who can be followed on Twitter via @EvanWashburn, discussed the No. 10 Midshipmen and the other ranked teams from the state. Here's Part 1 of the conversation.
Is No. 5 Maryland the clear favorite in the Big Ten or can a team like No. 14 Johns Hopkins or No. 18 Rutgers derail the Terps?
I think they're the favorite. I'm not sold on Rutgers. I think what they've put together here is good. I like the story of Rutgers being back to relevant – I remember when I was playing, they were a program we didn't worry about – with this run they've been on winning four straight and putting a big number up on Hopkins. But I think we'll learn about them in these next three weeks when they play Maryland, [No. 15] Penn State and Ohio State. That's how we'll know if they're truly a contender. With Maryland, we'll learn as soon as this weekend, but to me, it's still Maryland and then maybe a step down. I think Hopkins is proving to be resilient with so many challenges from whether it's Petro [head coach Dave Pietramala] being on the sideline – great to see him back, by the way – and the injuries earlier in the season and the youth that they've had. I also like Penn State and Ohio State, but these are teams that I don't think stack up to Maryland in terms of depth throughout their roster and maybe experience in key positions. So I have Maryland not as a clear-cut favorite, but at least as a slight favorite in the Big Ten.
Can anyone in the Colonial Athletic Association knock off No. 6 Towson or should the Tigers look internally for potential missteps?
I think Towson should focus internally. It's going to be a challenge because of the way that league is built and the identity of it. It's one where games aren't going to be blowouts for the most part. My Blue Hens beat UMass a couple weeks ago, and that caught me off-guard. Even if you look at the results, Towson's not beating up on teams, and there's room for growth there, but I have yet to see a team in the CAA that is as balanced as Towson is. Defensively, they're going to make it really tough to get to 10 goals, and they've proven at times to be potent enough offensively to get north of that 10-goal mark. To me, Towson is heads above any other team in the CAA.
After watching Navy, do you think No. 13 Loyola Maryland or No. 20 Army can catch the Midshipmen in the Patriot League?
I do. First, Navy is better than what I thought they were. Their defense is really good, and I think they had a bad day against Colgate. They played uncharacteristically undisciplined at times. But what I loved about it was their offense finally put the defense on their back. I think they probably could have gotten away from Colgate with a win even if the offense didn't put up 16 goals. But what that does confidence-wise going into Army and going into Maryland will be huge because Navy's going to need their offense to not just maintain and let their defense and their faceoff guy carry them. I think Loyola and Army are capable of beating Navy, and the game this weekend [against the Black Knights] is going to be an awesome showdown. It's a game that always has so much meaning. But whatever happens at West Point will be just Chapter 1 in a meeting that could happen again in the Patriot League tournament. And along with Loyola. They deserve to be in the conversation. It's going to be fun to see who comes out of there. But I also think Navy is capable of getting to the NCAA tournament even as an at-large team. If they get a win against Army and a win against Maryland, their RPI starts to go up a bit, and if they make it to the Patriot League championship game, their resume starts to lend itself toward that.
Which one does No. 14 Johns Hopkins need more: the return of head coach Dave Pietramala or depth in the midfield?
I think both are valid points. When you think about it, the meaning of having Coach Pietramala back on the sideline goes beyond what guys are going to do in the development of a certain unit. I think his overall stamp on things and having his presence, it's unparalleled. There are two different compartments. I think midfield depth and production has got to improve, and there's the priority of Petro being back on the sideline full-time. There's only so much you can do at this point, and I think we have to keep our expectations sort of realistic. But I really think having him back with the way their team is constituted now, there's no better coach than Dave Pietramala for Johns Hopkins to figure out a way to get the most out of this group with how they're playing, how they're built, what they're able to do, what they're not able to do. The more I think about it, the more I think the value of having Coach Pietramala there on a day-to-day basis is key.