Syracuse midfielder Jordan Evans — Inside Lacrosse's top incoming freshman — and midfielder-attackman Randy Staats are questionable for Saturday's game against Johns Hopkins with lower-body injuries. A source close to the team said neither injury involves a knee and neither appears to be season-ending. Neither player participated in Saturday's 14-8 victory over St. John's.
The Orange continues to struggle at the faceoff X and experience growing pains with a young defense, weaknesses that must be erased immediately considering the schedule. Now that basketball season is over at the the Carrier Dome, Desko hopes a week's worth of practice on the full field will help.
"It's a real breath of fresh air to get on that full field, although it still has some dust in it from the monster trucks [last weekend]," he said. "We're still working on rides and clears, and we're scrimmaging to replicate a game situation. We just haven't had it and we're inexperienced defensively, and not having the full field has hurt us. We're still plugging away at the faceoff and the clearing, and we still want to get better defensively, because if things are similar to the past [against Hopkins], we've relied on our defense to make good stops and get the ball back to our offense."
Hoyas' Bucci out for season
Georgetown lost to Harvard, 15-7, on Saturday and also got a dose of bad news on the injury front.
Junior do-everything midfielder Joe Bucci is out for the year with a leg injury suffered against Navy on Feb. 15.
As for Harvard (3-2), the Crimson stumbled in losses to Massachusetts and Albany but looked different Saturday with the return of sophomore attackman Devin Dwyer, the team's quarterback. Dwyer was the team's leading scorer last year with 16 goals and 27 assists.
After missing the first four games with a hand injury, Dwyer had five assists against the Hoyas (2-3).
To put it into perspective: Dwyer had more assists in 38 minutes (five) than the previous team leaders had in the first four games; Schwartz and Mahon entered Saturday with four.
Tierney's goal is to keep adapting
To maintain a high level of success for as long as Bill Tierney has, one has to be willing to innovate. During his tenure with Denver, Tierney has proved he is capable of doing just that, overseeing the implementation of the most successful offensive system in Division I the past five years.
"The one thing I'll say about me is that I've had to change," said Tierney. "I've gone from being a guy who wants to win 9-6 to a guy now who wants to win 15-11."
The Pioneers earned two big wins this week, topping Notre Dame in California, then Penn State at home Monday night.
Some of the offensive numbers are staggering. Freshman attackman Zach Miller is shooting 63 percent, Hartford transfer Jack Bobzien is shooting 53 percent, and Wesley Berg is at 41 percent. The national average for an attackman is 32 percent. In each year since Tierney has been coach at Denver, the team's offensive efficiency has improved, and in the past four seasons it's been first or second in the country.
Tierney deflects much of the credit to associate head coach Matt Brown, who instills box lacrosse principles into his offense.
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"I really believe in box lacrosse and its skills," said Tierney, who played box lacrosse in 1974 and 1975. "It is the way of the future. I do not believe it is a coincidence that you see over 250 Canadians playing college ball. It is because they have a particular skill set adept to scoring. Moving forward, I think you'll see box players playing field and field players playing box."