Preston: Maryland's Bubba Fairman has found his scoring touch at just the right time

All season there has been hype about freshman midfielder Bubba Fairman being the next star lacrosse player at Maryland. There have even been suggestions that one day he might be given the famed No. 1 jersey worn by other Maryland greats such as Andrew Whipple and Matt Rambo.

That day doesn’t seem so far off anymore.


There are a lot of true freshmen who don’t get to play in the NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse tournament and even fewer who stand out. But in two postseason games, Fairman has six goals and three assists, including three goals and two assists in the Terps’ 13-8 quarterfinal win Sunday against Cornell.

The scoring seems to be coming at the right time.


The No. 1-seeded Terps are still led by All-America midfielder Connor Kelly, but this isn’t the same Kelly who played earlier in the season. He still has the great shot and vision, but the initial explosion isn’t as strong, which might be the result of a knee injury.

Enter Fairman.

It’s rare when a freshman starts from opening day and even more impressive when he scores 25 goals and adds nine assists. But the expectations were high for the 6-foot-1, 195-pound native of Sandy, Utah, who was ranked the No. 2 recruit in the country in 2017 by Inside Lacrosse magazine.

The Maryland men's lacrosse team advanced to its fifth consecutive Final Four after taking care of unseeded Cornell, 13-8, in Sunday's NCAA Division I tournament quarterfinal at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.

Fairman’s father, Jay, started some of the first club lacrosse programs in Utah. Unfortunately for Utah coach Brian Holman, Fairman had already committed to Maryland before he was hired nearly two seasons ago.


“I don’t play that,” Holman said of trying to get Fairman to decommit. “He is a fantastic young man and carrying the torch for Utah lacrosse in his own way. Our goal is to not let the next Bubba leave the state.”

Fairman, whose real name is Cole, earned the nickname “Bubba” because he weighed 13 pounds at birth. His presence is becoming even larger with the Terps.

Tewaaraton finalists

Three of the finalists for the Tewaaraton Award, college’s lacrosse version of the Heisman Trophy, will be on display in the final four in Yale attackman Ben Reeves, Duke attackman Justin Guterding and Kelly.

When the season started, Kelly looked on his way to winning the award, and he still might. Not only does he have the best long-range shot of the three, but his vision to make cross-field or skip passes is amazing.

Reeves, though, has 56 goals and 46 assists this season. He draws so much attention by his mere presence on the field, and he is physically intimidating.

Duke’s emerging freshman

Duke freshman midfielder Nakeie Montgomery scored two goals in the final 6:25 Sunday to help the Blue Devils beat Johns Hopkins, 14-9.

Fourth-seeded Duke scores five goals in the last seven minutes to thwart fifth-seeded Johns Hopkins and set up an NCAA men's lacrosse semifinal against top-seeded Maryland.

Maybe now college and high school coaches won’t be so quick to turn African-American ack players into defensive short-stick midfielders because they are so “athletic.”

I thought we were past this stage, but it seems fewer coaches want to develop players and depend more on the coaches in the junior league ranks to teach the necessary ball skills.

Duke coach John Danowski apparently doesn’t have that problem.

Playing with pain

Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala doesn’t like to disclose injuries, maybe something he picked up from his close friend Bill Belichick, the New England Patriots coach.

But Blue Jays junior attackman Kyle Marr said senior attack Shack Stanwick (Boys' Latin) broke a rib against Michigan on April 21, which makes his winning goal against Georgetown on May 13 even more amazing.

Stanwick took the ball, ran full-tilt toward the goal, got smashed but still scored as he fell into the crease. It was gutsy then, even more now that Marr disclosed the injury.

Showing up

Loyola Maryland made the trip to Long Island over the weekend to face Yale, but the only two Greyhounds who got off the bus were attackman Pat Spencer (Boys’ Latin) and goalie Jacob Stover (McDonogh).

A look back at how the Maryland, Johns Hopkins and Loyola Maryland men’s lacrosse teams from the state fared in action from this past week.

Spencer was the only Loyola player to win individual matchups, finishing with two goals and an assist. Stover had a career-high 19 saves. If he had not played well, Loyola would have gotten blown out instead of losing, 8-5, in a game that wasn’t as close as the score indicated.

Watch the jargon

The lacrosse analysts on ESPN are good with their insights and detail, but they get carried away with the jargon and trying to make the comparisons between lacrosse and major league sports.

No, the faceoff battle between Denver’s Trevor Baptiste and Albany’s TD Ierlan will never be mentioned in the same breath as Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James.

And the “smell you later ” line ...

As Charles Barkley would say, “turrible, just turrible.”

And finally ...

While on the subject of faceoffs, there will be another good matchup Saturday when Yale’s Conor Mackie takes on Ierlan. Mackie has won 261 of 404 faceoffs, and Ierlan has captured 341 of 421.

In an earlier encounter this season Mackie got the best of Ierlan, winning 13 of 21 in a 14-6 Yale victory. Maybe this will be like Larry Bird vs. Magic Johnson.