CSU Ram Lax, February, 2001 – A Coach’s Journey

2001 SENIORS *

#1 – Cale Vanvelkinburgh – G – Colorado kid, FVS. 3-year starter, Fine goaltender, booming voice. *   

#20 – Pat CoyUNC (colo) football team’s loss was CSU lax gain – C – Opponents feared him. Potty mouth! *

#6 – Patrick Lambert – M – Sort of a Fogo from Utah. Imposed his will with burliness. “None shall pass” *

#7 – Adam Sisbarro – M – Denver kid – good stick, fast, he danced and he pranced, fun to watch and coach – *

#2- Josh Henry – D/LSM – Massachusetts, and he sounded like it, “Pahk the cah” – solid player. *

#29 – Jeremy Smith – D – Denver – Maybe our greatest President, took care of the details. No small job. Still gives to/plays the game  *

#19 – Loren Husson – M – The kind of player that is a pleasure to coach. Loved to shoot – Denver – Had a cannon from ‘top of the arc’.

#16 – Ryan Davis (Davis dog) – A – From New York, great scorer, plenty of drama at all times – Kept Kale very busy as counselor.

#13 – Mike Roth – A – CaptainDenver – Arguably as a Ram during my time he might be the GOAT.  GOAT= Greatest Of All Time

#22 – Chris Gemperline – LP – Denver – We made an award called the Gemperline Award, given each year to the player who exhibits qualities for his team such as dedication, love of game, and one who is always striving to achieve more. Great teammate award.

 

February Journal
Thursday, February 1, 2001

My ideal recruiting scenario would be the following:

Large, enthusiastic all-state freshman attackman brings me highlight video from his high school junior and senior years’ lacrosse games. Great idea by the way for the freshman looking to get noticed by the coach. I prefer the edited to music version over the “sounds of the game” thing.

Anyway, I look at the video and I’m thoroughly impressed with the potential of said freshman player. Watching the video really shows me the spots where he likes to be, and where he might be able to help us. Did I mention that he led the state in scoring as a junior?.

I keep noticing another kid, too, a long pole, while I’m watching. This would be an all highlights video, but still #10 is a clearing machine. Scores on give and go’s with our freshman all over the place. A man among boys. He has speed and quickness. I can’t help think, “Wonder where he went to play?”

When I next see freshman attackman, I say to him, “Who is #10? Where does he play?”

I learn that he plays Division III football in Nebraska, as a wide receiver, but he is homesick and really misses playing lacrosse. He wants to play with freshman dude again. Also, his girlfriend goes to CSU.

He would have a year of college under his belt and 4 years of lacrosse eligibility left. His conditioning habits would be excellent from playing football.. My mind spins. “Do you think I could call him?”, I would ask.

“He’d love it, because I have already been talking to him about coming to CSU, and I think he wants to come visit soon.”

I call. We have a great conversation. Two weeks later, he comes, meets a bunch of guys on the team and has a great weekend.

Fast forward to “parents love the idea”, because they want him nearer home. He has decided to become a veterinarian (CSU has the best vet school) and, well, you know the rest.

Wouldn’t that make a lovely story?

Whether players actually come is important, of course. Teams need great players to thrive, but the quality of the “recruiting process” is more important than anything. It is key to their future that they make good choices. I don’t want to push them to come here, I want them to be drawn to it like they were hypnotized.

Friday, February 2, 2001

Ground hog day. I’m saying Puxatawny Phil or whatever his name is won’t see his shadow, and we will have 6 more MONTHS of winter. At least that’s the feel it has outside right now.

Maybe I am on a roll after picking all 3 football games wrong. We can only hope I’m still “en fuego”, and we are about to get some hot air freakishly pushed to Colorado from Hawaii. It’s a little weird anyway, because this is the first real winter we’ve had here in a while. The last few years were balmy compared to this.

So far everyone is working hard under the not so great practice conditions. There only seems to be one guy bitching and moaning, but he has been doing that for three years and most of us are used to it even if we are not totally immune to the “negative waves”

Part of the whole family deal is that you can’t “clique out”. You can choose your friends but your family is given to you. You become part of a bigger dynamic.

You start with the single common denominator, which is lacrosse. Then there are keys like team goals. The door leading to team goals can be locked by family dysfunctionality if you are not careful. Fortunately, we haven’t had to worry about that too much lately, because these players really care about each other, and my ultimate goal of team harmony might be closer than ever.

For the most part I feel like we have a little head start on conditioning by the work they have done on their own this winter. In my grand plan today would have been our fifth day on the practice field, and we still have yet to see the “frozen tundra” that is under the snow.

Sunday, February 4, 2001

The internet has changed life as we know it. Certainly mine. When I first saw it in 1995 I knew I wanted to be a part of this new (to me) technology. When I started the Rock-it Pocket site in 1995 there were no other lacrosse web sites to speak of. It was a pioneering experience. Our address was like 20 slashes and symbols with rktpkt kind of squeezed in there. It took forever for my computer to download a web page, and it crashed with monotonous regularity. Now you just type in rock-itpocket.com and most computers will have you loaded in seconds. .

By the time you got everything set up with the new technology in those days, along came newer technology and what you were doing was instant “old school”, My computer guru, Bill Galzerano taught me everything I know about using the internet. At first I was swimming in a sea of html language and drowning in 12 different programs simultaneously open on my computer desk top trying to make changes to the price list or whatever. Truthfully, I never came up for air, because I never got it. Bill had to do most all of the changes to the site. The new program thankfully let’s me make daily changes almost as easily as sending an e-mail. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m still capable of making messes that Bill has to clean up. I am not a Webmaster.

The web works great for lacrosse, because it connects a sport that doesn’t get huge television coverage. With the internet, no problem. In 1999 my mother could track us on the computer quarter by quarter in the national championship game in St. Louis. She had just gotten a computer, but with the help of my sister, she instantly had the capability of following what our lacrosse team was doing.. She could “watch” our game via the internet without having to be some sort of computer geek.. It was a new era.

I think she had started to write me a condoloence letter on her new computer after we fell behind Simon Fraser 4-1, but there was a happy ending that day, and I think she felt like she was part of the excitement.

I would say that getting a computer and being connected to the internet has added something to wonderful to my ma’s life at 75. In Florida, she can play scrabble with my sister in Santa Fe on line. She can do research, etc. that she never thought she could do at home. We are connected in a new way. She e-mails me all the time. Love ya, ma..

The growth of the internet and our USLIA go hand in hand. The web site that Sonny Pieper shepherds from Atlanta is excellent and updated constantly. The national rankings posted on the internet and their connection to the seedings at nationals have been huge in our explosion. Our 2000 USLIA national tournament web info page got more “hits” during the event than did the NCAA championships. I hope it wasn’t just one maniac continually logging on and off………..

Web interaction is the new national pastime. For example, you can vote on the top ten surprises in the USLIA this year. Really? Yes. One of the choices was that CSU got two first place votes in the preseason top 25 poll. That would be a top ten surprise because we didn’t get more, or…? I’m guessing that the surprise was that we got any at all. Yeah, that imust be it. For the record, I did not cast one of those two SURPRISING votes. There is probably only one scenario that I can think of that would cause me to vote CSU #1 in a top 25 poll.

Bye bye.
Monday, February 5, 2001

Coaching is like holding a dove in your hand. Squeeze it too hard and you kill it; not hard enough and it flies away……….Tommy Lasorda

I like to read, study, and watch great coaches and what they do and say. When people who do things at a high level, it is worth looking at how they got there, and well, how they do things..

I learn technique and ways to teach everywhere I look, and almost every day. You never know. I see my one year old do something a certain way and I’m working on a drill for my team.

I don’t think about anything except what we need to do when it comes to planning practices or coming up with a game plan. As much as I have learned from Coach Wooden, for example, I would never wonder what he might do in this situation or that. To be clear, I must focus on the moment. Be Here Now and all that jazzzzz..

I hate boring practices. I hate line drills, which is how they have been warming up to play lacrosse probably ever since white men got a hold of the game. I like to simulate the game when I coach, not mock it, and I’m sorry but line drills never happen in a game.

I hate jumping jacks, but I love sups and pups (sit ups, push ups). So there is no absolute logic, is there?

Tuesday, February 6, 2001

When it comes to how I deal with my own teams, I try to be myself all the time. I don’t want them to see one sweet side of me now, and the other (less than sweet) side later. I give them both barrels of me from the word go.

I can never tell them anything collectively or individually that I don’t believe absolutely myself. I don’t try to fool them because they would know. I would know and therefore they.would know.

I’ve found over the years that when I act like I know more than I actually do, I’m the one that ends up most confused. I am not a coaching genius. I always thought X’s and O’s were hugs and kisses.

I just want to see the game that I visualize in my mind. That is my true motivation. My goal is clear. It is about aesthetics and the way the game looks when 10 parts work like one. The connection must be intense. the collective attitude must be iron. Preparation is the only way. What I am talking about is not just something you pull out just when you need it. It is being built every day.

It must always look like they are having fun. That is a big part of my picture, too. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Flow.is “word” or even “word up”. For those who would have no clue what I just said, you need to spend a day at college..

Wednesday, February 7, 2001

I keep getting calls for games, even though our schedule was supposed to be in bed two months ago. The AFA B team wants to play us. Air Force’s Division I team has gotten much stronger. They will need to be as they open with the University of Maryland in Denver in two and a half weeks.

I set up one last game, with AFA B, in Fort Collins on Saturday, April 21. I had wanted to get something on that weekend before RMILL playoffs anyway. Their B team should be a good test for us.

That brings the number of regular season games on the schedule to 19, ten on the road and 9 at home. Post season games could add up to bring the total to as many as 25 games. We will need all the depth that we have. We will also need the weather Gods to smile on us.

Thursday, February 8, 2001

Just because I haven’t mentioned the weather lately, doesn’t mean it’s all good. The “boarding” at Vail must be phenominal, but we will have had only 3 outdoor practices in the first two weeks, and those three days were not exactly beach weather. The players didn’t know whether to sport cleats or ice skates. Cross trainers seem to work the best on the tundra. I now understand better what tundra is. It’s like the everglades, only frozen, and the dead grass just barely sticks out enough to make a thin pad or “playing surface”.

As I write it snows. Looks like Monday at the earliest for us to go back out.on the field. Meanwhile, BYU and Michigan are having practice as usual in their nice warm indoor facilities. Cal and Sonoma may be wet, but they have been practicing for a month. Tennessee and Virginia Tech don’t get much snow. The Vols have already played a couple of games.

Maybe next year I will write, “How to Have Lacrosse Practice in the Snow,” but right now I have no good answer for how you coach lacrosse in white out conditions. You can watch videos and teach, you can play hoops at the rec center, you can lift, and you can run, but you can’t play lacrosse.

Being out in the cold and snow will make you hungry, and it makes your apetite huge. When do we eat?!

Friday, February 9, 2001

There are disturbing things in the news all the time, and one of this week’s more disturbing stories has a connection to lacrosse. Diane Whipple, a lacrosse coach living in San Francisco was attacked and killed outside of her apartment door by pit bulls. Lacrosse is a very connected sport and community. When tragedy visits no one who loves the game is unaffected. I did not know her.

What is very strange to me is the reaction of the people who owned the dog. They acted like Diane could have gotten inside her apartment if she would have tried harder. Does this mean that it is alright to have human flesh eating “pets” as long as you give the “prey”, like neighbors, a good head start? This dog ripped pieces off of Diane. What do people even think about when they get dogs? Why would you ever own a loaded dog?

The trial should be an interesting exercise in criminal liability. Accountablility needs to be that long word that it is in order to cover that big gray area that lies beneath it. What is fair punishment if your dog kills the neighbor, anyway? Too big for me.

I will have nothing further to say that is political in nature if we could just play some lacrosse around here. It was a beautiful day today. The temperature got way up in the 20″s. I am going to build a tobaggan this weekend or something to burn off the energy I had for the scrimmage we were going to have tomorrow. I have some good vertical near my house.

Saturday, February 10, Sunday, February 11, 2001

Two weeks from today we play CU.

The one thing that has always kept me connected to lacrosse has been the Vail Lacrosse Shootout that actually started in Aspen in 1973. I have coached off and on and played club ball off and on, but Vail has been constant, even though it started in Aspen.

That first year I was a sophmore at CC, and 4 local summer club teams played in downtown Aspen, on the rugby field that had a giant mud hole. I can remember scooping the ball and a big pile of mud in front of the crease, and running away from everybody so I could put the ball down and knock the mud off my pocket.

I played in cut offs and had a pony tail, such as it was. Our jerseys were not exactly port hole mesh with 4 colors.

There was a keg of Olympia beer involved there somewhere, so I think we called it the Olympia Beer lacrosse Tournament. Do they still make that stuff?

I played for the Colorado Springs Lacrosse Club. Denver Lacrosse Club won it. I didn’t play on a championship team until the first year in Vail, which was 1978.

There were no South Suburban rec lacrosse summer leagues in Denver for us to play in twice a week in those days. The tournament was a big deal to us.

Each team had a camping area outside of town, up towards Independence Pass. Condos were not so cheap.

I stayed with my brother who had a big party house in Aspen. Most of our team, and all of our “groupies” stayed there, too, on the floor or wherever. They have another name for groupies now, but it isn’t nearly as sweet.. My brother had a shower that came off a rock like a waterfall, and he had a video camera to capture the moments. There were cooing doves mating in cages to keep everyone in the mood. It was quite the place. Decor by Korbel.

In all the years I have only missed one or two of the Aspen/Vail July 4 traditions. It is pretty much the only place I have ever seen the 4th of July fireworks displays.

By 1977 the tournament needed full scale organization, and my best friend, Jim Soran had roped me in to help him with it all. He did the radio interviews, and I made sure the fields were perfect. I was, and remain your humble “Tournament in a truck” guy who now has a much bigger truck, but is too old to hear his cell phone. We had t-shirts made up in ’77, and boy I wish I still had one of them. There was a banner that we made and put up over the main street coming into town.

Little did I know at the time that I would be coaching kids at CSU in 2001 who got their first taste of the big time at the 3 on 3 Chumash Tournament in Vail when they were 12 years old in 1995, and I would still be running the event in my “spare” time all year around.

The players in Colorado are so good now, in part because players from my generation made sure their kids could grow up playing lacrosse like they could back east. Vail has been a big part of that.

We have always been a great team, Jim and I. Totally different in many ways, we are always learning from each other, knowing we are ever better together. As a player he combined great athleticism with analytical thought. I admired and studied that, as I have always led with my face. I went for it all all the time. He was an attackman, who would have games like 3 goals and 8 assists in an era when 14 goals was a lot for a team..

What I have learned from him cannot be measured.

The first year that I played with Jim at CC I was pretty much a football player with a lacrosse stick. I would literally clear the ball and then go place it in Jim’s stick because I still needed some serious work on my throwing skills. He worked with me a lot on that, too.

I had no clue what the rules were. It was almost funny. I just knew they couldn’t get it from me and that going after ground balls was about the most intensely exhilirating thing I had ever done. Oh yeah, I loved that pocket thing, too.

Jim and I coached together at CC for a few years after college while he was in law school, and I was becoming a woodworker, and continuing my career as an already accomplished ski bum. We had a great time and some great teams. We really were co coaches, but he was the “head” coach. I think nothing has changed there.

We still do Vail together, although now there are more tournament directors than just the two of us. Ten tournaments, advertisers, sponsorship, town of Vail, promotion, deadbeat teams, and staff considerations keep us all hopping year around.

Jim and I still have the same relationship. We aren’t much on the field anymore, but we talk about coaching all the time. He runs a tremendous high school program at Regis Jesuit school in Denver.

The Vail Lacrosse tournament thrives. It is the George Washington of summer tournaments, and is still pretty much the standard by which other tournaments are measured.

This weekend has been difficult. I feel like a caged animal. All the weather people are excited because two more fronts are on the way. Yipee. This will could be my biggest coaching challenge yet… How to not practice, but play like you have. At least the team got together for the semi-annual luge party with the girl’s team last night. Monday we go.

Tuesday, February 13, 2001

People take more pride in something when they are part of the process.that built it. I want to involve players in the constant process of trying to get better as a team. Like I said before, my real goal for this team is simply to get better every day. The rest will take care of itself..

I believe the “my way or the highway” approach is the road to underachievement, at least in the 21st century Team power is more thrilling to me than coaching power. Team power comes from unity.

They don’t just get mandates from me. I am trying to create an anvironment where they can become the best they can be, and yes it does start and end with the family concept. Coaching is a constant learning experience for me. I want it to be for them as well.

I try to offer up concepts for them to learn much more than plays to study and execute.. I do have certain fundamental things that I demand that they do, but I want to take advantage of the players we have by putting them in situations.where they can think and create and be successful.

When players or assistant coaches have ideas, I listen. If they are not what I’m looking for, I am the first to “diss” them. But if they have a good idea, I am also the first to say thank you very much, and use it.

As a coach I’m not totally sure what all my individual goals are. One is certainly that I never want to be confused. However, my goals for the team are forever crystal clear. Just improve, baby.

Some days I feel like Mr. Goodcoach. Others, it’s Mr. Magoo. I have to trust them. And they have to trust me.

Wednesday, February 14, 2001

This morning reluctantly emerged from the darkness, revealing a new layer of fresh powder which softened the jagged landscape outside my window. More snow is falling.

My coaching life is the backdrop for a Steven King novel

Actually, it is Wednesday, and we have had three good practices already this week, one being Monday night inside. The other two were cold but efficient. Tonight we go indoors again, and from the early returns, my decision to have the 9:00 p.m. tonight, Valentine’s Day practice is not a popular one, but that is our time in the field house. We need any work we can get. We most likely won’t get good work on the field until Monday.

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For one reason or another, all the assistant coaches I ever have had here are CSU current or just graduated players. We usually have just one, and that is the case this year. The way I manage practice time is important.. It is a creative challenge to keep 40 plus players busy all at once.

Yesterday was great, because I looked at my watch and I looked at my practice schedule midway through practice, and everything was exactly where it should have been. Finally. Now if we could just catch the ball.

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Over the last couple of years I have spent a lot more time with the extra man offense than I have with the man down defense. My plan is to change that this year. I want to work harder than ever on special teams in general, which includes clearing, riding, and facing off, too.

One of our major team goals is not to commit too many fouls during the course of a game. We don’t want people to end up in the penalty box so we have to play a man short. When we play our style of defense, as a team, we do not get as many penalties as teams and players who do a lot of takeaway stuff (checking). Another major goal for us is for the extra man to convert and score on a high percentage of opportunities.

As a result of these two factors, I ended up spending more time on the man up offense during EMO MDD practice..

I don’t want to be in a situation where our man down defense has to win us a game, but if it comes to that I want us to be ready .. This season I am putting some new focus there.

As a coach, I like to use improvement in one part of the team to spur improvement in another. I want our man down to be better than ever, and with that challenge the extra man unit to step up, too. Competition within practice has to be at a high level.every day.

Our man down has to be more of an extension of our regular defense than ever before in order to handle some of the potent EMO’s we will face in the next few months. The group that plays a man short has to take real pride in their “special teams” role. I want to be more a part of it, too..

So far, and it is early, the man up is playing well, reading the defensive slides and finishing plays. You might say they are ahead of the man down right now.

There is work to be done on MDD, but that will always be the case, because that is the nature of being a man down. The offense has a huge advantage with an extra attacker. We have some great, mature players on the defensive half of the field this year. I think they are ready to do the work.

It’s Valentine’s Day. I did the minimal required; a dozen roses, a candle, and a card. I love my wife. I hope everybody does..

Thursday, February 15, 2001

I have been around “club” sports at the college level in Colorado and California for 14 years. It just dawned on me (I’m a little slow) why much of the time these teams are not recognized for what they do. Their is a stigma about club sports. The reason is that often times club sports is a smallish group of people that meets 2 or 3 times a week, tosses or kicks the ball around for a bit, and then they choose up teams and play. They pay a minimal amount of dues, have three games and two tournaments, and then call it a season. That is not what we do.

The kids at CSU pay a lot to play lacrosse. Many pay their dues by fund raising. They practice every day for three and a half months. They must budget their time and deal with their professors if they have conflicts. Many of them are involved with the workings of the organization, including ordering team sweats and planning trips, helping with clinics and camps, and even keeping track of balls and washing the uniforms.

We are “virtual varsity” only because we do not get the money that a varsity program gets. Otherwise you could lose the virtual. We represent the university at a high level, and people that see us practice or bump into us while we are traveling often can’t believe we are not varsity. We do not get the built in attention or the resources of a varsity program. We have to get these things for ourselves.

You know, I wouldn’t have it any other way, although it would be great to get a little more support than we do. I think that kids in varsity programs are often coddled by everybody. I like the fact that many kids in our program are learning real lessons about how to get what they want, and how to budget time. There is no one to always do everything for them like their often is when there is scholarship money. Me thinks athletic scholarship is an oxymoron at times, or at least misnamed..

Our players are true student athletes, and my goal will always be for the student and the athlete to be equally successful.

There are about 120 teams now in the USLIA, and the only universities that really recognize their “club” lacrosse teams for what they have become and help out in a bigger way are the University Michigan, BYU, and Stanford. These three are way ahead of the rest of us.

Friday, February 16, 2001

I am Los Angeles for the Pepperdine alumni game tomorrow. I got off the plane, into my rented green Grand Am and, like a homing pigeon headed for the beach. It was a bit chilly at Zuma, but sunny, and the top two inches of sand was warm. My arthritic left knee was so grateful to walk on this familiar and soft surface once again. I was home. It made me feel at least 6 months younger right away. The Pacific Ocean remains as beautiful as ever.

It was a struggle for me to decide whether to come out for this event or not. Of course I really wanted to, but missing one day of practice on a Friday with our first game next Wednesday after the weather complications of the past three weeks is something that I wouldn’t normally do.

I am a control freak; like they can’t have one practice without “Papa” there. I’m always afraid something will go wrong. Originally I planned for this to be a scheduled day off after three tough weeks of intense practice.

Somehow with this group I was strangely calm about leaving. For some reason this team doesn’t make me worry as much as I usually do.

The truth with this team is that I just don’t want to miss any opportunity for us to all be together and work/play.

As it turns out the weather at home was icy frigid and the team did its work in the rec center after all. I look forward to tomorrow, and seeing old friends.

Saturday, February 17, 2001

Yesterday I cruised around Malibu a little bit. I went up to sneak a peak at the Pepperdine team practice. The view is still great. I still love southern California.

The girls in So Cal cut off the TOP of their pants now. What up with that? I’m not sure I understand, but I didn’t say that I don’t like it..

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Sunday, February 18, 2001

The alumni game yesterday was a great time. We had pretty much the same group that played when I was there in the early nineties, plus a few extras from other eras, so we had more subs than we ever had then.

The group dynamic was amazing, as if no time had passed. We were on the same field again, too. Things are different now, surely, in all of our lives, but somehow we all just went back there for a couple of hours and related to each other in exactly the same way we did then. Everyone jumped into their roles right away. I think we all feel like we were part of something special, then and now. I know I do.

I realized that there are a few things that I still “say” (to my CSU team) that I did then. “Move to the ball”, and “Like a dog” would be two that come to mind. Many things have evolved though, and I had to bite my lip to not make CSU calls for different defenses that I didn’t even know about in 1992.

I am definitely a different kind of coach now, if for no other reason than the fact that I don’t scrimmage with them anymore. I like seeing where I’ve come in 10 years as a coach, but I do miss mixing it up with them.

For me coaching lacrosse has and always will be more about getting the best part of people to merge in a team dynamic than it is about strategy and scouting and hard sales recruiting. Given the right attitude, any team can overachieve. They were overachievers 10 years ago and they were again yesterday.

Monday, February 19, 2001

We watched a video of a tv spot they did on us for channel 9 in LA in 1991, and on tape I was talking about how we (Pepperdine) were “the little team that could” and all that. Well, I don’t want to be the little engine that could anymore, I want to be the big locomotive..

I was mildly surprised by a few of the results from the weekend. Two of the top 3 USLIA teams lost handily to Division III colleges. Number 1 BYU lost to Colorado College 18-12, and number 3 Cal lost 18-11 to Whittier College. Both USLIA teams were on the road, but the scores surprise me, because I want us to be able to compete with D III schools, and I was hoping we were there right now.. The top 25 poll will be out this week. Pollsters usually are not affected by losses to Division I or III opponents, and BYU should remain #1.

Today was back to work on the field, which remains treacherous and hard. We ran well, and at times we are beginning to catch the ball. The EMO seems flat right now, but we really haven’t had enough practices to be where we should be. Tomorrow we will work on it all day, Terry.

Too many of our young guys have no idea how the defense works right now. I need to address this. Everyone must really understand for our team defense to work.

Tuesday, February 20, 2001

Our first game is tomorrow, in Golden vs. Colorado School of Mines. I want us to set the tempo for our season right away. I have no idea how good Mines is, but we have beaten them fairly easily over the past few years. I am hoping they are better this year. It is a league game.

The defense was good, not letting in many goals in practice today as we went through our paces to get ready for tomorrow. Even though we haven’t practiced enough, we are ready.

We had a team dinner at Panino’s, a great little family style Italian restaurant near the campus. I like team dinners, especially on game eve. For me it is having a pre-game meeting that everyone wants to come to. It gives me an opportunity to talk to players one on one, too.

Even my wife likes to go to these.

Truthfully, my game plan is to have a neat and tidy game (catch and throw) that all 42 dressed players get to play in. There was not a lot of specific strategy for this one. They just need to stretch their game legs without me giving them a bunch of other junk to think about.

There will be one or two areas of specific focus tomorrow, however. We will shape little pieces of a grander puzzle, and plant a few little sprouts we’ve been germinating as well.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2001

It is fog bowl 2001. At 9:00 a.m. at my house you can see about 10 feet. It is supposed to “burn off” and might get all the way up to 40 degrees.

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The final score was 27-3. I really didn’t mean for it to get so lopsided. After the first quarter, attack and defensive starters played only for a few man up, man down situations, something we need to work on against different competition. It was 10-0 at the end of one.

Mike Roth had 5 goals in the first 12 minutes, and was changed into his sweats before halftime. All three goalies played. We used thirteen long poles, and 9 different players played attack. I never tell them not to play hard. I can’t. I can’t even think that way.

I probably should have stopped the scoring about 5 goals earlier. That I can do. Sometimes I have to do a little better in those kinds of situations.

We had more fans than they did, which is nice for us, but too bad for them. I hear the folks in Provo are planning quite a reception for us in two weeks, though. Our next road trip is Utah.

I think we had no major injuries today. The weather wasn’t even too bad. Tomorrow we prepare for a big home non-league game Saturday against CU. We always love to play them. It is a game that always has a high level of intensity, and will be our first real test.

Thursday, February 22, 2001

Defense ruled today at practice. I need to work on the offense for a little while now. The competition today was good for the day after a game.

Every time we walk on our practice field the temperature drops 20 degrees. Maybe it’s my imagination and I’m turning into Howard Hughes (paranoid) in my old age.

I’m having a hard time with extra man offense. We were zero for 6 yesterday. I know we have the people to click. We just have to find the right combination. Today I moved a lot of things around, and put people in different places. I am trying to stir things up. Tomorrow I will return to a more familiar set up and see if things shift into gear and we are a little crisper in our execution. You can’t screw around on man up. It has to be tight.

There are a few players who need me to define their roles soon, and this will be another point of emphasis tomorrow, and again on Saturday against CU. They need to know how they fit. I wish I had all the answers for them.

Friday, February 23, 2001

I am hoping that the latest front to blow up from the south is just fooling around with me, and ends up heading for the gulf. In the event that it doesn’t, I am already looking for alternative times and sites for tomorrow’s game with CU.

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I try to spend time with everyone, even though it can be hard with often times just me and 40 players at practice. Even if I had 10 assistant coaches (and I would never want 10) I would still try to design team drills where they are all working on good habits together as much as possible.

I use different number combinations and let them play. It is a great way for me to teach. In teaching concepts, fundamental principles and basics become clearer. For example, we play in 6 on 4 situations, with 6 attackers. This happens only rarely in games, but it shows the defense that it has to play tighter to the middle and they must know where the ball is. They must protect the goal and the goalie. The footwork improves because of the situation, and not JUST me yelling technique at them. The attackers see that in this situation, if you move the ball quickly and efficiently, they can easily break down the defense, and they naturally start to want and look for these kinds of ‘looks’, or open people in all kinds of situations. I don’t have to continually remind them to move the ball and initiate the action to create defensive mistakes or breakdowns. They just do it, even in 6 on 6 situations which can often be the hardest way to score goals.

I want them to create their own individual styles, but I want them to do a few basic things, always. Within this framework, I can build without worrying about them individually. In theory, they all continually improve and so will we. I always say stuff like. “If every player gets a tiny bit better every day, then we get a ton better all the time.”.

They must be aware of each other, always. A lot of what we practice is game type situations that I call or set up, and they have to react and do what WE do in those types of situations.

I try to make every part of practice simulate some potential game situation as much as I possibly can. That even includes the kind of running we do.

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The midfield lines are “set” for the CU game tomorrow. I posted the roster today. For some it was pretty much a depth chart reality check. I think I will continue to do this for upcoming games. I think it will help us run more smoothly. Some won’t like where they sit. With 42 players it looks like there will be ample opportunity for people to move up. Remember, know the truth and the truth shall set you free. Make me notice you. Make me want you in the game. I really do want them all to have their moments.

We all know the kind of game we want to play. We want to hunt and attack. We want to own the ball. I am confident that we are ready. I also know I would have liked to have had a few more practices, and preferably ones that were in Miami, but you just have to play. We have much work to do next week.

We need to keep the substitution area neat and tidy for many reasons, not the least of which is that it looks good, and it is about the picture you paint while you are part of the game.

Be intense; show heart; be smart; play tough defense; solve and fix what we have to quickly. This is what I want us to do tomorrow.

Please don’t snow tonight. Pretty please.

Saturday, February 24, 2001

The weather really cooperated, and we played under clearing skies and fluctuating breezes, better conditions than we have had all season.. The temperature stayed mostly chilly We beat the Buffs from Boulder, 17-7

On my wish list yesterday I had five things I wanted us to do today. We did all but one. We outshot and out grounballed them by a wide margin, and that is something to build on. We did not play smart enough, though

We played well at times, but shot ourselves in the foot way too much. It was basically a penalty fest for both teams. We did too many stupid things and way too much whacking. I just want to poke and drive the ball carrier when we are on defense. NO WHACKING!

CU was ahead maybe 3-2, and really in the game emotionally, before we went on about a 9-0 run from mid first quarter until the half. We played great during that stretch.

CU made a few adjustments and we began doing multiple stupid things at the same time early in the second half, and before I knew it, it was 12-5 and I was tense.

Just yesterday I wrote how I like to use 6 on 4 situations in practice even though it happens rarely in games. Yeah, right. It seemed like we played half the game down two men (6 on 4) because of our penalties, and the rest of the game we were one man up because of CU’s penalties. Extra man was pretty good. We got a lot of shots. Man down defense played great, and only gave up a couple.

A few times we had a chance to be a man up because of something a CU player did, but our guys made sure that they retaliated and got a penalty as well. I hate that. I want us to walk away from trouble and get a man up opportunity for OUR TEAM every time.

The officials called everything and still had no control of the game. There were more flags flying than they have at the United Nations Building. I’m going to have nightmares about those little yellow grenades.

One of our fans, who might have had a beer or twenty ran on the field and knocked down the referee. I couldn’t believe it was happening. It was a Fellini movie. It made me somewhat ashamed.

My team was looking for me to keep them together at this point in time, and for a minute there I didn’t know what to say. I do not want to be a part of those kinds of fans, so how do I just say, “It’s okay boys, let’s just go kick butt.”?

Worse was the fact that we were given a two minute non-releasable penalty. The referee would not resume play until police arrived. He did the right thing. All in all the second half was bizarre.

The game was very long because of all the whistles. At one point I asked the timekeeper if we were playing geologic time periods or just the usual 15 minute ones. Waiting to find out that the campus police were busy and would not be able to come to the field took a while as well. They never seem too busy to give me parking tickets.

BYU coaches flew out to video the game. Now they are going to know all about us and what we do. They will also have home field advantage. I love this stuff.

Sunday, February 25, 2001

Today a bunch of us went to see a Division I doubleheader in Denver at DU. Lehigh beat the Air Force in a fairly close game, and #8 Maryland beat #25 Denver 10-7 in the marquee matchup. It was a good time. Not all the players went, but many did. There must have been a couple thousand people at the game.

It’s fun to watch the Division I athletes, and it’s great to see Denver University have a team that can really compete with the best in Division I. A lot of those kids come from Colorado.

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This week is key. We are in the last week of Phase one. Phase two starts after spring break. For the first time since I’ve been here we all will have a week off during spring break. I hope it works out like I think it will. If I had known we were going to have so many bad weather days in February, I might have done things a bit differently.

That break starts after the trip to Utah for two games next weekend. We leave Thursday evening at 7:00 p.m. We will have a short practice Thursday afternoon, get a bite to eat and then we’ll hop on the bus, Gus. Better bring a pillow for the seven hour ride..

We have three games on the schedule this week, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t already thinking about the third one in Provo next Saturday, when #2 CSU visits #1 BYU.

The game will be televised on the BYU channel, which is on Direct TV, and some other cable systems as well.

Monday, February 26, 2001

I love this team. Today was a frigid, bitter, nasty cold kind of day. Stick heads were snapping left and right. They still went out and worked their tails off for over two hours. We did lots of different stuff and it was even a lighthearted atmosphere in the sense that we all had a few laughs out there despite the overbearing element of cold. It is supposed to dump tonight. It almost seems too cold to snow right now

Usually, after a CU war on Saturday, the team mood on Monday would be one asking me to go easy. Not these guys. They were ready to go. It was a very good practice today. We seem to be fairly healthy. That is always a blessing.

We had a “talk” about the things we need to fix, the mental mistakes that we made too many of against CU. Honestly, I didn’t talk about the things we did well. That is not what I was thinking about.

We will see CU again in the league match-up April 18 in Boulder, and then probably again in the RMILL championships. We are not done with them.

There is a player who always comes up to me when the weather is lousy, and says, “Coacher, where would you rather be?” Often times what comes to mind when he asks that question are things like white sandy beaches lapping up waves of warm salt water, and there’s a palm tree in there somewhere, too.. Today I could give him the answer he wanted without hesitation. Nowhere. Cold as I was, there wasn’t anywhere else I would have rather been.

Wednesday, February 28, 2001

We got enough snow so that we couldn’t practice yesterday. The University of Northern Colorado cancelled today’s game yesterday. We were able to have practice today, though, albeit another frigid one.

I didn’t write yesterday. Before that I think I was on a pretty good streak.

Tomorrow night we leave for Utah. Tomorrow will also be our last practice for 10 days, which scares and excites me at the same time. The plan is that the time off will bring them back refreshed, because it really will be free time, an actual spring break. Each of he last three years we played 4 games in California during spring break, and it would take us ten days to “recover” from spring break. This year, it is two quick games in Utah, and then they scatter like buckshot for a week..

I was interviewed about the big #1 vs. # 2 matchup this weekend. This is a reprint. The answers of BYU coach Jason Lamb are also included.

Feb. 28, 2001:

“On the eve of what some folks are calling the biggest USLIA game in history, USLIA.com sits down with BYU Head Coach Jason Lamb and Colorado State Head Coach Flip Naumburg to discuss Saturday’s contest between the # 1 ranked Cougars and the # 2 ranked Rams. The game will be broadcast live on the Internet and Satellite TV, courtesy of BYU tv

Check the USILA Game of the Week feature for additional coverage of this contest and all USLIA games across the country this week!

1. What is your biggest concern regarding this weekend’s contest?

Jason: The biggest concern that I see is that we are a team still trying to find our “chemistry.” CSU on the other hand is running with the same great players doing the same great things. They are a team that knows each other and most definitely knows their own system. BYU will have to play with discipline and play together to fair well against a veteran team like CSU

Flip: That it will snow and we won’t get to play, or that everyone will get the flu.

2. This game has huge national and RMILL implications. How do you prepare for such a huge game this early in the season?

Jason: The preparation has to been seen as the same now as if it were in May. We know that the Rams are going to play well; just as they did all three times we played them last year. Knowing that you are playing the best of the best is the motivation for us all to be ready for an early showdown in the 2001 season. We do believe that we will see CSU again throughout the year, at the RMILL Championships and most likely again in St. Louis. To be honest, most of our preparation for this game has been internal. We need to make sure that we are playing together first.

Flip: In a way everything we do in practice every day is an effort to prepare to play BYU or teams the caliber of BYU. The weather has made it very difficult to have the number of quality practices I would have liked, but we’ll be all right. Whatever happens, it is almost a sure thing that we will meet BYU again somewhere else down the line. We might even play them twice more.

3. Are your players ready?

Jason: I sure hope so. We have had a team “countdown” for this game since January practices began. A rematch of last year’s National Championship is something you will circle on your schedule in red right from the beginning. The players have been in the weight room and running on their own. More so, I hope that we as a team are ready for this momentous game. The BYUtv deal is unbelievable.

Flip: My players would be ready to strap it on to play BYU in a parking lot during a blizzard.

4. Any thoughts about the game being broadcast live on Satellite TV & the Internet (via BYU TV)? Does this change your game plan any?

Jason: For BYU, the game plan needs to be the same as if it we not played on TV. I’m sure that we are all going to be a bit nervous and/or anxious. After the game begins I’m sure that the real focus is going to be as always when these two teams get together. Limiting mistakes and playing smart are enough to focus in on without worrying about the TV situation. Our game plan will be as I mentioned above, more directed towards playing within the “BYU system.” We have a few new faces and feel good about their individual abilities. How well the new players work together with the returning players from 2000 is going to be the difference for us on Saturday.

Flip: I think it is great and I am excited to be part of this first big USLIA telecast. How cool that it is #1 vs. #2. I think this game sort of punctuates the meteoric growth of the USLIA. Does it change my game plan? Only if it somehow affects the flow of the game regarding tv timeouts, etc.

5. Any significant injuries to report? Are both teams are full strength?

Jason: We are not without a few bumps and bruises. Great fully so, after the first two games in Colorado we left with mostly “homework” and without any major injuries. We as close to full strength for now as we possibly can be.

Flip: We somehow came out of our war with Colorado last Saturday without any major injuries. That is rare and a blessing. All star defenseman Jeff Walker has taken a leave of absence from the team due to family reasons, but other than that we should be good to go, and hopefully he’ll be back with us soon.

6. Any last thoughts on the game? What do you hope to accomplish or prove on the field on Saturday afternoon in Provo?

Jason: It’s going to be a great day for lacrosse in general, especially speaking for the USLIA, the RMILL, and for Utah lacrosse. Who would have thought even 5 years ago that the #1 and #2 USLIA teams in the country would be battling in Provo in front of a thousand fans and on national TV? What a deal! We hope to perform to the best of our abilities, plan and simple. There will not be a lot of room for error out there on Saturday. If we can play together as a team with discipline, it’s going to be a successful day for us all.

Flip: That we can play well in the most pressure packed situation is what I want to accomplish. We will be on the road, and on TV. We will have had a league game the day before. BYU will be rested, they have a huge partisan crowd, and they haven’t lost at home since I’ve been at CSU. The BYU coaches came to Colorado to scout and videotape us last Saturday. I showed them pretty much the whole thing. I have not seen BYU play. I love this kind of challenge. It is why I coach. If we can overcome all these obstacles and play at our high level, I believe it will say a lot about this team’s potential

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