Tag Archives: NCAA Tournament

What Went Wrong?

It’s the morning after Duke’s shocking 10-9 loss to Johns Hopkins in the national semifinal, a defeat that the ESPN analysts were fond of calling one of the biggest upsets in lacrosse history. And, on paper, it certainly was–this was a Blue Devil squad that absolutely dismantled Hopkins 17-6 back on April 5. So what went wrong Saturday?

We’ll take a more in-depth look into it in the coming days–including a game story and analysis later today–but to start out week of coverage, here’s a look back at Matthew Iles’ blog post from Wednesday, when he wrote that the players knew this wasn’t the same Blue Jay team and explained Duke’s reason for success last time against Hopkins:

“John Danowski inverted his offense, placing Crotty, who usually initiates from in front of the net, behind the cage. With Danowski and Greer on the wings and their defenders reluctant to slide from them, it became like an isolation play for Crotty. A strong dodger from anywhere on the field, Crotty is particularly dangerous from behind the cage, able to beat his man, turn the corner and fling the ball past opposing goalies with incredible skill. It was no different against Johns Hopkins, as Crotty scored three unassisted goals in this manner before the first half was over. Thanks to Crotty’s success, the Blue Jays were forced to slide from Danowski and Greer more, which helped them register seven points each.”

On Saturday, Crotty didn’t score and, perhaps as a result, Danowski and Greer combined for just three goals, and Danowski’s two strikes came in the game’s closing minutes. The two stars’ performance was eerily similar to their games in last year’s national championship, when the usually prolific scorers were held to one combined goal.

After Duke’s win over Hopkins in April, Iles wrote about Duke’s vulnerability to playing six-on-six sets, a story that looks remarkably prescient now.

So now, one lingering question remains: who will be back next year? A group of seniors needs to decide whether to enroll in graduate school at Duke, as they all graduated two weeks ago. The two most critical Blue Devils with a looming decision are Greer, already the NCAA’s all-time leading goal scorer, and midfielder Brad Ross, who scored Saturday. The MLL Draft deadline is Tuesday at 9 a.m., and we’ll keep you updated with their decisions.

Be sure to keep checking the blog for progress on that, and more insight into Duke’s Final Four loss.

–by Ben Cohen

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The Fairness Of The Fifth Year

During a brief layover in Philadelphia before hopping a plane to Boston for this weekend’s Final Four, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye on a TV in a nearby bar.

Bob Ley was on ESPN’s Outside the Lines, which showed images of Duke lacrosse players practicing. I couldn’t hear the audio, but of course I didn’t need to. All I needed was to see Duke’s head coach, the jovial and smiling John Danowski, interviewing with a light in his face and a furrow in his brow.

Still suffering from the long-armed grasp of the alleged rape scandal that hit the front pages of every media outlet in the country two years ago, the Blue Devils were featured to discuss the legitimacy or fairness of the NCAA’s ruling last year to allow an extra season of eligibility in response to the truncated 2006 season.

Virginia’s head coach Dom Starsia has complained about the NCAA’s ruling as often and as loudly as he can since the decision was announced. And in response, I’ll offer a prediction.

If Duke does win it all, Starsia will act just like that annoying friend of yours who makes excuses whenever he loses in pickup basketball: “Well, of course they won. They had an unfair advantage.” But you didn’t see him turn away Peter Lamade, one of the “super-seniors” awarded an extra year when he transferred to Virginia, and you won’t see Lamade sitting on the bench this weekend, and you certainly won’t hear any apologies for reaping the benefits of that “unfair advantage” if the Cavaliers take home the title.

Perhaps I’m coming down too hard on one side (obviously, this post is more of a column than a feature, preview or game story). For another take on it, read Patrick Hite’s column on ACCNation.com, a piece that earned him a seat on Outside the Lines today to discuss this issue. Also check out the ESPN.com poll currently posted posed the question “What’s your opinion of the NCAA decision granting Duke lacrosse players an extra year of eligibility?” Eighty-three percent voted “Prudent and compassionate” over “Hasty overreaction.”

None of these players deserved what happened to them two years ago. And none of them want to win a championship unfairly, either. They didn’t make the trip to Boston this weekend to stir up more controversy and grab more headlines. They’re here to play lacrosse, something which was once taken from them. The fact they’re here, to me, seems like a wrong that’s been righted.

–by Matthew Iles

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LIVE BLOG: Duke vs. No. 2 Pennsylvania

FINAL, Pennsylvania 9, Duke 8: Game over, season over for Duke, which lost in the national semifinal for the fourth straight year. This time, the Blue Devils were up 7-4 before forcing overtime and finally losing 4:08 into the extra period. Carolyn Davis led the unranked Blue Devils with five goals on the night. Game story later tonight, more discussion tomorrow. What do you think of the loss?

OVERTIME, Duke 8, Pennsylvania 8: The Blue Devils squandered a 7-4 second-half lead and the Quakers took an 8-7 advantage with 5:40 left, but Duke’s Lindsay Gilbride forced overtime with a minute remaining with a goal of her own. The teams are in between periods now, and we’ll let you know who advances to the final with more analysis later on.

HALFTIME, Duke 4, Pennsylvania 3: Carolyn Davis has two goals and goalkeeper Kim Imbesi has been solid in net as the Blue Devils lead No. 2 Pennsylvania 4-3 at halftime of the national semifinal at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson, Md.

Both offenses started well, but neither team scored in the final 12 minutes of the half.

Freshman Emma Hamm, one of Duke’s leading scorers, left the game early in the period with what appeared to be a pulled muscle and hasn’t returned. Check back after the game for more complete coverage as the Blue Devils try to advance into the national championship Sunday against top-seeded Northwestern.

–by Madeline Perez

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Will Duke Seniors Declare For MLL Draft?

This is what Zack Greer’s schedule could look like by the end of the weekend:

  • If No. 1 Duke beats No. 5 Johns Hopkins in the NCAA tournament semifinal Saturday, the Blue Devils will play the winner of No. 2 Virginia and No. 3 Syracuse Monday in Foxborough, Mass.
  • The deadline to declare for the Major League Lacrosse Draft is 9 a.m. on Tuesday.
  • The MLL Draft in Hoboken, N.J. is slated for Wednesday at 8:30 p.m.

Greer is one of 12 Duke seniors that will have to decide whether they will use the fifth year of eligibility (at Due or elsewhere) granted to them by the NCAA last season in the wake of the 2006 suspended season. Other notable players with important decisions to make are midfielder Brad Ross, midfielder Bo Carrington and defenseman Ryan McFayden.

In other news, if you’re interested in applying for the 2008 MLL Draft, here’s the application. No references needed!

–by Ben Cohen

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Blue Devils 15 Strokes Back After First Day

Chasing an unprecedented fourth straight national title, top-ranked Duke sits in 18th place, 15 strokes behind Southern California at the NCAA Championships in Albuquerque, N.M.

All five Blue Devils in competition put in lackluster rounds Tuesday, the first of four days to determine the national championship. Two-time defending National Player of the Year and top-seeded golfer Amanda Blumenherst fired a 3-over 75, with two birdies, three bogeys and a double. She trails senior Jennifer Pandolfi (1-over) and junior Jennie Lee (2-over) on Duke. Freshman Kim Donovan shot a 5-over, and junior Alison Whitaker, one of the team’s strongest golfers, needs to recover from a round of 10-over in which she shot eight bogeys, a double and a triple.

Last year, Duke sat in fifth place after the first day of competition in the NCAA Championship before taking first place in day two and holding it the rest of the way. In 2006, the Blue Devils were also tied for fifth after the first day before eventually stealing the lead on the third day.

We’ll keep you updated of Duke’s progress to make it a four-peat tomorrow, and our women’s golf beat reporter will be at the University of New Mexico Golf Course Thursday and Friday to bring you live coverage.

-by Ben Cohen

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Chronicle Coverage: Lacrosse Gamers

Usually, we print our summer stories every Thursday, when the summer editions hit newstands. But here’s a treat to coincide with the launching of dukechroniclesports.com: a sneak preview of the men’s and women’s lacrosse game stories that will appear in the newspaper Thursday. Before the national media descends on Foxborough Mass., and Towson Md., to cover the men’s and women’s Final Fours, respectively, we thought we’d offer up the stories from the writers who have covered the teams from their first game: The Chronicle’s beat reporters. Here are the most interesting quotes from both stories:

Stay tuned to The Chronicle online and The Chronicle’s Sports Blog this week as we bring you game stories, analysis pieces and a steady stream of blog posts from Foxborough, where we’ll have two reporters and two photographers, and Baltimore, where we’ll have one of each.

  • GREER LEADS DUKE TO FINAL FOUR: “I guess that’s part of their game plan. They were yelling and jawing at us,” Ned Crotty said of Ohio State’s pregame taunts. “Obviously, it didn’t work. We went up 9-1 in the first quarter, and it’s kind of tough to talk smack after you’re down like that.”
  • BLUE DEVILS UPSET MARYLAND TO ADVANCE IN NCAA TOURNAMENT: “This Final Four definitely means a lot. Not a lot more, but it’s very gratifying to know that we really had to work to get here,” junior goalkeeper Kim Imbesi said. “We had an up-and-down season. We’re a very young team, we had to play our first two games on the road against very difficult teams, and just knowing that we can come together as a team is such a great feeling.”

–by Ben Cohen

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Greer, Quinzani & Co. Headed to Foxborough

Senior attackman Zack Greer poured in six goals and contributed five assists as top-seeded Duke cruised into the Final Four Sunday, pounding Ohio State 21-10 in Ithaca, N.Y. The win was Duke’s 18th of the year, setting a new NCAA season record.

Sophomore attackman Max Quinzani–who owns the second-most goals in the country, trailing only Greer–scored five of his own, and reigning Tewaaraton Trophy winner Matt Danowski chipped in with a goal and two assists.

After Ohio State scored the game’s first goal just 30 seconds in, the Blue Devils caught fire, scoring 10 unanswered goals to essentially seal the victory before the first quarter even ended. Greer posted Duke’s first goal to start the scoring barrage.

The Blue Devils next take on No. 5 Johns Hopkins next Saturday in Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Duke routed the Blue Jays 17-6 back on April 5, but since then, Hopkins has won seven in a row. If you recall, the Blue Jays beat Duke in the national championship last year, so this one should be fun.

Make sure you check back with The Chronicle and The Chronicle’s Sports Blog throughout the week, as our two beat writers will be in Foxborough bringing you the best coverage of Duke Lacrosse out there, and our two photographers will be snapping pictures for you, as well.

–by Ben Cohen

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