#LMranks: No. 13 UMass Minutemen
|Will Manny was UMass' leading
scorer in all categories last year and sets an example with
defensive hustle. "He's everything you want in a player," coach
Greg Cannell said.
© Kevin P. Tucker
Lacrosse Magazine is counting down its preseason rankings throughout the month of January exclusively on LaxMagazine.com.
Today continues a look at our NCAA Division I Top 20 rankings. For more, visit LaxMagazine.com/LMranks. Follow @LacrosseMag on Twitter and Tweet using the hashtag #LMranks. The countdown will resume Thursday with profiles of the 12th-ranked teams in NCAA Division I men and women.
* Out of 5
A Will Manny (Sr.)
If the Minutemen had avoided a first-round loss to Colgate and had reached the final four, there is a chance Manny would have won the Tewaaraton Award as a junior. As the team's leading scorer in all categories, he was the heart and soul of UMass, and the same goes for his role in 2013. Manny also sets a great example with his defensive hustle. His hard riding yielded 34 ground balls. "He's everything you want in a player," UMass coach Greg Cannella said.
Defensive midfielders Bobby Tyler (Sr.) and Ryan Izzo
Cannella plans to start Tyler and play him at both ends of the field, with an eye on his defensive work. It's as much a response to the game's new rules that do not allow horn substitutions as it is a nod to Tyler's strengths as a defensive middie. Izzo (6 GBs, 6 CT) appeared in all 16 games last year as a defensive specialist. "[Defensive midfielders] are the only people that are dodged on anymore," Cannella said. "We need those guys to take the pressure off of [freshman Zach] Oliveri [in goal]."
Scheduling changes. UMass has added North Carolina and Lehigh to its non-conference schedule. It will mark the first time UMass has faced Lehigh, and the first time since 2005 it has faced the Tar Heels. That should sharpen the Minutemen in their CAA preparation.
The Minutemen's stature in the CAA remains high. Penn State, Drexel and Hofstra could be poised to make this league a free-for-all, but UMass still has the best pedigree. The Minutemen may have lost a step or two thanks to heavy graduation losses, yet they are the team to beat.
Record: 15-1 (6-0 CAA)
#LMranks MD1 Preseason Countdown
In a Nutshell: UMass was one of the game's most efficient squads. The Minutemen played fast and loose and scored at least 14 goals on eight occasions. They also could knuckle down on defense, as they held 13 opponents in single-digits. Six times, opponents failed to score more than five goals on UMass, which began with a 12-9 over Army on Feb. 10 and did not lose until the first round of the NCAA tournament.
High Point: In the CAA tournament final, against a dangerous Drexel team, UMass put a season-high 18 goals on the board and blew out the Dragons by six. Three weeks earlier, the Minutemen had slipped past Drexel, 8-6.
Low Point: One week after dispatching Drexel with ease, UMass hit a rare offensive wall in the second half and went down in the NCAA tournament's first round against Peter Baum and Colgate. The Minutemen saw their 9-5 lead slip away before falling, 13-11. Just like that, a great season was over.
Best Case: Joe Calvello is able to hold down the fort as a faceoff specialist. Zach Oliveri is able to maintain stability in the cage. And Manny gets that Tewaaraton Award after another incredible spring, while leading a hot UMass team to its second Final Four.
Worst Case: The loss of so many seniors catches up with the Minutemen, especially at midfield, and the CAA gets much tougher on UMass. The Minutemen lose in the conference tournament title game to Penn State. This time, UMass is the last team out on NCAA tournament Selection Sunday.
Coach Cannella's comments on...
A Kyle Smith (Sr.)
"He's another guy who has elevated his game. He was scoring big, timely goals for us as a sophomore. He's our American Canadian. He's going to find a way to score."
D Jake Smith (Sr.)
"He's a sweetheart of a guy, and he's ferocious when he steps between the lines. Those are the kinds of guys that coaches love."
A/M Colin Fleming (Sr.)
"He's a talented, confident kid with great size (6-foot-6) and great attitude. He's playing with more confidence that he has ever had at this point."
Rival Coaches Say
"Dynamic offensive threat in Will Manny. Team buys into toughness and team approach. Motivated by early exit in NCAA's in 2012... Lose plenty of talented and tough players, UMass-type players who just got it done when the game was on the line, lose the entire middle of the field in goal and at the X, but their offensive QB is back and some good offensive middies are back. Always know that they will play scrappy lacrosse... They are going to be a bear all year. They will play with a huge chip on their shoulder. They graduated a ton, but Cannella is at his best when the doubters come knocking."