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Evan Washburn's Midseason Report

By MLL Communications |  6/19/13 3:00 PM

Evan Washburn's Midseason Report


As the Major League Lacrosse season turns the halfaway mark we sat down with CBS Sports Network analyst and 'Inside the MLL' host Evan Washburn to get his take on the first half of the season. here are his grades.

Be sure to catch Evan and 'Inside teh MLL' every Thursday at 7 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.

Denver Outlaws

2013 Record through seven games: 7-0

2012 Record through seven games: Outlaws 5-2

Evan Washburn’s Grade: A+

Undefeated.  High-scoring.  Fun to watch.  There are thousands of other adjectives you could use to describe the power house that is the Denver Outlaws.  They have outscored their opponents by an average of 7.7 goals, scored 36% more goals than the next highest team, and give up fewer goals than all but one team.  Offensively, lead by Brendan Mundorf, Chris Bocklet, and Jeremy Sieverts, all of who should be selected to the All-Star Game, there is no better team as they average 17.4 goals a game, 4.5 more than the next highest team. Defensively, lead by the reigning MLL Defensive Player of the year, Lee Zink, and star goalie Jesse Schwartzman, they are allowing the second fewest shots and goals per game.  Since his addition two weeks ago, rookie Eric Law has scored nine goals on nine shots. 

Evan Says – “Denver has to be an A+ at 7-0, the best start in franchise history. A+ players with double-digit point totals. They’re sharing the ball offensively better than anyone one in the League. They’re doing the simple things really well, and Jesse Schwartzman’s playing at an all-star level. So, 7-0 gets you an A if you’re in Denver. This season Drew Snider has exploded in terms of points. He’s top five in scoring in the League, so Drew Snider’s probably at this point Denver’s most productive player, behind Brendan Mundorf of course.”

 

Hamilton Nationals

2013 record through seven games: 5-2

2012 record through seven games: 2-5

Evan Washburn’s Grade: B

The Hamilton Nationals began the season as they never had before, winning their first five games. The 5-0 start is a franchise best. Kevin Crowley led the Nationals with another franchise best, notching at least a point in 22 consecutive games. Crowley leads the League in points with 32 at the halfway point, five points fewer than the 37 he had in 2012. With 23 goals, he is just one goal shy of his 2012 total. Crowley’s incredible play has been aided by Kevin Cunningham, who’s 13 assists are tied for the best in the League. The Nationals offense has had its shining moments this season, as has its defense. Brett Queener remains one of the leading goalies in the League, but Hamilton has not been afraid to let other goalies see action. Queener has split time with Brent Herbst in three games, and rookie Dillon Ward started his first professional game last week against New York. Other Nats rookies have seen success professionally as well.

Evan Says – “Hamilton, they get a B. They’ve lost two straight, but that 5-0 start was fantastic. It set this team up for a likely trip to Championship Weekend. Kevin Crowley, as a player, has been my MVP through the halfway point of the season because he doesn’t dominate the ball, but he puts up points, and he fits right in with what Dave Huntley’s brought in terms offensively.”

 

Chesapeake Bayhawks

2013 record through seven games: 4-3

2012 record through seven games:  6-1

Evan Washburn’s Grade: B-

For the 2012 Champions, a repeat may be in the works. The Chesapeake Bayhawks sit at 4-3 halfway through the season, suffering close losses to the Cannons, the Nationals, and the Outlaws. Kip Turner has held the Bayhawks in every game they’ve played. At the halfway point, Turner leads the League in goals against average (9.11, the only single-digit average) and save percentage (.617). His 19 saves against Denver are a season high, keeping Denver to a season low in scoring. The Bayhawks’ offense consists of the usual suspects. 2012 Championship MVP Ben Rubeor has continued his dominance, scoring at least a point in each of his past 36 games. He is third in the League for goals scored with 18 goals. Many of the Bayhawks have been rewarded for their performances as well. Kyle Dixon earned Offensive Player of the Week honors in Week 1, Rubeor in Week 2 and Drew Westervelt in Week 6. Dixon is tied for first in the League for two-point goals with four and is tied for third for assists with 11. Westervelt scored a career high eight goals in Chesapeake’s win over New York in Week 6. With these veteran leaders at the helm, the Bayhawks will be making a run for another Championship.

Evan Says –“Bayhawks, it’s a B-. With as much talent as they have, they should have a better record than 4-3. Two losses in overtime, and then a disappointing loss to the Outlaws at home gives them a B-. That first midfield, or really that midfield unit as a whole, that was so good in 2012 has really struggled in 2013, all shooting below 20 or around 20 percent. For Chesapeake, at this point of the season, the best player has been Kip Turner. He has the best numbers in terms of goalies in the MLL. I think the confidence of winning last season has allowed him to play a bit freer than he has in his previous six seasons in Major League Lacrosse, so I have him as my Goalie of the Year through the midpoint of the season.”

 

Charlotte Hounds

2013 record through seven games: 3-4

2012 record through seven games: 1-6

Evan Washburn’s Grade: B

The Charlotte Hounds rest at 3-4 on the season. As a whole this is looking be a better season than their first in 2012, when they finished out the season 5-9.  Under the leadership of captain and midfielder Matt Danowski the Hounds seemed to have clicked in recent weeks winning two of their last three, and are putting up a decent fight in their last game over the Boston Cannons. The Hounds have a lot of positives, including 90 goals on the season, the second highest in the league behind the Denver Outlaws. Charlotte is also third in the League in groundballs with 224, much thanks to faceoff man, Tim Fallon with 56 personal groundballs. The Hounds however need to improve their goal tending, as Adam Ghitelman’s subpar .453 save percentage is not enough to guarantee Charlotte a win even when their offense is in their best shape. Looking forward, the Hounds have a lot of potential in the later half of the summer, as rookies Mike Sawyer and Jake Tripucka settle into the League.

Evan Says – “Charlotte gets a B. They sit at 3-4 and really have played at times as good as a top-tier team in this League based off a great mixture of youth and also veteran leadership. The youth movement has been Eric Lusby, Ryan Young, Mike Sawyer, Matt White, a group of first and second year players that have provided some dimension to this offense. The veteran side is the defensive end of Joe Cinosky, Ryan Flanagan and obviously Matt Danowski also at midfield. When those two groups are playing well together, this team should get about an A. But then we’ve seen lapses, and that comes when you’re a second year team in Major League Lacrosse. I still think this team could be in Championship Weekend. I think a Championship might be a stretch, but at this point a B for a solid start in terms of setting yourself up for being there as one of the final four teams.”

New York Lizards

2013 record through seven games: 3-4

2012 record through seven games: 5-2

Evan Washburn’s Grade: C

Just by looking at the names on the Lizards roster, it’s a surprise they haven’t had much success this season. After posting a 3-4 record, the Lizards need a spark to get them through the second half of the season. New York is third in GA with 81, however the Lizards need to step up their defense if they want to make a run at Championship weekend. Poor offensive production has been the Achilles heel of the Lizards, they are ranked 7th in GF with only 71 however, the addition of Rob Pannell, JoJo Marasco and the return of Max Seibald should hopefully fix this problem. At the half, the team MVP would have to be split between face-off specialist Greg Gurenlian and attack Tommy Palasek. Gurenlian is 117-180 on face-offs and has scooped up 57 ground balls, while Palasek leads the team in points with 13 goals and 4 assists.

Evan Says –“New York gets a C and it’s a harsh grade, but it’s based off the obvious fact that when you bring in as many name players as they did including Mark Matthews, Rob Pannell, David Earl, Steve Waldeck, you expect to see results. We saw finally in that win over Hamilton things start to come together for this group, but at this point it’s still a work in progress. So at this point it’s a C. The most positive player that I’ve probably seen so far this year to me it’s Rob Pannell because he came in off of what had been a brutal five years in college where he’s coming off injuries. He’s seemed to come into Major League Lacrosse energized and wanting to be one of the new faces of the game, and that’s a positive, and the numbers have backed it up.”

Rochester Rattlers

2013 record through seven games: 3-4

2012 record through seven games: 3-4

Evan Washburn’s Grade: C+

Rochester enters midseason 3-4, tied with Charlotte and New York for fourth place in the standings. They are coming off a loss to last place and previously winless Ohio, and have yet to get that signature win. John Galloway is shining bright for the Rattlers, averaging 15.33 saves per game, along with a .571 save percentage. Despite the success, he's seeing too many shots, as Rochester's defense is seeing an average of nearly 30 shots per game. The offense has been producing more as of late, but is still ranked sixth among the League with 10.57 goals scored per game. Rochester is headed towards a tough part of their schedule, facing New York, Denver, and Hamilton twice in the next four games. They will need to take home at least two wins within that period to keep playoff hopes alive.

Evan Says –“Rattlers get a C+. I don’t think this team is very deep, but they have enough talent to win each week, and we’ve seen that. Wins over Boston and Ohio two weeks in a row made it look like this team was headed in the right direction, and then they stumble against Ohio, and that’s got to be frustrating for a team that is much more talented than the Machine. The C+ is just their lack of consistency and at times a lack of effort. Bright spot, when it comes to a player for Rochester, we all think of Ned Crotty, and he has looked good and back to his 2011 form this season, but Rob Rotanz, second-year midfielder out of Duke, was a high draft by the Machine, gets traded to Rochester, expectations are actually pretty low, and he’s responded. He’s as athletic as you’ll see, a big guy that can beat his defender, and if he can continue to improve and produce even more, this team has another dimension offensively, so Rob Rotanz has been a bright spot for this team.”

Boston Cannons

2013 record through seven games: 2-5

2012 record through seven games: 5-2

Evan Washburn’s Grade: D

After a rocky start to 2013, the Cannons have been able to rebound slightly and position themselves for a possible playoff fun in the second half of the season. Sitting at 2-5, Boston has been forced to lean on Paul Rabil for offensive production. Through seven games, Rabil is currently second in the league in scoring with an impressive 29 points. However, as the season progresses it appears that the Cannons have slipped into a bit of an offensive rhythm. Mike Stone has begun to emerge as an offensive threat, and after an impressive performance last weekend in a win over the hound, Stone has increased his point total to 17 for the season. While play hasn’t yet reached top form in goal for Boston, the defensive unit led by Kyle Sweeney and Brian Farrell showed it’s A game last weekend against a talented Charlotte offense.

Evan Says –“Cannons, well a 1-5 start gets you a D in my book. They made the obvious coaching change. Bring in John Tucker, and you get a win. Now I’m not going to be a prisoner of the moment and think that this team is then going to rattle off eight wins or seven wins, but things probably are headed in a positive direction. But based on the way they started the season, they get a D. Obviously Paul Rabil leads his team in points and is right there atop of the League in points, but the bright spot for me is Mike Stone, and he’s one of the great stories in this League. A DIII player, a local product that worked his way into a starter role and an all-star role. Twenty-eight points in 2012, and he’s come back, has continued to be consistent with 14 goals this season, 17 points total, and when he’s dialed in and hitting his shots at a high percentage, he is a big part of this offense because Paul Rabil draws so much attention that Mike Stone can be that finisher.”

Ohio Machine

2013 record through seven games: 1-6

2012 record through seven games: 1-6

Evan Washburn’s Grade: C-

The 2013 campaign got off to a slow start for the Machine, as they lost their first six games before finally beating the Rochester Rattlers 13-11 in week 7. So far it has been a disappointing start to the season for a team hoping to rebound from a 2-12 2012 season that saw them enter the All-Star Game with a 1-7 record. It’s a talent-laden squad, but there is a lot of youth on the roster, and injuries to key veterans Connor Martin and Chazz Woodson didn’t help matters. So far, second-year attackman Steele Stanwick has paced the offense, leading the team in points and assists, with 17 and 11, respectively. Joe Cummings, also in his second season of MLL action, leads the team in goals, with 12, and his 16 points is good for second on the team. Rookie attackmen Marcus Holman and Logan Schuss have both made immediate impacts, and they seem to be getting better with each game that goes by. One bright spot for the team has been the emergence of goalie Brian Phipps in the cage. Scott Rodgers and Stefan Schroder split the first four games of the season and gave up over 14 goals per game while saving less than 45 percent of the shots they saw. In the three games that Phipps has started, he has saved 58 percent of shots faced, while only giving up 10.5 goals per game.

Evan Says –“The Ohio Machine, they get a C-. I’m a bit sympathetic to the Machine because they’re playing five or six rookies depending on the week, and that’s not really a formula for success in this League. I appreciate the fact that they’ve made a commitment to looking toward the future and playing a lot of young guys as opposed to trying to integrate a couple of rookies at a time. Time will tell if this approach works. Logan Schuss is definitely a guy that stands out for me. He has showed his versatility and has had a good season so far.”

 



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