To see where the Nationals stand in MLL Analyst Evan Washburn's list of top contenders for the Steinfeld trophy, click here.
You were the first overall selection in the 2011 MLL Collegiate Draft. Tell me about your transition to the professional game?
The first thing that I noticed was that it was a much faster paced game. Playing at Stony Brook, a lot of teams that we played against would play a lot of slow down possessions. You would have offensive shift, you would come off and have maybe a two or three minute break. When I got to the pro level you only have 60 seconds and sometimes your rest is only 30 seconds. That’s the one thing that I noticed was that the pace of play was a lot faster. It took a while to get used to. It really does impact the game positively and I think that it should be implemented at all levels, to be honest.
The Nationals started out kind of slow last season but really came on late in the season. What was the key to the turnaround?
I think understanding each other’s abilities and just coming together. That’s the one thing about our team last year; everybody got along really well and I think that as we grew closer as friends, it showed on the field and we started to play better and understand each other; where we would be positioned and everything. It was great and that’s one thing that I’m looking forward to this year is being back with that group of guys.
This off-season was crazy with the addition of the two expansion teams. There was the Collegiate, Supplemental and Expansion Drafts and everybody’s rosters were shaken up. What did you think about the way your team’s roster has been constructed this off-season?
I think after the Supplemental and Collegiate Drafts you could tell that our management and our coaching staff really liked the players on our team. You could tell that because right away when they got picked up, they went out and traded back for them. That shows a lot of confidence from our coaching staff in the group that we have. It’s another thing that’s exciting to get back with that same group of guys and build on what we were able to do last year.
You guys made it to the championship game last season. What is the key to getting over the hump and bringing the Steinfeld Cup to Hamilton this year?
I think it’s just building on what we had last year as a team. Obviously all of the guys are going to be a year older and a year wiser and better players than we were last year. Hopefully with that experience we have by playing in those big games and having the group together for an extra year will help us get over that hump.
We touched on expansion a little earlier, but what do you think about the way that the game is exploding in popularity?
I think it’s great. I think even at the college level you see players playing at top 10 Division 1 programs coming from not your average hot beds like Maryland and Long Island. You’ve got guys coming from across the country. As a pro athlete now, it helps us too. It’s more exposure for the sport. It means more fans at the game. Bigger crowds. Ultimately that helps us positively as professionals and it helps the game too to get that exposure.
With t he season o pener a week away, what have you been doing in the off-season to stay in shape?
I’m one of the guys who is both a field player and a box player. Box lacrosse is keeping me in shape. Even though we play on the weekends it is carrying through pretty much every day. You do a lot of shooting, trying to keep your shot going through the box season. The conditioning is very similar. We talk about being in “box shape” when we come back to college, or we had in the past. It’s a different type of conditioning you’re doing, it’s more stops and starts. You feel like you’re in the best shape of your life when you play year round. That’s mainly how I’ve been staying on top of my game.
As the first overall pick last year, do you have any advice for this year’s top pick Rob Pannell?
Hopefully he just comes into it with a lot of confidence, knowing that he is the number one overall pick. You don’t change your game for the pros. They drafted you number one for a reason because of what you have, so just trust your ability and go out there and play your game. I’m sure he will be successful at the pro level.
What are your personal and team expectations for the season?
We haven’t really talked about that yet. Obviously we want to get back to that final game again and come out with a different result. Like I say, I have total confidence in the group that we have the team that can do that. I’m just looking forward to getting started.
LIGHTNING ROUNDWhat is your favorite pump up song on your iPod?
Everything by Buckcherry
What do you think is the single most important exercise or drill a lacrosse player should do?
Do you have any pregame rituals or superstitions?
Nothing specific. I just like to be comfortable before a game.
Favorite sport besides lacrosse?
Facebook or Twitter?
Twitter now. It used to be Facebook. And by the way ankle socks are the new