Teams and coaches have certain goals heading into every season and the institutions that they work for and represent have certain expectations as well. For some coaches, like Denver’s Bill Tierney and Syracuse’s John Desko, it is easy to do their job because of the program’s tradition, the players they recruits and the school’s location and academics. However, for other coaches, it isn’t as easy to turn a continually floundering program around. So as the 2012 season, only a couple of programs were looking to replace their previous coaches. For the following three schools, UMass-Lowell, Hobart and Sacred Heart, the following coaches will face an uphill battle in trying to turn their respective programs around.
The new start up program will not begin playing lacrosse until the 2014-2015 season, giving recently named head coach Ed Stephenson the ability to recruit players and compose his staff. Stephenson previously served as the assistant coach at UMBC for the last two years. Before serving as an assistant at UMBC, Stephenson was the head coach at Binghamton University before resigning over the position in 2011. He protested the fact that three of his players were suspended unfairly.
The good news for the River Hawks is that Stephenson is no stranger to taking over an upstart program. Stephenson was the first head coach at Binghamton before his resignation, so he will have a great idea of how to get the program off and running.
The good news is also the fact that the River Hawks enter one of the less competitive conferences in Division 1 with the opponents being University of Albany, University of New Hampshire, UMBC, University of Vermont, Binghamton University, University of Hartford, Stony Brook and the University of Maine.
The slight downside is that the River Hawks won’t be allowed to compete in postseason play until the 2017-2018 season as that will be the first year that they become full-time members of the conference. Therefore, recruiting players to come compete for a team that has no shot at the playoffs, and subsequently, the NCAA tournament, will be a hard sell.
The Hobart Statesmen certainly got a surprise after this season as head coach T.W. Johnson announced he would be leaving a program he has coached for the past nine years, five of which as the head coach. He announced that he will be moving back to his high school alma mater Nansemond-Suffolk Academy in Suffolk, VA. There he will serve as the new director of boys’ athletics and the boys’ lacrosse coach.
However, the Statesmen found a more-than-suitable replacement in Princeton assistant coach Greg Raymond. Raymond served as the defensive and recruiting coordinator during his four years there. Raymond seems like a great hire for the Statesmen as he comes from two programs with winning traditions. Raymond played four years at John Hopkins as a long stick midfielder and was a captain for three of those seasons. Meanwhile, at Princeton, he learned under one of the best coaches to ever grace a lacrosse sideline in Bill Tierney.
The Statesmen should feel even better with the hiring of Raymond, especially on the defensive end, where Raymond has coached nine all-americans. Also Raymond’s defense was ranked sixth in the nation in 2012.
Raymond inherits a solid squad from last season as they went 6-8 with wins over nationally ranked teams in Bellarmine, Syracuse and Colgate. The team also brings back the nation’s third leading scorer in All-American Alex Love and moves into the Northeastern Conference. With Bryant being the only real contender in the conference, the Statesmen’s expectations should be quite high coming into the season.
Sacred Heart tabbed Hartford assistant coach Jon Basti to be its replacement for former head coach Tom Mariano. Basti, served as Hartford’s associate head coach for the last five seasons. Basti inherits a team that despite going 3-11 on the season, was 3-2 in the NEC last season. The 3-2 conference record clinched the team’s first postseason appearance since 2001.
Basti helped guide the Hawks to their first-ever America East Championship and, as a result, their first NCAA Tournament berth in 2011. The good news for Sacred Heart is that Basti is familiar with the program as he got his first coaching job with the university from 2000-02, where he worked with the faceoff and defensive units.
He should be able to really sell the program to prospective recruits because of his familiarity with the program and provide a nice change of pace after Mariano posted a losing record of 89-144 during his tenure with the program.