The Big East lost a considerable portion of their notoriety with Syracuse (ACC), Rutgers (2015 Big Ten), and Notre Dame (ACC) walking away from the limelight for new digs. Syracuse seemed to have a hold of the Big East Lacrosse spotlight. Notre Dame can look forward to getting around competition like St. Johns, which seemed to have the Irish’s number. Villanova no longer can surprise Syracuse. Rutgers will be entering into the Big Ten next season and will hopefully find a good grasp on the competition in the new league.
Who will take the lead in the league for 2014? Someone is going to have to step up and take the lead for the new version of Big East lacrosse. Can the younger coaches break the ice and get their teams to new levels of success? Will someone sneak up on the rest of the field and take the AQ to the tournament? Here are a few names that will likely have a lot to say in the spring when it comes to the success in the Big East.
Tyler Knarr (FO/LSM) is a great all round story for the game of lacrosse. Finally healthy after years on the IR, he is poised to have a huge season. One that I believe will have the Hoyas as the favorite to win the Big East title. The team’s offensive numbers are spread out through a lot of players, but the Knarr’s success this year will mean that a lot more scoring chances. Watching their game last season versus Villanova, the Hoyas couldn’t hold a lead and the team had to make due scoring with limited chances. With the benefit of more possessions given Knarr’s increased success from 2013, the Hoyas can open up the offense and put up some bigger numbers.
Andrew Barton (M) is a solid midfielder in the Big East. His production has meant a lot to the new success of the Friars. I have seen him play in high school and thought that he would likely become the strongest part of Providence’s success. Not that he is the only piece of the puzzle, but he has made the most noise. Forty-five points for a midfielder is an amazing year. My belief is that when defenses focus on him, his assist totals will increase and help the team to even more success than last season.
Connor Gately (A) is going to be the important key in the Marquette machine this season. The team had a value of plus fifty percent assists on goals scored. Gately led the team in assists, so he has a value as the quarterback of the offense. The toughest part for Marquette is being the new program and learning how to succeed while being so young. With a year under their belt, its time for the offense to break through. The defense played a lot of minutes and had probably more experience in the long run about being a Division I Program. The offense needs to rise to the challenge, take some pressure off the defense, and put up some points, which will largely be with the ball in Gately’s stick.
Kieran Mcardle (A) is the center of attention for the Red Storm and he has met the challenge head on. He averaged 6.2 points per game last season and if he can match those 80 points, the Red Storm will make noise in the Big East. 36 goals are impressive, but the 44 assists mean more to the production and success of the team. He includes others on the team and does not become a one-man show.
John Kluh (M) had a great year for a freshman. I remember he personally took over the Georgetown game, which led to a big win for Villanova. If he can continue the progress he made last year, the sky is the limit for his potential. He is faster than anyone he matches up against, will take a hit to make a play, and can flat out score with the best of them. A gem in Villanova’s recruiting class last year, teams will be on the lookout for him early.
Ryan LaPlante and Jamie Faus (both goalies) are the uncommon duo that was okay with sharing time in the cage in 2013. The old adage is that “if you have two goalies, you don’t gave one.” The interesting fact behind this duo is that onlookers say a lot about the performances they had in the playoffs last season. The first game of note is the playoff game versus North Carolina. LaPlante played poorly and Faus came in to lift the team to the win against UNC. Faus played out of his mind and treated the crowd to an epic performance. The next game versus Syracuse it was a complete role reversal. LaPlante played an amazing game, for the first half. Given what had happened the week before, Tierney was right to go to the bullpen and bring in Faus. Problem is that LaPlante was playing amazingly and Faus came in with a less than stellar performance. Syracuse all season made great second half adjustments, so I don’t blame Faus at all. Now someone has to take the step and be the keeper for the season. I know that it will be tough on one of the two, but it may also challenge both goalies to play at a consistent level better than they have ever played before.
Kris Alleyne (G) was a freshman all conference selection on a list that included John Kemp in the same position. His success meant that the Knights were typically in games as well as they could be. Hoping that the coaching suspension issues are off the table, Rutgers will benefit from Alleyne’s play. His stops can mean offensive opportunities the other way and those easy goals will enable Rutgers to try for an upset or two this spring.
Here is my interpretation of the Big East for 2014. The usual suspects will keep playing strong, with little upsets in the regular season. When the tournament roles around for the AQ it will be upset central. Those bubble teams will be upset that a Big East squad will take an extra spot in the tournament. With conference realignment, it is hard to tell who is going to be eligible for the tournament or not because of the Penn State ruling with the CAA. Either way, it is time for those typical mid level teams to make some national noise. I am predicting a big season from the Villanova Wildcats in 2014.