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Thursday, May 6, 2010

...And Give Them a Good Home...

III. Players

With a franchise purchased and a stadium deal in place, I will need to acquire players. Major League Lacrosse, like most American sports leagues, have systems in place to ensure that expansion (or in this case, reactivated) teams are able to field a competitive squad out of the gate. In addition to the regular league entry draft, the MLL holds an expansion draft.

The precedent for an expansion draft was set in 2006 when the MLL added the four Western Conference teams. As is often the case, the existing teams had lists of protected players, meaning that they could not be drafted by the new teams; everybody else on the roster was fair game. The 2006 expansion draft is notable not only because it is the only one in the league's history, but also because a large number of high quality players were left unprotected and subsequently acquired by the expansion teams: John Grant Jr, Doug Shanahan, Mark Millon, Tim Goettleman, Jeff Zywicki, Brian Langtry.

Other players can be picked up via trades, free agency, scouting, the entry draft, and tryouts.

The first player I would target is Zack Greer. At Duke, Greer was an outstanding attackman; he won the Turnbull in 2008 and was also on the Tewaarton watch list for most of the season. Using the fifth year of eligibility granted by the NCAA in wake of the 2006 scandal, Greer followed Coach Pressler to Bryant University and played in the Bulldogs' first season of Division I lacrosse.

Greer is a primary target due to his role with the Minnesota Swarm of the National Lacrosse League. He has become the face of that franchise is lacrosse in the Twin Cities area. His prolific skill and playing style make him an instant favorite with the fans.

Another player I would acquire is Alex De La Pena from the University of Iowa. Although the talent in the MCLA is considered below that of the NCAA, De La Pena has finished in the top five in the points per game category for the last two years. As a Hawkeye, he would be regarded as a local hero and favorite.

From there the team would be built up of a mixture of seasoned veterans and college draft picks. Landing a Cody Jamieson or Mike Catalino would be a real boon to the franchise. A high powered midfielder with the ability to take over a game is the dream of every coach and team owner. I would be happy landing either or both of the Bratton brothers when they come available for the same reason.

Mike Levin is the sort of goalkeeper that a first year team would be lucky to grab. The defense should be anchored with somebody like Kyle Sweeney. If I could convince him to come to the Midwest, my boy Greg Gurenlian is the ideal FOGO. Maybe he could bring along Matt Zash to strengthen the midfield unit.

The MLL does not publish salary information, but various places have reported average salaries around $13,000 per season as recently as 2008. That number might be closer to $20,000 now, but probably not beyond that. Most professional laxers also have "real" jobs. Sure a select few like Rabil and Grant make enough money from endorsements, camps and playing in the NLL to supplement their paltry league salary, but most do not.

As a comparison, the slightly older and vastly more popular Major League Soccer finally reached the $40,000 minimum salary stage (although some players earn half that based on their classification). MLL teams have an average roster of around 30 players. Assuming a $20,000 average, I would spend $600,000 annually on salaries; that is less than most players in the "Big Four."

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Summer League Practice?

Do you need a refresher or even an introduction?

A group of adult players is looking to set up a practice before the summer league begins on June 3. Right now I am unable to personally run a training/practice/introduction session on the weekends as Valley has games. I am also unable to do anything during the week due to Valley practices and my particiaption in a local hockey league. I am looking for an experienced adult player to step up and volunteer to run a practice or two in the coming weeks. Whoever organizes the session can choose to hold the practice wherever it is convenient for him.

The practice would be open to all interested/potential summer league players - from high school through adult. If you are interested in organizing a practice, please contact me ASAP.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Summer League Taking Shape

Although I did not get as much done as I hoped yesterday, I have most of the summer league information together. The schedule and time frame are still being worked out, for example. In fact, if you are leaving the metro for college in August, can you please email me to let me know the last date that you will be able to play.

Originally I intended to kick off the league on Thursday, June 3 to give the Valley guys a week off following the league championships (still leaning that way). Now I am leaning towards starting a week earlier - Thursday, May 27. Let me know what you think of the two potential start dates.

Based on the quotes and responses I have received so far, we are looking at $30 per player in league dues this summer. Those dues cover your reversible, replacement balls (we lost quite a few last summer and through box league), and goal maintenance. We will probably do things MLL style and use orange balls again, but it is also possible that we go with white. I am still open to naming teams after sponsors for a small investment to offset some of the cost of the reversibles. Otherwise we'll go with team names chosen by the captains.

"Captains?" you ask. That's right. Unlike last summer we will have fixed teams on Thursday nights. Unlike the box league, the teams will be drafted by set captains. Right now two of those captains are set in stone; we will probably have two per team. Captains will also assist in assigning referees during their teams' off weeks.

"Referees?" That's right, we will have referees this year. The team(s) that is (are) not playing during a given week will be responsible for providing refs for the game of the week. I am not expecting anybody to be professionally certified or anything. Lord knows that you cannot do much worse than some refs. Mainly the refs' job includes maintaining general order, setting up face offs, verifying goals & possession, and running the clock. About the same as what I did during the box league. I am not expecting a lot of penalties nor do refs have to know the rulebook inside and out.

Our rules will be based on the current (2010) NFHS rules. There may be some modifications based on the number of players, such as eight player set ups (1-2-3-2) or the allowance of a fifth d-pole (common practice in many leagues I'm told). But I really want to keep it as close to "real" lacrosse as possible. Once again I am allowing hockey gear to be used, but I still strongly encourage everybody to get lax specific gear.

Nearly everything is ready to go. Once I get the remaining last minute details worked out, I will send an email and post it here, on the CILA website, the Forums, and on Facebook.

Monday Morning Tiger Report - Week 6

There were no games this weekend due to ACTs and proms at four of the Omaha schools.
The Tigers will be back in action this weekend as they travel to Creighton Prep to face the Blue Jays in their final game of the season at 1:00 pm. In their previous meeting this season, the Jays effectively shut the Tigers down and only allowed Bostwick a single goal in the 13-7 loss. Junior middie D. Griess scored the other six goals for Valley.
Expect Prep to attempt to lock down both players this time around. Luckily the Tigers have more arrows in the quiver and should make a game of it. With no other varsity games scheduled for Valley, the Tigers can focus on this match up. The winner will be the number one seed in the North Division entering next week's playoffs.
Prep plays Lincoln tomorrow night in the only regular season meeting between the teams. There is a good chance that the Jays will face Valley with the same record in league play (plus a loss to Blue Valley West from Kansas). They will also play Westside at 6:00 pm on Saturday for their final game of the season.
-Valley's JV team will face Prep's JV team on Saturday as well. The JV game is scheduled to start at 3:30 pm. This the final JV game of the season.
-Playoff seeding and opponents will be posted as soon as they are available.
2010 is the Year of the Tiger!

Tribe 7