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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Equipment Poll Results

Last month I posted a couple of polls in response to some major happenings in the lacrosse world. Adidas officially became the gear suppliers for Notre Dame and Bucknell, and Easton formally entered the lacrosse equipment business. I've been meaning to get the results posted (and get the dead polls off the page), but there has been so much happening with the 2010 Box Lacrosse League and equipment reviews (not to mention hockey and my killer work schedule) that I really have not had much of a chance.
So without further ado, here are the results:

Although this sample is small, the majority of respondents approve of Notre Dame's move to Adidas equipment. The Irish had a breakout season this year with an overtime loss in the national championship game and have long been a flagship institution for Adidas apparel. With their profile raised thanks to the spectacular coverage of the NCAA finals, the Irish will serve as a marquee client for the lacrosse division as well. As the de facto team for many fans in non traditional areas, this move will push Adidas closer to the forefront of many of these laxers' minds.

The Bucknell poll is intriguing because very few of my readers are familiar with the Bison. Once again, the overall consensus is approval for the switch, but I suspect it is for a different reason than Notre Dame. Whereas supplying the Irish raises the profile of Adidas Lacrosse, the Bison's move surely benefits Bucknell. The publicity surrounding the switch might have impacted Bucknell's profile and made more laxers aware of their program. Nearly every major lacrosse blog and periodical featured the move, which came shortly after the Notre Dame announcement. Associating with such a renown brand as Adidas may pay dividends with recruits from non traditional areas...

This poll was unfairly loaded since Easton is technically the only new member of this party. Adidas and Reebok are both on their third generation of equipment. Nike is merely a rebranded STX product (and nearing its third generation as well). Very little, if anything, is expected to change with Maverik now that Kohlberg is running the show. And New Balance has done little more than increase the capital of two of the biggest lax brands - although the new Warrior cleat and shoe lines are amazing.
Given Easton's long history of high quality products in sports as varied as ice hockey, baseball, and archery, it comes as no surprise that players are looking forward to seeing their lax line. Early pictures look promising and the helmet has a lot of potential. Whether or not their lax gear lives up to the reputation remains to be seen...
The high response for Adidas is fairly surprising considering their early failures. Apparently their turn around starting with last year's John Grant Jr line and continuing through this year's 111/211/311 line is convincing people to give them a second chance. Having sampled part of this line, I have to say that the quality is light years ahead of their initial line.
To me, the Nike and New Balance votes represent the "old school" laxers that prefer the smaller "traditional" lacrosse companies. Despite the pockets of Nike and New Balance, we are essentially talking about STX, Warrior, and Brine equipment. For some people, there is no alternative.
I am simply at a loss with Reebok. Their gloves might be the best in the history of the game and the new 10k line looks even better than anything they've put out to date. Of course, they have been around for a few years and have great exposure as the supplier of the National Lacrosse League. Perhaps this longevity just removes the excitement from the brand... Then again, most of their shafts are not up to the quality of their competitors' from my experience.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hockey Night In Iowa 2010 Edition - Game 14

We played our final Sunday game of the season this weekend. Despite the 6-0 loss to the now first place Puck Hawgs, we played some of our best hockey of the season. Our puck movement was strong, our passes connecting, and our shots numerous. Unfortunately the Hawgs' goalie Hillock is a tough nut to crack.
Tonight we face a hot-cold Alien Hockey team. Since long time goalie Bast departed for Texas, Alien has used a tangent of keepers - Dan Bishop and Lisa Nissen (aka the hot chick goalie). Alien has been in a slump throughout the new keepers' tenure. Their lone win came on October 6 - against us...
We hope to carry Sunday's momentum and firepower over to tonight's game. As both Alien keepers are less experienced than Hillock (or Bast), our chances for a win are pretty high. However, we must be mindful of the aggressive Alien defense; they have the ability to strip our best players like a cop at Customs. Strong communication and positioning will be vital as we attempt to unleash a barrage at whomever is in net tonight.
On our end of the ice, Daniels is out for the evening and Pentico is in. Pentico is a capable goalie and has played pretty well for us in the past. Unfortunately we have yet to record a win with him in the net. Our blueliners will have to tighten the gap and force the Alien shooters to bad angles as they attempt to provide Pentico so breathing room. Keying in on strong puck carriers like the Dylos will be critical and should be left to our speedy centers.
Wing play could be the difference in tonight's game. If our wings are able to stay open near the blue line for quick transitions and can execute pinpoint passes like they did on Sunday, we should take this one home. Our centers seem to have a knack for creating space and getting open. As long as the wings can move the puck and pick up rebounds, the goals should begin to rack up for Irwins.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Equipment Review - Adidas John Grant Jr Stick

The most unexpected item in my Adidas box was a John Grant Jr stick. More accurately, the Henson Group sent me a JGJ shaft and unstrung head. Considering that everything else I received (shoulder pads, shoulder liners, arm pads) was from the new 111 line. The JGJ line was released last season; the Michigan Wolverines made extensive use of the JGJ en route to their third consecutive MCLA title.
As I removed the stick from the box, I could tell that it was not quite as light as the Krypto Pro that I have been using for the last two years. It was not much heavier, but noticeable. Part of that weight may have come from the beefy butt cap. Unlike the smaller tapered units on Warrior shafts, the JGJ boasts an octagonal rubber end that is over an inch long and terminates in a wide base.
The head came out of the box as a featherweight. Despite its weight, the JGJ head is fairly stiff and felt strong. I attempted to squeeze, twist, and otherwise mutilate the head before taking another step. It also boasted about a bajillion stringing holes, which proved quite valuable.

The head's shape is nothing revolutionary, but is solid and functional. The pinch is as tight as possible under current NFHS and NCAA specs. Ball retention is superb and scooping is as good as anyone could want.
My first issue with the JGJ stick came when I tried to attach the head to the stick. Usually the screw holes line up perfectly when the head and shaft are produced by the same manufacturer. Unfortunately for me, the screw hole on the stick was down the shaft about half an inch too far. No matter what I tried, the holes did not line up. However, the provided me an opportunity to test the strength of the magnesium alloy shaft. I first tried using the self drilling screw included with the head, but had no luck. I then tried a standard drill bit; it barely scratched the surface before breaking. My cobalt drill bit finally pierced the hard metal in the proper location.
Once the head was strung and mounted on the stick, I decided to weight it. It came in at less than pound: 14 5/8 oz. By comparison, my Krypto Pro with a Mojo and the same stringing weighs 13 7/8 oz. The JGJ is incredibly balanced; it is clear that Adidas designed this stick and head to be used together.
My second issue with the stick arose when I started wall balling. Most sticks have a glossy finish or graphics that provide some grip; since I despise tape, those treatments usually work perfectly for me. The JGJ stick has a satin finish that is silky smooth - there is no grip until you hit the butt end. Since the graphics are under the satin coat, they add nothing to the grip. At first this was a hindrance as my hands slid too freely, but I quickly adapted to it. Tape fans will barely notice...
I previously mentioned the strength of the stick when I broke a drill bit trying to get the head on. The practical strength is also amazing for such a light stick. I have used it in both field and box games since receiving it and have also had shorties and d-poles take open swings at it - baseball and samurai style. I have yet to see a scratch, let alone a dent. The satin coating provides aesthetic protection over the super-heroic magnesium alloy.
If not for the fact that I have become very attached to it, I probably would have come up with some far more abusive "tests" like running it over with a garbage truck...
The head performs as well as any other head. There is nothing too spectacular about its design. Stringing makes the biggest difference in regards to passing, shooting, and even cradling; as I strung it the same way as my Krypto Pro, I noticed no significant differences in this avenue. The sidewalls are fairly thin, but incredibly strong. They have some flexibility, but are not what that malleable. I would definitely put it in the same class as the best heads in its price range: 9k, Viper 2, or Evo.

Weight: 10
Strength: 10
Durability: 10
Grip: 6
Overall: 9 out of 10

Release: 9
Retention: 9
Weight: 10
Strength: 10
Durability: 10
Overall: 9.5 our of 10
Complete Stick: 9.3 out of 10

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Hockey Night In Iowa 2010 Edition - Game 13

Special Sunday Edition!!!
With another huge loss on Wednesday, Irwins is now in last place. Our two wins against Funky Pickle are meaningless for the time being as the Pickle managed to make it to over time and escape with a point following a shoot out loss.
Today we face the second place Puck Hawgs. In our two previous meetings the Hawgs beat us by a combined score line of 14-3. With numerous anticipated absences today, expect more of the same. The Hawgs boast the league's best goalie and a talented offense. Scoring goals is not our strongest suit, and the Hawgs have proven to be particularly tough.
I would like to take the ice with the hope that we will win today, but the Hawgs are in second place for a reason and we are in last for a reason. This will not change my game play nor my enjoyment of the game. I will play my heart out and have fun, regardless of the outcome.

Tribe 7