Syracuse Orange lacrosse fans are nearly two days away from the biggest game of the year, a NCAA semifinal showdown with the Denver Pioneers (5 p.m. ET on ESPN2).
Most lacrosse nuts probably have already read a lot of the Final Four stuff over at CollegeCrosse.com and are all caught up and ready to roll for the weekend.
However, if you're not lets get you caught up with a few things.
First, senior defensemen Steve Ianzito is still listed as questionable for Saturday and head coach John Desko said it will be close on whether or not he will play.
Ianzito's teammate and roomie, David Hamlin, believes Ianzito will play.
"He's been making great strides to get back," Hamlin said. "He's been getting treatment, stuff like that, three times a day. I've seen him walking around a little bit and if you ask him, he'll tell you himself it feels great. I think he'll be ready to go."
Meanwhile, freshmen Brendan Conroy and Ryan Palasek will continue to be suspended this weekend and will not travel with the team to Philadelphia.
In the bigger scheme of things, there will be one common theme talked about this weekend and that's the match up between Desko and Bill Tierney, who have a long, long history of coaching against each other.
Twenty-one years ago, an outlier school won its first of what would become six national titles. Princeton beat Syracuse 10-9 in double overtime at Penn's Franklin Field, just a few miles away from this weekend's host venue, Lincoln Financial Field.
The head coach at Princeton? Bill Tierney. The top assistant at Syracuse? John Desko.
Despite their shared past, there's a lot of respect between the pair and it showed in this nice write up in the Baltimore Sun.
Desko said the Pioneers’ offensive versatility is a challenge for many teams.
“They’re a difficult team to prepare for, especially with their offense,” Desko said. “He’s got a few Canadians running out there, box-style players. You can talk to your defenders about the style and how they carry their stick and how they’re good off the ball, and how they catch and shoot with quick releases. But until you experience it, it’s a different type of player to cover, and it’s a different team than his Princeton teams as far as the style of defense that they play. It’s a little different than what I’m used to with a Bill Tierney team, but he’s been there long enough. I credit him and his staff with how well he’s adjusted to a different style of lacrosse and maybe some different type players than he has had in the past. My hat is off to him, especially with all the success he’s had in Denver.”
The Orange’s makeover is a testament to Desko, according to Tierney.
“To me, what I’ve always believed is the great coaches change with their personnel and change with their team,” Tierney said. “What John has done with this team is one of the best. Fifteen or 20 years ago, if I would have said that they were a patient, intelligent, sharp-shooting team that plays the defense in the country and plays tight and relies on their defense in situations like they had in the last two games, it would have been almost blasphemous. But that is what John has done, and his staff, they’re the same guys. Lelan does a great job with the defense, and what whose guys do with their kids and that talent just shows you. You come to a Final Four and you’re looking at a Syracuse team that just plays a different style, but – guess what? – they’re in the Final Four, and that’s really important. They’ve beaten a lot of good teams this year, they’ve been in nine one-goal games, they know what it takes to persevere through ups and downs.”
More Syracuse lacrosse preview stuff will be coming in the upcoming days.