Thursday, May 7, 2015

Rapid Reaction: Bitter, Sankey Not Tawaaraton Finalists

Jimmy Bitter has recorded 34 goals on 69 points this season. Joey Sankey 27 goals on 63 points. Both have led the second highest scoring offense in the nation on their way to a No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Neither will receive the Tawaaraton Trophy at the end of May. They won't even get consideration.

Instead the selection committee announced that Kevin Rice, Lyle Thompson, Myles Jones, Matt Kavanagh and Wes Burg would be finalists for the award.

It's always tough to argue against nominating key players on top-ranked teams, and discounting a player like Lyle Thompson because he plays on a team that isn't as highly-ranked would be ignorant.

But saying that guys like Bitter and Sankey, who are a deep playoff run from shattering UNC records, aren't at least as deserving as a guy like Wes Burg who has 43 goals and 60 points.

No disrespect to Burg, but he has eerily similar statistics to an attackman, Luke Goldstock (44 g, 60 p), who is the third best attackman at North Carolina.

There's no doubt Matt Kavanagh has done an outstanding job with the Notre Dame offense, but he has few points per game than both Sankey and Bitter. The junior accumulated 50 points through 12 regular season games, and proved he has a clutch gene that's unmatched. Does that mean that he's more deserving of the Tawaaraton Award than two guys who captain an offense that averages a point more per game than the Fighting Irish?

Kevin Rice carried the Syracuse Orange past UNC to an ACC Championship a week ago and boasts a 68 point season. His resume is nearly identical to that of Bitter and Sankey. Each player plays for a top-ranked team, has recorded 60-plus points and has beaten numerous top-ranked opponents. I don't think you can make a case that he's any more deserving either.

We're splitting hairs here, I'll admit, but neither Bitter nor Sankey being names finalists is flabbergasting. When I saw that neither player was named a finalist, I was surprised. I looked into the statistics, and this is what I found. I'll leave it to you to decide if I'm correct.

Do I have a bias because I've watched Bitter and Sankey closely throughout their careers? There's no doubt, but the numbers don't lie.

And the impact these two have on a game doesn't either.

Myles Jones Named Tawaaraton Finalist

Duke offensive midfielder Myles Jones was named a Tawaaraton Finalist after an impressive ACC tournament despite playing through injury.

Jones barely practiced before the tournament and still managed to take advantage of any short-stick match ups he drew against Notre Dame. Recording a goal on three points, he proved that apparently practice is optional when you're 6-foot-5 and can beat up defenders like a schoolyard bully.

Historically this award has gone to players on teams that make deep runs. The exception, of course, was last year when Albany's Lyle Thompson won the award. If Duke three-peats don't be surprised if Jones wins this award. He will likely be the reason they made it that far.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Rapid Reaction: NCAA Tournament Selection Edition

With Duke and North Carolina learning about what their paths to Championship Weekend look like, I've decided to give a quick and sweet rundown of what these gauntlets look like.

As expected, both teams received favorable first-round match ups at home, but assuming both teams make it to the elite eight, theirs a strong chance each will face a foe they've already failed to defeat once this season.


First Round: Ohio State, May 9 7:30 p.m.

Duke shouldn't have too many problems with an Ohio State team with only one win it can hang its hat on. Aside from being Johns Hopkins earlier in the season, OSU has come up short against all its highly-touted opponents. The Buckeyes were shut out against Notre Dame and only scored once against Maryland the first time the two teams played. While they beat JHU early in April, they got it handed to them 13-6 in the Big Ten championship game by the Blue Jays. While I imagine they'll bring it for their opportunity to take down the reigning champs, I don't think they have much of a chance.


First Round: Colgate, May 10 5:15 p.m.

This match up is a little bit more interesting. While Colgate's staple wins are against teams on the back end of the top-20, the Raiders managed to play a competitive game against the top-ranked Orange this past weekend. Colgate managed to make the contest a respectable 7-9 lose despite being absolutely dominated at the face-off X (2-for-20) and losing the ground ball battle (20-29). I haven't seen the film so I'm not going to act like I can explain that result, but I don't think it's replicable. The way you consistently make upsets in May is by controlling possession. In order to do that you need to win ground balls and face-offs. Colgate did neither of those things against Syracuse.