Wednesday, May 23, 2007

NCAA Lacrosse ("Lax") Final Four Viewing Guide

This is what we in the biz call "tight lax."

Being that I'm a former Laxer I figured I'd be in a decent position to create a guide for viewers new to the "Fastest Growing Collegiate Sport" (which in the title IX era parlance means the male/female sport created after they cancelled your school's wrestling program). Now, my team never made the tournament but I've been to the tournament a couple of times, I've watched it a ton and I played for a dozen years or so, so I think it's safe to say that I am an a friggin expert AND THE COURT WILL HERE MY OPINION! (two "A Few Good Men" quotes in one day. Solid). Anyhoo, I'm listing a few terms and phrases that you should be familiar with while watching this weekend. These terms will come in especially helpful if you are attending:

Quint Kessenich
Quint will be your guide through the weekend (likely joined at the hip by Leif Elsmo). You may remember Quint's work from some of the ABC horse racing coverage and I think he did some work as a sideline reporter for a Orioles - DRays weekday day game in 2006 when Gammo called in sick. Quint is a former 4-time All-American goalie at Johns Hopkins and is unfortunately the broadcast face/voice of college lacrosse. He's pretty knowledgeable about the game but he's kind of a boner. Actually, he's a complete boner. He likes to toe the line between explaining the game to people who know the game very well and explaining it like he's talking to a group of mentally retarded foreigners. He'll also be featured at least twice during the game in some sort of on field play-acting with a player from one of the teams (likely Duke), in an effort to show how a man-up play works, a face-off is won or a how a split dodge works. He's kinda like a more annoying, pre-pubescent leprechaun version of Fox Baseball's "Scooter," only Quint talks the entire game. You may want to hit the mute button.

Technically this is when a defensive player leaves his man (or "space" if they're playing zone or are man-down) to help defend another player. You will hear this term A LOT no matter what is going on on the field. You will hear about sliding early, no slides, lack of sliding, fucking slippin slides.... you can just ignore all of that talk. It's helpful to know what a slide is as you'll be hearing so much about it, but is not helpful to know exactly what's going on. It's like tuning out Hubie Brown when he talks about the nuance of weakside help and rotating down to the post. It's a part of the game, but it's about as exciting as woman's college softball, which is likely playing on ESPNU right now if you're interested.

A "Gilman" is also known as a "cheap" and a "duck and chuck". It refers to an instance when a defensive player gets the ball and throws it all the way to the offensive end of the field without any rhyme or reason. It's similar to "icing" in hockey yet there are no consequences. The term is actually a reference to a Baltimore high school that apparently used this method so often that they are forever infamously tied to it. The beauty of the term is that it can be used as a verb or a noun. You can "Gilman it," or you can tell your opponent, "Sweet Gilman, pussy."

Long Pole
This refers to a player carrying the six foot long titanium shaft around the field. You are only allowed to have four of these types of sticks on the field at any one time and they are usually in the hands of the top defenders and biggest knuckleheads on your team. It is also interesting to note that the length of these poles is inversely proportional to that person's shower presence. Though the width of the stick is directly proportional to said presence. The goalie is the only player on the field with a wider stick than anyone else.

Poke Check, Ding Dong, Back Check, Helicopter
These are different ways that defensive players try and take the ball away from an offensive player. And by take away, I mean knock the ball on the ground. The poke check is similar to a Lennox Lewis straight jab, but with a 6 foot metal pole. People throw them constantly and they generally have no effect unless you connect when the guy isn't expecting it. In fact, now that I think about it, they are exactly like Lewis's straight jab. The Ding Dong is when you fake like you are gonna go over the guy's head with your long pole and then come down right in front of his mask and directly down on his exposed wrists until he bleeds like a hemophiliac. The back check is when you essentially slash the brain stem of the person holding the ball in the hopes that you either hit the stick or paralyze the left side of the guy's face by incapacitating his medulla oblongata. The Helicopter is when you slash the limp-wristed ball carrier's stick so hard that the stick goes flying around like a helicopter blade. Hence the name: Helicopter. You'll see all these checks back-to-back in the clip below the "Rusty Gate" definition.

Rusty Gate
The successful Rusty Gate check is the White Whale of lacrosse checks, therefore it deserves a discussion all its own. It NEVER works, yet people constantly throw it and hope for the best. The check is most often thrown by short stick defenders. It requires the defending player to turn his back to the guy he is defending while simultaneously throwing a one arm backhanded check blindly at the guy carrying the ball. The end result most often involves the defenders stick flying out of his hands, the offensive player scoring and high pitched screams coming from the coaches on the sideline as the offending player exits the field. A successful Rusty Gate can be seen around the midway mark of the below video.

When a player has the ball and he is running down the field with the ball in his possession you will notice he is constantly twisting his wrists back and forth causing his stick (or "cross") to "cradle" the ball. We call that cradling. That's pretty much that.

Cradle of Lacrosse
This refers to the area of the country that produces the best lacrosse players. Most agree that the actual cradle of lacrosse is Northern New York (Jefferson and St. Lawrence Counties). Though you will get arguments from the midget lax diehards of West Genny from the greater Syracuse area, the sleeveless hairlips of Strong Island, the greasy long-hairs of Baltimore and some pop-collared dickheads from Fairfield County. Don't let them try and fool you with facts, stats or "evidence:" it's NNY. End of convo.

This term refers to the chicks who hang out with the one guy on your team who has a girlfriend. They show up to all the games, drink beer at all the parties, wear skimpy clothing, flirt with all the members of the team and then never hook up with any of the players. Everyone else on campus thinks they are complete whores and that the lacrosse team scores a ton of ass, but it's not the case. Or it's at least not true that the lacrosse players are banging the lacrossestitutes. You will see many of these girls in the stands and at the tailgates. Steer clear. You can identify them because they know the names of the players' parents and are likely sitting with them at the game or pilfering drinks at the team's tailgate.

Dude, Brah, Broseph
This is how wealthy white kids with lacrosse sticks refer to eachother. Each will be preceded or followed by the word "sweet" or "sick."

Baltimore Hair
Also known as a "Schvelby" or "Business Party." This refers to relatively short hair on top with some serious trash coming out the back. Usually this hair is a bit curly and curls up in the back just outside the coverage of the helmet. You will see plenty of this greasing out of the back of the Delaware helmets. Those guys are dirtbags.

Baltimore After 7pm
No place you want to find yourself unless you're not fond of your wallet, anal virginity or kidney.

Ten Man Ride
I should probably start by mentioning that there are 10 players on a lacrosse field. Generally the goalie stays in his crease but in certain instances when you either have an athletic goalie (like myself), or you need to press because you're down a few in a tight game, you'll let your goalie loose when the defense gets the ball and allow your goalie to run around like an asshole and chase players down as well. Most times this results in a Gilman by some dickhead with Baltimore Hair and the guy the goalie was covering will get the ball while the unathletic goalie chases him from behind and back checks the shit out him in a fruitless effort to free the ball (see, you're gettin the hang of it).

Yard Sale
This occurs when a player on one team throws an ill-advised pass (or "hospital pass") to another player and gets planted by a defender. The hit usually results in a loss of equipment by the player receiving the hit with a glove in one place, a stick on the sideline and a genital (is it legal to use "genital" in the singular?)on the restraining line. The visionary effect of this result is similar to what it would look like to drive by a yard sale in Carthage, New York. Except there would be multiple genitals for sale. I have no idea what that is supposed to mean. Moving on....

Lacrosse Heritage
You'll likely learn that the sport of lacrosse was created by Native Americans. The broadcasters will feign reverence for this fun fact and possibly mention that there are a couple awards named in reference to Native American heritage. They will then discuss the importance of the relationship between the sport of lacrosse and the Native American community. That's something called "lip service." Quint Kessenich could give a fuck about Native Americans. You can ask him when the camera is off. He'll tell ya. Little leprechaun prick.

Air Gait
This was a move created by two Canadians, Paul & Gary Gait, the "Gait Brothers," who brought the sport of lacrosse into the 90's and made it so widely popular that ESPN broadcasts 3 games a year on its top 2 channels every year. The move starts with a player starting behind the goal, running towards the back of the crease, leaping like a cheetah or some sort of animal you'd find on the African plains that can jump really far and high, and finishes with the diving player stuffing the ball into the net while the defenseless goalie flails away at the ball. The move was copied by every lacrosse player to pick up a stick in the 90's only to be banned by a new rule that does not allow a goal if the player who scores ends up in the crease. Good way to kill the most popular move in lacrosse history. It would be like outlawing the dunk. Video footage can be seen below (old school style) and the Air Gait is shown at the 27 second mark (4:10 mark if your video counts down as opposed to up).

The Move of The Future
This move is a little more complicated and a little more difficult to describe. It requires a little more advanced knowledge of the game to even understand what the hell I'm talking about. You've made it this far so I'm trusting that you can follow me through this, plus a modified "Move of The Future" makes an appearance at around the 4:12 mark in the video below. Essentially, a player starts at a defender, jabs steps one way, bringing his stick in front of him in an overhand and circular motion and at the same time spins the opposite direction of the jab step, clearing himself of the defender. It never works and usually results in a helicopter or early slide yard sale because the offensive player attempting the move has his back turned as he moves directly towards the goal and towards about half a dozen other defenders who are ready to fertilize the soil with his spleen. When it works, it is fantastic. Shorts are creamed. As cool a move as it is, a move of the future will not in any way impact that player's ability to hook up with a lacrossetitute.

It stands for "behind the back" or when a player throws a pass or shot behind his back or head. The shot does serve some utility in a similar fashion to a behind the back pass or dribble in basketball, but much like those moves the BTB in Lax is used far too often by assholes who just want to look fancy and are usually compensating for erectile dysfunction. As you may have guessed, guys that utilize this shot and fail likely played their high school ball at Gilman, usually get burned on the ten man ride and have been kicking Baltimore Hair since birth.

So there you have it. If you know those terms you can watch this weekend's lacrosse final four with a little more confidence than you would have without the information. I hope you enjoy and please let me know if you feel like I missed any key terms.


Christopher said...

Smitty, I have been reading your blog for a while on Brendo and Brad's recommendation. Absolute Home Run!! And yes as a former Blue Hen we are dirtbags. Final Four dirtbags; but dirtbags none the less!!

Orange Lacrosse said...

A few additional terms:

Howitzer - a hard shot as described by Quint or his announcing partner, Dave Ryan

Athlete - a lacrosse player who didn't play high school in one of the above mentioned hotbeds.

Plunger - The move Alex Smith will use to "win" face offs. Actually, all face off men are cheaters.

Stall - what Hopkins will do if they get a lead on Delaware.

kirbivore said...

Funny that your "cradle" teams routinely get their asses beat by West Genny and LaFayette from CNY.

laker said...

one round of flip cup and the lacrossetitutes usually warm up to advances from players.

Osniffable said...

Great post. I'd like to see a follow up on faceoff techniques.

Evan said...

That first clip sounds like a cross between Blues Traveler, Joe Satriani and '80s porn (you know what I'm talkin' bout Smitty!). Do I sense some bitterness about those lacrosstitutes?