Blogs | 4/16/2014 4:59:30 PM | John Gurtler
OK, it was a good effort by the Bandits last Saturday night in Minnesota. They were defeated by a good Swarm team that was desperate and clinging to a hope of the postseason. Give them credit, they played well.
Back and forth; forth and back. The contest was your classic see-saw, tied seven times, boring game.
And here comes the standard operating procedure of comments from the Bandits.
“As a team I think we are playing pretty good 5-on-5,” Bandits defenseman Derek Suddons said. “Obviously this league is built on special teams and transition. And we’ve been on the short end of that the last few weekends. It’s cliché but it’s about getting back to basics, getting back to playing lacrosse, not keeping the sticks too tight but staying loose and get back to winning.”
Regarding this slump, which is approaching the nightmare six games recorded last year.
“Concern is the right word to use, I wouldn’t say panic or overreaction,” said Suddons, the tough, 13-year veteran. “We are glad it has happened now. It’s better to have a bit of a rut this time in the season and reassess what we can improve on and what we can do better.
“Guys have looked in the mirror and said, ‘What can we do better as individuals? Are we preparing the best we can? Are we in the moment within the game in every aspect?’ So there has been a refocus within our room. We realize we’ve made the playoffs. We want to do well and we owe it to the City of Buffalo to do well when we get there.”
From the coaching perspective, I will stay at the department of defense.
“We’ve just got to get everyone on the same page and get back to what we were doing there the first eight to 10 games,” assistant coach Richie Kilgour said. “We were really big and punishing, keeping the middle tight. Our pack makes it tight.
"And when they [opposing teams] know they’ve got to run through those trees we have on defense, it becomes hard to pay the price for all four quarters. We need to get back to making them pay the price through the first three quarters and then the fourth quarters will start getting easier.”
And now we hear from Bandits head coach Troy Cordingley.
“We’ve got to get back to the successful things,” the two-time coach of the year said. “We’ve gone over some film of ourselves, and made some corrections. It starts with work. If you put the work in, good things will happen.”
OK, stop the blog, as worthless as my comments have been all season long. Here we are 15 games into the season and it just hit me. This is not “Bandit ball.” This is not the game I’ve been calling for the last 11 years. I said it in the lead of this blog and just realized I already typed it.
Here I have been going on all season, talking about how the game has changed with speed of transition and the great goals, turnovers and saves. And you know what? This is not the way the Bandits play.
As I stood in the broadcast booth calling the game on the radio Saturday night from St. Paul, I turned and looked at my technical director, Wayne Selly, a veteran of radio sports broadcasting for 50 years in Minnesota. And he was bored. He had his chin propped up with his arm like he was sitting inside a tent and watching it rain outside.
In between my calls of rushes, I wondered why I have been standing and moving during the game.
Is it to prevent me from rubbing a hole in my suit coat with the same arm prop as Mr. Selly? (Notice I call him Mr. Selly? He has worked with the finest play-by-play broadcasters in the business, including Vin Scully, Harry Carey and Keith Jackson, just to name a few.)
And he is viewing the NLL game for the fourth time we’ve worked together and he gives me the stray dog-head swivel every time. This is also known as, what the hell is going on down there?
Maybe they print this, maybe they don’t. The NLL game has turned into a track meet, loaded with 40-yard dashes and three-legged races. Hell, they might as well throw in the egg toss because there is nothing happening out there in terms of hits, and dare I say, dukes.
When I see between-the-leg shots and individual plays for SportsCenter, it makes me sick. Where do guys get the time and space? It’s because team defenses are hesitant to make a play for fear of getting called for a penalty?
That is the wrong fear.
Like the late, great coach Vince Lombardi said, “Stats are for losers.” But when I am seeing seven, nine and 11 opponent power plays, the game is choking with fits and starts.
The NLL game is losing its luster and its time to let the rabbit run. Let’s get back to the fierce battles, eliminating time and space and bring back fear. Maybe teams will open more turnstiles at the gate. Let’s hope so – for the playoffs.
The effort is there with this Bandits team. It just has to be better. Who knows, maybe they will let the players decide.
The team will be auctioning off the second half “Braver than Brave” game jerseys worn by Bandits players in game against the Calgary on April 5. Highlighting the available jerseys will be that which was worn by John Tavares for the 800th goal of his NLL career. In addition, select game-worn and issued shorts will be available as part of the auction.
The jerseys and shorts are now available for bidding at Bandits.com, with the auction set to conclude on Wed., April 23. Bidding for the first jersey closes at 7 p.m., followed by each subsequent jersey’s auction ending in five minute intervals.
Please note our radio broadcast coverage this weekend.
On Friday the radio coverage will be provided by News Radio 930 AM WBEN.
The station is a big fan of Bandits Lacrosse and they are happy to be carrying the game. However, there’s no pre-game show Friday night from Toronto as we are taking the airwaves straight out of the Tom Bauerle Show at 7 p.m.
WGR’s Dave Buchanan will join me to provide analysis from the Foster Hewitt Press Gondola inside the Air Canada Centre. The game can also be heard on WGWE 105.9 FM
Saturday’s radio coverage moves back to ESPN 1520 AM and WGWE 105.9 FM. Randy Mearns, fresh from senior day at Canisius College, joins me in the Blue Cross Arena for the pre-game show starting at 7 p.m.
Opening faceoff against the Knighthawks is set for just after 7:30 p.m.