Features | 2/3/2012 1:55:39 PM | Chris Ryndak
| James Purves (Photo: Bill Wippert)|
On a deep and talented Buffalo Bandits team, Jimmy Purves says he has no complaints.
A fifth-round draft pick in the 2010 NLL Entry Draft, the 21-year-old transition player spent most of the 2011 season on the practice squad. This season, Purves has found himself playing in three of the team’s four games and is trying to leave his mark.
As a member of the practice squad last year, he did manage to crack the lineup in one game, making his debut almost a calendar year ago on Feb. 4, 2011. In that game against Minnesota, he picked up five loose balls and served five penalty minutes. For Purves, however, it wasn’t so much about the statistics but the experience he gained by getting into that one game.
“Having the one game last year really helped me out so I could be ready [for this season],” he said.
In three games this year, Purves has collected an assist and 12 loose balls. Being on the active roster this year has presented him with the opportunity to think about the season differently and has kept him on his toes.
“When you show up to game day, it’s a lot different. You have a different mindset in that you actually get ready to play each game this year,” he explained. “I’m coming in more prepared every game.”
He’s also found that there are some other advantages to having been around the team last year, something the other first full-year players haven’t had the benefit of.
“You know, the guys don’t ride me as much this year being a rookie, so that’s one good thing as well,” he said with a laugh.
Having played box lacrosse his entire life and being a transition player through most of his career, he’s found some new freedom in being able to jump into the rush with the Bandits this season. He says he spent most of 2011 learning head coach Darris Kilgour’s defensive systems.
“Last year, I really focused on my defense. This year I’m trying to broaden out into being a little more offensive for the team,” Purves said.
Broadening out also means working on developing chemistry with the offense and learning their schemes, while remembering his defensive responsibilities at the same time.
“It’s just picking your times and running up the floor. You’ve got to make sure you’re not just leaving the defense out to dry. Once you get into the offense end, that’s when the learning starts,” he said.
Playing with the Sarnia Pacers in Junior “B” in 2010, he wound up tied for the team lead in goals with 24 and also posted a team-high 53 assists in 20 games. After a successful season later in the year while playing with Six Nations Arrows of the Ontario Junior “A” Lacrosse League, in which he had 13 points in seven games (4+9), the team submitted his name into the draft and he garnered some interest from there.
Purves knew that he wanted to move on to play professional lacrosse, but the news that he had been drafted caught him off-guard.
“I was very shocked I was even drafted at all,” Purves explained. “I didn’t even know I was in the draft until a few weeks before it even happened. The only reason I knew was because I ended up getting a call from Washington and they were talking to me. But other than that, I had no idea I’d be going to Buffalo. I never heard anything from the team or anything like that so it was all pretty much a big shock for me.”
Making the leap from junior to the NLL was quite an adjustment for him as well.
“You learn a lot from each level that I’ve gone up from. So the jump from Junior ‘B’ to Junior ‘A’ and then to the pros all so quickly like that, I was definitely a step behind everybody,” he said. “I really had to learn the game a lot more. I’ve definitely come around a lot better as a player over the last year.”
So with that deep Buffalo bench, what does Purves think it’s going to take for him to convince the coaching staff that he should stay in the lineup?
“I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing. I’m out there for loose balls and I’ve got to keep playing aggressive on the defensive end like I have been,” Purves said. “Putting a couple balls in the net would make a strong point for me to stay in the lineup, but I’ve got to keep doing what I’m doing and keep playing tough this year.”